Monday, February 28, 2011

Target: Earthshock

Our writer for this comparison is Ian Marter, and don't we know it: the cliff in the opening scene is 'skull-like', with circling vultures, the troopers are a lot more edgy and menacing, and Professor Kyle is very nervous - suspiciously so, we're led to think.

In the Doctor and Adric's first scene, 'I'll make more time' is explicitly delivered as a joke. But the tone soon turns dark, with the Doctor speaking in a cold whisper and then a mocking laugh. And he suspects that if Adric did go back to Terradon, he'd resume his 'criminal activities'. Tegan, by the way, is described during these scenes as wearing 'stylish shoes'.

Another sign of Marterland in the TARDIS materialisation noises: 'raucous shrieks', a 'grinding and scraping noise', 'hideous scraping noises' and the trumpeting elephants simile from Ribos.

The troopers' lasers charge with a whirring sound (like Marter's laser-spears in Ribos).

The androids are described as male and female respectively, and the troopers share this perception of them.

There's a Pip'n'Jane passive in the Cybermen scene: 'They must be destroyed at once,' says the leader. The Cybes react negatively to the mention of 'the planet of gold'.

Scott doesn't say 'I would like to do something to help' but is more emphatic: 'We insist on doing everything we can'.

Our attention is drawn to the escape pod airlock as soon as we see the freighter bridge. 'Mum's home again,' says Berger when the captain's about to arrive, intensifying the metaphor of the ship as unhappy family with naughty boy Ringway and his two cold, distant mothers. (Projection?)

Talking of disturbing metaphors, the emergence of the Cybermen is described as the freighter 'giving birth to the silver horror concealed in its bowels.' That is a more upsetting image than any of the exploding heads and fountains of pus in Marter's Ark in Space adaptation.

Crewmen called Vance and Buchanan, not Vance and Carson, are the first to die.

After Tegan borrows Professor Kyle's overalls, the Prof dons some ill-fitting clothes of Tegan's. (The purple outfit?) Kyle has an 'ample bosom' apparently.

When the Cyberman is holding Tegan by the arm, the Doctor, or more probably Ian Marter, has a powerful urge to smash its fingers.

The Doctor suggests to the Cybermen that they'd be shaken up by impact with the Earth, not crumpled. The 'well-prepared meal' is not part of the his invocation of emotional pleasures.

Left alone on the bridge with Adric and Berger, Briggs giggles that it's nice to have congenial company.

The renewed reanimation of the dormant Cybermen is apparently an accident - caused by the Cyberleader slamming the door to Cybercontrol when the Doctor goes to look inside.

Nyssa clears the corpses of Professor Kyle and the trooper, and the remains of the Cybermen, from the console room. By the way, all Cyberman deaths are accompanied by streams of oily fluid, jets of oily vapour, evil black bubbles, etc, and at one point the Cyberleader gives vent to a 'hot, rancid hiss'.

Tegan goes 'absolutely wild' when she hears that the freighter is going to hit Earth. The Cybermanhandling of Nyssa is brought forward into this scene, and the Doctor has to twist Tegan into a position where she can see it before she'll calm down.

Briggs raises her voice 'in a kind of swooping falsetto' when she gives the order to abandon ship.

The use of the gold badge to attack the Cybermen is given a bit more logic by the suggestion that the filings from it are being sucked into their chest units. The Doctor pockets the badge at the end, and the book finishes, with him leaning on the console, in an ellipsis...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Target: Black Orchid

Ann finds sleeping at Cranleigh Hall difficult because of the chimes of the chapel clock.

Charles' opposing captain offers to delay the start of the match so that the home team don't have to bat on a damp wicket. Charles sportingly declines. I don't understand this bit - Charles has won the toss and decided to bat, then his opponent offers him a concession? They both clearly understand that the damp will favour the fielding side, so why did Charles choose to bat in the first place?

One reason that he declines is that 'many of his tenants were engaged in voluntary tasks in a complicated administrative process that would be severely embarrassed by the smallest postponement.' Is this code? It could almost be a Pip'n'Jane effort. Though come to think of it, if they'd written it, it would say 'A complicated administrative process engaged in by many of his tenants was likely to be severely embarrassed by the smallest postponement!'

It's 1.30pm, not 3pm, when the TARDIS arrives. It was 560 years ago that the Doctor wanted to be an engine driver (he must have been at least 200 years old then, nearly as old as Romana). Adric spots a Bisto advert, with steaming pie, on the station wall - it makes him feel hungry.

Tanner's 'You are the Doctor?' leads to the following narration: Tegan frowned, Nyssa pouted, Adric giggled and the Doctor smiled. It's like the end of a Star Trek episode: Kirk deadpans, McCoy blusters, Spock raises an eyebrow.

Puzzled by Tanner's attention, Nyssa wonders 'had she a smut on her nose?' She seems well acquainted with the risks of steam-era train travel, for someone who'd just heard about it a page ago.

At this point the Doctor goes off into a long reverie about feudalism and how 'his Lordship' would be known in the area as 'the master', which causes him a mental wince. A bit contrived I think.

Tegan's accent is described as 'from the Bronx via Queensland'. I have no idea what this means. Is Tegan originally American in this version?

There's a scene in the dressing room where the Doctor meets his team-mates and pads up. Meanwhile Tegan is drinking champagne and Adric is stuffing his face, in rehearsal for later. Tegs has to explain what a 'duck' is, and sundry other cricketing terms. The cricket pitch, by the way, is in the Cranleigh Hall grounds. I had not picked this up from the screen, I assumed it was the village pitch.

The Doctor breaks the record for the fastest century (34 minutes). Sir Robert insists that it counts as first class because the Cranleigh side are playing a minor county. Eventually the Doctor gets 148 runs. Tegan spots the Indian in the trees while this is happening. Alan Border gets a name check.

When the other side go in to bat, the Doctor gets a hat-trick, and takes at least 4 wickets altogether. After the victory, Tegan asks him if he has Australian blood, and he says he learnt the rudiments of the game there - from a young Don Bradman. Oh come on.

Sir Robert is also Lord Lieutenant of the county (a ceremonial office which doesn't mean he is a lord, but then Terence Dudley doesn't say he is.)

At the offer of drinks inside the Hall, there's a digression about British and American interpretations of cocktails. It's a maid who waits on them with drinks (not Brewster) and Tegan is forced to see a parallel between the maid's job and her own tasks on the aircraft.

When the Doctor sees Ann for the first time, he doesn't say 'Great Scott' but 'Great Gallifrey!'

There's a scene where Ann and Charles visit the 'museum room' to choose costumes for the TARDIS crew. Adric's is a Roundhead costume, by the way. When they've left, George enters and takes an executioner's mask, which he wears to the Doctor's room to steal the costume.

Tegan asks Nyssa to demonstrate ritual Traken dancing, but she says it would be laughable to do it on her own.

Dittar has some more lines - mostly the sort of thing you'd expect, like 'I can smell [George]' and referring to the fancy dress ball as 'the ceremony of the masks'.

Adric is asked to dance - by a handsome young man, who's embarrassed when he discovers his mistake. I think his costume is supposed to be befrilled and more elegant than that seen on screen. Nyssa envies it, during an abortive dance he has with her. Then she goes off with Humpty Dumpty, whose egg-like shape reminds him it's time to get stuck back into the pies. Brewster the butler is pleased to see someone appreciating the food so much. He does not say 'Where's James with that bucket?', which is good, because on screen it sounds like he's requesting a bucket for Adric either to eat out of, or be sick into.

It's Ann, not Nyssa, who says 'Can't I?' to Adric. Then she makes him try the Charleston too, and suddenly he starts enjoying himself. Later we see him waltzing. Bless him, it's almost as if he could understand something other than food and maths.

The Doctor's encounter with Lady Cranleigh and Dittar in the secret passage leads to this unusual sentence: 'Lady Cranleigh drew level with him, her beautiful face coping with a tense smile.'

Ann sees the Unknown weep when they're in the attic room, and loses her fear of him. Lady Cranleigh takes her off for some brandy, and part explains to her what's going on, except that she says the Unknown is a survivor from another expedition.

Sir Robert, after failing to get the Doctor to identify himself, asks 'Then you weren't sent here?' The Doctor isn't sure, because 'it wouldn't be the first time that the Grand (sic) Council on Gallifrey had seen fit to nudge the TARDIS towards moral intervention.' That's true enough, but he also 'remembered the Master's attempt to topple King John of England.' I presume this must be a previous plan of the Master, setting the scene for a second attempt in The King's Demons in one series' time?

The Doctor tells Sir Robert about the secret rooms, not just the cupboard. So Ann knows Lady Cranleigh's denials are lies. There's then a confusing scene where Charles appears to have confessed everything to her, but you later realise he has merely confirmed his mother's part explanation. He phones London, by the way, not vice versa.

Sir Robert begins to suspect that the TARDIS crew are foreign anarchists, possibly connected to the Siege of Sidney Street.

On the way to the station the companions discuss escape, and the death penalty. Tegan warns Adric that, being under age, he'll be kept in prison till he's 21, and hanged then:

'But that's illogical!'
'Think yourself lucky! If we’d got here a hundred years earlier we'd be packed off to my country.'

Back at the Hall, Lady Cranleigh and Charles' argument is different: she doesn't say that the Doctor will come to no harm because he is innocent, but that 'we are not without influence.' Given that the Chief Constable is her friend, and he's just arrested the Doctor for murder, I think she's being a bit optimistic here, unless there's a cousin who's a judge or the Home Secretary or something.

Sir Robert gets a general tour of the TARDIS, including the cloisters.

George does not kill Dittar, and he drags him out of the flames too.

The narrator maintains strict propriety with regard to titles; as soon as everyone knows who George is, he's referred to as the ninth Marquess, and Charles is demoted back to Charles Beauchamp.

The Doctor appeals to George as 'a man of science and a man of honour'. George doesn't recoil from Charles' approach, rather he's startled by the latter's words, and falls off the roof accidentally.

There's no mention of the fancy dress costumes in the final scene. And the Doctor oddly says 'it will be treasured always', not 'I'll treasure it'.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Target: The Visitation

An Eric Saward adaptation. He's probably my second least favourite Targeteer (after Pip'n'Jane) so I'm not approaching this comparison with much relish. It'll be Marteresque gore and random bits of POV from wild animals, I shouldn't wonder...

..and here we are on page 1 with an owl eating a mouse, a fox walking by and Elizabeth writing it down in her journal in copperplate handwriting (which would come into use in about 50 years' time, calligraphy fans). It's sunset rather than night and it's August 5th 1666. Elizabeth is given other character traits, notably being much better at cards than her father.

Yellow fluid spurts from the wounds of the Tereleptil in the opening battle. Yes, this is Saward country.

'I won't be sleeping here again,' muses Tegan intriguingly as she smooths her bedclothes in the TARDIS, and Nyssa hands her her purple jacket.

The Doctor gets very cross when Tegs storms out of the TARDIS. 'How dare she talk to me like that!' he fumes.

Tegan is puzzled that Mace's barn is empty of corn despite it being September, ie harvest time. (She does come from a farm after all). Mace, by the way, is not just sitting waiting to be entertained, he's cutting up bread and cheese for them all to eat. His remaining suspicion of the TARDIS crew is nicely conveyed by the way his flourish of the hand, inviting them to explore the barn, also brings that hand close to the handle of his pistol.

There's some comedy when Nyssa opens the manor house door to Mace, with him carefully assuming a servile expression (on the expectation of being horsewhipped) and then being all surprised when he sees it's her.

The chat about lighting by vintaric crystals is brought forward from the escape pod scene to the cellar one.

'Foolish boy,' thinks Mace in response to Adric's wine-related naivety.

The Doctor actually grabs Mace when the latter doesn't want to rescue Adric (Nyssa dissuades him, and he apologises). That is not really a Doctorish action and it suits the Fifth Doctor particularly badly. This scene, and the 'trick' the Doctor shows Mace with the power pack, takes place on the driveway of the house.

Tegan does not tell the Terileptil that the Doctor talks a lot about Guildford. Indeed her and Adric's responses in the interrogation scene are mostly just summarised.

The light coming through the boards, when the Doctor and Mace are locked in the harness room, makes a 'zebra-crossing effect' on the floor. Is that a metaphor that would occur to the Doctor or Mace? This makes me uneasy, like the 'express train' simile in Lord of the Rings.

Mace's bit in the same scene about never having been so afraid as when he saw the man with the scythe are delivered in a dramatic tone. But when he talks about the bottomless pit of despair, he's quite serious.

The Terileptil is not stated to have one eye missing. In the confrontation scene, the Doctor is greatly cheered by the dignity that Mace puts into the 'no primitive' speech. Is it Mace or Michael Robbins being praised here? Mace looks blank at the word 'genocide' (apparently not used till the 20th century). Wagging his finger at the Terileptil makes the Doctor feel silly.

Saward's love of nature shows itself again when a badger is present to see the Terileptil off to London from the manor house.

Nyssa's giant vibrator actually makes the bedroom mirror crack and shatter. There's much more urgency in her struggle to switch the thing off and then put the fire out.

The Doctor puts 'more pomposity than he intended' into his line about liking long walks.

London in 1666 is described as 'mediaeval' - the Middle Ages ended between 150 and 200 years before the date of the story.

There's a very odd bit of business when they enter the bakery: the Doctor asks Mace to light a torch, so he strikes his flint and tinder (the narrator smugly points out that he can do this in less time than it takes to light a match) - and then goes over to the oven where there's a bunch of tapers. He lights one of the tapers from the oven (just as he does on screen), making the tinderbox bit totally unnecessary. I wondered if it was to see his way to the oven - till I remembered the oven is glowing red hot.

Nyssa doesn't suggest that Mace's keepsake might puzzle the archaelogists, but otherwise the ending is just the same, Pudding Lane gag and all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Very pleasant astro session last night - a half moon meant there were no chances to make out more of Camelopardalis, but I got a beautiful view of Praesepe (M44) looking like a patch of spilt diamonds in the 40mm. This wide field, low magnification eyepiece has been well worth what I paid for it. Then over to Orion to work on the Trapezium - I'm getting quite good at locating stars and then keeping them in field while I change up through the eyepieces to the 9mm. When I first started I would always lose them to drift during the changeover.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Target: Kinda

Terrance Dicks brings his best to this one - it's probably the best Target of the photocover era. Reading it encouraged me to re-watch the story, which for 20 years I'd remembered as being very dull. Even the typeface is encouraging - the reassuring Target Baskerville rather than the Times they used in the later books and editions.

'Deva Loka was a paradise.' That's our TD! As well as jungles it has warm blue seas.

Sanders' thoughts lead us through the opening scene - we gather that he believes in doing things by the book but also has enough sense to vary the rules to suit conditions. So for example he doesn't punish Hindle for falling asleep on watch, because the latter has been up for three nights of his own volition. That's a gun that he takes off Hindle before waking him up, by the way.

We're told that Tegan joined the Doctor at the beginning of his 5th incarnation; at the end of his 4th I think.

Nyssa faints 'again', but we aren't told when the first occasion was (if you've read my previous comparison you'll know that it wasn't in TD's Four to Doomsday Target).

Dr Todd wears a lab coat (not a sort of uniform dress thing).

The Doctor's annoyance that Adric has got them captured by the TSS is conveyed only with a reproachful look. I expect TD thought Peter Davison's very funny delivery of the 'meddling' line wouldn't come across on the page.

'Homeworld' is Earth as far as the Doctor is concerned. He deduces this from the expedition's 'Earth names and Earth ranks'. I must say that wasn't obvious to me - I have always seen them as coming from another advanced human civilisation, like the Morestrans.

This is the only Target to contain the phrase 'very sophisticated camp'.

The Doctor bizarrely chooses to think of Hindle as K9 would: 'Intentions unfriendly, hypothesis: hostile.' He literally does think of K9.

The scene where Hindle gains control of the two Kinda is better explained: he realises that they are telepathic when one hands him his necklace - 'Very good, but how did you know?' he asks. They get him a chair, and take their positions at his sides, because he's giving them mental commands to do so. This interpretation never occurred to me but I think it works quite well.

The food served to the Doctor and Adric in the Zone is disgusting (like the food-cubes in Death to the Daleks. TD's Doctors clearly don't like space rations.)

Hindle's delighted with his newly recruited Kinda: by contrast he looks terrible with his unshaven face and red eyes (very different from his smartness on-screen).

The narrator explicitly says that it's quite true that the Kinda, and Karuna in particular, intend Sanders no harm in giving him the Box of Jhana.

Hindle's paranoid rant about vegetation to the Doctor and Dr Todd is very amusingly written - '"Fungi," said Hindle sinisterly' and 'Hindle's voice trailed off, lost in visions of some incredible plant/Kinda conspiracy'. As with Robots of Death, the impression is that TD is really enjoying the chance to adapt a script with a bit more sophistication than usual.

Although they're just the same as on screen, I must give due credit to his version of the scenes in Tegan's dream - I never properly understood what was going on here until this very reading. So the point is that Tegs has to agree to be occupied by the Mara? Got you. If she'd been able to face the thought of not-being, she wouldn't have given in and all would have been well. (That wouldn't be much of a story though).

Hindle's angry childishness is nicely contrasted with the returned Sanders' placid demeanour ('like a shy child at a party').

Aris pays attention to Tegan/Mara because he thinks she, being able to speak, is a Wise Woman like Panna. It's made clear that his subsequent behaviour is all due to the Mara exploiting his confusion and unhappiness to make him do its will - not something I ever picked up terribly well from the episode. Yes of course they signal it with the snake tattoo transfer but it mostly seems just like Aris has become corrupted by the offworlders and their ways.

Even Adric doesn't understand why Hindle doesn't lock him up after he's caught him trying to give the Doctor the key-card!

Hindle does not say 'Or I'll have you shot!' to make the Doctor open the Box of Jhana. Bit of a pity that as the line is crucial in giving the impression that Hindle really does mean business. The words he says in the book have much less impact.

When the box does open, Dr Todd does not scream (probably wouldn't work as a cliffhanger on the page). She goes straight to looking delighted by the jack-in-the-box. The box makes a sound rather than emitting light. Sanders is affected even more strongly by the second experience - again not something I picked up from watching the episode.

Incidentally the Doctor takes it for granted that the effect of the box is not inevitably to cause insanity in men; rather he attributes Sanders' behaviour simply to the effect of a spiritual experience on a rigid personality. This is contradicted by what Panna says later, just before she starts with the 'idiot' stuff.

Perhaps I shouldn't keep praising TD just because I paid more attention to his writing than when I've watched the episode, but again on screen the box comes across as more of an intentional way of disabling people. Or that could just be my paranoia.

'Put the light on' is given more effect by making the control room pitch dark when Hindle yells the line.

Karuna says to the Kinda that Aris has been sick with grief for his brother (the hostage). Again this is a lot more helpful than the line in production, which always suggested a physical illness to me.

When Aris turns up at the cave with his spearmen, even the Trickster's doll is carrying a tiny spear.

The conversation between the Doctor and Karuna/Panna on the way to the dome is done in a quick-fire way which is strangely amusing. Even the narrator isn't sure what's going on:

'And so did I,' said Karuna.
Or was it Panna?

The Trickster's mocking of Aris outside the dome is working on the Kinda. Aris is losing them. That's why he smashes the doll. (On screen the Kinda just look shocked or bemused).

The Mara knows that Aris's cargo cult TSS imitation is useless and based on his confusion - it's encouraging his delusions for its own purposes. It knows the attack on the dome will fail, it's still happy so long as there's death.

The real TSS, with Adric inside, actually tips over, then gets on its feet again (rather than being half tipped over by the Kinda).

When Tegan tells the Doctor how she gave in to the Mara in her dream, he thinks that it was just as well - because presumably the three missing Homeworlders had the same encounter, resisted, and were driven to madness and death. Once again, that hadn't occurred to me. I'm shocked that I've paid so little attention to what's become one of my favourite stories.

Hindle slowly gives 'a smile of pure happiness' when he looks into the box. Incidentally, only the Doctor and Dr Todd got the vision summoning them to the cave, because the box was specifically programmed to do that. Hindle and Sanders just get the 'too much perspective' treatment.

It's the Mara who hates Karuna and makes Aris chase after her into the mirror circle. Aris is holding the snake - when it's crawled off his arm - because he's angry, and trying to throttle it. On screen it looks more like he's going 'Eurrrgh! snake! Get it off me!'

The recovered Sanders and Hindle are themselves again - 'more than themselves', because Hindle is purged of his insecurity and fear, and Sanders has become more human. By the way, Dr Todd says that he wants to stay on Deva Loka when he retires, not now.

Sanders and Hindle don't wave, but they are standing with the Kinda when the Doctor gets into the TARDIS. We don't see it dematerialise.