Monday 27 February 2012

The Daleks' Master Plan: Counter Plot


                                          Savages, then The War Machines.  Isn’t that the one where Dodo leaves?

Me:  It is.

Him:  They’re starting to leave quite quickly.  It’s just the Doctor and Steven at this point.  When do Ben and Polly leave?

Me:  The Faceless Ones.

Him:  That’s quite a ways in.  I thought The Underwater Menace had Victoria in it-  No.  That’s Fury The Deep.  Is that not the last one with Victoria?

Me:  ‘Fury The Deep’?

Him:  Fury The Deep.  See?

The Him shows me where on the Doctor Who: The Television Companion (3rd Ed., Howe & Walker, BBC Books, London, 1999) contents page this can be found.3

Me:  So it is.  And, yes, it is.

Him:  When Victoria leaves?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Well, Victoria’ll remember the Doctor at least.  Even if Jamie and Zoe don’t.

Me:  Aye.

Him:  “Who was that horrible woman?!”

This makes me crack up.

Me:  What do you think of this opus so far?

Him:  I’m enjoying The Daleks’ Master Plan.  I prefer the old Daleks to the new ones.

Me:  That’s interesting.  Why the old ones?  Scarier?

Him:  No.  I hate the new Daleks.  Maybe they use them too much.

Me:  Do you mean the new colourful giant ones?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Ah, right.  How about the copper beauty in Dalek?

Him:  I don’t remember much about Dalek.  I’ve only seen it once.

Me:  You’ve seen it more than that.

Him:  Doesn’t feel like it.

Me:  Well, we’ll sort that out soon enough.  For what it’s worth, I liked it.  Even with the Adric clone.

The Him sighs and the nightmare continues as we recap in glorious surviving episode motion.

Me:  Let’s see if the Brig gets a recap fee.

Sara Kingdom strides to the front of the frame.

Me:  Nope.

Borker, another agent, trots up and spots Bret Vyon off camera.  Sara Kingdom confirms this observation.

Sara:  Yes, he’s dead.

Me:  “So we won’t need to mention or look at him again.”

Sara Kingdom sends Borker off so she can finish off the cliff-hanger.

Sara:  -but aim for the head.

Me:  They’re not zombies.

Him:  I don’t think that Sara would have made that good a companion.  She’d just have been killing everyone.

Me:  Like a proto-Leela?

Him:  Well, Leela wasn’t killing everybody.  Just nearly that guy in The Robots of Death.

Me:  I meant other characters rather than camera crew.  I don’t think Jean Marsh built up a body count of technicians.  Also, she herself says that Sara wasn’t a companion.

Him:  Yeah, and I’m saying it again.

Me:  “Kill ‘em in the head.”

The Doctor and Steven take refuge in a very odd room.  It’s large and mostly empty except for an elaborate mouse cage containing mice and a constant beeping.

Me:  “Take his brain!”

Him:  It’d be pretty cool if mice had eight heads.


Me:  What?

Him:  We’ve had two-headed snakes before.  And six-legged ducks.

Me:  Now, when you say ‘we’?

Him:  You don’t keep them in the house anymore.

Me:  Ah.  Whimsy.

Him:  ‘Whimsy’?  “WIBBSEY!”

Me:  “VO-GA!”

Him:  “VO-GA!  Planet of GOLD!”

Me:  Back in the lab…

The Doctor:  Perhaps it’s some kind of experiment.

At this observation the beeping changes tempo and we’re in a swanky control room.  Two nervous chaps prepare to begin something that sounds very ominous.

Him:  What’s a dissemination?

Me:  Um… 


Me:  Keep watching and see if you can work it out.

Sara Kingdom bursts in on the Doctor and Steven at the moment of dissemination.
Iconic Moment #58

Me:  'Intense gurning', more like.

Him:  ‘Humming’.   

Iconic Moment #59
Him:  Oh, wait – is this not where William Hartnell looks really happy?

Me:  It is.

Iconic Moment #60

Him:  Why does he look so happy?

Me:  I’m not sure it’s ‘happy’.

Back in the control room the circuits register perfect dissemination, which is nice.  The scientists head to the room to see who just opened the door and come across the two agents who aren’t Sara Kingdom and an otherwise empty room.  Even the mice have scarpered.  This, naturally, leads to an obvious question.

Borker:  There were three people in here.  Where are they?

Me:  They’re on a trampoline.

The Him arfs at this.

Me:  That reminds me.  After watching Katarina’s Noble Sacrifice, Stanley Kubrick had a minion get in touch with the Doctor Who office to find out how they did the effect because he was planning something similar for 2001.

Him:  Ok.

Me:  Just saying.

In the most novel escape of the series so far it turns out that the Doctor, Steven and Sara Kingdom (who I can start calling Sara next episode when she doesn’t become a proper companion) have been sent away to a “strange planet in a strange galaxy, the nature of which we can only guess at” as part of a (truly random) experiment.  One can only assume that the scientists in the abandoned experiment base have been forgotten about and just started messing around with the equipment as way of staving off terminal ennui.  Anyway. 

Him:  The walls should have been transmitted as well.

Me:  I guess we have to assume they’ve found a way of localising the field.  It’s just lucky that the experiment worked or they’d have an awful lot of cleaning up to do and we’d be about to run out of blog.

Him:  Aren’t we out of-

There’s sudden glitter.

Him:  Oh – it’s the Atraxi.

And now: a jungle.

Me:  Ok, I take it back.  That’s the jungle set that I accused Derek Martinus of spending all of Galaxy 4’s budget on.  Looks good, mind.

Daleks pop up, just in case we’d forgotten them.  They feel themselves to be somewhat out of the loop and want a report from Mavic Chen on where the hell their time destructor battery is.  Back on Earth, the scientists reveal they’ve sent their mice to a planet called Mira.  Space Security isn’t happy about this.

Me:  Going on the Terry N planet-naming strategy, Mira must honk a bit.

We pan around the planet Mira and find that the mice seem to be alright, which is quite a relief.  It’s nice to know that no matter how much of a body count this story is building up, cruelty to animals remains a line it refuses to cross.  I mean, where would we be then?   

Back on Earth, Karlton informs Mavic Chen that the mice are fine.  Mavic Chen himself isn’t convinced that the Daleks are going to be quite as chuffed about this news as Karlton is.  This is mostly because the Daleks were expecting to be popping the taranium core he’d promised them into their time destructor and getting on with taking over the universe before Juke Box Jury. A taranium core that's now in the possession of a mad scientist’s pets on a far distant planet possessed of an atmosphere that could choke a horse.

Karlton:  Tell the Daleks that you trapped the fugitives in the cellular projector and sent them to Mira on purpose. It was a safety measure.  Unwelcome attention was being paid to the fugitives so you sent them to Mira on purpose.

Rather than shake Karlton until his head falls off, Mavic Chen takes this suggestion rather well.  A well manicured nail sneaks into frame and villainous beard-strokage commences.

Me:  Oh, nice.

Him:  I thought that was the other guy.  Giving him a prod.

This comment leaves me in stitches.  It takes some time to recover.

Me:  Kevin Stoney was really pleased with the nails and wanted to show them off.

Mineralogy is mentioned, but then, it’s always mining with the Daleks.  Mavic Chen rants about how he’s an essential component to the Daleks’ master plan.  He begins megalomaniacal monologuing.  We’ve all been there.

Me:  He’s making a slight error of judgement, isn’t he?

Mavic Chen:  Without me, they are but nothing.  Nothing!  When I am next to the Daleks only they stand between me and the highest position in the universe.  Then will be the time for me to take complete control!

"I'm a genius.  Yes, I am."

Me:  “Oh.  Did I just say that out loud?”

Meanwhile, on Mira, the Doctor awakes.

Me:  “What’s that terrible smell?”

After checking his wig’s still on, the Doctor counts his fingers and taranium cores - ten and one respectively.

The Doctor:  The mice couldn’t have done that.

Me:  “Insolence!  Take his brain!”

Him:  Mice are smarter than humans. 

Nearby, something is flapping Sara Kingdom’s unconscious limbs about, and it isn’t mice.

Me:  Do you think that’s Steven?

Him:  It’s Hi-Fi.

Steven recovers, awakened by the growls.  He disarms Sara Kingdom.  The Doctor has found the mice.

Me:  They still do the odd convention.

Him:  Who?

Me:  The mice.

Him:  I think the mice are probably dead by now.

Me:  Tch.  Realist.

Footprints begin to appear in the mire.

Him:  “Doctor Who in Another Exciting Adventure With Cutbacks.”

Me:  That’s quite a good effect.  And an invisible beast in a Terry N story.  I wonder if that’ll happen again?

Him:  Are you referring to when the Doctor graffitied a Dalek?

Me:  I am.

Him:  Ok.  Why is it spending so long in the air before it takes another step?  And sometimes it makes a little hop.

Me:  It's applied for developmental funding from the Ministry of Silly Walks and the decision hasn't come through yet.

The Doctor and Steven find each other.  Sara Kingdom slowly recovers.  The Daleks have discovered the location of their missing time destructor battery.

Him:  “MI-RA!”

With the subtitles on, the Him can join in with Dalek dialogue.  The Doctor explains cellular dissemination.  It’s magnificent, especially as when Mr Hartnell starts the lengthy speech it looks an awful lot like he’s forgotten his lines.

Steven:  That’s fantastic.

Me:  I’ll say it was.  Go on, Bill.

The Daleks have landed on Mira.  Swiftly they capture the mice.  Interrogation takes place.  And the Architect Dalek makes an appearance.

Me:  Oh – he’s back!

Him:  Butterfly Dalek!

The brave mice refuse to answer the Dalek’s questions. 

Architect Dalek:  DE-STROY-IT!

Me:  What?

In a moment that cements precisely what swines the Daleks are, the mice are exterminated.  We sit in a shocked silence for a moment.  A line has been crossed.  No-one is safe.

Me:  This is truly a dark tale.

The Architect Dalek senses movement in the foliage.  He shoots.



Him:  Why’s one of them high-pitched and one of them low-pitched?

Me:  Do you want the truth?

Him:  What?

Me:  One of them’s female and the other isn’t.  They make up a close-harmony quartet on days off.  It’s to tell them apart.

The Him sighs.  Back on Earth, Karlton’s intimidating the disaffected scientists who haven’t really got a clue what’s going on.

Me:  “We could… send… more mice?”

The Doctor is attacked by one of the invisible creatures.  It must have a death wish.

Me:  Bill’ll kill it ‘til it’s dead.


Him:  He did.

The Doctor identifies the beasts as the counter-intuitively named ‘Visians’, and that means he must be on the planet Mira.  Elsewhere, Sara Kingdom and Steven aren’t hitting it off.  She’s not a bad ‘un really.  She was just following orders.  Hmmm…

Sara:  What do you want me to say?  That I believe your fantastic story?

Him:  People don’t use the word ‘fantastic’ in that context anymore.

Me:  It would put an intriguing spin on the Ninth Doctor if they did.

It turns out that Bret Vyon was Sara Kingdom’s brother.  Jean Marsh has played this magnificently throughout.  This is another twist that repays a second viewing and, like I said in The Myth Makers, that’s something that the audience of December 1965 wouldn’t have been getting.  This does seem to suggest that the creators were expecting their audience to be paying attention – or has Doctor Who always been too complicated?  Ahem.

Sara:  Something… touched me.

Him:  "Was it a Thal?  They’re sneaky."

The Doctor explains about the vicious Visians, which sounds like a Horrible History to me.  Our chums are trapped.  Mavic Chen has a bit of a gloat about things. 

Me:  See?  Nails.

Mavic Chen stops tapping his nails and drops his pen before pouncing on the scenery and chomping furiously.

Me:  Kevin Stoney’s having a fine old time.

Back on Mira for our appointment with a cliff-hanger.

The Doctor:  Remember, my boy, aim high.  These Visians are eight-feet tall.

Him:  How does he know?

Before our heroes can defend themselves, a disposable Dalek (I’ll explain later) emerges from the jungle.


The Doctor:  I’m afraid, my friends, the Daleks have won

The credits rock on by.

Me:  Oo.

Him:  They didn’t give the Brigadier a credit.

Me:  Saving appearance fees eh, Dougie?  Good man.

3. I appreciate this is rich coming from me.

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