RRR 39 Doctor Who: Planet of Giants, Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Doctor Who: The Rescue

By Roy Mathur, on 2014-05-04, at 16:41:00 to 17:09:00 BST, Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

Doctor Who: Planet of Giants

Broadcast: 31 October - 14 November 1964
Writer: Louis Marks
Director: Mervyn Pinfield (1-2), Douglas Camfield (3)
Producer: Verity Lambert
Cast: William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton (companions).

Synopsis: this is the Incredible Shrinking Man episode when a fault in the TARDIS (big surprise) shrinks them all when the team land in an English country garden.

Something's wrong, however, because all the insects and worms in the garden are dead and the flies are dropping like---er---flies. Turns out that the garden is the test bed for a novel, but dangerous, new insecticide.

The giants are actually normal-sized people, one of whom is a particularly nasty company owner who will stop at literally nothing to ensure that the deadly chemical reaches the market. It is up to the team to put an end to his dastardly plans!

My view: another very topical adventure, so bravo Beeb.

The best thing about this adventure was seeing the team shrunk and everyday objects---like match boxes, insects, etc.---looming over them. It looks like the set and prop designers had fun (or maybe a headache) with this one.

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Broadcast: 21 November - 26 December 1964
Writer: Terry Nation
Director: Richard Martin
Producer: Verity Lambert
Cast: William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton (companions).

Synopsis: the team arrive in a depopulated and bombed out near future (for the time) London. A most disturbing sign warns people not to dump bodies in the Thames.

The team are separated by Daleks and Robomen and they learn that the Earth has been decimated by the Daleks though germ warfare, mass invasion, extermination, and slavery. However, the main purpose of the Daleks is to replace the Earth's core with engines and then use the planet like some kind of huge Death Star! But, like all good James Bond films, the whole adventure ends with a bang when the team sabotage the Dalek's core-destroying bomb which back-fires, causes a volcano and destroys the Daleks!

During the events, Susan becomes romantically involved with a young and good-looking resistance fighter; David. Near the end of the story, when the team are planning to leave, the Doctor overhears Susan and David and, in an act of both outstanding selflessness and ruthlessness, decides to leave Susan behind to start a new life with David. That scene just knocked me for six, man. And I don't even like cricket.

My view: I felt that there were very definite echoes of Terry Nation's later Survivors series in the stark post-apocalyptic landscape. The spookily deserted streets also reminded me of much later movies like 28 Days Later (2002).

Dramatic, action-packed, and just so much going on that it seemed like they had jammed a much bigger story into 6 episodes. For example, there are Daleks, Robomen, urban myth sewer reptiles and a monster pet of the Daleks down below, a mysterious Black Dalek leader, themes of Nazi-like dictatorship, resistance fighters, and even a love interest for Susan!

The one annoying thing I did notice though, were that there were no black, brown, and yellow people. I hate banging on, or feel that I do have to bang on, about this stuff. You know though, it's one of the few criticisms that can't be levelled at Russell T. Davies' pretty inclusive new Doctor Who series that started back in 2005, and it was about time too! It's not all completely uninclusive though, as one of the leaders of the resistance, Dortmun, is a heroic and kind of a cool guy in a wheel chair.

Doctor Who: The Rescue

Broadcast: 2 January - 9 January 1965
Writer: David Whitaker
Director: Christopher Barry
Producer: Verity Lambert
Cast: William Hartnell as the Doctor, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, William Russell as Ian Chesterton and Maureen O'Brien as Vicki (companions).

Synopsis: the Doctor seems a little tired after his last adventure, but soon perks up despite the loss of Susan and explores the new world they have landed on. They soon run into a sinister and fairly terrifying alien creature; bug eyes, teeth, claws, awful voice, and plenty of malevolence. Ian and the Doctor are then separated from Barbara.

Meanwhile, it transpires that the humans on the planet are reduced to a single man, Bennett, and a younger teenage girl, Vicki. All others have been killed and these two last survivors are now menaced by the sinister alien called Koquillion.

As usual, lots of peril confronts the team, including monstrous crawly things, one of which Barbara shoots, much to the distress of Vicki.

In the final confrontation, the Doctor discovers that Bennett is, in fact, a mass-murderer who has killed a crew member of the last ship he was on to ensure his own survival. Then, when the ship crashed, killed all the remaining humans, as well as native inhabitants of the planet (the crawly creatures), save Vicki, before disguising himself as the fearsome Koquillion to maintain the cover-up should anyone else arrive to accuse him. During his confrontation with the Doctor, Bennett imagines the ghosts of the crew he murdered driving him over a ledge.

The Doctor offers Vicki, who is now totally alone, the opportunity to join him as a companion, instead of waiting for rescue from the Earth ship en route and she accepts.

My view: this tiny two-parter was obviously a way of bringing in a new companion, nevertheless, it was a quite effective little sci-fi thriller, apart from the abrupt ending.

In Bennett, I'm strongly reminded of the character of Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) in Pandorum (2009); a monster under the skin.

Blue Ruin (2013)

Apparently homeless beach bum is told that the man who killed his family has been released from prison and embarks on a path of bloody vengeance.

Excellent, concise revenge flick and refreshingly free preachy moralising, apart from the most obvious and necessary seeds of wrath theme necessary in any conventional revenge thriller. Nice photography and it had just the right balance of realism and gritty action. Lovely, tight and economic dialogue too.

Also, this was a Kickstarter funded movie, which just goes to prove that some movies funded this way can work, unlike Veronica Mars (2014) which we reviewed last week. Congratulations to the young writer/director Jeremy Saulnier.

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

A young boy living in a run-down, hick agricultural community interacts with mysterious, possibly vampiric outsider played by Lindsay Duncan.

Seemed strongly reminiscent of many Stephen King stories.

Though this is a much-acclaimed and lauded neo-gothic story, I gave up trying to watch it about twenty-five minutes in. I didn't hate it, but it just didn't engage me at all. I couldn't honestly care for any of the miserable characters either, to the extent that their fates, character arcs, etc., seemed meaningless.

What little I did see seemed competently film and I do honestly get what the filmmakers were trying to do, but it just wasn't for me. I struggled to stay awake and I'm not really left with any lasting impression.

Aside: I feel unaccountably guilty about this review because I really rate the writer/director Philip Ridley, who is also responsible for films like The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) and wrote The Krays (1990). Sorry, and it proves I'm not a real film critic, otherwise I'd have sat through it anyway.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Last Tuesday I finally managed to catch this movie. I'd been so looking forward to this and it was really enjoyable. I must say, as far as I'm concerned, Andrew Garfield can do no wrong with the role.

This time Spidey is up against Electro, albeit in a rather different guise than that of the fairly ineffectual nerd crim in the original Lee/Ditko/Kirby Marvel comic strip from the early 60s. I know this because I have read the Pocket Book reprints of those first comics when I was around 7-10 years old.

Anyway, Electro is played effectively by Jamie Foxx. Also in the mix is, of course, Gwen Stacey, whom Peter is now trying to protect by being absent from her life, and Peter's old friend Harry Osborne; the sickly new head of Oscorp, played excellently by Dane DeHaan, who you may remember channelled power-crazed Akira (1988) character Tetsuo, when he played Andrew in the super-powers sci-fi movie Chronicle (2012). Man, I was completely glued to the screen!

The other thing I like about these new movies is that they are digging into Peter's past and filling in gaps in Peter's life that I never really followed in the later comics which fleshed the story out. As I've said before, this new series of movies is really doing well for diehard fans like myself, as well as newer and younger fans just joining the fold. I know because I have asked younger people.

Overall excellent!

Hospital DJ Mishaps

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