Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Action Figure Report: Attack of the Cybermen & Remembrance of the Daleks

Two more figure sets exclusive to Forbidden Planet and Underground Toys on their way soon. The Remembrance of the Daleks set is released 3rd February and features the Dalek Emperor Davros action figure & Destroyed Imperial Dalek action figure. The Attack of the Cybermen set is released 24th February and features Peri (variant) & Rogue Cyberman action figure with detachable faceplate and Cybergun accessory.

Action Figure Report: The Seeds of Doom 4th Doctor and Krynoid 2-pack.

Forbidden Planet and Underground Toys have just announced their latest exclusive classic Doctor Who figures. It's the Seeds of Doom set, featuring the 4th Doctor and Krynoid, with Cutlass, Open Seed Pod and Closed Seed Pod accessories. The set is available from 23rd March priced £24.99. 

Rather annoying the Krynoid figure is almost identical to the previously released Axon figure.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

46: The Invasion - Spearheading A Structure That Left A Legacy

Written by: Derrick Sherwin (from a story by Kit Pedler).
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot.
Monsters/Villains: Cybermen, Cyber Director, Tobias Vaughn.
Brief Synopsis: London is invaded by Cybermen.
Rating: 7/10.

The Invasion is the first big step in a new direction for Doctor Who as a programme. Originally planned as a 4 parter, it was doubled in length to 8 when the next story The Dreamspinner was abandoned. It was the very first story to feature the army organisation, the United Nations Intelligence Task-force or UNIT. Patrick Troughton had announced his plans to leave at the end of the season and this story was a drastic move in a new direction to ensure the future of the programme that would eventually, for a time at least, be almost entirely based on earth. The Invasion boasts the return of the incomparable Nicholas Courtney as Colonel, now Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and the new design of the Cybermen which is considered by me, and indeed most, to be the best ever. Sadly two episodes are missing, but never fear the team at Cosgrove hall have rather brilliantly animated the lost episodes 1 and 4.

The missing episode 1 and 4 are animated
excellently by Cosgrove Hall.
The TARDIS reforms and all of the Mind Robber seems to have just been a bad dream or delusion. The ship orbits the dark side of the moon, narrowly escapes a missile and materialises on Earth in the 1970's in a field of cows. There is something wrong with the TARDIS visual stabiliser causing the the ship to become invisible. The trio set off in search of Professor Travers to help them repair the damaged circuit and catch a lift in a truck. The driver explains that he is escaping the compound of a company called United Electromatics (IE) who have a monopoly on everything electronic. He helps the travellers to escape but is shot dead when he is caught and refuses to go back to the compound. 

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe catch another lift to Travers' house but instead find photographer Isobel Watkins, who is staying there with her uncle who has been absent for a week. She explains that Travers (who we previously met in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear) has gone to live in America with his daughter, Anne. The story was originally written to include Travers and Anne but their characters were replaced when Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln demanded royalties for the use of their creations.

The lovely Sally Faulkner as Sixties Chick Isobel Watkins.
Zoe stays with Isobel while the Doctor and Jamie go to IE headquarters in search of the missing Professor Watkins. Once inside they meet Tobias Vaughn, the Managing Director of IE, who explains that Watkins is working on an experiment and refuses to be disturbed. Vaughn offers help with the Doctors circuits and gives Jamie a disposable transistor radio. The duo depart but as they leave a panel opens up in Vaughn's office wall and we see some sort of alien device.

The Doctor and Jamie are chased by two men, who are later revealed to be Corporal Benton (played by John Levene) and Tracy who bring them to an air craft carrier where they are reunited with Colonel now Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He explains that in the four years since the Yeti in the Underground, he has been put in charge of a new group formed to deal with alien threats, the United Nations Intelligence Task-force, UNIT.

The Brig's back and he's moved up in the world...
Meanwhile Zoe and Isobel go to the IE building in search of the Doctor and Jamie. Zoe uses ALGOL (a computer programming language) to assign the computerised receptionist an unsolvable equation causing it to overload. Vaughn interrogates them and tucks them away. The Brig shows the Doctor and Jamie pictures of the missing persons last seen entering IE and they recognise the man who helped them escape the IE compound who it turns out was an agent for UNIT. The Doctor takes a radio to contact the Brig and with Jamie departs to find Zoe and Isobel. In his office Vaughn demands more information on the Doctor, and the alien device tells him, "he has a machine." Meanwhile Vaughn's number one man Packer captures the Doctor and Jamie.

Peter Halliday as Packer.
Vaughn shows up and takes his captives to the IE Compound. Vaughn's Compound office is identical to his London one. He says this is uniformity, I think it's a clever way to reuse a set. At this point I have to just take a moment to say how wonderful Peter Stoney is as Tobias Vaughn. Stoney was last seen in Doctor Who playing futuristic-super-villain Mavic Chen, (Guardian of the Solar System) and gives another truly impressive star turn as present-day-super-villain Tobias Vaughn. He inverts the usual, malevolence evil approach and goes about his evil deeds by being so apparently pleasant with everyone; except Packer, at whom he relishes shouting.

The excellent Kevin Stoney as Tobias Vaughn.
The Doctor and Jamie are brought to meet Professor Watkins (Edward Burnham) who tells them about his teaching machine, the Cerebraton Mentor, which is capable of inducing emotional changes in a subject. They manage to escape and hide from Packer and his men.

Edward Burnham as Professor Watkins.
Vaughn explains that he plans to use Watkins machine against their allies if necessary and secure the TARDIS as a means of an escape. The Doctor and Jamie learn that Zoe and Isobel are also in the Compound and Vaughn makes an announcement that they will be harmed if he doesn't hand himself over. The Doctor radios the Brigadier who orders a helicopter to rescue Zoe and Isobel using a rope ladder and all four escape to safety.

Realising the threat from UNIT and the Doctor, Vaughn uses his influence on the Brigadier's superior Major General Rutlidge and orders him to put a stop to UNIT's investigation. Learning of UFO's over the London IE warehouse Jamie and the Doctor infiltrate it and witness the reawakening and emergence of a Cyberman.

The Doctor returns and warns the Brigadier of an imminent Cyberman invasion. Rutlidge orders the Brig to give up all investigations of IE but he makes plans to gain authority from Geneva. Vaughn learns of this and demands that the being in his office known as the Cyber Director bring the invasion forward. An army of Cybermen is being revived in the sewers of London. Vaughn experiments with Watkins machine on an awakened Cyberman. He evokes fear within the Cyberman and it goes mad and escapes into the sewer.

The Brigadier wants to procede but needs proof. Isobel offers to go and photograph a Cyberman but the Brig refuses her help. Offended by the Brigadier and Jamie's bigotry and sexism, Zoe and Isobel depart, with Jamie in tow to capture a photo of a Cyberman.

The crazed Cyberman.
The Cyber Director tells Vaughn that the whole human race will soon come under Cyber control and be converted. Meanwhile Jamie, Zoe and Isobel enter the sewers. A policeman who follows them is killed by two cybermen, they can't go back and on their other side they encounter the insane Cyberman.

The UNIT logo.
The maddened Cyberman passes right by them and Captain Jimmy Turner, Benton and two other UNIT soldiers come to their rescue and face the Cybermen. The Cybermen are destroyed by grenades when they are distracted by the dodgy Cyberman. Back at UNIT Isobel develops that pictures she took, but the Brig says the they look fake.

At IE, Watkins has perfected his machine and brings it to Vaughn. Watkins threatens him calling him a mad man and Vaughn actually gives Watkins a gun to kill him. Watkins fires but Vaughn appears totally unharmed by the bullets. 

Benton and some UNIT men manage to free Watkins. The Doctor has discovered some micro monolithic circuits in a radio Vaughn gave to Jamie and in all other pieces of IE equipment. When the Doctor deduces that Vaughn wanted Watkin's machine as a means of stopping the Cybermen with emotion, he realises that the micro monolithic circuits are emotional circuits. Once activated they will produce the Cyber hypnotic force that can control human beings.

That famous moment, where the Cybermen emerge in front
of St. Pauls animated for a test trailer.
The Doctor and Zoe use the same method they used when the last met the Cybermen on the Wheel in space, to block their hypnotic signals using depolarisers warn on the back of the neck. At dawn the Cyber signal is emitted causing people around the world to collapse, leaving the Cybermen free to  emerge from the sewers and begin their invasion of London. It strikes me now when compared to modern Who just how small scale this all seems. We see just a few people effected by the Cyber signal and seemingly only in London. In modern who we would see people all over the world effected.

UNIT make plans to use a Russian rocket to destroy the origin of the Cyber signal and missiles to destroy the oncoming Cyberfleet. The Doctor returns to see Vaughn to persuade him to help humanity, whilst Captain Jimmy goes to Russia and the Brigadier goes to a missile site.

The excellent Cyberman redesign.
At the missile site Zoe is given 30 seconds to achieve the necessary calculations to destroy the Cyberfleet. I laughed out loud when I noticed one of the missile techies clearly looks at her bum. Thanks to Zoe's ingenuity the majority of the Cyberships are destroyed by the missiles.

In Vaughn's office the Cyber Director takes control of the invasion and announces their intention to use a Cyber megatron bomb to destroy all life on earth. Vaughn angers and destroys the Cyber Director using the cerebration mentor machine. The Cybermen take over IE and kill Packer. The Doctor persuades Vaughn to help him and gives the Brigadier their two options: They must either, cut off the transmitter of the radio beam at the compound or destroy the remaining Cyber spaceship. The Doctor and Vaughn head straight for the transmitter and the Brig sends them some back up. Again I like the way how the Brig explains that they only have one platoon as the rest of their men are still under the influence of the Cybermen's signal. The real reason is lack of budget and therefore extras, but they cover this well.

The famous St Paul's moment recreated with the re-imagined
Cybermen to publicise The Doctor Who Experience.
The russian rocket is fitted with a warhead and launched at the remain cybership The Doctor, Vaughn and the UNIT platoon infiltrate the old IE factory in the Compound. Vaughn is killed, but they manage to destroy the homing signal, apparently disabling the use of the megatron bomb. However the Cybership moves in closer to launch their bomb. A plan is formed but we then get this wonderful moment where everyone just has to wait, for 12 minutes to see what happens, even the Doctor can't do anything. It's such a nice little moment.

Fortunately the bomb is destroyed by a missile and the the Russian rocket destroys the Cybership which had come in to range. Isobel gets offered a job as a photographer with a publishing group and along with Captain Jimmy escorts the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe back to the field where they arrived. The Doctor finishes repairing the TARDIS visual circuits and the craft dematerialises.

The Invasion is quite certainly too long, but it has a charm to it. The story's writer Derrick Sherwin acted as script editor and producer on Doctor Who but this is the only story he actually wrote entirely. This format would be returned to for Jon Pertwee's first story and many to come after that. The Invasion pioneered a format that would stick around for a long time afterward. Although the impressive location shoots, new/best ever Cybermen design, return of the Brig, introduction of UNIT, amazing performance by Kevin Stoney and now excellent animation of it's two missing episodes may not make this "whole" greater than the sum of it's parts, those parts are still certainly outstanding none the less!

Join me (and my good friend Ed) next time for The Krotons.

Friday, 20 January 2012

45: The Mind Robber - Fantastic. Because Or In Spite Of Production Constraints?

Written by: Peter Ling.
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot.
Monsters/Villains: The Master (Of The Land of Fiction), White Robots, Clockwork Soldiers, The Master Brain. 
Brief Synopsis: In order to escape a volcanic eruption, the Doctor activates an emergency unit which moves the TARDIS out of normal time and space and into the Land of Fiction.
Rating: 8/10.

Now that was more like it. After the rather disappointing start to season 6 with The Dominators, we're back on track with something truly unique and entirely different from anything that has gone before it, or that will follow. There are numerous reasons to love The Mind Robber and those only multiply when you learn what difficulties were surpassed when making this adventurous serial.

The first issue was the addition of an extra episode. Due to the shortening of The Dominators from six to five episodes (thank goodness) the entire first episode (which is brilliant by the way) was cobbled together by Derrick Sherwin and the production team. 

In order to escape the volcanic eruption on Dulkis the Doctor activates an emergency unit that moves the TARDIS out of the time-space dimension and according to the ships instruments they are nowhere. Zoe, who has changed into the infamous lame catsuit, is curious to explore what's outside but the Doctor rebuffs her saying "If we move outside the TARDIS, we step into a dimension about which we know nothing. We should be at the mercy of the forces outside time and space as we know it. We must stay in the TARDIS"

Left alone in the console room Jamie and Zoe are each tempted outside by being shown images of their homes; Jamie of Scotland and Zoe of her home 'city.' Together they manage to withstand temptation but when Jamie goes to get the Doctor, Zoe goes out into the white void and vanishes. When they return Jamie runs out to rescue Zoe and also vanishes, leaving just the Doctor in the TARDIS who seems to come under some kind of mental attack. 

Jamie and Zoe find each other in the white void, but they're lost. Again they see their homelands and suddenly are surrounded by white robots who mesmerise them. Back in the TARDIS a voice tempts the Doctor to save his companions. Finally he too succumbs, goes out and vanishes too. In the void the Doctor steps out of a white TARDIS and drags a white costumed Zoe and Jamie back in to the ship and the trio safely dematerialise. Everything sees to be normal until all three feel an alien vibration, and begin to loose concentration. Shockingly we see the exterior of the TARDIS break-up and Zoe and Jamie cling to the ship's console falling through blackness. 

This is definitely up there with the best cliffhangers ever! Interestingly due to the additional episode each installment of this story was particularly short. Each one comes in between 22-19 minutes in length with episode five being the shortest episode of Doctor Who ever at just 18 minutes.

Issue number two came when the actor who played Jamie, Frazer Hines, contracted chickenpox and wasn't well enough for the recording of episode two and some of three. Fortunately this was The Mind Robber so some rather unusual methods could be used to fix this little problem. Jamie is wondering through a strange kind of forest when he sees a Red Coat, gets shot and turns into a sort of cardboard cut-out. 

Meanwhile, Zoe goes through a pair of large white doors and falls into a giant pit. The Doctor comes across a strange character who claims to be from 1699, who tells him about the Master who has brought them here. We then get another one of those wonderful yet tiny references to the Doctor's history when the stranger tells the Doctor, "The Master holds articles of impeachment for treason and other capital crimes." To which the Doctor replies "Treason again. Really?" Suggesting that the Doctor committed treason before. He is  then surrounded by children who taunt him with jokes and riddles. They seem to test him and threaten him with a sword which he manages to turn into a dictionary when he realises that it is an anagram. 

Hamish Wilson as 'Jamie.'
The Doctor hears Jamie and comes across his cardboard cut-out. He finds a locked safe and a wishing well and manages to link this all together to deduce that "Jamie is safe and well." Frazer Hines' absence is then dealt with in the most peculiar way. Jamie's face is missing and the Doctor has to compile it from bits of faces. He comes to life, but the Doctor got it wrong so he appears differently. He's also portrayed by a different actor! Welcome Hamish Wilson, who will be playing 'Jamie' for a little while.

The Clockwork Soldiers.
'Jamie' is telling the Doctor that the TARDIS broke up when they hear Zoe's voice and find the white door. 'Jamie' wants to bash it in but the Doctor cracks the riddle and realises: "When is a door not a door? When it's a jar." This is both literal and a literary as a giant jar appears and they help Zoe out. 

Not just any trees!
The Doctor fears that they may be in a place where nothing is impossible. 'Jamie' climbs one of the trees in the forest they're wandering through and realises that it's a letter S and all the other trees are letters and words too. They continue to traverse the forest of words until they are captured by giant clockwork soldiers who lead them to a black void where they are charged by a White Unicorn.

The trio refuse to believe it exists and like Jamie before, it too turns into a cardboard cut-out. They escape the black void once again 'Jamie' is shot by a Red Coat, the Doctor has to do the same face making and the normal (Frazer Hines) Jamie is back with us. They enter a house and find a maze, ball of twine and a Minotaur. 

A rather jolly looking Minotaur.
Once again they come across the stranger, who the Doctor finally recognises as Lemuel Gulliver who only speaks the lines Jonathan Swift wrote for him in the novel Gulliver's Travels. This helps the Doctor to realise that they have entered the land of fiction.

The stranger was Lemuel Gulliver played by Bernard Horsfall.
Meanwhile a clockwork soldier chases Jamie up a rock face and into the citadel, which he scales using Rapunzel's hair, while Zoe and the Doctor face the Medusa, whom they best using a mirror.

An incredibly creepy Medusa design.
Then a comic book hero from the year 2000, the Karkus, shows up and get's his ass kicked by Zoe. In the end he submits and agrees to take them to the citadel. Once inside the white robots arrive again and the Master invites the three travellers for an audience. 

The Karkus.
Surprisingly the Master is not malevolent and evil, but a writer from 1926 who wrote the adventures of Jack Harkaway and was selected by the Master Brain to be it's source of imagination. He remains unnamed throughout the piece but it is strongly implied that he is the great children's author Frank Richards; a pen-name used by Charles Hamilton when writing the famous series of Billy Bunter stories. The Master tells the Doctor that he wants him to take over as the Master of the land of fiction. He also says of the Doctor, "You are ageless, you exists outside the barriers of time and space." Rather tangentially I thought I'd share a rather tenuous personal link I have with story: I can't help but get excited every time I see my own rather unusual name (Emrys) in the credits of Doctor Who every time I see:

Emrys Jones as The Master.
Jamie and Zoe try to escape, but are caught by the white robots and fictionalised by being shut inside a giant book (a rather novel idea). The White robots move in on the Doctor but he escapes by climbing to a higher part of the citadel. The TARDIS appears and Zoe and Jamie get the Doctor inside, but it turns into yet another cardboard cut-out and the Doctor is attached to the master brain computer. The Master reveals that the Master Brain wants the people of earth brought to the land of fiction leaving their planet free to be taken over. The Doctor fights him when he learns that the computer feeds off his thoughts giving him power equal to that of the Master. 

When then get a battle of imaginations. The Master calls the clockwork soldiers, but the Doctor calls the Karkus. The master calls Cyrano de Bergerac but the Doctor calls D'Artagnan to fight him off. The Master turns Cyrano into Blackbeard the pirate but the Doctor turns D'Artagnan in to Sir Lancelot and wins out.

Cyrano De Bergerac.
Blackbeard the Pirate.
Sir Lancelot.
The white robots close in and are about to kill the Doctor, when Jamie and Zoe rather tenuously save the day by "pressing lots of buttons" on the computer causing the Master Brain to overload. The Doctor removes the head piece connecting the Master and all four depart as the white robots fire their disintegrators. The computer is destroyed and everyone is returned to their rightful places; the Master supposedly to his home and the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie to the TARDIS which we see reforming.

The White robots were loaned from another show called Out of The Unknown.
Some consider the events of The Mind Robber to be just a dream. For example, the changing of Jamie's face could be construed as a manifestation of the Doctor's regeneration trauma. Also, Zoe recognises candles, despite not knowing what they are in a later story: The Space Pirates. Most significantly, despite the Master being with the TARDIS crew at the end of the story, his absence is not remarked upon at the start of the following story. In fact, none of the events of this story are mentioned or referenced again which could indicate that the TARDIS crew may not even remember them properly.

The 6th Doctor, Jamie and Zoe would end up taking another trip to the Land of Fiction in the excellent Big Finish audio Drama 'The Legend of the Cybermen.' If you liked the Mind Robber it's well worth a listen.

Click to purchase.
I really enjoyed The Mind Robber even if it does lose steam a little in the last two episodes. I have no idea if this story is so strong, vibrant and different because of all the issues the production team faced, or in spite of them. Either way it is a wonderful story and fully shows Doctor Who at it's best. When it's pushing the boundaries and experimenting with the format each week. The more Troughton and Hartnell I see, the more I love it. These episodes are quickly becoming my favourites, because although they were not always wonderful, they were always different. At this point the programme still didn't know exactly what it was and although some structures and formulas were becoming apparent, The Mind Robber proves that Doctor Who can be anything and everything.

Join me next time for the rather epic-ly long The Invasion.

Friday, 13 January 2012

44: The Dominators - The Odd Couple In Space.

Written by: Norman Ashby.
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot.
Monsters/Villains: Dominators, Quarks.
Brief Synopsis: The Aptly named Dominators, use their robot Quarks to threaten the pacifist planet, Dulkis.
Rating: 4/10.

Hello, and a very happy new year to you all. I'm kicking off this year with a bit of a throwback to the last. I actually watched The Dominators last month, but with Christmas at home, a wonderful new years in Dublin with my sweetheart, and THREE auditions in the first week of this year I haven't had any time to write it up. Until now. The really good news is, that as we launch in to season 6 of Doctor Who there is only one more story to go that was effected by the BBC wipe-fest. Yes, we are finally nearly out of the wilderness! The bad news is The Dominators really isn't the best story to get 2012 underway. So we'll say that it was the last of 2011 and then we can get excited next time about the truly brilliant and unique story that follows. I hope you like the redesign of the blog, I'm still ironing out a few kinks, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. As always I greatly appreciate your feedback so let me know if there is anyway you think I can improve the site, by e-mailing me or leaving a comment.

The story starts promisingly with a massive fleet of ships in space apparently enroute to the planet Epsilon 4. We follow one ship that breaks off and lands on the pacifist planet Dulkis. With foresight I can't help but think, why couldn't we have followed a different ship to another planet? Perhaps that would have been less... well..... incredibly dull. 

Navigator Rago and Probationer Toba.
The ship lands and we meet Navigator Rago and his wife... uh, I mean subordinate, Probationer Toba. Right from the get go they discuss that their ship is absorbing the local radiation and transferring it to the fuel reserves. Which is all well and good, but the other characters will frustratingly spend most of the five episodes trying to work out where all the radiation has gone.

The Short lived, Wahed, Tolata and Etnin with Tour Guide Cully.
Simultaneously a small ship carrying three would-be-adventurers and their tour guide, Cully, visit a popular Dulcian tourist attraction. A test site riddled with radiation and aptly named the Island of Death. This is the location where the majority of this story is set and I promise by the end you'll be wishing the radiation was still there to kill everyone. Their ship crashes and at the order of Toba, they are barbarously executed by the Dominator's trendy looking, yet totally non-functionally designed robots, the Quarks. At this moment the TARDIS arrives.

The Quarks.
I have to take a moment here to talk about costume. I don't normally talk much about this element, but here one cannot avoid it. The Dominators are wearing these odd oversized, padded, life-preserver-like smocks, over flappy black leather jumpsuits. Like the design of the Quarks, I do find them oddly aesthetically pleasing, but I just can't imagine any reason why anyone would ever wear something like this. Maybe it's just a sort of artistic collage demonstrating their dominant nature? But never mind that, the Dulcian's inherent pacifism is clearly mirrored in their wholly skimpy, and at times inappropriately revealing garments. The most unfortunate example going to Cully, who is basically wearing curtains that look like a dress. Unfortunately we frequently get flashes of his black pants. Yuck!!

The three different Dulcian fashion styles:
Female, Male and umm, Older Male.
172 years prior, the island was the scene of a radioactive test site, and is frequently visited by students on Dulkis to see the dangers of such weaponry. Jamie, Zoe and the Doctor, who has been to Dulkis before, emerge from the TARDIS, explore the remains of a war museum and find a laser gun. Zoe says the place reminds her of the old test islands on earth and the trio realise that they may have wandered into a highly radioactive area. Just then they are rescued and taken to safety by the Survey expedition team from the University.

The Laser gun.
They are screened, but have no trace of radiation, and we know well why not. Here we meet Educator Balan and two of his students Teel and Kando. Cully, who managed to escape the Quarks, warns the Doctor that the Dominators were considering destroying the TARDIS. So the Doctor and Jamie head off to investigate, happen upon the Dominator's ship and are captured by the not so lovely couple.

Educator Balan.
Zoe and Cully are sent to the capitol via travel capsule (Just dial where you want to go and in eight minutes or less you're there) to explain what is happening, but when they arrive Director of the Council, Senex doesn't believe them. For some reason Zoe changes into some Dulcian attire or lack there of.

The Quarks, rather hilariously use a 'molecular force' to bind Jamie and the Doctor to the wall, while they are interrogated. Rago scans Jamie to investigate his physiognomy, but he is dismissed. They don't scan the Doctor but instead decide to test his intelligence. The Doctor is then attached to a kind of Jig-Saw puzzle from hell. The pair are tested but fail on purpose. After various tests, Rago lets them go, as they are deemed useless.

Balan, Teel and and Kando go to see if Cully was telling the truth. They enter the ship and are captured by the Dominators. Rago scans Teel and discovers that he has two hearts, having dismissed Jamie and the Doctor (whom they didn't scan) as useless, weak beings with one heart. Rago affirms that they may be able to use them as a labour force yet. Of course it won't be revealed until Spearhead From Space but the Doctor also has two hearts. Meanwhile Zoe and Cully have returned to the Survey Base just as Toba orders the Quarks to destroy it. 

Rago scanning Jamie and Teel or
possibly some sort of evil dentist.
Rago arrives at the last minute, scolds Toba and orders the Quarks to stop, capture and not kill. The Doctor and Jamie arrive at the capitol to see Senex and warn the council about the Dominators, but they elect to do nothing, declaring, "better do nothing, than do the wrong thing." 

The Council.
Zoe, Cully, Balan, Teel and Kando and taken to the war museum to test their manual labour skills for enslavement. Rago orders them to be worked until they collapse and then returned to him. Zoe leads Cully and Teel in trying to overcome the Quarks, but the attempt fails.

Teel and Kando with A Quark.
At the capitol it is decided that Chairman Tensa will deal with counteracting the current problem. Tensa says they have three options: fight, submit or flee. They don't want to submit, they have nowhere to flee, and they won't fight so they'll choose mystery option number four and continue to do nothing.

The Doctor and Jamie go back to the war museum and split up to try to free the others. Cully sneaks off and is about to fire on a Quark with the laser gun but Jamie distracts him. The Doctor is captured by Toba, and he and the others are taken back to the Dominator's ship, while Toba and a Quark go to find Cully. Jamie uses the laser gun in the museum to destroy the Quark, but many more arrive and Toba orders them to destroy the museum with Jamie and Cully inside.

Another lovers spat.
Rago scolds Toba once more saying their power levels are low and they must preserve the Quarks. Rago also says he is beginning to wonder if Toba has the qualities of intelligence and detachment necessary to be a Dominator. Ohhh it just got real! Toba, who seems to just want to destroy everything he comes across, throws down and says that Rago is soft and that it is he who doesn't have what it takes to be a Dominator. Rago orders a Quark to place Toba under restraint causing him to submit and take the Dulcians to the drilling site as ordered. The Doctor and Zoe remain under Quark guard as Rago goes to the Capitol via travel capsule.

Fortunately Jamie and Cully managed to survive by climbing down a hatch in to an underground shelter. They get out and play ten pin bowling with a Quark as the pin and a bolder as the ball. The Quark left guarding the Doctor and Zoe leaves to investigate Jamie and Cully's handiwork leaving the Doctor and Zoe to finally deduce that the Dominator's ship is powered by... that's right you guessed it 'radiation' and that that must be where all the radiation went. Didn't see that one coming... Oh no wait, I did.

Toba goes off on another kill-jolly when he learns that a Quark was destroyed and orders the Quarks to search out and destroy any unaccounted aliens. Rago breaks into the council meeting, saying that he only respects superior force, and orders a Quark to kill Tensa. He informs the Dulcians that he will enslave them and take them to his home planet to replace the Quarks as slaves.

The rather gorgeous Felicity Gibson as Tando.
Meanwhile Toba threatens and tortures Teel until Kando tells him that it was Jamie who destroyed the Quark. Toba threatens, "You will die, one by one, until you tell me [where Jamie is]" and orders a Quark to kill Balan with the Doctor next in line.

Fortunately Rago interrupts. At this point I noticed that Rago practically never looks at Toba. Perhaps it's a power play or perhaps it's because he can't look at him the same way after last night.... After another lovers tiff Rago orders Toba to return to overseeing some drilling. 

Rago not looking at Toba.
Jamie and Cully return to their Underground hideout where Jamie uses a periscope to spy on the Quarks. At this point my sweetheart chimes in with, "How does Jamie know what a periscope is, or how to use it?" This prompted me to look into this and I discovered that a form of periscope was invented in 1430 which does predate Jamie by some 300 years. However this kind of periscope wasn't pioneered until 1854 or used on submarines until as late as 1902. I also challenge the likelihood that Jamie would have come across one, know what it was called and how to use it. As an historical companion it wouldn't be reasonable for Jamie to constantly question every new thing around him, but I feel sometimes the writers miss some great moment for Jamie to discover the wonders of technology/conveniently forget that he is from circa 1746.

Nearly at the very end of the story all of the Dominator's plans are finally revealed. Their fleet commander has decided that the Dulcians are not fit for slave labour and they will be destroyed along with their planet. They plan to fire rockets into the centre of the planet at a weak point in the planet's crust, to cause a volcano and then to launch a radioactive seed device in to the core of the planet to create mass amounts of fuel and power for their empire.

Reunited, with the Doctor and Zoe, Jamie suggests that they dig a tunnel from where they are to the centre bore and catch the Dominator's seed device before it makes it to the planets core. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to cut through the wall to start the tunnel, and Zoe mixes up some explosives from the medical supply kit which Jamie and Cully use to take out the remaining Quarks. At this point I realise that Jamie and Cully make a perfect team or look like two members of men-in-skirts-anonymous.

The Skirt Parade.
Toba finally has good reason to order the Quarks to search and destroy, but remembers what Rago said and orders them to continue drilling. The drilling is finished just as the last Quark bites the dust. Then Rago gives us the immortal line, "I will insert the seed device," and does so. The Doctor and co finish their tunnel just in time for the Doctor to catch the device and evert disaster.

The Doctor warns that as the rockets are still in the ground there will be a minor volcanic eruption. Cully, Teel and Kando go back to capitol, and Zoe and Jamie return to the TARDIS while the Doctor plants the seed device on the Dominator Ship. The Rockets fire causing a volcanic eruption. The Dominators are destroyed and the TARDIS departs as the volcano erupts.

As I said, not the best story. It's basically 125 minutes of The Odd Couple In Space with Rago & Toba and nothing really happens. I also don't think the Dominators really much deserve their name, it seems rather odd that they get the Quarks to do all their dirty work, that doesn't seem very Dominant. And I still can't help but wonder, are all of the Dominators like this? Or were we following a particularly retarded pair? Regardless of all this I did still enjoy this story on some odd level. The design elements of the Quarks are great and there are, as always with Troughton, some brilliant moments.

Join me next time for an exciting and experimental story worthy of kicking off 2012, The Mind Robber.