Sunday, 27 April 2014

Thriller

In Killer, Avon has a friend.

"I always knew you had a friend. I used to say to people, 'I bet Avon's got a friend...somewhere in the galaxy.'"
"And you were right. That must be a novel experience for you."

Avon's friend Tynus is played by Ronald Lacey, better known as the Evil Nazi from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know the one I mean. This one:


"You saved my life Dr Jones. I had to come back... to TANK you!"


Killer is also notable for the costumes, which jump several space-sharks even by Blakes 7 standards.


Vila discovers the signs of Tynus's inevitable betrayal of them, showing the cunning that he carefully conceals most of the time (when the writers remember) and also demonstrating what a good partner he makes for Avon because they are clever in different ways that complement each other.


"You saved my life Dr Jones. I had to come back... to TANK you!"

If you didn't get that reference the first time then I suppose it's going to make even less sense now.


Things are looking bad for Avon, but he manages to turn the tables on Tynus and Tynus gets electriced.



With Tynus dead it's back to the Liberator to find out what Blake, Jenna and Cally have been up to in the other plot strand this week.


This is the only scene with both Blake and Avon in it in the whole episode, because they were having two separate adventures on the same planet at the same time.


"You did what?"

Killer is an interesting episode structurally, but it isn't particularly good and is one of the weaker episodes of season 2. It was written by Robert Holmes, who also wrote some of the best Doctor Who stories, and though he writes well for Avon and Vila (and, while this is his first Blakes 7 story, we see this again in other episodes written by him), he doesn't seem to know how to write for the other characters, with the result that their plot is not as strong as it maybe could have been.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Penalty


The Penalty wants to be a scary and disturbing story, and the illustrations do their best, but it is undermined by the fact that the entire narrative is about the Doctor having a nightmare while suffering from "Ponassan fever", as is made clear in the first paragraph when Nyssa and Tegan deliver the exposition to each other and to us reading. Hence we know that none of the dangers the Doctor faces are "real."

The Doctor turns on the Tardis scanner and hallucinates a lot of scary faces looking at him.


This is a pretty scary picture, although I know how to make it even scarier!


The Doctor's nightmare then changes so he is being threatened by the Thallisans,
thousands of deadly, robotic war-machines whose war-sirens sounded death!


They sound like a great monster, but what a pity that they aren't actually in this story. The same goes for the Dren,
heartless mutated reptiles with artificial minds who had come to earth to conquer it!
The Doctor imagines them too, and then the "Omegans" who don't even get that much of a description.


The Doctor forgets who he is, and then he remembers, and then he is being chased. They catch up to him and he worries that he may regenerate:
The Doctor knew that he would not die. Knew that he could not die, not yet, not for so long. He knew that he would regenerate, return from death re-formed. Regeneration was both the gift and the curse of the Time Lords. The Doctor had felt the touch of death before, so many times before...


...and then the Doctor gets better. The pointlessness of this story (redeemed, in part, by the pictures) is encapsulated by the final paragraph, in which the title is explained:
Later, when the Doctor was finally preparing to dematerialise the Tardis from the surface of Ponassa, he pondered on what had happened to him. He had read somewhere of a theory that stated that whatever horrors a person meets in a nightmare, they are, in fact, only warped realisations of half-buried memories and experiences, magnified by imagination; fears and feelings that are ignored when awake but let loose when the body slumbers. He vaguely remembered someone describing nightmares as the penalty that has to be paid for enjoying an untroubled day and life-the more adventurous the life, the greater the penalty. The Doctor did not necessarily agree with the description, but it was at times like that that he regretted having adventures that stretched hundreds of years into the past and far into the future, because one thing was for sure: in the time just passed, his penalty had been collected.

I also have a theory. My theory is that this is utter nonsense.

It is time for sleeps now, bye bye. Zzzzz.

We are made of socks

When the Monkeys With Badges told me they had made a spaceship, but that it was a Spaceship of the Imagination, I was a skeptical cat. I doubted that there was such a thing, and I though they were being cheeky monkeys with troll faces.

Then they showed me the TV series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, in which the main character Neil deGrasse Tyson travels through space and time in his Spaceship of the Imagination.


It is sort of a cross between a documentary series and Doctor Who, with lots of science and addressing the camera with things beyond the ken of cats mixed up with interesting stories to keep us cats (with our short and fickle attention spans) entertained.

The Monkeys With Badges' Spaceship of the Imagination doesn't look as impressive as Neil deGrasse Tyson's does. It looks a lot more like the cardboard box that Duncan's printer came in.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Danger Down Below


Danger Down Below features the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa. At the beginning of the story it is mentioned that Nyssa is staying in the Tardis because there is no requirement for more than one Companion in this story.

The Doctor has come to the planet Aronassus 49 to help his "old and dear friend, High Minister Threll of the Prime City Triumvirate." The mannys of Aronassus 49 are starving because all their noms are going missing, which sets up a mystery and gets the plot going very quickly


I like how the positions of the Doctor and Tegan in this picture are very similar, but not precisely the same, as in the first picture.

The Doctor and Tegan are observed, and then captured, by some guards who think they are the ones who have been stealing their noms. The dialogue manages to capture Davo's portrayal of the Doctor:
Tegan got up from the bed. "What happened?"
The Doctor turned to face her. "Neuro-paralysis dart. Not exactly the welcome I expected."

The Doctor's friend Threll quickly releases them, so the paragraph of them being captures reads like the sort of pointless captured-and-escape padding of the TV show.


The guards are still suspicious though, and this becomes a plot point later on. 


The Doctor has chubby cheeks in this picture. Maybe he has been stealing all the mannys' noms!

Threll tells the Doctor that some of his mannys were electriced. The Doctor shows Threll a black ball that he found. It is time for some exposition:
It was soft to touch, yielding under finger pressure. "I found that on the surface," the Doctor said.
Threll shuddered at the feel of the thing. "It feels alive!"
"It is-it is one of the killers of your men."
Threll stared at the Doctor, then back at the thing. "This?" he said incredulously.
"Not on its own. By itself it has only limited power. By the hundred they could devastate a complete city."
Tegan moved over to look at the thing, overcoming her revulsion. It was pulsing now, like a tiny heart. "What is it?"
"Another galaxy's equivalent of our own bodily defence mechanism, like a white corpuscle. The only difference being that these live outside the body they protect, stopping any dangers approaching their host."
Threll was taken aback. "Like my men," he said grimly.
The Doctor nodded. "Whatever  they are protecting down in the production plants is not a threat to you -you are a threat to it."
"A being from another galaxy! I never dreamed..." Threll trailed off.


The Doctor wants to resolve things peacefully, but then Chief Guard Sholl comes to arrest the Doctor, Tegan and Threll. It is clearly time for a cliffhanger-style moment:
"The sentence for these charges," he continued, "is immediate death."
"No, you fool!"

The black ball saves them by flying into and electricing Sholl and his guards.


Threll takes the Doctor and Tegan to look for the black ball's host alien, and they have to stay ahead of the rampaging mob of hungry mannys that Sholl had following him. The black ball electrics anyone who gets in their way, and they make their way to the place where the mannys keep their "food processing machinery".

Tension is quite skilfully built over the course of a few sentences before the reveal of the creature. Or we could look at the picture on the same page...


The creature occupied most of the large food distribution chamber. It was amoeba-like, almost like a gigantic human cell in appearance, and its flesh undulated and rolled like slow-motion waves, sending green tendrils snaking across the floor; tendrils that enveloped cases of Prime City food supplies and drew them back to the main body, which absorbed them.


The Doctor recognises the creature as a Migrator, from the Andromeda galaxy. He thinks it is on this planet by accident, and decides to take it away in the Tardis. Leaving Threll and Tegan behind (where they are protected from the mob of mannys by "a veritable army of defence balls"), the Doctor goes back to the Tardis and materialises it in the room with the Migrator.

When he was ready, the Doctor called Tegan and Threll into the time and space vessel, where they met a bewildered Nyssa, crushed up against a wall by a somewhat cramped Migrator, Threll could see that the Migrator's bulk had oozed through other doors and was probably enveloping a goodly portion of the maze-like Tardis corridors.


The Doctor ejects the Migrator into deep space, where it is apparently going to be fine. The story ends with the Doctor offering to take Threll back to his planet a week in the future, to give the mob of mannys time to calm down.
"I think by that time," Tegan observed, "your people should be glad to see you." She smiled. "I'm looking forward to your reinstatement as High Minister."
"And I," said the Doctor, "am looking forward to a really good meal."

Danger Down Below isn't a great story - it's a bit bland, a bit predictable, and a bit light on dramatic tension. The best that can be said for it is that it captures the feel of the TV series of that era well.

My words are backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!

I haven't posted in a while because Scary Cat, Expensive Luxury Cat and I have been busy playing Civilization V in preparation for the BBC making a new version of their Civilisation TV series.


I like playing the Celts because I am a Scottish Cat. Here is my kingdom of Western Scotland:


Scary Cat likes playing the Scary Germans, and Expensive Luxury Cat likes playing the Expensive Luxury Netherlands. They are very colourful so I like them too.


I like renaming things to make them more cat-like. I made my religion be called "Ceiling Cat" lol. I also like making Great Works of Art (although I wish they weren't called "Works" because cats do not do the "W" word), because then you get to see the art that you have made.


I presume this is how the game ties in to the TV series, because I don't remember Lord Clark threatening anybody with his atomic bombs, or launching any spaceships to Alpha Centauri...