Sunday, 28 October 2018

488 The Stones of Blood: Part One

EPISODE: The Stones of Blood: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 28 October 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Darrol Blake
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)

"Death to the enemies of the Cailleach!"

The Doctor & Romana are trying to assemble the first two segments of the Key To Time when they are warned by the White Guardian to beware of the Black Guardian, causing the Doctor to reveal to Romana that the White Guardian, not the Time Lord president, had sent her on the quest. On Earth the Nine Travellers, a stone circle, is being used by night by a druidic cult worshipping the Cailleach. The next morning the Doctor & Romana arrive nearby, but the Doctor berates Romana on her choice of high heeled shoes for her first visit to planet Earth. She soon regrets her decision and they stop & rest at the Nine Travellers where they meet Professor Amelia Rumford and her friend, Vivien Fay, who are surveying the stones. Discovering blood at the scene the Doctor is informed that the site is used by a cult, and goes to meet it's leader, de Vries, who lives in the nearby Boscombe Hall. De Vries drugs him and prepares to use him as a sacrifice to the Cailleach. Romana, waiting for the Doctor at the stones, hears his voice calling her and follows the sound. She is confronted by an apparition of the Doctor and pushed over a cliff edge.....

Welcome to the 100th Doctor Who story! This is the first of several major milestones for the series this season. Apparently the initial intention was that the episode would start with the Doctor celebrating his Birthday and cutting a cake as a recognition of the story's significance but the scene was vetoed. Instead we get some decent Tardis scenes. Firstly The Doctor & Romana attempt to piece together the two segments of the Key they've found so far

DOCTOR: Right, let's put these two together and go and find the third. Er. Oh, I see.
ROMANA: Here, let me do it.
ROMANA: I used to be rather good at puzzles.
DOCTOR: Puzzles? You don't call that a puzzle, do you?
ROMANA: Well, hardly complex enough to be called a puzzle, is it.
DOCTOR: It certainly isn't.
ROMANA: Look, shouldn't we be getting on? We've only got two segments. Why don't you go and find out where our next destination is?
DOCTOR: Right. Ahem. Romana, I've just decided to go and find out where our next destination is.
ROMANA: Oh. Well?
DOCTOR: Have I got a treat in store for you, Romana.
ROMANA: Really?
ROMANA: Better than Calufrax, I hope.
DOCTOR: Oh, much better than Calufrax. You'll love it, I promise you. You'll love it.
1a 1b

Then they receive a warning!

VOICE: Beware the Black Guardian.
ROMANA: What about these, Doctor?
VOICE: Beware the Black Guardian.
ROMANA: What? Doctor, what does it mean?
DOCTOR: It's a warning, and a reminder.
ROMANA: Doctor, I do wish I knew what you were talking about.
DOCTOR: If she'd been meant to know, he would have told her.
ROMANA: What? Look, I only want to know about our mission.
ROMANA: After all, what would I do if something happened to you?
DOCTOR: If something happened to me? Yes, I suppose you have a point. Yes, I don't really think it's fair.
DOCTOR: Romana, you were not sent on this mission by the President of the Supreme Council.
DOCTOR: No, no, you weren't.
ROMANA: But, I saw. He told me. Well, what am I doing here?
DOCTOR: The voice you just heard and the being you saw in the shape of the President was the White Guardian, or to be more accurate, the Guardian of Light and Time as opposed to the Guardian of Darkness, sometimes called the Black Guardian. They can assume any shape or form they wish.
ROMANA: Just like the segment of the key.
DOCTOR: Yes. That's why our mission is so vital. Romana, the Key of Time is so powerful that it must not be allowed to fall into the hands of any one being. It's been broken up into six segments and the segments scattered through the universe and disguised as other objects.
ROMANA: Yes, I know that, but what I don't know is why.
DOCTOR: Because there are times when the forces within the universe upset the cosmic balance so badly that the entire universe is in danger of eternal chaos.
ROMANA: And I suppose the Key can prevent that.
DOCTOR: That's what the White Guardian said. When it's fully assembled and activated, it stops everything.
ROMANA: Everything?
DOCTOR: Yes. So that the White Guardian can restore the balance.
ROMANA: I see. And I suppose there's a time like that approaching.
DOCTOR: Rapidly.
1c 1d

Then we get to briefly see the otherwise absent K-9:

DOCTOR: Hello, K9.
K9: Master.
DOCTOR: Hello, my dear old thing. My
ROMANA: What's that?
DOCTOR: That's your surprise. We've landed.
ROMANA: Where?
DOCTOR: Come here. Earth.
ROMANA: Earth?
DOCTOR: I thought you'd be pleased.
ROMANA: I might have guessed. Your favourite planet.
DOCTOR: How do you know that?
ROMANA: Oh, everybody knows that.
DOCTOR: I didn't tell everybody that.
ROMANA: I can't think why, for the life of me.
DOCTOR: You'll like it. It's pretty civilised, on the whole.
ROMANA: Hmm, oxygen level good. Slight aqueous precipitation.
DOCTOR: Do you mean it's raining?
ROMANA: So it would appear.
DOCTOR: Ah well, that's what the locals call a soft day.
ROMANA: Oh, really?
DOCTOR: Any one for tennis?
ROMANA: Tennis?
DOCTOR: Yes, it's an English expression. It means, is anyone coming outdoors to get soaked?
K9: Master?
DOCTOR: Guard duty for you, K9. We don't know if the natives are friendly yet.
K9: Master.
ROMANA: K9, what is tennis?
K9: Real, lawn or table, mistress?
ROMANA: Never mind. Forget it.
K9: Forget. Erase memory banks concerning tennis. Memory erased.

1e 1f

So then we end up on Earth in a stone circle:

1s 1t

It's there we get to meet Professor Amelia Rumford and Vivien Fay.....

EMILIA: It's been surveyed, you know.
DOCTOR: I beg your pardon?
EMILIA: Surveyed. The circle. Many times.
EMILIA: Ah, so you noticed it, did you?
EMILIA: I always knew it was a matter of time before another professional came in and noticed the discrepancies. Oh, haven't I met you somewhere before, Professor?
DOCTOR: Doctor.
EMILIA: Oh, Doctor. Yes, of course. I have a wonderful memory for faces. Fougous.
DOCTOR: Fougous?
EMILIA: Fougous. Cornish fougous. You read that paper on them at the symposium at Princeton, or was it Cardiff? Oh, or was it that fool Leamington-Smith. Oh, dreadful paper. Complete bosh.
DOCTOR: Who are you?
EMILIA: Professor Emilia Rumford. Author of Bronze Age Burials in Gloucestershire.
DOCTOR: Oh! The definitive work on the subject.
EMILIA: Oh, you're too kind, Doctor, but of course perfectly right. It was the survey of Doctor Borlase in 1754 that brought you on to it. That's how I twigged, cos when I came to compare the survey of Doctor Borlase with the survey of the Reverend Thomas Bright in 1820 and then the two surveys of 1874 and 1911, well, it was obvious, wasn't it.
DOCTOR + ROMANA: What was obvious?
DOCTOR: I do beg your pardon. That's my assistant, Romana.
EMILIA: Oh, hello.
ROMANA: Hello.
EMILIA: What a charming name. What's the origin, I wonder?
ROMANA: What was obvious, Professor Rumford?
EMILIA: That there's been a miscount, my dear.
ROMANA: A miscount?
EMILIA: Of the stones. According to Doctor Borlase, the Nine Travellers here
ROMANA: The Nine Travellers?
EMILIA: Oh, it's a local name for them.
ROMANA: Yes, but there are more than nine stones.
EMILIA: Curious, isn't it.
Professor Rumford is played by veteran actress Beatrix Lehmann. The Stones of Blood is her last television appearance, she dies the following July. She played many roles over a long career. Her most famous prior science fiction appearance is in the second season Out of the Unknown episode The Prophet, an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's short story Reason, where she plays Doctor Susan Calvin. Sadly this episode is now missing from the archives but it's well known to Doctor Who fans as it's where the white Robots from the Mind Robber make their first appearance in their original black colour scheme.

Susan Calvin returns in the third season episode Liar! but in that appearance she's played by Wendy Gifford who was Miss Garret in The Ice Warriors. Unfortunately that episode is missing to so the closest we get to seeing Susan Calvin in Out Of The Unknown is in it's predecessor, Out of This World when Maxine Audley plays her in Little Lost Robot.

1g Rumford 1h Fay

DOCTOR: Dried blood, and quite a lot of it. Almost as if something had had it's throat cut.
VIVIEN: It probably did.
EMILIA: Oh, Vivien. Doctor, my friend Miss Vivien Fay.
DOCTOR: How do you do? You move very quietly, Miss Fay. I didn't hear you approach.
VIVIEN: I used to be a Brown Owl.
ROMANA: Really?
DOCTOR: The leader of a Brownie pack. Doesn't the blood upset you, then?
VIVIEN: Oh, it'll probably be just another sacrifice.
ROMANA: I thought you told me Earth was civilised now.
Susan Engel, playing Vivien Fay, has had a long acting career. I've seen her in Inspector Morse as Dora Hammersby in Death Is Now My Neighbour and her Midsomer Murders appearances as Camilla Crofton in Sins of Commission & Harriet Wingate in Death in the Slow Lane.

I first watched this story as a young & innocent five year old so some of the subtext may have been beyond me. The first time we saw this story together Liz took great pleasure in pointing out how unobservant I was and that there might be more to the relationship between Professor Amelia Rumford and her "friend", Vivien Fay than I had previously noticed.....

DOCTOR: Shush. You mean there have been sacrifices before?
VIVIEN: The BIDS are a bit primitive.
VIVIEN: The British Institute of Druidic Studies. Nothing at all to do with real Druids, of course, past or present. No, there's a group of them who come regularly. They all wear white robes and wave bits of mistletoe and curved knives in the air. It's all very unhistoric.
EMILIA: Oh, I think you dismiss them a little too easily.
DOCTOR: Why, has there been trouble?
EMILIA: Well, their leader, Mister De Vries, is a very unpleasant man.
DOCTOR: Really?
VIVIEN: Yes. As a matter of fact, we thought you were one of his group.
Playing Leonard De Vries is Nicholas McArdle. You can see him in The Sweeney as Inspector Wilson in Thou Shalt Not Kill and Tridgwell in Hearts and Minds. He also appears in the Porridge film as P.C. Townsend.

His wife Martha is played by Elaine Ives-Cameron.

1i DeVries 1j

At this stage the missing paintings on DeVries' wall seem like an unimportant detail.

DOCTOR: Thomas Borlase 1701 to 1754. Oh. Oh, so that's the good doctor.
DE VRIES: He surveyed the Nine Travellers, but then you probably know that already, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Mister De Vries.
DE VRIES: Correct.
DOCTOR: How did you know my name?
DE VRIES: It was very sad about Doctor Borlase.
DE VRIES: Didn't Professor Rumford tell you?
DE VRIES: One of the stones fell on him just after he completed his survey.
DOCTOR: What? Maybe we should warn the Professor.
DE VRIES: She's quite safe.
DOCTOR: Ah. What about them?
DE VRIES: Those are away being cleaned. One of them's rather fine, by the Scottish painter Ramsey. Lady Morgana Montcalm. Perhaps you've heard of her?
DOCTOR: No, I'm afraid I haven't.
DE VRIES: The Montcalms owned this land and this house, including the circle. They used to call her the wicked Lady Montcalm.
DOCTOR: Really?
DE VRIES: She's said to have murdered her husband on her wedding night.
DE VRIES: That's Mrs Trefusis. She was a recluse. She lived here for sixty years and never saw a soul.
DOCTOR: Really.
DE VRIES: And that's a Brazilian lady, or would be if she were here. Senora Camara.
DOCTOR: Hmm. Was there a Senor Camara?
DE VRIES: He doesn't seem to have survived the crossing from Brazil. But don't let's stand about here in the hall, Doctor. Do come in. Let me offer you a glass of sherry.
DOCTOR: Yes, thank you, thank you. I'd like that.
1k 1r
DOCTOR: That's rather an unusual pet, isn't it?
DE VRIES: It's not exactly what you'd call a pet, Doctor.
DOCTOR: You know, Mister De Vries, you never told me how you knew my name.
DE VRIES: Didn't I, Doctor?
DE VRIES: You never told me what your interest in the circle is.
DOCTOR: That's true. I'm looking for something.
DOCTOR: Part of a key.
DE VRIES: A key to what?
DOCTOR: Oh, it's just a key. It's been mislaid. Tell me, you're not really a Druid, are you.
DE VRIES: Not in the conventional sense, no, but I am a humble student of Druidic lore.
DOCTOR: That must be very boring.
DE VRIES: Boring? What do you mean?
DOCTOR: Well, I mean there's so little of it that's historically reliable, is there. The odd mention in Julius Caesar, Tacitus, no great detail. I always thought that Druidism was founded by John Aubrey in the seventeenth century as a joke. He had a great sense of humour, John Aubrey.
DE VRIES: It is no laughing matter.
DOCTOR: Oh. Oh, well that's a pity. What's your interest in the stones?
DE VRIES: The stones are sacred.
DOCTOR: To whom?
DE VRIES: To one who is mighty and all-powerful. To the Goddess.
DOCTOR: The Goddess? What goddess is that?
DE VRIES: She has many names. Morrigu, Nermintana, the Cailleach.
DOCTOR: Ah, Celtic, of course.
DE VRIES: Goddess of war, death and magic. Beware the raven or the crow, Doctor. They are her eyes.
DOCTOR: You don't really believe that, do you, hmm?
DE VRIES: I have seen her power, Doctor. Come.
It's at this point the Callieach makes it's entrance and DeVries whacks the Doctor over the back of the head!

1m 1n
DE VRIES: His blood is still warm. I know what to do.
Great stuff!

An odd thing sprang out at me: DeVries sitting in a chair smoking! I can remember Hartnell smoking a pipe in the second episode ever, The Cave of Skulls, and the Master has a Cigar in his chauffeur driven car in Mind of Evil but I don't recall any other cigarette smoking at all. I suspect there must be some in the Pertwee earthbound era that I've just forgotten about!

1l 1o

Right through this episode there's been some superb images in this episode starting with full moons and a druidic sacrifice in a stone circle.

According to IMDB somewhere in the Druids are a couple of regular supporting artists. James Muir was last seen in the previous story The Pirate Planet as a Technician and next in City of Death: Part One as a Louvre Detective while Mike Mungarvan we last saw as an Outcast Time Lord in The Invasion of Time and will be in the next story, The Androids of Tara, as a Gracht Guard.

1p 1q

Another recurring theme is crows, which DeVries draws attention to while talking to the Doctor. Put that together with the stone circles, druids and talk of sacrifices and there's a lovely sinister feel to the episode.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

487 The Pirate Planet: Part Four

EPISODE: The Pirate Planet: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 21 October 1978
WRITER: Douglas Adams
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.4 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)

"Xanxia shall live!"

The Doctor stands in the doorway laughing, proclaiming he has discovered the secret, demonstrating a solid hologram projector he used to duplicate himself. He tries to turn the Nurse off but she says she has nearly achieved corporeal form. The Mentiads gain entry to the Bridge allowing Romana to get inside. Under the Nurse's instruction Mr Fibuli finishes creating the machine to block the Mentiads powers leaving them vulnerable to the guards. The Doctor identifies the Nurse as Queen Xanxia, but tells her that her new body is unstable and will never achieve full corporeal form. She takes control of the Captain and seals the Bridge. The Doctor is appalled that they intend to jump to Earth next, and engineers his escape. K-9 sets up an interference wave against the jamming machine allowing the Mentiads to try to get into the engine room. The Doctor returns to the Tardis and prevents Zanak from materialising on Earth. He directs the Mentiads to use their Psychic powers to lift a spanner, destroying equipment in the engine room and damaging the bridge, killing Mr Fibuli. The Tardis materialises in the Bridge. The Doctor explains that Calufrax is the second segment of the Key to Time. The Captain tries to kill Xanxia but she kills him, and her new body is shot by Kimus. The Doctor sends everyone away, Romana returning to the Tardis with K-9. The Doctor frees the shrunken planets inflating them inside Zanak's hollow shell flinging Calufrax into the space/time vortex to be retrieved later. He and Romana lay explosives, which the Mentiads detonate destroying the the Bridge & Time Dams.

Ah that was good. Fast moving, lots of the Doctor being very clever and a satisfying resolution to the story.

First there's the cliffhanger, solved by "The Doctor" going off the end of the plank being a sort of holographic projection.

DOCTOR: Hello, everybody.
CAPTAIN: Doctor!
DOCTOR: Sorry I couldn't make the jump myself. I've got a terrible head for heights.
CAPTAIN: Then who?
DOCTOR 2: I've discovered your little secret. We're not all quite as we seem.
DOCTOR: Neat little machine, isn't it. And the image it projects might almost be real.
DOCTOR 2: Hello, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Hello. How are you?
DOCTOR 2: Oh, terribly well. Can't complain.
DOCTOR: Goodbye.
DOCTOR 2: Bye, bye.

4a 4b

This in turn leads to the next revelation that the Nurse, Rosalind Lloyd, is the the reincarnation of Queen Xanxia!

DOCTOR: And just as I can switch off that image of myself, I can also switch off the image of another apparently real person.

4c 4d

NURSE: Try all you like, Doctor, it won't work on me. My new body has almost attained fully corporeal form. It can no longer simply be turned off. Guards, seize him!

The Nurse isn't even in the first episode As the story goes on her role gets larger & develops until the reveal of her true identity and then she takes full charge and we find out the reason that Xanxia's aged body is being held in the time dams:
DOCTOR: So, Xanxia, the tyrant queen of Zanak.
NURSE: Bring the manifest.
DOCTOR: What about the real you? That wizened old body in the time dams back there.
NURSE: That thing is not me. This is now the real Queen Xanxia.
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, no, not yet it isn't. Your new body's based on a cell projection system, I think.
NURSE: Permanent regeneration based on cells in my old body, and thus containing all the memory patterns and all the brilliance built up over the centuries.
DOCTOR: Ah, but it's still unstable, isn't it? You're still dependant on the last few seconds of life in the old body.
NURSE: I'm nearly complete. My molecular structure has almost bound together, finally and forever. That is why you could not turn me off.
DOCTOR: It won't work, you know. Believe me. I'm an old hand at regenerations. It can't be done that way. Those time dams back there, they just won't work.
NURSE: I have calculated every detail. I shall live for ever.
DOCTOR: Bafflegab, my dear. I've never heard such bafflegab in all my lives.
NURSE: You dare to mock me?
DOCTOR: Ow! Ah, now we're getting somewhere, aren't we.
NURSE: You shall die now for your insolence.
DOCTOR: No, Captain. Captain, listen to me. This concerns you. You're being used, you know. You're being used by her just to do her dirty work. And what's your reward, Captain? Eternal life?
NURSE: What do you know of eternal life?
DOCTOR: Enough to know it can't be sustained by those time dams back there.
NURSE: When this body becomes fully corporeal
DOCTOR: It never will. Not ever.
NURSE: My calculations
DOCTOR: Are wrong.
NURSE: No, impossible!
DOCTOR: Inevitable, because they are based on a false promise.
NURSE: I gutted my own planet Zanak for all the energy it contained. I've ransacked planets from Bandraginus to Calufrax. Do you think I'm going to stop now?
DOCTOR: What next, suns? It's no good. The energy needs of the time dams increase exponentially. There just isn't enough energy in the universe to keep them going for ever. In the end, you'll die.
NURSE: You're lying, trying to save your worthless neck.
Then to spice things up a bit, the threat moves somewhat closer to home:
NURSE: We are impregnable. The Mentiads are powerless. The guards will pick them off at will. Captain, is Calufrax now entirely rendered?
CAPTAIN: Mister Fibuli?
FIBULI: Oh, er, yes, sir. All operations on Calufrax are now complete.
NURSE: And you have located a planet where we can find the mineral PJX one eight?
DOCTOR: PJX one eight? But, well, that's quartz.
DOCTOR: Yes, but from where? Where?
FIBULI: It's the planet Terra in the star system Sol.
NURSE: Captain, we will mine that planet immediately. Prepare to make the jump.
DOCTOR: Earth? Earth? Do you really mean to go on with this madness? But Captain, Earth is an inhabited planet.
DOCTOR: Billions and billions of people. You can't be that insane.
Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy came from an idea originally called The Ends Of The Earth, about the Earth being destroyed in a multitude of ways. I wonder if the concept of a planet "eating" the Earth, the core of the Pirate Planet story, was a left overt idea from that?

Some Adams' humour follows later:

ROMANA: Come on, Doctor.
DOCTOR: No, no, no, wait a minute. The inertia neutraliser. You know, I think the conservation of momentum is a very important law in physics, don't you?
DOCTOR: I don't think anyone should tamper with it, do you?
DOCTOR: No, nor do I.
(The Doctor pulls out a control unit, yanks a wire and puts it back. The guards come hurtling out of the corridor straight into the opposite wall.)
DOCTOR: Newton's revenge. Come on.

ROMANA: Newton? Who's Newton?
DOCTOR: Old Isaac? Friend of mine on Earth. He discovered gravity. Well, I say he discovered gravity. I had to give him a bit of a prod.
ROMANA: What did you do?
DOCTOR: Climbed up a tree.
DOCTOR: Dropped an apple on his head.
ROMANA: Ah, and so he discovered gravity.
DOCTOR: No, no, he told me to clear off out of his tree. I explained it to him afterwards at dinner.
Adams evidentially admired Isaac Newton: he gets a mention in the later Doctor Who story Shada and then pops up in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency as the inventor of the catflap!

And, incredibly, in amongst all this we get to return to the Key To Time plot!

DOCTOR: The Captain's trophy room. Well, what do you think?
ROMANA: Incredible. A masterpiece of gravitic geometry.
DOCTOR: Yes, obviously. All the forces cancel each other perfectly, otherwise Poof!
ROMANA: So all that shouting and blustering was just an act to lull Xanxia into a false sense of security while he built this.
DOCTOR: Yes. Let that be a lesson to you, my girl. Never take anything at its face value.
DOCTOR: The Captain's plan, we must be able to use it.
ROMANA: But he'll have the controls on the Bridge.
ROMANA: Wait a minute. The only way the Captain could destroy Xanxia without blowing himself and this whole mountain to atoms would be to get inside the perimeter of the time dams without disturbing it, right?
DOCTOR: Right.
ROMANA: Which would require astronomic energy sources.
DOCTOR: Here they are, all perfectly balanced out.
ROMANA: So when he has enough of them, all he has to do is alter the balance slightly and create a standing vortex in the middle of the time field, so time starts up at the normal speed and the Queen dies.
DOCTOR: Right.
ROMANA: Brilliant! But I don't see how it helps us.
DOCTOR: And it wouldn't have worked anyway.
ROMANA: Why not? The theory's sound enough.
DOCTOR: Yes, but Calufrax isn't.
ROMANA: Calufrax?
DOCTOR: Is not a normal planet. It's an artificially metricised structure consisting of a substance with a variable atomic weight.
ROMANA: So that means Calufrax, the entire planet
DOCTOR: Is the second segment of the Key to Time.
ROMANA: Of course. No wonder the tracer kept going mad.
DOCTOR: Try it now.
DOCTOR: The tracer. You have still got it?
ROMANA: I thought you had it.
DOCTOR: There.
ROMANA: But we can't move that. We can't move anything here. If we do, we'll just upset the whole system and create a gravity whirlpool.
DOCTOR: Not if I do something immensely clever.
4e 4f
ROMANA: What did you do on the Bridge, Doctor?
DOCTOR: You'll never believe it.
ROMANA: Try me.
DOCTOR: All right, I will. I've switched the Captain's circuits around to create a hyperspatial force shield around the shrunken planets, then I put his dematerialisation control into remote mode.
ROMANA: So we can operate them from here.
DOCTOR: Precisely.
ROMANA: But I don't see how that helps.
DOCTOR: What? Well, first I dematerialise the Tardis, then I make Zanak dematerialise for a millisecond or two, then I invert the gravity field of the hyperspatial forceshield and drop the shrunken planets
ROMANA: Into the hollow centre of Zanak!
DOCTOR: Exactly.
ROMANA: What then?
DOCTOR: Well, I would have thought that was perfectly obvious. They expand in an instant to fill a hollow space and bang.
ROMANA: But what about Calufrax? How do we get hold of Calufrax?
DOCTOR: Well, naturally, Calufrax is flung off into the space time vortex and we pick it up later in the Tardis.
ROMANA: Well, naturally. Oh, that's quite ingenious.
DOCTOR: Quite ingenious? It's brilliant. It's fantastic!
ROMANA: All right, it's fantastic.
DOCTOR: Fantastic. Right. Here we go then. There.
I feel rather sorry for The Captain this episode. He's been such a larger than life force in the first three episodes but here he's revealed to be just a puppet, albeit one that's trying to rebel. He cuts as somewhat forlorn figure cradling Polyphasavatron, slain by K-9 last episode and then loose Mr Fibuli who, for all The Captain's shouting and bluster, was his one actual friend.

4g 4h
CAPTAIN: Mister Fibuli, dead. Dead. He was a good man.
NURSE: Pull yourself together, Captain. We can still defeat the rabble out there.
CAPTAIN: Somehow, somehow, Mister Fibuli, my friend, you shall be avenged.
Bruce Purchase & Andrew Robertson have been pure gold right the way through this story and really helped make it memorable when I saw it as a child.

Unfortunately The Captain's attempts to take revenge on Xanxia prove to be his undoing:

NURSE: Have you done it? Is it ready?
CAPTAIN: Yes, Xanxia. At last I am ready.
NURSE: Captain, look.
CAPTAIN: I shall be free from you, you hag!
NURSE: What are you doing?
DOCTOR: No, Captain, don't! Don't do it! It won't work!
NURSE: Die, you fool! Die!
4i 4j

Having dealt with the Queen and the shrunken planets the Doctor has some loose ends to tie up:to do:

ROMANA: Congratulations.
DOCTOR: Clever, eh?
ROMANA: Fantastic.
ROMANA: But Doctor, haven't you forgotten something?
ROMANA: What about the Bridge, and the time dams?
DOCTOR: Bridge and time. K9?
K9: Piece of cake, master. Blow them up.
ROMANA: Oh, isn't that rather crude?
DOCTOR: Oh, it's a bit crude, but immensely satisfying.

DOCTOR: Come on, Romana.
KIMUS: Doctor, when all this is over, will we really be free?
DOCTOR: I don't see why not. It's entirely up to you. You've got to make this world a better place to live in. You've got plenty of material wealth, but there are other things. The other lead, Romana.
ROMANA: I'll do it.
DOCTOR: Thank you. Now, I think this is a good place in the universe to settle down. You've got reasonable sun, good neighbours and some quite convenient stars for when you get round to ordinary space travel. I think you're going to be all right here.
ROMANA: Ready, Doctor.

4k 4l

DOCTOR: Good. Next. What I want to know is, am I going to blow up that Bridge, or are you?
PRALIX: We will.
DOCTOR: Good. I'll get out of the way while you concentrate.
DOCTOR: That was very satisfying. Come on, Romana, we've got a job to do.

These final exterior scenes are once again filmed at Gellifelen Railway Tunnels, where the entranceway to The Bridge was located.

So then, right at the end, we get a nice large explosion. I'm little sad to see that fabulous model of The Bridge go up in flames but it needed to be done.

4m 4n

Fabulous stuff, one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. Some really interesting and big ideas being thrown around here. Even if they're going over your head it's still wonderfully entertaining stuff, The Captain especially. Although he dies here I was so pleased that he gets a brief cameo as one of the Fourth Doctor's greatest foes in Logopolis!

The Pirate Planet is the first story we've watched not to be novelised for Target Books. Douglas Adams was keen to novelise his three stories himself and wouldn't let anyone else do them. But then he became busy, and then became famous and the fees Target books would need to pay for his services shot up waaaay beyond the budgets for the range. So Pirate Planet, City of Death & Shada went un-novelised, alongside Resurrection of the Daleks & Revelation of the Daleks, Eric Saward's two Dalek stories allegedly due to the cut of the fees demanded by Terry Nation for the use of his creations. A fan adaptation of Pirate Planet exists and can be found at The New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club. Following BBC Books adaptations of Douglas Adams' other two Doctor who stories, Shada & City of Death, The Pirate Planet was finally released as an official book in early 2017.

I mentioned during the first episode of the story that Pirate Planet was the first Doctor Who story I saw all the way through aged 5 and a bit. A few days after watching it the first time for the blog I discovered my DVD was missing, taken off the shelf by my 5 year old son Jonathan. After he remembered where he'd put it (and the Invisible Enemy & Hand of Fear) we put it on and he watched it right the way through so it's the first whole story he's watched too!

The Pirate Planet was released on video in April 1995 on the same day as the Ribos Operation, with Stones of Blood & Androids of Tara following the next month and finally Power of Kroll & Armageddon Factor in June completing the Key To Time season, 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.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

486 The Pirate Planet: Part Three

EPISODE: The Pirate Planet: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 14 October 1978
WRITER: Douglas Adams
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.2 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)

"A plank. The theory is very simple. You walk along it. At the end, you fall off, drop one thousand feet. Dead!"

The Mentiads rescue the Doctor, Kimus & Romana and take them back to their home where Mula & K-9 await. The Captain punishes the guard responsible by killing him. The Doctor explains to the Mentiads what Zanak does. Mr Fibuli comes up with a way of neutralising the Mentiads powers using minerals found on Calufrax. The Mentiads tell The Doctor of Zanak's history and the arrival of the Captain in a spaceship crash. K-9 detects that the Captain has stepped up mining operations. The nurse, sitting in the Captain's chair, is pleased at the work he is undertaking. The Doctor & Kimus are captured trying to steel an aircar and are taken to the Bridge. Mr Fibuli traces the mineral they need to repair Zanak to Earth and make preparations to jump there & consume it bringing them, as he confirms to the Nurse, closer to achieving their objective. K-9 steals an aircar and follows the Doctor to the Bridge. The Captain confronts the Doctor and shows him his trophy room, a collection of planets mined and crushed down to small spheres. The Doctor wonders what it is for, but they are interrupted by the approach to the Bridge of the Mentiads. The Captain sends his robot parrot, Polyphaseavatron, to kill Kimus but K-9 arrives and chases it through the corridor, allowing the Doctor & Kimus to escape, sealing the Captain and his crew in the bridge. Breaking into a locked chamber they find Queen Xanxia suspended in the last few seconds of life by the energy drained from the planets Zanak has consumed. K-9 destroys Polyphaseavatron, and he & Kimus are sent to destroy the engine room. The Doctor goes to confront the Captain, enraging him when he presents him with the remains of his pet. Opening the bridge windows a plank is extended and the Doctor forced along it falling of the end to plunge to his doom 1000 feet bellow.....

3y 3z

How's that for a cliffhanger? The Doctor has just plunged to his death? How's he going to get out of that? Saved by someone in an aircar? Of course I've seen part 4 and I know how this is going to end... But what I had never noticed before was the Doctor finding the means in Queen Xanxia's chamber.

3e 3f
DOCTOR: So Zanak was a happy, prosperous planet?
PRALIX: Yes, till the reign of Queen Xanxia.
MENTIAD: May her spirit be accursed.
PRALIX: She had some kind of evil powers. The legend says she lived for hundreds of years.
DOCTOR: Come on, that's not necessarily evil. I've known hundreds of people who've lived for hundreds
The ancient Queen Xanxia is played by Vi Delmar, who reportedly wanted an extra fee for removing her false teeth!
DOCTOR: Those are the time dams.
KIMUS: What, you mean they stop time?
DOCTOR: Not completely, but they can slow down the flow of time in the space between, given enough energy.
KIMUS: That's repulsive. What is it?
DOCTOR: That's your beloved queen, Xanxia.
KIMUS: What? No, no, Xanxia's dead.
DOCTOR: Oh no, she's not. She's suspended in the last few seconds of life.
KIMUS: You mean she can hear me? But I just called
DOCTOR: No, she can't.
KIMUS: Does she know we're here?
DOCTOR: No. Not while she's between those two things there.

DOCTOR: To find enough energy to fuel those dams, you'd need to ransack entire planets.
KIMUS: So whole other worlds have been destroyed with the sole purpose of keeping that alive?
DOCTOR: Yes. There must be something more to it than that.
KIMUS: Even more?
DOCTOR: Yes. Would you go to those lengths just to stay alive?
KIMUS: Not in that revolting condition, no.
DOCTOR: No, not in that condition, but in what condition?

The answer to that question comes next episode, but the means of powering the time Dams we saw earlier:

3j 3i
CAPTAIN: My trophies, Doctor. Feast your eyes on them, for they represent an achievement unparalleled in the universe.
DOCTOR: What are they? Tombstones? Memorials to all the worlds you've destroyed?
CAPTAIN: Not memorials. These are the entire remains of the worlds themselves.
DOCTOR: You come here on the wanton destruction you've wreaked on the universe.
CAPTAIN: I come in here to dream of freedom.
DOCTOR: Did you just say the entire remains of the worlds themselves?
CAPTAIN: Yes, Doctor. Each of these small spheres is the crushed remains of a planet. Million upon millions of tons of compressed rock held suspended here by forces beyond the limits of the imagination. Forces that I have generated and harnessed.
DOCTOR: That's impossible! That amount of matter in so small a space would undergo instant gravitational collapse and form a black hole!
CAPTAIN: Precisely.
DOCTOR: What? But Zanak would be dragged into a gravitational whirlpool
CAPTAIN: Why doesn't it? Because the whole system is so perfectly aligned by the most exquisite exercise in gravitational geometry that every system is balanced out within itself. Which is why we can stand next to billions of tons of super- compressed matter and not even be aware of it. With each new planet I acquire, the forces are realigned but the system remains stable.
DOCTOR: Then it's the most brilliant piece of astro-gravitational engineering I've ever seen. The concept is simply staggering. Pointless, but staggering.
CAPTAIN: I'm gratified that you appreciate it.
DOCTOR: Appreciate it? Appreciate it? What, you commit mass destruction and murder on a scale that's almost inconceivable and you ask me to appreciate it? Just because you happen to have made a brilliantly conceived toy out of the mummified remains of planets
CAPTAIN: Devil storms, Doctor! It is not a toy!
DOCTOR: What's it for? Huh? What are you doing? What could possibly be worth all this?
CAPTAIN: By the raging fury of the sky demon, you ask too many questions. You have seen, you have admired. Be satisfied and ask no more!

When I first saw this story as a child the thing I really liked was the battle between K-9 and Polyphasavatron, the Captain's parrot!

3g 3h

As we mentioned in Part 1, Douglas Adams was at the time this story was made working on the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was later followed by the Television version. Unsurprisingly a few of the cast, which is largely the same over both media, have Doctor Who connections:

Simon JonesSeven Keys to Doomsday Stage PlayArthur Dent
Sandra DickinsonFifth Doctor Peter Davison's WifeTrillian
Ralph Morse Foster - Keeper of Traken Young Scientist
Peter Roy many & various Limousine Chauffeur
Anthony Carrick Captain Rossini - The Masque of Mandragora Lunkwill
James Muir many & various Vl'Hurg Leader
Peter HawkinsMany Daleksthe radio version of Frankie Mouse.
Valentine DyallBlack GuardianDeep Thought
Eddie Sommer Masquer - The Masque of Mandragora Magrathean
Jack MayGeneral Hermack - The Space PiratesThe Head Waiter
David ProwseMinotaur- Time MonsterHotblack Desiatro's bodyguard
Colin JeavonsDamon - The Underwater MenaceMax Quordlepleen
Peter DavisonFifth DoctorThe Dish of the Day
Mary Eveleigh Trakenite - Keeper of Traken Woman on Stairs at Milliway's
David RowlandsBisham - The Sunmakersthe Hairdresser
Geoffrey BeeversMelkur & The Master - Keeper of TrakenNumber Three

Onto who's playing the Mentiads, who were largely absent from episode 2!

The Mentiads' leader is played by Bernard Finch He'd appeared in the acclaimed An Age of Kings, the BBC adaptation of William Shakespeare history plays. He goes on to play Trevor in the missing Out of the Unknown third season episode Random Quest and can be seen in The Professionals as D.I. Harrington in Operation Susie.

3a 3b

There's a LARGE number of extras making up the ranks of The Mentiads and they all have Doctor Who form! We'll start with Peter Whitaker who appeared in the series the earliest when he played Inspector Gascoigne in The Faceless Ones episode 1. He was then a Weather Station Worker in The Seeds of Death episode five and a Thal Politician in Genesis of the Daleks. He'll be back as a Grecian Man in Four to Doomsday and an Onlooker in Remembrance of the Daleks. He was in Blake's 7 as a Scientist in Project Avalon and Doomwatch as a Ministry Inspector in Train and De-Train and a man in Flood.

Clive Rogers also has a Troughton appearance to his name playing a Space Guard in The Space Pirates, the Sniper in The War Games episode two and a Resistance Man in The War Games episode five! He was then a Brother in The Masque of Mandragora. His Doomwatch episode is The Iron Doctor where he plays a Visitor.

Colin Thomas didn't make his Doctor Who debut till the Pertwee era playing a UNIT Soldier in Doctor Who and the Silurians. He was then Sole in The Face of Evil and a Station Policeman in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, He returns as a Foster in The Keeper of Traken, Time Lord in Arc of Infinity, an Elder in Planet of Fire and a Pallbearer in Remembrance of the Daleks.

3d1 3c1

Brychan Powell also appeared with Jon Pertwee playing a Daleks' Guard and Russian Aide in Day of the Daleks, a Solonian in The Mutants and the Prime Minister in The Green Death. He's back later this year as a Noble in The Androids of Tara then a Logopolitan in Logopolis, a Walk-on in Black Orchid and a Citizen in Planet of Fire. He plays a man in the Doomwatch episode Flood.

Ray Knight makes his Doctor ho debut alongside Tom Baker playing a Soldier in Robot. He's then a Sorenson Monster in Planet of Evil and a Coven Member in Image of the Fendahl. He's back as Lexa's Deon in Meglos and the plays the ill fated Policeman with Bike in Logopolis part one! He's also in Planet of Fire as a Trion, and then is a member of Glitz's Crew in Dragonfire. He's been in Blake's 7 as a Federation Trooper in Countdown, a Rebel in Rumours of Death and another Federation Trooper in Warlord.

4o 4p

Tony Hayes' sole previous who appearance was as a Kaled Scientist in Genesis of the Daleks.

Derek Suthern first appeared as a Path Lab Technician in The Hand of Fear. He's back twice this year as a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara and a Mute in The Armageddon Factor. He's in the next season 3 times as a Guard in The Creature from the Pit, a Mandrel in Nightmare of Eden and a Guard in The Horns of Nimon and would have made a fourth appearance as a Krarg in Shada if that hadn't have been cancelled. That also deprives him of appearances in five consecutive Doctor Who stoies as he then plays a Argolin Guide in The Leisure Hive, the first story of the next season. He returns at the end of that season as PC Davis in Logopolis part one followed by playing a Cricketer in Black Orchid and a Man in Market in Snakedance. In Blake's 7 he was a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Federation Trooper in Trial & Countdown, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Hommik Warrior in Power and a Space Princess Guard / Passenger in Gold. He appears in the Roger Moore James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me as an Atantis Guard and is in Fawlty Towers as a Hotel Guest in both The Germans and The Psychiatrist.

Finally Jeff Wayne, no not the famous one, will return in Warriors' Gate as a Tharil and as the Sctyheman in The Visitation. He's in the final episode of Blake's 7, Blake as a Federation Trooper.