Sunday, January 16, 2011

Target: Four To Doomsday

'The ship was like a city.' Ah, back on familiar ground with a typical Terrance Dicks scene-setter. And no more of that Bidmead national stereotyping... Oh. 'Members of twentieth-century Australian culture are not noted for shyness or reticence. Tegan could be exceptionally forceful, even for an Australian.'

Meet Nyssa's Homeric epithet: 'an attractive-looking girl with brown hair and an aristocratic, somewhat haughty air.' She doesn't say the famous 'Yes' in the opening console room scene, but 'All right'. She speculates privately about whether Adric is ordering her round for sexist reasons, or because he's higher in companion seniority.

The control room makes the Doctor think of a giant pinball machine.

Nyssa finds the Principia quite interesting, in an elementary sort of way.

During the conversation about the equipment that reduces matter, Tegan starts thinking about the way Aunty Vanessa met her end.

Tegan's female fashion drawing is wearing 'high boots', which Enlightenment's human form on screen isn't.

At the meal, it's Bigon who introduces the term 'sodium chloride', saying that avocadoes are best eaten with a pinch thereof. Adric picks up the term and repeats it back - which perhaps makes more sense, he's a mathematician after all, not a chemist.

The conversation with Kurkutji is bizarrely different: the Doctor is outright astonished that Tegan speaks his language, whereas on screen he's just mildly surprised that she speaks the right dialect. Tegs replies 'He's an Australian, like me — an Australian Aborigine!' which is laudably inclusive but makes it sound like everyone in Australia speaks that language. I'm learning a lot of surprising facts about Australia in these last few Targets.

Lin Futu 'either failed to understand the Doctor's joke, or was polite enough to ignore it.' Much better handling than the crass screen version.

Persuasion and Enlightenment's way of alternating their speeches makes it seem to the Doctor as if both voices come from the same brain.

The dances at the recreational take place in a different order, presumably because on the page they don't dominate the action so much and it isn't therefore so important to intercut them for variety.

Tegan finds Persuasion all the more upsetting because he is (in a way) her creation.

Monarch accuses Bigon of having thought the Earth is flat in both versions. Pythagoras - Bigon's contemporary - believed the earth was round.

Adric and Nyssa find a pool in the hydroponics chamber with frogs in it.

At the end of the sword fight the blade can be seen projecting from the defeated warrior's back, just below the tenth thoracic vertebra. (Did Eric Saward write this bit?)

It's Nyssa who asks Monarch if the Greek warriors are androids, not Adric. This allows the narrator to have Adric fascinated by Monarch throughout the conversation, so his 'conversion' is more convincing. (Is it actually real or not?)

After the 'that which one fears' line, Monarch adds 'Why should I harm you - when soon you will be one of us?'

There's half a page of positioning before Tegan starts trying to work the TARDIS: TD is clearly expecting the question 'How come Adric and Nyssa have flown it, but Tegan can't?' He says 'her training as an air-hostess had given her some basic technical knowledge' - about how to operate a time machine??? Her subsequent frustrations are condensed into one or two scenes, and she doesn't trample on the TARDIS manual: instead she, oddly, takes her shoes off and tramples on them.

As she recovers from hypnosis, Nyssa says that the Urbankans were going to turn her into a robot. Presumably this didn't make it onto the screen in case people thought 'So who'd notice?'

The Doctor claims to bowl a very good googly, not a chinaman. (TD clearly as unamused by this Chinese gag as he was by the first one).

At the 'enough of these recriminations' line, Monarch excellently waves 'an expansive claw.'

The Doctor thinks carefully about how Monarch has been able to control Adric - not so much hypnotism, more personal domination combined with 'some quite genuine concern for the boy'. He realises it's that concern which has saved his own life several times - I think TD is trying to address the problem of why Monarch lets the Doctor off the hook so many times in this story.

Persuasion doesn't freeze when his chips are ripped out, he collapses.

Enlightenment says 'Farewell' to the Doctor when she casts him off into space (though we shouldn't be able to hear her without air).

TD carefully explains that when Monarch returns to the throne room, he has atmosphere restored just in the throne room, not anywhere else.

The Doctor winks rather than wiggling his fingers when he taunts Monarch with the 'earthly' joke. Monarch takes a 'ray-gun' from a hidden locker when he leaves the throne room to confront him.

In the final scene, Adric doesn't make his odd non-sequitur remark about the time-curve indicator, and Nyssa doesn't collapse.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Target: Castrovalva

Bidmead again, carrying on from where we left off: the Pharos action is clearer, with the companions being detained at the place where the Doctor's lying, not running off into a field with him. Adric's strange smile, and Nyssa's unearthly remoteness, have the guards almost believing that they are alien intelligences - this is great! So much better than Logopolis! Oh, hold on - 'But the other girl's broad accent could never have come from anywhere further than the Antipodes.' I knew it couldn't last.

Tegan's claim about her 'official uniform' is a genuine attempt to fool the security guards (who are wearing helmets by the way). Adric realises that Tegan intends to steal the ambulance, so his talk about E-Space is a deliberate diversion.

In the console room, Tegan swears an 'Antipodean oath': 'Rabbits!' Nyssa gives her a recursive definition of 'ancestor' as an example (it lacks an end condition though). The TARDIS databank is a 'Relational System' and has a green display, not amber.

The Doctor doesn't just take his coat and scarf off in the corridors, he undresses down to a long white shirt, which resembles a nightshirt.

The web of wires in the Master's TARDIS actually go through Adric's flesh. There's more dialogue in their scenes together but it's all on the same theme as what we get on screen.

When Nyssa uses the information system to read the information about hydrogen, the narrator notes that she already knew what it tells her, as indeed she would. However, it also tells her that its dioxide form is common throughout the universe, as water. No sir: water would be hydrogen oxide, hydrogen dioxide is more commonly known as hydrogen peroxide, and drinking a glass of that would be a mistake you'd only make once. So much for hard SF.

Bidmead has Tegan ask 'How can an inrush be an explosion?' 'We'll be entering it backwards in time,' Nyssa answers. If that was an attempt to resolve an inconsistency I don't think it helped. At least she doesn't say 'That face. I hate it!' afterwards.

The medical supplies the Doctor finds are on a trolley, which rolls out of the door of the TARDIS surgery. Tegan uses her (not very good) shorthand skills to take down the instructions he gives her.

The Doctor is very ill indeed when Nyssa's taking the Zero Room doors off - he's turning blue.

Castrovalva is a lush emerald green on the scanner. The landscape is not quite Earthlike, which causes Tegan to worry at various points during the story about possible animal predators.

The Doctor makes a pun about an 'open-and-shut case' when he's rambling to Nyssa about the Zero Cabinet.

Nyssa doesn't change from her skirt into trousers for the journey to Castrovalva. Her fall into the stream isn't done as comedy, probably because they're actually crossing the stream here and so they would have got wet anyway.

Ruther is mentioned as soon as we see the first hunter spying on the women. When Nyssa says they'll have to wait for the Doctor to open the Cabinet, she uses the 'special matter-of-fact voice she reserved for alarming statements of that kind.' And indeed for all statements from 'Yes' to 'That face. I hate it'.

There's a bit of foreshadowing when Tegan sees Castrovalva reflected in her makeup mirror, which she then drops, causing the image to shatter into pieces. Very poetic, but her motivation for taking the mirror out of her bag in the first place is a bit contrived.

As the Doctor climbs the steep rocks, he finds memories of the radio telescope coming to the surface.

When Shardovan asks 'who are these supermen?' it's written Supermen, as if he's talking about multiple Clark Kents. Possibly just bad proof-reading. Tegan's 'strident Australian voice' makes itself heard in this scene.

There are various quite subtle hints that the Portreeve isn't what he seems, particularly his proprietorial pride in the Castrovalvans. The gallery in his chamber is above the fireplace, not opposite it, for reasons which will be made clear later.

Nyssa knows 'hardly anything' about telebiogenesis. What a shame to change such a famous line.

At breakfast in the Portreeve's room, Tegan wants to know why it's just the women who seem to do the menial jobs in Castrovalva. 'In Castrovalva we pursue our lives as best we may, not as best we could', says the Portreeve, 'in a voice that made you listen for wisdom in his meaning. ' Hmmm... I didn't hear any.

The 'Technical Section is not large' exchange is omitted in favour of an actual scene in the library itself. Incidentally Shardovan doesn't come across as like his screen version - the impression is given of a pale, refined man rather than the quite forceful personality we see in the episode. The other Castrovalvans' clothes are different: for example, Mergrave wears a dark suit, not a pink dress.

It is much clearer that when the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan attempt to leave, they come to the edge of Castrovalva, only to see Castrovalva spread out before them. On screen it just looks like all the exits lead back to the square, which is more iteration rather than recursion.

It's the silver on the back of the mirror in the Doctor's bedroom that makes it a good anti-occlusion shield. He moves on from thinking about that to a long, dull reverie about how to panic (something there were quite enough references to in the Logopolis novelisation).

Ruther puts on a pair of glasses for the telescope scene. The subsequent argument over the Zero Cabinet sees Tegan's 'loud Australian voice' back in action; she also resents the laundry women for their 'readiness to play the role of a silly female chorus'. Don't blame them, have a word with the scriptwriter.

Tegan's motive for barging to the front of the Zero Cabinet procession is resentment at the patent expectation of the Castrovalvans that she should walk behind with the other women. Of course, the plot purpose is to allow Shardovan to go off with the Doctor - here they talk in an atmospheric little garden. Meanwhile, the cortege passes through other gardens before reaching the Portreeve's house.

Just before he reveals himself, the Master makes clear that he's been lying in wait in Castrovalva for 500 years, since the start of its fictional history. But if he created it with Adric's unwilling help, wouldn't that mean Adric had been waiting all that time too? Terradonians aren't immortal surely?

The 'someone's been tampering with your perception threshold' line isn't accompanied by a chuckle. The Master is actually concerned by the idea, grabbing Mergrave and staring into his eyes.

Tegan selfishly wishes they could leave Adric and Mergrave behind when they escape, as they'll hold them up.

During the escape itself we see both the others' viewpoint and Adric's: to them, reality has broken up into tiny squares swirling about; to him, the town has torn down the middle to reveal the hillside. In the tunnel, the Castrovalvans don't overwhelm the Master, rather they pull him back into the earth as the tunnel collapses.

After the jog back to the TARDIS, Adric looks pale from his long ordeal in the web. (Rather than from a hung-over Matthew Waterhouse having just thrown up behind a tree). The Doctor tactfully refrains from telling Tegan that she didn't actually navigate the TARDIS to Castrovalva. His final line is 'Do you mind if I drive?', not the 'splendid' exclamation. Incidentally, he does not put celery into his lapel at any point during the story.

The TARDIS dematerialises, as in Logopolis, with a 'chuffing' noise. As usual, my purpose is to more compare Target and screen versions, than to review; but I don't like that change any more than most of his others. As I've been quite hard on Bidmead for his changes to both stories, it's only fair to say that the Castrovalva novelisation encouraged me to re-watch the story for the first time since 1982 - I'd have had no intention of doing so otherwise, because I remembered the story as being a bore - and I've come to regard it as a near-classic.