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21 April 2019 @ 07:04 pm
The Randomiser: The Chase  
It occurred to me, as I was watching this, that we have a surprising number of Dalek stories left to view. I went and counted and a full quarter of the remaining stories (including this one) are Dalek stories. I guess we'll see if they get spread out or cluster.

At any rate, when viewing The Daleks' Masterplan there was a certain amount of confusion about which Dalek-Chase-Story-Starring-Peter-Purves Tame layman had already seen. I thought it was probably this one. He remembered some of this (so I think I was correct) but he also got confused on several occasions while watching with the other Dalek-Chase-Story-Starring-Peter-Purves.

Famously (for a value of famously that means "among certain Doctor Who fans") Peter Purves, who has a comedy role in one episode of The Chase, so impressed the production team that they brought him back two weeks later to become a companion. I can only think that it was his personality not his performance that impressed them because Morton Dill (from Alabama) is really not a great performance, even if you forgive the fake American accent. Steven Taylor, on the other hand, is pretty watchable from the get go. It is a shame that after the first 5 minutes of the next story his toy panda mascot is never mentioned again, because we became quite attached to it.

The Chase does not have a great reputation and its easy to see why. The format, in which The Daleks pursue the Tardis through time and space encountering the crew in a variety of locations, feels like an attempt to get out of any kind of detailed plotting in favour of a few set pieces. The Daleks, while not as reduced to comedy villains as some fan commentary had led me to expect, are a bit on the comical (utilising several different chants the effect of which is not to make them seem more chilling) and useless side (getting beaten up by a robot Frankenstein at one point). However having gone into this with low expectations I found it perfectly watchable. I'm not as big a fan of Ian and Barbara as many people are, but I do like Vicki, who has a number of nice moments here and who's relationship with the first Doctor is charming and so I was quite happy to watch this Tardis team just having vaguely random short adventures in time and space. Some of the sequences were more forgettable than others but the chase format, while hackneyed, at least kept things moving along.

There is a sequence where the Daleks construct a robot version of the Doctor in order to "infiltrate and kill". We were very interested by the places in which the duplicate was played by William Hartnell and where he was played by Edmund Warwick. This was obviously not determined only by when both characters had to be in shot at the same time, so presumably also depended upon some of the almost "as live" production which meant Hartnell was somewhere else in the studio at that point.

The final two episodes introduce the Mechanoids who, allegedly, were at one point intended as a recurring monster. It was interesting to contrast them with The Daleks. They are clearly more unwieldy, seeming to move more awkwardly around the set. One of the paradoxes of the Daleks is that they work in spite of (or perhaps because of) the sink plunger. The Mechanoids had little arm like things that while less ridiculous in principle, looked a lot sillier in practice. Mostly the Mechanoids served to highlight the mysterious genius of the Dalek design - they did have a very pretty city though.

This is definitely not a story I would recommend trying to view in one sitting, but as a series of 25 minute episodes spread out over a period of time, it is surprisingly entertaining. You have to let it roll over you as slightly mindless entertainment, but it manages not to be dull, has its moments of charm, and is saved by its variety of setting and plot.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/574484.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on April 22nd, 2019 01:06 am (UTC)
I don't generally approve of CGI-enhancements of old episodes, but I really want to see robo-Hartnell with laser eyes.

the Mechanoids who, allegedly, were at one point intended as a recurring monster

Tbh, I think in the Hartnell era every monster was intended, or at least hoped to be, a recurring monster by writers who envied Terry Nation's royalties.

Anyway, I used to hate this story, but now sort of tolerate it. It's weird watched in order, though. The first two Dalek stories are bleak parables about Nazism and nuclear war and then you get this.