Sunday, 24 February 2019

505 The Armageddon Factor: Part Six

EPISODE: The Armageddon Factor: Part Six
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 24 February 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Doctor, you shall die for this! I shall destroy you for this! I will disperse every particle of your being to the furthest reaches of eternity!"

Drax turns the gun on himself, shrinking himself to a minuscule height the same as the Doctor. The Doctor berates him: the gun was meant for the Shadow's mute servants, not them. The Tardis door has been left open but the Shadow cannot enter because of the light within and sends a servant to retrieve the key. As Astra reveals she is the sixth child of the sixth dynasty of the sixth royal house of Atrios, Romana realises she is the sixth segment, a conclusion Merak comes to at the same time, forcing a Mute servant to take him to the Shadow's planet. He arrives too late to prevent Astra's transformation into the sixth segment but the Doctor & Drax enter the Shadow's lair using a seemingly Shadow controlled K-9 as a Trojan Horse. They restore themselves to full size seizing the segment and the key. A delirious Merak searches for Astra, returning to Atrios while the others go to Zeos. The Doctor erects a force shield deflecting the missiles from the Marshal's ship, which has become free from the Time Loop, into the Shadow's planet destroying it. The Doctor completes the Key as the White Guardian arrives to claim it but the Doctor realises it is the Black Guardian in disguise. Realising the White Guardian has had the necessary time to use the Key he disperses it to the corners of the universe, with the sixth segment returning to Atrios restored as Princess Astra. The Doctor fits a Randomiser to the Tardis' guidance systems to prevent the Black Guardian from tracking them and exacting his revenge.

Well.... Shall we start at the beginning?

The shrinking get out to "Drax shooting the Doctor" was vaguely hinted at last unit with repeated references to dimensional stabilisers and you can see the effect of the Doctor reducing in size at the end of episode 5 if you look carefully but it was still a surprise at the time. Shrinking is another Doctor Who staple having been used in Planet of Giants, The Faceless Ones where it's a method of imprisonment, Carnival of Monsters and as recently as the previous year in Invisible Enemy. The shrinking, and the using K-9 as a Trojan Horse really stands out in my memory of this episode from seeing it in my youth.

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But the main thrust of the episode is revealing what the sixth segment of the Key to Time is:

ASTRA: My destiny is here, in this place. Not on Atrios, not on Zeos. Here.
ROMANA: Astra, listen. You're not under the Shadow's influence any more. Now, let's get out of here before he comes back.
ASTRA: No, I must stay. I am the sixth princess of the sixth dynasty of the sixth Royal House of Atrios.
ROMANA: Yes, yes, but we must get out of here before the Shadow comes back!
ASTRA: This is the time of my becoming, my transcendence.
ROMANA: What are you talking about?
ASTRA: Metamorphosis.
Laying the clues on a bit heavy there. The thing is we have this from an earlier episode:
ASTRA: I don't know! I don't know, I tell you.
SHADOW: You must know. You are a daughter of the Royal House of Atrios.
ASTRA: Yes, and I tell you, whoever you are, that I've never heard of the sixth segment or the sixth anything!
SHADOW: And I tell you, Princess, the secret has been passed down through generation after generation of the Royal House, and since you are the sole surviving member of the line, you must know and you will tell me, if I have to tear it from the living fibre of your very being. Do you understand?
ASTRA: Yes. And if I knew, I would tell you.
Which doesn't quite match up. Throwing a few things into earlier episodes about the sixes in Astra's lineage might have helped as clues but it doesn't come up till the sixth episode of the sixth story! The only thing we get earlier on in the tale is the tracer getting a signal off of her headband:
ROMANA: And then Merak said he found this. It's Astra's. The strange thing is, it gives off a very faint signal on the tracer. It's obviously not the sixth segment, so what is it?
DOCTOR: Well, I'd say it's been in touch with the sixth segment, wouldn't you?
ROMANA: Well, yes
Merak then nicks the Tracer to find Astra but after that, nothing.

Romana gets the hints that are bing dropped quite quickly though:

ASTRA: Destiny. My destiny is near.
ROMANA: Astra, remember you're the sixth princess of the sixth Royal House of the sixth dynasty. And we're looking for the sixth segment of the Key to Time. Oh, you're in greater danger even than we imagined.
And the sixths keep on coming laying it on really heavy.
SHADOW: You see, Princess, you cannot escape your destiny.
ASTRA: My destiny.
SHADOW: It is for this that you were born. The sixth child of the sixth generation of the sixth dynasty of Atrios. Born to be the sixth and final segment of the Key to Time. Come, Princess, prepare yourself.
ASTRA: I am ready.
Till finally Astra is transformed

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Did the Doctor know Astra was the sixth segment? He prevents her from touching the key in the previous episode, claiming it was hot, but had he actually figured it out and was trying to prevent her transformation.

ROMANA: Right, I'll set the coordinates for Gallifrey, shall I?
DOCTOR: Why Gallifrey?
ROMANA: Well, that's where we're going, isn't it?
DOCTOR: We have the power to do anything we like. Absolute power over every particle in the universe. Everything that has ever existed or ever will exist. As from this moment are you listening to me, Romana?
ROMANA: Yes, of course I'm listening.
DOCTOR: Because if you're not listening I can make you listen, because I can do anything.

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DOCTOR: As from this moment there's no such thing as free will in the entire universe. There's only my will, because I possess the Key to Time!
ROMANA: Doctor, are you all right?
DOCTOR: Well of course I'm all right. But supposing I wasn't all right. This thing makes me feel in such a way I'd be very worried if I felt like that about someone else feeling like this about that. Do you understand?
DOCTOR: What do you understand?
ROMANA: That the sooner we hand this over to the White Guardian
BOTH: The better!
GUARDIAN: My congratulations to you, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Oh, thank you, sir, thank you.
GUARDIAN: You performed your task with admirable dispatch. The universe has much to thank you for.
DOCTOR: Well, it was a pleasure, sir. Wasn't it a pleasure, Romana?
ROMANA: Doctor, that's not the President.
DOCTOR: What's the President got to do with it?
GUARDIAN: I can change my form or shape at will, my dear child. I appeared to you as the President so as not to alarm you.
DOCTOR: Just be careful who you're talking to.
ROMANA: Sorry, I
GUARDIAN: You have the Key to Time, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Ah. Oh, I have, I have indeed, sir. Do you like it?
GUARDIAN: Do I like it? Yes, yes, I suppose you could say that I like it.
DOCTOR: Yes, we're very proud of it, sir. Aren't we, Romana, proud of it?
ROMANA: What? Oh, yes, yes.
DOCTOR: What happens now, sir? You said, if I remember in our first conversation, that once it was assembled it would stop the entire universe and enable you to restore the natural balances of good and evil throughout the whole of the universe.
GUARDIAN: That is correct, Doctor. So, will you release the Key to me that I may do this?
DOCTOR: Certainly, sir, yes, certainly, of course. Key to Time, I command you. Could I ask you something, sir?
GUARDIAN: Yes, Doctor?
DOCTOR: It's just that, well, the Key is already assembled, sir. I mean, couldn't you restore the balances now?
GUARDIAN: Yes, Doctor, but I must have the Key for safe keeping. It is an awesomely powerful key.
DOCTOR: Oh yes, sir, yes, and mustn't be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. I quite understand, sir, yes. Key to Time, I command. What about the sixth segment?
GUARDIAN: What about it, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, I mean, as you know, sir, the sixth segment was in fact a human being, and I mean, if the pieces are maintained in their present pattern it means that she'll be imprisoned forever, sir.
GUARDIAN: That is, of course, regrettable.
DOCTOR: Very regrettable.
GUARDIAN: But with the fate of the universe at stake.
DOCTOR: Quite. You can't be too careful. I quite understand. Key to Time, I command that you stay exactly where you are!
GUARDIAN: Doctor! You have fully activated all the Tardis' defences!
DOCTOR: We can't be too careful, can we? And it would be a terrible tragedy for the universe if it suddenly turned out that I was colour blind.
GUARDIAN: Doctor, release the Key to me immediately!
DOCTOR: Unable to distinguish between the White Guardian and the Black Guardian.
ROMANA: Doctor, what do you mean?

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DOCTOR: Don't you see? The White Guardian would never have had such a callous disregard for human life.
ROMANA: Of course. Astra, the sixth segment. He would have dispersed it immediately.
GUARDIAN: Doctor, you shall die for this!
DOCTOR: I think not. Remember, the Key to Time is still mine, rage all you like.
GUARDIAN: I shall destroy you for this! I will disperse every particle of your being to the furthest reaches of eternity!
DOCTOR: Ah well, I wish I could stay and watch you try, but you know how it is. Places to go, people to see, things to do. Romana?
DOCTOR: When I give the signal
DOCTOR: Dematerialise.

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As a child I was sorry to see the Tracer go having go used to it throughout the season.

Appearing in this episode only as The Black Guardian is Valentine Dyall.

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Known for being the Man in Black, the narrator of the BBC radio series Appointment With Fear, his distinctive voice has been heard in many productions including Captain Slarn in the Doctor Who radio serial Slipback, Norl in the episode City at the Edge of the World in Blake's 7 and Deep Thought on the TV Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy as well as Gargaval on the radio version. He'll be back for Mawdryn Undead, Terminus & Enlightenment.

So Astra is reunited with Merak at the end of the story. The episode almost feels a bit odd returning to Merak, Shapp, the Marshal & his missile attack after their absence last episode. They could have done with something then to keep them in the picture and I imagine some viewers would have forgotten quite who they were by the time they pop up out of nowhere in this one.

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I found this little epilogue on Atrios confusing as a child and it made me think the whole thing had somehow been a dream. I can vaguely see how my mind got there with the dialogue not being 100% clear what's going on as the key breaks up. The novel adds dialogue making it clear that the Doctor has ordered the key to be dispersed with Astra returned to Atrios.

Meanhwile the Doctor has gained a powerful new enemey so has come up with a way to evade him.

DOCTOR: You see? I think of everything.
ROMANA: Doctor?
ROMANA: What exactly have you done with the Key to Time?
DOCTOR: Key to Time? Oh, well, I just scattered it round through space and time.
ROMANA: I see. So where are we going?
DOCTOR: Going? I don't know.
ROMANA: You have absolutely no sense of responsibility whatsoever.
ROMANA: You're capricious, arrogant, self-opinionated, irrational and you don't even know where we're going.
DOCTOR: Exactly.
DOCTOR: Well, if I knew where I was going, there'd be a chance the Black Guardian would, too.
DOCTOR: Hence this new device.
ROMANA: What is it?
DOCTOR: Well, it's called a randomiser and it's fitted to the guidance system and operates under a very complex scientific principle called pot luck.
DOCTOR: Now no one knows where we're going. Not even the Black Guardian.
ROMANA: Not even us.
I can see what they're getting at here, a device to explain why the Tardis keeps turning up in random places. But the first place it takes the Doctor to is somewhere very familiar to him, then it's straight back to Earth with lots of very controlled journeys in Time (City of Death) and space (Horns of the Nimon, Shada). I'm guessing then that the randomiser can be overridden!

Watching the episode again now there's not a lot that stands out to me. Yes the Black Guardian confrontation is good, especially the concept that he'd disguise himself as the White Guardian to obtain his goal. This episode isn't just the climax to the story, it's the climax to the whole season long Key to Time story and somehow it's just not up to the job. There's no real sense of the spectacular to it, with a minimal cast, no location filming. We get one special effects shot of a spaceship here, when showing a legion of Zeon ships earlier in the story would have added to the scale. Scale really is the problem here, oddly enough for an episode that features shrinking, in that for such big concepts it really is an up close and personal episode.

As an experiment the Key to Time generally works as a season long story for me. The problem is it flags a little towards the end. Linked stories will be tried again in the future but never anywhere near as long as this.

This episode contains a whole bunch of lasts for the program. It's the last appearance by Mary Tamm as Romana, who felt her role hadn't developed as planned. The dates on her Wikipedia page also indicate she was pregnant with her daughter at the time so that may have been factor as well. However since Romana was a Time Lord it would be easy to just regenerate & recast her..... She recommended Lalla Ward, who appeared as Astra in this story, to take over the role.

The Mary Tamm Romana was the first companion I ever saw on screen so I may have a certain bias, but I think she's done a fine job and would have loved to see her do more.

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Mary Tamm died on 26th July 2012.

It's also the last appearance, for the time being, of John Leeson as the voice of K-9. Next season K-9 is voiced by David Brierly who then leaves allowing John Leeson to return to the role in The Leisure Hive.

This episode is also the last to be credited to script editor Anthony Read and by the time this episode was completed his successor, Douglas Adams was in place. Read would return to write one of the stories broadcast in the next season.

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Armageddon Factor is the last story written by the partnership of Bob Baker & Dave Martin who had been writing together for Doctor Who since 1971. I've struggled with some of their stories, The Mutants and the Underworld in particular, but am rather fond of The Three Doctors and most of Hand of Fear, though that goes off the rails a bit too in episode 4! Bob Baker will be back next season with another story, but it is the last we'll hear from Dave Martin who died in 2007.

This is the last broadcast six part Doctor Who story: another was intended to close the following season but as we'll see industrial action prevented it from being completed. *Technically* 1985's The Two Doctors, broadcast as three 45 minute episodes, is the equivalent of a six parter but.... As a consequence of this being the last broadcast six part story, it's thus the last broadcast Tom Baker six parter and so is the last time we'll hear the middle eight (the extra bit) on the original Tom Baker end titles. A regular musical cue in earlier Doctor Who title sequences it's only used on six part Tom Baker stories, usually on the final episode.

This episode completes Tom Baker's fifth season on Doctor Who, taking him past Jon Pertwee and making him the longest serving Doctor Who in terms of time.

The Armageddon Factor was novelised by Terrance Dicks. It was released on video in June 1995 on the same day as the preceding story, Power of Kroll, to form the final pair of released stories from the Key to Time season, with The Ribos Operation & The Pirate Planet coming out in April of the year and followed by Stones of Blood & Androids of Tara in May. The Key To Time season was a set of releases which came with a specially designed spine picture that ran over all six title. While there has never been a video boxset release of the Key To Time, it's only ever been available as a boxset on DVD. In October 2002 all six Key To Time stories were released in Region 1 with minimal extras & restoration to help satisfy the American demand for Tom Baker stories. The Key to Time was then released as a special edition, numbered & limited to 15,000 with brand new extras in Region 2 on the 24th September 2007, which sold out very quickly with this set commanding a premium price on eBay for quite some time. The Key to Time Box Set was reissued in a non limited edition in November 2009 and can now be had for a very reasonable price.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Hostage was shown.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

504 The Armageddon Factor: Part Five

EPISODE: The Armageddon Factor: Part Five
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 17 February 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"I know who you are, Doctor. I have always known. I have been waiting for you. I too serve a Guardian. A Guardian equal and opposite in power to the one who sent you. The Black Guardian, he who walks in darkness, and you are in the valley of the Shadow!"

Leaving the Tardis the Doctor becomes separated from Romana & Astra. Astra takes Romana to the Shadow while the Doctor, following the computer distress beacon K-9 detected, find his old classmate Drax, who was forced to create Mentalis by the Shadow. They start work on a device using Drax's damaged dimensional stabiliser. K-9 is sent to demand Romana's life in return for the five segments of the Key to Time. Drax is set to work freeing K-9 from The Shadow's control. The Doctor bargains with the Shadow, who says he has the sixth segment, and goes to fetch the Key segments from the Tardis but as he opens the Tardis door Drax blasts him with the gun they've made

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That's quite a shocking ending with the Doctor's former classmate and old friend Drax shooting him, and shooting him once he'd got the Tardis door open so The Shadow could get the Key To Time! There again there had been an exchange earlier about him working with the Shadow:

DRAX: Well, Doctor, welcome to my world.
DOCTOR: Aren't they stabiliser components?
DRAX: Yeah, they are.
DOCTOR: But you said your Tardis was parked on Zeos.
DRAX: Yeah, well, I took the stabiliser out. Needs a bit of work.
DOCTOR: How long have you been here?
DRAX: About five years. After the war started.
DOCTOR: Five years? For five years you've had a dimensional stabiliser virtually intact and you haven't managed to escape?
DRAX: I told you, it needed work.
DOCTOR: Oh, come on, Drax! You could have repaired that and long-dogged it out of here years ago.
DRAX: Here, what's the game? Oh, I get it. You think I'm in with the Shadow, don't you.
DOCTOR: Aren't you?
DRAX: Now would I.
DOCTOR: Yes, you would. What's he offered you?
DRAX: Nothing.
DOCTOR: Are you about to suggest that you and I make a run for it out of here in my Tardis?
DRAX: Well, it's a good idea.
DOCTOR: Oh yes, it's a very good idea, you and me in my Tardis. And what happens then when we're inside, eh? Sock full of sand, lead pipe and you away with the Key to Time, am I right, Drax?
DRAX: Look, I didn't know it was going to be you, did I. He threatened me with the chop, didn't he. He said I was the only one who could get hold of it.
DOCTOR: If you had, do you think he'd let you get away? You'd be in for the chop, too.
DRAX: Yeah, I would, wouldn't I.
DOCTOR: Of course you would. So why don't you help me? I mean, together we stand a slight chance. And after all, we are Time Lords, you and I. Class of ninety two. If we don't stick together, who will?
And it's not as if other classmates of the Doctor haven't tried to kill him repeatedly in the past have they?

In the first episode of this season the White Guardian told us what he wanted the Key To Time for:

WHITE GUARDIAN: The Key to Time is a perfect cube, which maintains the equilibrium of time itself. It consists of six segments, and these segments are scattered and hidden throughout the cosmos. When they are assembled into the cube, they create a power which is too dangerous for any being to possess.
DOCTOR: Well hidden then, I hope, sir.
WHITE GUARDIAN: There are times, Doctor, when the forces within the universe upset the balance to such an extent that it becomes necessary to stop everything.
DOCTOR: Stop everything?
WHITE GUARDIAN: For a brief moment only.
WHITE GUARDIAN: Until the balance is restored. Such a moment is rapidly approaching. These segments must be traced and returned to me before it is too late, before the Universe is plunged into eternal chaos.
Now we find out what the opposition has planned:
SHADOW: You have your Guardian and I have mine. You and I are on the same quest, Doctor, but whereas you have been scavenging across space and time, I have located the sixth piece here. You are inferior, just as your powers are inferior. Once we have the Key to Time, we shall set not two small planets but the two halves of the entire cosmos at war, and their mutual destruction will be music in our ears. Unlike others, it is not power we seek, but destruction that we glory in. Fetch the Key.
And a hint that a nasty fate lies in wait for the captured Princess, finally released from The Shadow's control:
SHADOW: Now, my Princess, your work is done. Your destiny is at hand.
ASTRA: Who are you?
ROMANA: The Shadow.
SHADOW: The Shadow that accompanies you all.
DRAX: Hello, Theet. How you been, boy?
DRAX: It is Theet, innit? Theta Sigma? Yeah, 'course it is. Remember me, ay?

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DRAX: Drax is the name.
DRAX: Come on, Theet. Class of ninety two?
DRAX: Yeah?
DRAX: Yeah. We was on the tech course together. Long time ago now, Theet, eh? Must be what, four hundred and fifty years? And a long way from Gallifrey.
DOCTOR: Yes, Gallifrey. Of course! Ha, ha! Drax.
DRAX: Yeah, I was all right at practical, remember?
DRAX: Temporal theory did me. Still, you did well, mind, getting your doctorate and all that.
DOCTOR: What happened to you?
DRAX: I failed, didn't I. Still, not to worry. I was doing all right till this lot. I went into repair and maintenance. Do anything, anytime, anywhere. I've been all over the galaxy. Buy a bit, do it up, sell it.
DOCTOR: Yeah. What sort of things?
DRAX: Cybernetics, guidance systems, you name it.
DOCTOR: Armaments?
DRAX: Yeah, and that. Not on a regular basis, of course.
DOCTOR: Drax, I was introduced to a computer on Zeos. Called itself Mentalis. Did you by any chance have anything to do with the installation?
DRAX: Strictly under duress. That's why I'm here. The minute I finished the job, wham. Feet never touched the ground.
DOCTOR: The Shadow?
DRAX: I didn't know who he was, did I. Just another customer, I thought. And then he puts the heavy word on. Do it or die. I mean, what would you have done?
DOCTOR: Yes, very tricky.
DRAX: Yeah.

At this point five year old Philip rejoins the story recalling the Doctor's college friend Drax and the Doctor crawling around tunnels, throwing the controlled K-9 to him. Drax as a character had been floating around Bob Baker & Dave Martin scripts for a while, first appearing in early drafts of The Hand of Fear, as a slightly shady Time Lord Mechanic.
DOCTOR: Drax, I don't want to pry, but where did you acquire this peculiar vocabulary?
DRAX: Brixton, weren't it?
DOCTOR: Brixton?
DRAX: Brixton. London. Earth.
DOCTOR: I've been to Earth.
DRAX: Yeah, me transport broke down. Hyperbolics, as usual. And I was investigating certain possibilities with regard to replacements. I got done, didn't I. Ten years I got. Well, I had to learn the lingo, didn't I, to survive. Why, is there something funny about the way I talk?
DOCTOR: No, no. It's very colourful. Very demotic.
DRAX: Yeah, well thanks, Theet.
DOCTOR: Doctor.
DRAX: Oh yeah.
DOCTOR: No offence.
DRAX: None taken.
Drax is played by Barry Jackson, who was previously Ascaris in The Romans and Jeff Garvey in Mission to the Unknown. There's several other science fiction series on his CV including A for Andromeda where he plays a Sentry in two episodes, one of the few surviving third season Doomwatch episodes Hair Trigger where he plays Dr. McEwan, which you can see on The Doomwatch DVD and Blake's 7 where he's Dr. Kendall in Mission to Destiny. He was also various roles in An Age of Kings and is Bob in The Professionals episode Stake Out.

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Nowadays Barry Jackson is best known as Dr George Bullard in Midsomer Murders where he appeared in nearly every episode from the show's inception till his departure in 2011. In a few of the earlier episodes that George Bullard doesn't feature in his place is taken by Dr. Dan Peterson played by Toby Jones, later to memorably play The Dream Lord in the 2010 Doctor Who episode Amy's Choice.

If IMDB had a tool similar to Cricinfo's Statsguru I'd try telling you how many other Doctor Who actors have been in Midsomer Murders. It hasn't so I shan't! But from this story John Woodvine has also done two episodes of it!

IMDB lists Stephen Calcutt as playing a Mute in these last two episodes. He was previously a Muto in Genesis of the Daleks and returns as a Marshman in Full Circle, and a Tribe member in Kinda. He also played Leonardo da Vinci in a second season episode of Rentaghost, was a Transylvanian in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and an Azurian Man in Flash Gordon.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Killer was shown.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

503 The Armageddon Factor: Part Four

EPISODE: The Armageddon Factor: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 10 February 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"There will be a rather large bang, big enough to blow up Zeos, take Atrios with it, and make certain the whole thing ends in a sort of draw. That's the way these military minds work. The Armageddon factor."

The Doctor sends Shapp & Merak back to Atrios to stop the Marshal but Merak is distracted by an illusion of Astra and is captured while Shapp is stunned by one of the Shadow's servants as he enters the transmat. The Doctor creates a fake sixth segment to use the power of the other five to time loop the Marshal's ship to prevent it attacking but as the fake segment decays the loop stretches. Astra is controlled by the Shadow and he sends her to retrieve the segments the Doctor has. K-9 is lured to the Shadow's base planet through a computer distress beacon placed in a transmat. Astra uses Merak to get introduced to the Doctor then, on the pretext of taking him to Atrios, abandons him in the corridors of Zeos. The injured Merak transmats back to Atrios but Astra, pursued by the Shadow's guards, is sheltered in the Tardis and is attracted to the Key To Time. The Doctor moves the Tardis to the Shadow's base planet, lying between Atrios & Zeos where the Shadow and a controlled K-9 are waiting.

I said last episode that I remembered nothing of that episode from my youth: the same applies here! When I last watched these for the blog I said

I also said that I'd watched these episodes a few days prior to writing the text (a long story involving my mother being hospitalised and dog sitting) One of the side effects of this is I'm reading the text above, written while watching the episode, and still remembering nothing of note. That may be an indication of it's quality in the middle of a six part story!
It's quality also isn't helped by the money having blatantly run out as testified to by the sheer number of reused props! Last episode we had some we had some UFO computer banks but this episode is prop spotting heaven!

I wouldn't have spotted either of these without the knowledge that the first appear in a future story in the same colour.

Behind the head of the pilot, played by Pat Gorman, is a black square panel. It's a repainted 2001 spacesuit chest unit, last seen under the desk in Stones of Blood in it's usual orange! That got me looking at the rest of the picture and in particular the thing just left of middle at the top. That's a 2001 Spacsuit backpack, again repainted black.

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Both pop up later in the episode, here they both are near the Transmat on Zeos!

Then later I spotted the console in Mentalis' control room:

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That's the console the spacesuit chest units were under in Stones of Blood. I'm told it was also in Underworld but it's original was in the Main Mission set in Space: 1999!

Then there's this box by the Tardis. There's two of them, one either side of the chair they sat the Doctor in while interrogating him last episode:

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That was previously in The Green Death and, since it is with a pile of UFO computer banks, probably came from UFO too!

This is the first Tom Baker six part story to be made entirely in the studio, which unfortunately removes me telling you about the story's location filming as an option. The last entirely studio bound six parter was Jon Pertwee's penultimate story, The Monster of Peladon, five years previously in 1974. Before that the next previous six parter made in the studio was 1969's Patrick Troughton story the Space Pirates.

Playing Princess Astra of Atrios is Lalla Ward, the stage name of the honourable Sarah Ward, daughter of Edward Ward, 7th Viscount Bangor. Having studied at drama school from 1968-1971 she'd worked for a few television series.... but this role would prove to be a vital one for her getting her noticed and cast in the role for which she became famous for. More on this shortly..... She had previously had a leading role in The Duchess of Duke Street where she played Lottie, the title character's daughter. Outside of Doctor Who the thing most people will have seen her in is The Professionals episode When the Heat Cools Off where she plays Jill Haydon. This episode is the only one in the regular repeats package that still has the original season 1 title sequence.

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Her love interest Merak is played by Ian Saynor. This was his second broadcast tv job.

I was convinced John Woodvine, here as the Marshal, had been in more than one Doctor Who but apparently not! His main claim to fame is appearing in 60 episodes of Z-Cars as Det. Insp. Witty but he can also be found in the cult classic An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, Edge of Darkness as Ross, The Tripods as Master West 468 (was he just the voice or in the costume?) and Knights of God, second Doctor Patrick Troughton's last transmitted TV work, as Prior Mordrin.

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Davyd Harries plays Major Shapp. He was in the missing Out of the Unknown episode 1+1=1.5 as Yates and the Blake's 7 episode Moloch as Doran.

Davyd Harries is responsible for the worst prat fall in Doctor Who during this episode when he's shot by the Mutes in the teleporter!

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Two days after this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Trial was shown.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

502 The Armageddon Factor: Part Three

EPISODE: The Armageddon Factor: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 03 February 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 7.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"The war is over. The bombardment is over. The next step is obliteration!"

The Doctor is transmatted to Zeos where he is interrogated by the Shadow, who has brought the Tardis there and wants the Doctor's 5 segments to the Key To Time. The Shadow vanishes, returning to his base where he then interrogates Astra. Romana & K-9 attempt to break in to the Transmat room but when they do Merak seizes the tracer and transmats ahead sealing the room behind him. Romana & K-9 follow, pursued by the Marshal's second in command Shapp who finds the Doctor on Zeos. The skull behind the mirror, a communication device from the Shadow, assures the Marshal there will be no more Zeon attacks so the Marshal decides to attack Zeos. Romana finds Merak, who has been led by the tracer to a bracelet belonging to Astra, The Doctor summons K-9 who helps them find Romana and then leads them to the Zeon commandant, the computer Mentalis who tell them the war is over and Obliteration is next. The Marshal nears Zeos and prepares to destroy it.

The episode starts full of dark corridors as we get to meet the Doctor's opposition in this story, The Shadow, who has been lying in wait for him for a rather long time:

SHADOW: You think I would trust you?
DOCTOR: No. And I certainly don't trust you. Bit of an impasse, eh?
SHADOW: No, Doctor, there is no real difficulty. I have waited so long, even another thousand years would be nothing for me. But you, I have watched you and your jackdaw meanderings. I know you and I know there is a want of patience in your nature.
DOCTOR: That's right. Fools rush in.
SHADOW: Exactly. Leave him. He will make his own mistake. Then, Doctor, I shall be waiting.
As well as the Doctor he has Princess Astra as a prisoner too:
ASTRA: I don't know! I don't know, I tell you.
SHADOW: You must know. You are a daughter of the Royal House of Atrios.
ASTRA: Yes, and I tell you, whoever you are, that I've never heard of the sixth segment or the sixth anything!
SHADOW: And I tell you, Princess, the secret has been passed down through generation after generation of the Royal House, and since you are the sole surviving member of the line, you must know and you will tell me, if I have to tear it from the living fibre of your very being. Do you understand?
ASTRA: Yes. And if I knew, I would tell you!
The identity of the other foe isn't really what we expect: it's not the Zeons but a computer, Mentalis:
DOCTOR: There's your enemy, Shapp. Runs everything. Attack, defence, surveillance, production, everything. The ideal war general. No glory, no speeches, no medals and no blood.
SHAPP: What do you mean?
DOCTOR: It's fully automated. There are no Zeons on Zeos.
SHAPP: No Zeons on Zeos.
DOCTOR: No. Just this passionless lump of minerals and circuitry. Highly efficient, doing very well, giving Atrios a battering, killed millions without a flicker. Just doing its job. And totally invincible.
I remember nothing of the middle two episodes of this serial from my youth so it's always a big surprise to me when we find ourselves in the room containing Mentalis, complete with the UFO computer banks. And, writing this just after having watched the episode, that's about all I remember of it now!

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Playing the Shadow is William Squire. The same year this story aired he was also in the Blake's 7 episode Horizon as Kommissar. Elsewhere on his long CV is the Late 1950s H.G.Wells' Invisible Man where he plays Waring the Valet in The Big Plot. He was in acclaimed Shakespeare series An Age of Kings in various roles. He works with Tom Baker again in The Hound of the Baskervilles where he plays Frankland.

Playing the speaking Technician in the Atrios control room is Iain Armstrong who can be seen in as a Villager in both parts of the Robin of Sherwood story The Time of the Wolf.

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Playing the Marshal's pilot in the last few episodes of this serial is someone who's probably been in more episodes of Doctor Who than anyone else: regular supporting artist Pat Gorman! He first appeared as a Rebel in Dalek Invasion of Earth, we last saw him as Kro in The Ribos Operation and he'll be back as a thug in The City of Death.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Pressure Point was shown.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

501 The Armageddon Factor: Part Two

EPISODE: The Armageddon Factor: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 27 January 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Six ships? Is that it? The mighty battlefleet of Atrios?"

The Doctor, Romana & Merak return to K-Block, but discover Astra gone, so then return to the Marshal's control room who now treats them like old friends. The Marshal has had K-9 recycled but the Doctor rescues him from the furnace. However Romana notices a device on the Marshal's neck and further investigation of the Marshal's Mirror, which he continually stands in front of, reveals a skull hidden behind it. The Doctor promises the Marshal a psychological deterrent against the Zeons but needs to speak with one. The Marshal says he knows of a secret transmat to Zeos but when the Doctor investigates he is captures by the same black clad strangers who kidnapped Astra and transmatted away....

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The thing I remember most about this episode is the lengthy sequence where K-9 is sent along a conveyor belt to the scrap metal furnace. Five & Half year old Philip loved it. Forty Five & a Half year old Philip looks at it and thinks "Filler". It serves no purpose to the plot and all it adds is a bit of quickly forgotten about peril. Worse still watching K-9 passing from left to right does rather remind people of The Generation Game!

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I suppose you could argue that it illustrates the dire straits that the Atrians are in that everything must be recycled but the presence of only 6 Atrian battleships also makes this point quite clearly.

THE MARSHAL: Now, Doctor, you shall see the mighty battlefleet of Atrios, the weapons that are available to you.
THE MARSHAL: The new architect of our victory. Shapp, order the counter-attack.
SHAPP: Yes, sir. Base to fleet, commence attack. Attack, attack, attack.
DOCTOR: Six ships? Is that it? The mighty battlefleet of Atrios?
THE MARSHAL: It does the people no good to know the truth, Doctor. They live on hope, nothing else. It's been a long, hard struggle. Production is slow, losses are crippling, but we fight on. That's the main thing.
THE MARSHAL: To win. What else? War is an expensive business, Doctor, but worth it.
The main source of mystery here comes from the Marshal of Atrios and the missing Princess Astra:
ROMANA: Doctor, when you went into the furnace after K9, the Marshal almost went berserk at the thought you might be killed.
DOCTOR: He did? How very considerate of him.
ROMANA: No, it wasn't. Because what he said was, the Doctor must not die. Not yet.
ROMANA: And listen, I saw something at his throat like a little black cylinder.
DOCTOR: What, a device of some sort? Something you weren't meant to see?
ROMANA: Yes, yes, I'm sure of it.
DOCTOR: A control device?
ROMANA: Yes. If the Marshal's a puppet, who's pulling the strings?
DOCTOR: Yes, and what's behind that mirror he's so fond of looking at?
MERAK: Questions, questions.
ROMANA: Shush.
MERAK: And no answers. MERAK: We're no closer to finding Astra or whatever it is you're looking for. Well, are we?
DOCTOR: Merak, I believe we're closer to finding Princess Astra than we realise. What worries me is, are we supposed to?
ROMANA: A trap.
DOCTOR: Who's pulling the wool over who's eyes? Are we supposed to fall for the Marshal's bluff or is he supposed to fall for our?
MERAK: Listen, Doctor, you said a minute ago that we were close to finding Astra. Please tell me where she is or where you think she is.
DOCTOR: It wouldn't make any difference. Even if I told you, you couldn't reach her.
MERAK: Why not?
DOCTOR: Because I think that Astra's on Zeos.
The Marshal's revealed to have a device on his neck and be talking to a skull through a two way mirror so he's clearly up to no good!
MERAK: It's the Marshal.
ROMANA: It's a two-way mirror.
MERAK: What's that?
ROMANA: Shush.
THE MARSHAL: It's done. The Time Lord suspects nothing. I've directed him to the transmat point in K block where your agents will be waiting.
ROMANA: Time Lord? How does he know?
MERAK: What?
ROMANA: Shush.
THE MARSHAL: My lord, once you have the secrets of time, please, give me my victory. I've waited so long. Please, my lord.
MERAK: He said K block. Astra was in K block.
ROMANA: We'd better warn the Doctor. Come on.
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Astra's only appearance this episode comes from a broadcast to Atrios urging them to lay down their arms!

ASTRA: People of Atrios, lay down your arms. Surrender. Resistance is useless. The Zeons can never be defeated. They have taken me captive. My people, my people, they have sworn to destroy Atrios unless you surrender now. If you love me, my people, save me. Save yourselves. Hand over the Marshal and surrender. Surrender now. The war is over.
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Our old friend Mister Harry Fielder makes a rare credited speaking appearance as a guard in this episode. Aitch had previously been a Central European Guard in The Enemy of the World, a Wheel Crew member in The Wheel in Space, a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen, a Guard in The Seeds of Doom where he actually got a credit in part 4, a Guard in The Deadly Assassin part one, a Sevateam Tribesman in Face of Evil, a Titan Base Crewman in The Invisible Enemy part one, a and a Levithian Guard in The Ribos Operation. He'll be back as a Tigellan in Meglos and a Security Guard in Castrovalva part one. His Blake's 7's include an Armed Crewman in Space Fall & Cygnus Alpha, a Scavenger in Deliverance and a Federation Trooper in Weapon, Trial, Voice from the Past, Children of Auron, Games, Warlord and Blake. In Space: 1999 he's a Medic in The AB Chrysalis, Security Guard in Catacombs of the Moon, Gerry in The Beta Cloud, a Command Centre Technician in The Lambda Factor, Security Guard George in The Seance Spectre, a Survey Team Member in The Immunity Syndrome and a Medic in The Dorcons. In a long career he's been in absolutely everything!.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Horizon was shown.