lørdag den 14. marts 2009

Who Review #17 - the Chase

The Daleks return! They had to - Britain was in the grip of Dalek mania. Imagine the household - big sis getting 45s by the Beatles and little bruvver spending all day exterminating her.

The Doctor acquired a Time/Space visualiser on Xeros, the upshot is he has a "time television" that can show events through time and space. Lincoln, Shakespeare, Elizabeth I and the Beatles - playing Ticket to Ride - make an appearence. (As an aside, I simply cannot watch anything with Elizabeth I because I only picture her as Miranda Richardson from Blackadder.)

The time visualiser alerts the crew to the fact the Daleks are after them. The Daleks have a time-space machine of their own.

The chase starts on the planet Aridius. Ian and Vicki are out exploring and discover an underground city. The Doctor and Barbara must find them but the Daleks arrive. They meet Aridians, who are forced to live underground because their ocean world has dried up. They get reunited and nip past the Daleks.

They stop at the Empire State Building (which, curiously enough, is built with Dalek help as we find out in "Daleks in Manhatten" during David Tennant's era). Then move on to a ship. The crew abandon ship when they see the Daleks, and as the TARDIS and Dalek time machine leave, the Marie Celeste drifts on alone. The next stop is a haunted house, home to Frankenstein's monster and Dracula - which turns out to be an amusement park display. Vicki is forced to hide aboard the Dalek time machine. Finally, the TARDIS arrives on Mechanos, home to the robot creatures the Mechanoids - they look like space age Faberge Eggs or the cartoon character Ludwig's long lost relatives. Here they meet Steven, a marooned earthman. The Daleks are destroyed in a battle with the Mechanoids.

Ian and Barbara realise they finally have the chance to get back home, if they use the Dalek time machine, something they have wanted since stumbling into the TARDIS and being whisked away to pre-historic times in An Unearthly Child. Vicki and the Doctor watch the schoolteachers back in 1960s London on the time visualiser.

The Chase is a very light hearted affair compared to the previous Dalek stories. It doesn't have that much substance and some fans don't like it. It has its moments though. The Daleks have had a design revamp; in keeping with the light heartedness, David Graham (a voice artist) gives one of the Daleks a really dopey voice, so we have a real idiot of a Dalek alongside his sharper mates. Peter Purves plays Steven as well as the Alabaman in the comic Empire State scene. (The latter he does OTT!)

And of course, the story is sad because it sees the departure of the school teachers and a definitive change in the series. I really like the Ian and Barbara duo. William Russell and Jacqueline Hill were simply marvellous: Hill wasn't eye candy, she played a sophisticated, intelligent woman; Russell provided the brawn to aid Hartnell's doddering and frail, intelligent Doctor. Carole Ann (and later O'Brien) was the young, vulnerable teen that kids could identify with.

The Chase was one of the first Hartnell stories I saw, years and years ago when I belonged to a Dr.Who Fan Club at my school; we would watch episodes every Tuesday and Thursday lunch time, so some days it was crappy to get a lunch time detention! Three stars for an objective appraisal, an extra one for sentimentality.

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