Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A is for... Antodus

A member of the Thal race encountered when the Doctor made his first visit to Skaro, along with companions Susan, Ian and Barbara. Though a pacifist people by nature, Antodus was particularly keen to avoid fighting or any form of danger. He was the younger brother of Ganatus, who was stronger and more assertive. Antodus no doubt constantly lived in his brother's more formidable shadow. When younger, Antodus had a fear of the dark - talk of which Ganatus angrily defended him against. When Ganatus agreed to lead an expedition to infiltrate the Dalek city by way of the Lake of Mutations, Antodus felt compelled to join him. However, he soon grew afraid and wanted to turn back - abandoning the others. A rockfall meant that he had to go on. When the expedition reached a deep ravine, Antodus' nerve broke. He only half-heartedly attempted to get across the ravine. He fell, and almost pulled Ian down after him. Antodus cut the rope, and plunged to his death. Ganatus elected to cover up his brother's cowardice.

Played by Marcus Hammond. Appearances: The Daleks (aka The Mutants) (1963/4).

  • The movie version elects to redeem Antodus somewhat. He is still cowardly, but after cutting the rope he manages to catch hold of a ledge, and is pulled to safety.
  • Hammond seems to have quit acting in the early 1970's. One notable appearance is the Hammer film Plague of the Zombies.
  • Not to be confused with the Marcus Hammond who is a gang leader in one of the Grand Theft Auto games.

A is for... Antimatter Monster

The planet Zeta Minor lies at the very edge of the known Universe. In the depths of its jungles is a cave in which there is a pitch black pool - a gateway to the Universe of Antimatter. This is home to a creature which can straddle the two dimensions. It guards against anyone taking material from the planet, which could lead to cosmic annihilation. Generally invisible, it could appear in outline to the Doctor, Sarah and the Morestran explorers visiting the planet when fired upon by energy weapons.
The creature would kill by sucking the life-force from its victims - leaving desiccated husks.
The Doctor allowed himself to fall into the pool in order to commune with the creature. He promised that the Morestrans would not remove any of the radioactive crystals which they had mined - to fuel their dying sun. The creature allowed him to go free in order to arrange this.

Professor Sorenson became infected by radiation from the crystals. A chemical he devised could hold the transformation at bay only for a short time, and its effect diminished each time he used it. He would transform into a primordial parody of a man, and could kill in the same way as the creature from the pool.

When exposed to a radiation source, the transformation became permanent, and outline splinters were created, which roamed the Morestran ship - killing all they encountered.

The Doctor managed to capture Sorenson and took him to the cave in the TARDIS, where the professor fell into the pool. The creature allowed him to live, freeing him from the contagion, and leaving him with no memory of recent events. All the outline splinters vanished when this happened.

Appearances: Planet of Evil (1975).

  • See also "S is for... Sorenson".
  • The monster's appearance was inspired by the Monster from the Id, a piece of Disney animation in the classic 1956 sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, whilst Sorenson's transformation comes from various film & TV versions that have been produced of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

A is for... Antibodies (2)

Lethal robotic defences aboard the Teselecta Justice Machines. They resembled electronic jellyfish, and their trailing tendrils could deliver a deadly sting. They would attack and kill anyone in the vessel, unless protected by a specially programmed bracelet. This was a bit of a design flaw, as the legitimate crew could find themselves killed if there was any kind of fault with the system - via an accident or through sabotage.

Appearances: Let's Kill Hitler (2011).

A is for... Antibodies (1)

Artificial beings created by the City of the Exxilons. They formed part of its defences. When the Doctor and Bellal penetrated to the City's control centre, and the Time Lord began to tamper with its electronic brain, the City created these creatures as antibodies to protect it from damage. They attacked the Doctor and Bellal, but were distracted by the arrival of a pair of Daleks. They were immune to bullets. The creatures would have been destroyed along with the City, once its energy-capturing beacon had been blown up.

Appearances: Death to the Daleks (1974).

  • The pair were played by Terry Walsh and Steve Ismay, but went uncredited on screen. They did get a billing in the Radio Times for Part Four as "Zombies".

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Story 162 - The Long Game

In which the Doctor takes Rose and Adam to visit the year 200,000. They arrive on a space station, Exploring, they find that they are on Satellite Five, which packages news and beams it down to the Earth. The Doctor informs his companions that this is the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, but Adam points out that there are only humans on the station. Where are the alien races? The Doctor becomes suspicious that something is not quite right here. They meet a couple of members of staff - Cathica and Suki - who explain the workings of the station. Rose points out that it seems to be very hot. Suspecting that the Doctor is testing them as potential candidates for promotion and a move to Floor 500, Cathica allows them to witness their work. All the staff have implants in their foreheads, and the news is beamed directly into the brain to be edited. Watching from Floor 500 is the Editor. He detects something wrong in the news room, and starts a data search.

A promotion is announced. Suki is invited to go to Floor 500. Cathica is furious. She explains that the top floor is supposed to be gold plated, though no-one has ever returned from it. Adam feels unwell - the experience proving too much for him. He has been given a credit bar which the Doctor took from a money dispenser using his sonic screwdriver. The Doctor also gives him a key to the TARDIS so that he can rest there. However, he is more interested in learning more about the computer technology on show here. He finds that he can only get limited access to the systems, and is advised to visit Floor 16. Suki ascends to Floor 500, and finds that it is a bleak, frozen place, littered with corpses. The Editor confronts her, and tells her that he knows she is really a member of a guerrilla group - her real personality hidden beneath a fake one. The station personnel here are all animated corpses, and Suki is killed by the station's true boss...
Adam goes to Floor 16 and finds that this is the Medical Section. A nurse explains that to operate the computer systems fully, he needs one of the brain implants. He learns that the Doctor has given him enough credits to pay for the procedure, and goes ahead with it.

The Doctor investigates the heating system and finds that heat is being channeled down from Floor 500 to the rest of the station. He and Rose decide to go there. Cathica follows soon after. The Doctor and Rose are captured by the Editor and meet the real boss - a huge fleshy creature hanging from the roof, with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. This is the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe - or just "Max". The Jagrafess and the Editor have been manipulating the news for decades, holding back the Earth's development. The Editor wants to know who the Doctor and Rose are, as they do not appear in any official records. Adam tries to use a news room to download information, and the Editor sees this. He learns from him all about the TARDIS, and that they are time travelers. Cathica has been listening in, and she links herself to the station's systems. She redirects the heat back to Floor 500. The Jagrafess cannot stand this and begins to break up. The Editor tries to flee, but is seized by Suki. The Jagrafess explodes, killing the Editor. Human progress can return to normal. The Doctor is furious with Adam. He takes him back home and leaves him there. He will need to live a quiet life, now that he has the implant in his head.

The Long Game was written by Russell T Davies, and was first broadcast on 7th May 2005.
It is the final appearance for new companion Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley) who only joined in the previous episode.
Once again in this first series, the TARDIS does not stray too far from Earth. All the episodes for this year take place either on or in orbit around the planet. Davies had argued that alien worlds were difficult to realise, and the viewing public would find it difficult to identify with weird alien beings. As nothing dates more than the future in film and TV sci-fi, all the crew of Satellite Five wear clothes contemporary to 2005.
Davies drew inspiration for this story from his dislike of media moguls, who only printed or broadcast the news packaged as they wanted it. The Editor is therefore an amalgam of Maxwell and Murdoch. The bloated Jagrafess is likely to be Maxwell. The Editor and his boss are playing a long game with their slow manipulation of the news - though the story title will have even more meaning by the time we reach the series finale and learn that someone is playing an even longer game.

The guest cast is a strong one. The Editor is long-time fan Simon Pegg. Suki is played by Anna Maxwell-Martin, who was just about to hit the big time soon after this. Cathika is played by Christine Adams. Pegg's frequent co-star Tamsin Greig plays the nurse. As soon as the Complete History covers this story, I'll let you know who the dog was.

Story Arc watch: The Bad Wolf TV Channel is showing news about the Face of Boe's pregnancy.
At the story's conclusion, the Doctor remains worried about what has happened on the station - hinting that we have not heard the last of this.

Overall, a fairly innocuous story that only gains any relevance once we get to see the season as a whole. A good cast. Despite the nice CGI for the station and the Jagrafess, it looks cheap. It is the lowest ranked Eccleston story in the DWM 50th Anniversary poll (205 out of 241).
Things you might like to know:

  • Sharp eyed viewers will see that the Editor is watching The Ark in Space and The Leisure Hive amongst all the other footage on his TV screens. 
  • A long game is a criminal activity, much favoured in London's gangland of the 50's and 60's. Expensive items would be bought and insured. They would then be removed from their warehouse before a fire conveniently broke out - apparently destroying them. The criminals would then collect on the insurance. It is also known as the long con.
  • As a big slab of flesh with fangs, the Jagrafess doesn't convince as the brains behind such a subtle scheme. This is something that the earlier producer Philip Hinchcliffe picked up on. He couldn't see how the hulking Kraals could create such intricate androids. 
  • It's a good job that Rose keeps mentioning how hot it is, as absolutely no-one looks or acts like it is.
  • One of the news channels is a +1 one. These are usually catch up channels, one hour behind. Why would there be a news one of these?
  • Radio Times readers were critical of the 2005 fashions on show in the year 200,000.
  • Billie Piper's costume raised complaints due its obvious branding, breaching BBC guidelines.
  • Apparently Davies had pitched this idea to the programme back in the JNT / Cartmel era.
  • Watch the Confidential programme that accompanies this episode and sympathise with Simon Pegg as he has to try to pronounce the full name of his employer.
  • To date, Adam is the only companion to be thrown out of the TARDIS. Earlier drafts did give him a less selfish reason for downloading the future tech - to get medical knowledge to save his ailing father. The comic book series "Prisoners of Time" has it his mother who is dying. After she does pass away, Adam then sets about getting revenge on the Doctor.
  • The staff on Satellite Five have a liking for Kronkburgers. This delicacy was first mentioned in the very first DWW comic strip - "The Iron Legion".

Monday, 15 August 2016

A is for... Anita (2)

A member of Professor River Song's archaeological expedition to the Library, to ascertain what had happened to close it down some 100 years before. The expedition was financed by Strackman Lux, grandson of the man who had created the planet-spanning Library. Like the rest of her colleagues, Anita poked fun at Lux's secretary, the naive Miss Evangelista - something she would soon come to regret.
The team quickly came under attack by the Vashta Nerada - so called "piranhas of the air". These were flesh-eating microscopic creatures which lived in shadows. The technology of the team's spacesuits allowed the victims of the Vashta Nerada to retain some consciousness for a short time after they had been killed. Anita was their final victim. The Doctor had developed a liking for her, and her death prompted him to confront the creatures and propose a solution that would allow all the human survivors to go free, whilst leaving the Library for the Vashta Nerada to continue to inhabit.
Whilst their physical bodies had perished, all the deceased team members had their consciousness downloaded into the Library mainframe - to live on for as long as the Library remained operational.

Played by Jessika Williams. Appearances: Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead (2008).

A is for... Anita (1)

A young Spanish woman who worked at the Las Cadenas restaurant in Seville, Spain. She had a soft spot for an Englishman named Oscar, who was looking after the establishment for a friend. One day Oscar took Anita moth hunting, and they witnessed the arrival of a Sontaran spaceship at a remote hacienda. Oscar was reluctant to get involved, but Anita was keen to help the Sixth Doctor and his companions.
Some time later, the Androgum Shockeye arrived at the restaurant with the Second Doctor, who had been partially transformed into an Androgum. Anita alerted Oscar to the gargantuan bill which the pair had run up. When he challenged them, Shockeye killed him, leaving Anita distraught.

Played by Carmen Gomez. Appearances: The Two Doctors (1985).

  • There is a scene in part three when Mercedes Carnegie gets a cameo - throwing a rose to Dastari. She had helped with locations and translating. The flouncy dress she wears was originally to have been worn by Anita throughout the programme, but Gomez refused to wear it. No Spanish woman would wear such a dress for day to day use, especially moth hunting.