Send in the clones…
Sue: Great. Invisible monsters again. I bet this is a cheap one.
The story begins with a spaceship navigating an asteroid belt…
Sue: Oh ****, it’s a spacey one. I don’t like the spacey ones. I like it when it’s set in the past and -
Me: And they have wooden cabinets.
Sue: Yes, exactly. Look, I told you it would be cheap. Someone is pretending to be an astronaut in their own bedroom and he’s invited all his mates over to play with him.
Meanwhile, in the TARDIS…
Sue: Oh, it’s the old control room again. Good.
Me: Are you serious? I thought you preferred the wooden one? You know, all that polished mahogany and shit.
Sue: It was a bit pokey. I’m used to this. I like it. I missed it.
Sometimes, I can’t figure Sue out at all.
Sue: Leela is a bit dense this week. She’s acting as if this was her first journey in the TARDIS; that is very disappointing. There is such a thing as character development, you know.
The spaceship seen earlier arrives on Titan and Sue pats herself on the back for spotting Saturn in the background.
Sue: Some of the model shots are very good, actually. They are very detailed. It reminds me of Thunderbirds, but done on the cheap.
The spacemen egsit their spaceship and promptly kill the crewmen they have been sent to relieve. But when they open their visors…
Sue: They’ve got Larry Hagman’s eyebrows. I wasn’t expecting that.
Sue isn’t all that impressed with Titan.
Sue: Why do the aliens always insist on conquering shit holes like this? Who’d want to invade this place?
Titan’s station manager, a man named Lowe (played by the legendary Michael Sheard), is alerted to the mayhem breaking out in the crew members’ boudoir.
Sue: He just put his cup of coffee on top of his computer. It’s a health and safety nightmare just waiting to happen.
Lowe freaks out as the situation worsens.
Sue: Is this supposed to be funny? Does he want some pineapple with that ham?
Me: It’s Michael Sheard -
Sue: I don’t care who he is. Look at him! He’s not just eating the scenery, he’s flame-grilling it first.
Something else is bugging her:
Sue: I can’t read the signage in this place. The font is bloody ridiculous.
Me: It’s not just the font.
She makes me pause the DVD so she can take a better look.
Sue: Egsit… Eggs. Egg storage? Is it where they keep the battery hens? What?
Me: Read it again.
Sue: Egsit… Exit. Oh… Right. So this universe is dyslexic. Fair enough.
Meanwhile, Leela is also learning how to spell…
Sue: Lula? Who the hell is Lula? Does the Invisible Enemy turn out to be dyslexia?
Leela senses imminent danger…
Sue: Here she goes again with her pointless warnings about evil things and stuff. It will be of no use to them whatsoever.
The Doctor is attacked by a mysterious force and when he eventually comes to, he’s speaking gobbledegook.
Sue: Is it an alien creature that feeds on language? That could be interesting.
The Doctor and Leela arrive on Titan and the Doctor confronts the infected crew members.
Sue: Half of this script is just people repeating each other.
Me: Repeating each other.
Sue: Don’t you start. It’s just like that David Tennant episode set on the bus with the alien that repeats everything, yes?
The Doctor is infected…
Sue: Tom Baker can be very scary when he wants to be. His voice is terrifying.
And the episode concludes with the Time Lord pulling a gun on his companion.
Sue: Great cliffhanger. That wasn’t too bad. For a spacey one.top
Sue is gripped as the Doctor struggles against the malignant influence of the virus.
Sue: It’s really good, this. The Doctor is genuinely scared and that’s always interesting.
The Doctor puts himself in a coma.
Sue: He should have propped himself against a wall first. That won’t do his back any good.
The biggest question posed by this episode is why Leela hasn’t been infected yet…
Sue: It’s a deadly strain of man-flu. Bloody fellas.
Leela and Lowe take the Doctor to the Bi-Al medical Foundation in the TARDIS. The facility’s brilliant white interior dazzles Sue.
Sue: This looks very swish. It’d be a nightmare to keep clean though.
Leela checks the Doctor into the hospital.
Sue: This is just like the hospital I was admitted to last week. The porters never smiled there either.
Me: I don’t remember any of the nurses wearing figure-hugging latex uniforms. I definitely would have remembered that.
Ah, a cushion in the face. We haven’t had one of those in a while.
The hospital administrator probes Leela for the Doctor’s details.
Sue: Now Leela’s calling it Gallifree! Does anyone working on this programme know how it’s supposed to be pronounced?
A nurse asks Lowe why he’s wearing his protective visor indoors.
Sue: They are by Gok Wan. Do you like them?
She can’t quite believe it.
Sue: Is it really K9? Is it really K9′s first story?
Sue: I always imagined that the Doctor built K9 when he was bored and had nothing better to do one day. I didn’t know he turned up fully formed like this.
K9 is the property of Professor Marius…
Sue: This bloke has to die at the end. If the Doctor takes K9 with him, that guy can’t survive. No owner gives up his dog. Unless the Doctor steals him, of course.
Sue not only recognises Frederick Jaeger (“It’s Frank Spencer’s flying instructor again”), she also enjoys his larger than life performance.
Sue: Now this is for kids.
Me: That pretty much sums it up.
Sue: I like it.
Sue: It’s a nice change of pace. It’s been a bit grim lately. This is the first time I can detect the hand of a new producer. It feels like a breath of fresh air.
Me: If you say so.
Sue: What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like K9?
Me: I love K9.
Sue: Well, then.
Lowe removes his visor to reveal the full extent of his infection.
Sue: Is he turning into an owl?
Contact has been made.
Sue: This catchphrase is the sort of thing the Moff might come up with. I can easily imagine Matt Smith in a story like this. I bet he’d love K9.
The Doctor asks K9 for data about cloning technology. The robot dog tells him that the first attempt was made in the year 3922.
Sue: Poor Dolly. Completely written out of history. The scriptwriters didn’t have much faith in science, did they? Over 2000 years before anyone even tried it? As if!
K9 is instructed to stop the infected medical staff who are trying to retrieve the Doctor.
Sue: Ooh, K9 hit that porter right in the cock. Does K9 always hit people in the cock? I suppose he must do, being so small.
The Doctor and Leela are cloned.
Me: Do you have anything to say about that?
Sue: Not really. It was a bit quick, I suppose. I like the way Leela doesn’t want to meet her own clone because it would be upsetting. Of course, it saves on any complicated doubling-up scenes.
Me: Doesn’t it bother you that they’ve been cloned with their clothes on?
Sue: Neil… IT’S FOR KIDS! I know you want to see Leela stark naked but it’s never going to happen.
The Doctor’s infection is getting worse by the minute and the medical staff are forced to hold him down.
Sue: Your mother sucks cocks in hell!
The cloned Doctor retrieves the Relative Dimensional Stabiliser from the TARDIS and he attaches it to the cloning chamber’s controls.
Sue: How very plug and play.
The clones are then shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the Doctor’s head.
Sue: This is a rip-off of something else. I’m sure of it.
Me: It’s an homage.
Sue: The Incredible Journey.
Me: That’s the one with a dog and two cats travelling the country to find their owners.
Sue: I love that film. Why haven’t we got that on DVD?
Me: Sorry. I do have a copy of The Fantastic Voyage, though.
Sue: What a surprise.
In the end, we compromised and watched a Doctor Who DVD extra instead. Sue’s tolerance for Doctor Who DVD extras varies from story to story, but nine times out of ten she simply isn’t interested or she falls asleep in the middle of one. However, every once in a while, we stumble across a gem.
I am, of course, talking about K9′s appearance on Blue Peter, where he managed to completely perplex Shep.
Sue: That’s the best DVD extra you have ever shown me. Play it again.
Me: If you insist.
Sue: This is a 10/10 DVD extra. Brilliant. That’s made my night, that has.top
The clones enter the Doctor’s head…
Sue: Are they dancing? They don’t half pick their moments.
The cloned Doctor introduces the cloned Leela to his brain.
The Doctor: What do you think?
Sue: Your head is made of CSO.
Back in the real world, the Doctor’s condition is monitored by Marius and his staff.
Sue: You can’t hear a word anyone is saying because that nurse’s latex uniform is squeaking and squelching so much. How much spillage did they expect in this hospital? She should be working at a car wash.
Something else is a bit loud…
Sue: K9 doesn’t have a stealth mode, does he? You would hear him coming a mile off. They should have overdubbed him with some whooshy sound effect to make him appear more hi-tech.
The Doctor and Leela continue to explore the Doctor’s brain.
Sue: It’s very imaginative, this. And quite funny, too. I can tell by the smirk on your face that you don’t like this one, but I don’t have a problem with it. It’s a great idea.
Leela instructs K9 to create a barricade by blasting away part of a wall. Sue doesn’t say a word.
I can’t let it go. I pause, rewind, and play it again:
Sue: What’s your problem?
Me: The crack! The bloody crack, woman!
Sue: Oh, that. Well, either it’s got something to do with the Silence, the place was falling apart due to budget cuts, or they were having a bad day in the studio and they couldn’t get the effect to work properly. Look, Neil, there’s a talking dog on screen –
Me: It’s not a talking dog. It’s a personal computer that just happens to look like a dog.
The infected Lowe rallies his troops.
Sue: Can this bloke ever pose naturally? It’s absurd. Every time we see this character, he looks like he’s modelling for the Grattan catalogue.
K9 is infected by the virus and he shoots Leela in the head (we think).
Sue: I bet they are having a nightmare in the studio. This looks rushed to me. Was K9 supposed to miss her head by a mile? Was that intentional? I like K9′s ticker-tape, though: it looks like his tongue. That’s clever. Ticker-tongue.
With half the cast now under the thrall of the virus, Sue is beginning to lose patience with the make-up.
Sue: They look like they are all going to a masquerade ball. Lady Ga Ga would really suit this look. Just give her some sequins and false eyelashes and she’d be away. The green latex could be optional.
The Doctor and Leela continue to hunt down the source of the infection.
Sue: So will we actually see the virus at some point?
Me: Yes, you’ll see it in a minute. Be patient.
I have to stifle a fit of the giggles as I think about it. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it.
Sue: I have a very bad feeling about this…
The clones step into the Doctor’s imagination.
Sue: I don’t want to say what the Doctor’s subconscious mind is full of, but it’s very rude.
The Doctor finally meets the virus, aka the Nucleus of the Swarm.
Sue: So it’s a bin bag with a claw for an eye?
Me: You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Sue: It’s very abstract. But nowhere near abstract enough.
As the Doctor confronts the Nucleus, a cloned Lowe tries to intervene. Leela stabs Lowe in his chest and he is finally eaten by the Doctor’s antibodies.
Sue: It’s suddenly not for kids again. That was pretty vicious. It sticks out even more when everything else is so lightweight.
We suddenly – and I do mean suddenly – cut to Marius extracting something from the Doctor’s eye. He places a slide in the cloning chamber and the sample grows into -
Sue: A giant seahorse. No, wait, it’s a giant prawn. A giant dancing prawn.
Me: Finally, we get to watch some hardcore prawn together.
The credits kick in.
For a bit.
Because we have suddenly returned to the episode proper, with the Doctor suggesting that they make a run for his tear ducts. And then the credits pick up where they left off.
Me: Damn. I forgot about the bloody mastering error on this DVD. Sorry.
Sue: Well, that didn’t exactly help, did it? I though it made no sense. What the hell is going on?top
There’s only one topic of conversation during our 450th episode of Doctor Who:
Sue: Just fling in on the BBQ and let’s go home.
Even the Doctor can’t believe what he’s looking at.
Sue: How am I expected to take it seriously if he can’t? This story just went from an 8 to a 5 in just as many seconds. Jesus. What possessed the director to shoot this thing in a long shot? It looks like something you might see in a school play.
Of course, Nicol would choose this exact moment to walk in on us. Thankfully, she took one look at the Nucleus of the Swarm and she walked straight back out again. I was relieved, frankly.
Leela – for reasons that escape me as I write this – decides to dress up as a nurse…
Sue: She managed to find a costume even more demeaning than the one she was already wearing. That wasn’t easy.
The Nucleus is helped back to Titan.
Sue: It’s another Doctor Who monster who needs a support worker to get around. It’s becoming a bit of a theme. Why would you want to take over a universe that you can’t even walk around in? What would be the point?
The Doctor and Leela arrive on Titan with some antibodies and K9 in tow. The Doctor uses K9 to distract a guard.
Sue: He sounds like a Henry vacuum cleaner.
The Nucleus is installed in an incubation chamber.
Sue: Is it sitting on the loo?
I don’t get much more out of Sue, aside from the odd “That was shit”, “That was really shit” and “**** me”, but when the Doctor saves the day by blowing up Titan, she has plenty to say.
Sue: Has he blown up a moon?
Me: It’s only a moon. There wasn’t anyone living on it. Well, nobody who wasn’t evil anyway.
Sue: I bet Saturn might have something to say about that. I can’t believe he blew it up. I thought he’d come up with a much cleverer solution than that. It’s as if the scriptwriters tantalised us with a better solution but then they couldn’t think of one. What a cop-out.
The Doctor and Leela return to the Bi-Al Foundation and Leela begs the Doctor to adopt K9.
Sue: All the kids are screaming “Yes! Yes!”.
Me: Twenty years later they’ll all be screaming “No! No!”. Funny, that.
The episode ends with a joke, as Marius reflects on his decision to give K9 to the Doctor:
Marius: I only hope he’s TARDIS trained.
Sue: Oh, **** off.top
The Final Score
Sue: I want to stress that I really enjoyed the first two and a half episodes. But it turned into a terrible mess. I think they tried to take too much on. You can’t have weird sets, costumes, effects, aliens, model shots and a robot dog and expect to get away with it. They spread themselves too thin. Some of the ideas were excellent but the execution was beyond them. I didn’t like the direction either. It was very flat. K9′s good, though.
The experiment continues…top
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