Timestamp: Sixth Series and Second Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Sixth Series and Second Doctor Summary

Timestamp Logo Second

 

This was a rough collection of serials. It stopped the rise of the Second Doctor over the fourth and fifth seasons, and took the lowest series average of the Second Doctor’s run. The episodes overall were mostly average with a couple of standouts on both sides of the spectrum.

It was a series that truly brought UNIT to the front of the stage and re-introduced Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, both of which will be big pieces of the show’s ensemble as it rolls on. It also brought some light to the background of the Doctor himself, including what species he is and why he’s out in the universe. It was also a series that brought an era of the franchise to a close as it showcased the last black and white episodes and the last reconstructed episodes, the latter of which makes me very happy after struggling with so many lost stories.

 

The Dominators – 3
The Mind Robber  – 3
The Invasion – 5
The Krotons – 2
The Seeds of Death – 4
The Space Pirates – 1
 The War Games – 5

Series Six Average Rating: 3.3/5

 

 

This serial also brings the end of the main run for Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor. He was a Doctor of many faces, and he was far more comical than the First Doctor. He was also more devious, as his humor was often used as a means to disarm his opponents and make him look less threatening. I can see now where a lot of the influences for the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors comes from.

I really fell in love with this Doctor, and that’s not to say that I didn’t like the First because that’s not true. Like I mentioned in the Fifth Series Summary, the Doctor’s incarnations seem to be developed around what the show needs to survive. Hartnell was a strong force even in the face of some mediocre stories, and that provided an anchor for an audience to rely on. In the Troughton years, the whimsical innocence masking a strong devious nature made the lead more relatable with the team, especially with Zoe and Jamie. Troughton made his fellow travelers into companions on the journey instead of wards that needed protection, and that pushed characters like Zoe and Jamie into stronger roles. That carried the Hartnell-era theme relating the viewers to the companions and transformed it into relating to the team overall.

That’s part of the reason that The War Games feels like a cheat in the end. It tore the team apart and erased years of development from the companions (only one for Zoe, but almost three for Jamie), in essence signaling the end of the show as it stood for the last six years. Maybe that was the point. What follows from this point is effectively a soft reboot of the show: It transitions from monochrome to color, starts airing shorter seasons, and even appears to increase production values and budgets.

What’s amazing is that it hurts so much over forty-six years later.

 

Series 4 – 3.6
Series 5 – 4.1
Series 6 – 3.3

Second Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 3.67

 

Ranking
1 – Second (3.67)
2 – First (3.41)

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space

Review: Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty Premiere Box

 

Star Wars: Smuggler’s Bounty
Premiere Box – November 2015

Smugglers Box Nov 15 1

 

The subscription toy box by mail model is nothing new, but it is certainly an expanding one. Popularized by Loot Crate over the last few years, the concept is simple: In exchange for a periodic fee, a box will arrive filled with collectibles focused on a theme. What started as a monthly box of collectibles for geeks has expanded into regular boxes of toys for pets, health food aficionados, doomsday preppers, and even more kinky pleasures. Whatever you want, there’s probably a subscription box for it.

Now there is one for Star Wars fans.

Powered by Funko, the same company behind the adorable cartoonish vinyl bobble-head dolls with oversized noggins, Star Wars: Smuggler’s Bounty promises to deliver completely exclusive items, valued at double the subscription price of $25, with a guarantee of no filler. One of the things that prevented me from investing in Loot Crate or similar boxes were reviews from friends who were disappointed; the boxes tended to have one or two big ticket items like t-shirts or action figures surrounded by the detritus or miniature five-page comics, stickers, and generic paper bookmarks or postcards. Funko’s promise that the entire box would effectively be a big ticket purchase sold me on trying the first installment.

The premiere box, focused on the villainous First Order of The Force Awakens, was shipped via UPS and was transferred to the USPS for delivery, and it made no bones about what it was. It boldly stated on the outside that this was a box full of goods from a galaxy far, far away – or at least as far as the CollectorCorps.com headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The box was very durable and was sealed with a strip of packing tape.

 

Smugglers Box Nov 15 2

 

The front flap of the box pulled out and opened the top like a treasure chest, revealing two items attached to an intermediate platform. The first was an embroidered patch showcasing a TIE pilot from the new movie. The second was a collectible Kylo Ren trading pin. Both of these items looked like something of the same quality that is found at the Disney Parks.

 

Smugglers Box Nov 15 3

 

The platform folded up to reveal the depths of the bounty, including a simple badge lanyard and a navy blue Funko t-shirt with the First Order stormtrooper, along with two Funko Pop figures. A friend of mine who also signed up for the box received a Kylo Ren shirt instead, so they appear to be randomized around the First Order theme.

 

Smugglers Box Nov 15 4

 

I received the chrome-plated Captain Phasma and a pure black TIE pilot, and after looking at the back of the boxes, there is another TIE pilot with red stripes in the series. I wonder if it was randomly packed or if it will be an hard-to-find exclusive available later on.

After it was revealed to be in the box a month ago, the Captain Phasma figure was one of items I was anticipating most. The figures on store shelves are painted a metallic gray, which isn’t quite the same chrome effect we’ve seen on the character in the trailers. The chrome Phasma adds an extra (forgive me) pop to the figure.

The Star Wars Funko figures have all been on attached to a logo-branded pedestal, which is fairly unique in the brand. Other figures I’ve purchased stand alone, and the TIE pilot I received in this box is removable from its pedestal. I don’t know if this is a unique feature, or if it didn’t get a couple of dabs of glue before leaving the assembly line.

 

Smugglers Box Nov 15 5

 

By my estimation, Funko delivered on their promises of value and content. The figures go for around $10 in stores, and the t-shirt is of the same quality you’d find at sites like TeeFury for $10-15. Hot Topic sells the Funko Pop shirts for $20-25. The pin, patch, and lanyard all go for about $5 at Disney Parks, and while they are the low end items of the box, they certainly beat the socks off mini-comics and postcards.

In addition to the $25 every other month plan, Smuggler’s Bounty also offers a yearly plan for $150 (payable all at once) with an exclusive gift on the anniversary of subscription. The January box has already been announced with a Force Awakens Resistance theme and a focus on the spherical droid BB-8.

The Force is strong with this box, and I’m definitely willing to take home my share of the bounty once more.

 

Timestamp #50: The War Games

Doctor Who: The War Games
(10 episodes, s06e35-e44, 1969)

Timestamp 050 The War Games

 

We’re back to a regeneration episode and we have nowhere to go but up after The Space Pirates.

The TARDIS arrives in a war zone with a really nice shot of the materialization reflected in a puddle. The war is similar to World War I in 1917, and the travelers find themselves in an artillery barrage, discovered by Lady Jennifer Buckingham, taken prisoner by Germans, and finally liberated by British and Lieutenant Jeremy Carstairs. Strangely, both Buckingham and Carstairs have gaps in their memories.

General Smythe, the area commander with mind control glasses, has a transmitter that may be alien in nature. He asks an unknown entity for more specimens and disappears from his office. When he gets back, he holds a kangaroo court-martial for the travelers, finds them all guilty, and sends the Doctor to be executed. At the firing squad, a surprise sniper saves the Doctor, and both he and Zoe escape.

Speaking of surprises, General Smythe has what appears to be a TARDIS. Wait… what?

Jamie, assumed to be a deserter from the Highlanders, gets placed under guard with a Redcoat prisoner who thinks it is 1745 instead of 1917. Though it’s not explicitly stated, this Redcoat was apparently abducted from the same foggy battle where Jamie originally left with the Doctor.

After some shenanigans, the traveling trio escape with Buckingham and Carstairs, travel through the mists, and encounter a phalanx of Roman soldiers. After coming to the conclusion that this strange world is a combination of zones segregated by crucial wars in Earth history, they escape back to the 1917 zone and try to get a map. With the map (and an amusing sequence at the Chateau) they head toward the blank triangle zone in the center of the matrix and get captured by the Germans, commanded by another officer (von Weich) with a mind-controlling eyepiece.

They escape from that predicament and roll on to the American Civil War zone, but get besieged by a Confederate soldier and have to take refuge in a barn. A TARDIS arrives, disgorges fresh Confederate troops, and then dematerializes with a curious Doctor and Zoe inside, leaving Jamie with Lady Buckingham to be ping-ponged between Union and Confederate troops, the latter of which are commanded by von Weich. That dude gets around.

It turns out that Smythe and von Weich are engaged in a tactical competition, supervised by someone known as the War Chief. The War Chief and his peers (Chief Scientist and Security Chief) are under the command of the War Lord, who is attempting to distill a superior warrior class by pitting humanity’s soldiers against each other which he can use to spread an era of peace by might throughout the universe. May the odds be ever in their favor. In a twist, the War Chief is neither human nor whatever species the other chiefs and War Lord belong to (which the wiki refers to as the War Lords), but is instead a Time Lord.

A Time Lord: The same species as the Monk, Susan, and the Doctor. Oh, boy.

It also turns out that the TARDISes being used by the War Lords aren’t actual TARDISes, but rather are SIDRATs. They have very limited lifespans, can be manipulated from the outside, and follow the ’60s sci-fi conceit of being almost like the hero vehicle but spelled backwards. The War Chief wants the Doctor to join his cause because he really needs a better vessel to complete the War Lord experiment, and the Doctor has just the thing, which we found out that the Doctor stole from his home planet because he was bored.

Meanwhile, the companions discover that there is a resistance force among the humans. These rebels cannot be reprogrammed by the War Lords, and in his passion to track them all down, the Security Chief flashes all of the known agents across Zoe’s pretty much eidetic memory. After she escapes from the War Lords, she and Jamie spearhead a campaign to assemble the resistance forces and assault the Central Command.

The separate story lines finally collide when everyone converges on Central Command and dismantles the whole shebang. In the process, the War Chief kills the Security Chief, and the War Lord kills the War Chief. I seriously expected the War Chief to regenerate, and since he disappeared from view so quickly, I’m almost expecting that thread to come back at some point.

So, in the end, the Doctor is left with a world full of humans stranded out of time and no remaining SIDRATs to take them all home. After a lot of hand-wringing, the Doctor decides to call upon his people for help… and then runs like hell. He’s been violating Time Lord law by interfering in time since he stole the TARDIS, and his reckoning has finally come. The Time Lords return all of the humans to their homes, take the War Lord into custody to stand trial for his crimes, and drag the Doctor kicking and screaming to their door.

The War Lord’s trial ends with an attempted escape and hostage situation, but the Doctor outwits the War Lord. The Time Lords find the War Lord and his posse guilty, and the punishment is complete removal from time as if they never existed. The Time Lords then try the Doctor for his crimes. Rightfully so, the Doctor is proud of his interferences and justifies his fight against evil.

As they decide his fate, the Time Lords allow the Doctor to say goodbye to his companions before they send them home. Zoe and Jamie are allowed to remember only the first time they met the Doctor, but nothing more. They accept that the Doctor will continue to fight against evil, but he cannot be allowed to travel any longer, so he is exiled to Earth without the ability to dematerialize the TARDIS. They will also force him to regenerate.

On the plus sides, Jamie and Zoe show fantastic character in driving the resistance solution. It was also really nice to see both John Smith and the sonic screwdriver make their returns. There was also a quote in there somewhere about the Time Lords being curators over their museum of time, which seems really interesting in light of certain events in The Day of the Doctor.

On the down side, the Mexican resistance leader, Arturo Villar, was a caricature in racism. The sexism makes sense with the era, but the actor is obviously a white dude with a Speedy Gonzales accent. It made my skin crawl.

Considering the goodbyes and the regeneration, I feel so incomplete. Zoe and Jamie, two of the most likeable companions in the series so far, had all of their development erased in single moment. Only the Doctor remembers how their travels influenced their lives, but the influence and resulting changes are gone forever. The lack of proper goodbye also extends to the Doctor, where the last we see of him is a swirl into darkness. The character of the Doctor continues on, but the Second Doctor just ends.

Remember when I said that regeneration episodes were tough? This one was especially so. By the Timestamps rules, regeneration stories get an automatic +1 on the rating to compensate, but this story didn’t need it.

I still feel cheated out of a proper goodbye.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Sixth Series and Second Doctor Summary

 

 

 

 

Timestamp #49: The Space Pirates

Doctor Who: The Space Pirates
(6 episodes, s06e29-e34, 1969)

Timestamp 049 The Space Pirates

 

It’s the last reconstruction (yay!), but it’s a colossal let down (boo!).

Six torturous episodes short: Pirates are destroying Earth beacon stations for their argonite. Obviously, the Earth Space Corps wants to stop them, but can’t reason their way out of a paper bag. After a mess of a story that can’t decide if it’s a murder mystery, a heist thriller, or a western parody – and completely fails at reaching any of them – the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

Really, the western motif did not work for me at all, and I like westerns. Milo Clancey and the Old West-style accent were annoying, and that would be fine if it was the only acting problem in this one, but General Hermack’s character (portrayed by Jack May) makes the Shatner trope look Emmy-worthy.

The Earth Space Corps uniforms are absolutely ridiculous, as is their attitude on what makes a leader: “All this for an old man. You’re not taking any chances, are you?” gets a reply of “That is why I’m a general.” The Earth Space Corps isn’t worth a whole lot, is it?

At least the spacewalk scenes were convincing enough. They look like they were filmed with the actors suspended from wires in the studio’s ceiling with a rotated camera.

Final note: Recently, it seems that Jamie has been treating these adventures like some kind of pleasure cruise. If a place looks even vaguely inhospitable, he recommends immediately running away and going somewhere else. In his defense though, they would have been much safer during the station explosion had they hidden in the TARDIS instead of running through the station.

This was a badly executed parody of the western genre rather than a tip o’ the ten gallon toward it. I’m not keen to revisit it again.

 

Rating: 1/5 – “EXTERMINATE!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The War Games

 

 

 

 

Timestamp #48: The Seeds of Death

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death
(6 episodes, s06e23-e28, 1969)

Timestamp 048 The Seeds of Death

 

In the near future, the TravelMat (T-Mat) has become the system to move things around in the future. Humans, supplies, evil alien fungal spores…

That last one is a major problem since the Moonbase, which operates as the hub for the planet’s T-Mat system, has been seized by the Ice Warriors. I’ll admit that this serial nearly lost my attention as soon as it unveiled the “base under siege” trope because over how overused it was in the last season. Luckily, this one works differently.

The TARDIS arrives in a space museum on Earth, the travelers get a convenient info dump in the T-Mat presentation, and then get confronted by Professor Eldred. He is upset that the travelers are trespassing, and is (conveniently) the only one who can pilot the rocket to the Moon after the T-Mat is cut off. His bitterness toward the T-Mat program, despite having an entire presentation dedicated to it in his museum, is based on how it ended space travel after planetary travel was made too convenient.

Commander Radnor and Miss Kelly, the upper leaders of the T-Mat program, come to solicit the professor’s help, but Eldred can’t make the flight due to his age. In his place, the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie pilot the rocket.

Meanwhile, the Ice Warriors have the repaired the emergency cublicles on the Moonbase and trick Earth into sending repair crews to fix the entire system. Once it’s back up, they send the evil alien fungal spores to consume all of the oxygen, destroy the climate, and kill all the humans. The “base under siege” trope is broken by having the Doctor and crew moving back and forth between Earth and the moon to stop the threat. Thank the Maker!

After defeating the spores with a torrential rain storm (that’s a lot of soap bubbles and one clean countryside), the Doctor solves the problem by spoofing the Ice Warrior homing signal and sending the entire fleet into the sun. A bit extreme, but in this case it was probably the only solution.

The comical theme for this Doctor continues with a chase through the Moonbase that includes a passageway constructed of fun house mirrors. I get what they were trying for there, but the effect tore me away from the narrative and the drama. On the other hand, Zoe and Jamie get a chance to really shine when the Doctor is injured and the companions have to fight the invasion on their own.

Watching Patrick Troughton act like he was dying in all those bubbles was kind of humorous. I was still in the story at that point, but when I realized that he was essentially a kid at bath time at that point, I giggled.

When the Doctor is revived, he calls out for Victoria: Does he regret something about how her story played, or does he miss her? In my opinion, Zoe’s a much better companion.

Finally, on an engineering note, the T-Mat cubicle doors would be much more effective if they opened outward vice inward. Even better would be for them to slide open so they can be locked but not stand in the way of arrivals or loading.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Space Pirates