Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Chase — Blogging Doctor Who

Cue the chase music.
There are two or three good episodes in “The Chase.” Unfortunately, the entire serial is six episodes long. Further, it is the most episodic of serials, splitting into four stories, the middle two of which are farce. It was the script editor’s job to tell Terry Nation that a farcical Dalek story wouldn’t do at all. It’s a little early to reduce the Daleks to comic villains. But that’s exactly what they did.

The first and last stories are actually pretty good. Just one question though: is the Space/Time Visualizer Earth technology? It’s got the names of the planets in our system listed—in English—along the bottom. Does this mean that the Moroks of “The Space Museum” conquered Earth at some point? Are humans part of the subjugated population of the Morok Empire? After some cute bits (Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address; Shakespeare admitting the Falstaff is a parody of Sir John Oldcastle, agreeing to write The Merry Wives of Windsor, and rejecting the story of Prince Hamlet of Denmark) we find that Daleks have figured out that the Doctor and his companions are time travelers and they have created their own space/time travel device.

The Doctor and his companions arrive on a desert planet. We learn it was once home to an aquatic civilization, but as the planet got closer to its two suns, the planet’s water slowly boiled into space (I don’t think that’s actually possible, but okay). The fish-men of Aridius are initially helpful, but then the Daleks threaten to exterminate the entire species if they don’t hand the Doctor and his companions over. Given that this the third Dalek episode, things seem to have escalated badly. The Doctor is already the “greatest enemy” of the Daleks. Clearly here we have to go to to the assumption that they are seeking payback for things that, from the Doctor’s point of view, haven’t happened yet.

It’s a lovely idea for a story and probably deserved to be turned into a four-parter. Instead, they dismiss it in two episodes and ratchet down the tension with two comic episodes. Now, honestly, if the Daleks landed in New York in 1966, why not just kill the idiotic Morton Dill? Then we’d be rooting for the Daleks, I guess. The mystery of the Marie Celeste is even worse. And yet still, the whole episode “Journey into Terror” is just rock bottom. Really, they fail to realize that they’re in a haunted house exhibit at the “Festival of Ghana, 1996.” It’s just as well that it was cancelled, as the exhibits clearly aren’t safe, given that Frankenstein’s monster attacks the Daleks.

Finally, we get to the planet Mechanus, home of the Mechonoids. Once again, this is a great idea. Sent there by Earth to tame the planet for colonization, the codes that would allow humans to control the Mechonoids are lost, and so the Mechonoids treat everyone as a threat to be contained. Although really the most interesting part of the segment on Mechanus is the robot Doctor. The final battle between the Mechonoids and the Daleks is kinda dull and really badly shot.

Eye Candy for Gay Time Lords
Well, the fish-men have nice bodies and wear tight-fitting costumes that show them off nicely. They’re a better creation than the insect people of “The Web Planet.” Still, I think we’re dealing with a rather specific fetish here.

On the other hand, Peter Purves with a beard as Steven Taylor (as opposed to without when he’s playing Morton Dill), isn’t tough on the eyes.

So, Is this a Must-See?
No. This is a stinker. It is best forgotten.

Next: What? The Doctor isn't the only one meddling in time?
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