So, I did get to the Doctor Who tape, which was a 1972 episode titled ``Day of the Daleks''. Conversation with bunny_hugger had got me interested in pre-new-Who stories, which I had never developed a taste for because I'm not British and whenever I was able to find Who on PBS it was always oddly stiff people standing in long corridors muttering, and was part two of six. Anyway, this tape smooths together four installments of a tale in which mysterious people are appearing and vanishing in a menacing way and the key to unravelling the entire future seems to be happening, atypically, at a place not too far from London and in the year current to the filming. Some scattered thoughts while watching:
- Oh, the Doctor is hanging around 1972 because the Tardis is being all snippy. I have the suspicion that Tardis snippiness is almost as useful as ``unexplained distress signals'' are on Star Trek for getting the player-characters to a planet set that doesn't cost too much to build.
- Good heavens, The Doctor's abducted as Companion someone from The Electric Company's house band The Short Circus.
- The World Crisis that's setting off the gathering of contemporary world leaders seems suspiciously vague in what the crisis is about, although I suppose four decades on all crises seem a little unspecific.
- I think I like this 1972 UNIT group more than I do the 2008 incarnation. This may be because all the stuff that 1972 UNIT does looks to me kind of like whenever Monty Python would do a sketch with military officers clowning around, while 2008 UNIT looks like they took in earnest too many really stupid action movies. Either, of course, seems more fit to handle the imminent end of the world than does Torchwood.
- Ah, so, in the 22nd century people are going to sit in hideously uncomfortable chairs and wrap tinfoil around the lower walls?
- The Time Vortex is endearingly corny in how it's just rotating the camera view and doing a little Chroma-Key work.
- I wonder if all the shuffling about of The Doctor and The Companion from one holding place to another reflects anything other than the episode being a few minutes short otherwise?
- Man, didn't anyone on TV before about 1989 know how to stage a fistfight? They had seen fistfights, right?
- An oddly shortly-edited bit of blather about why the rebels going back in time can't simply go back to the same time they failed initially and try again would work better if the show hadn't started with The Doctor running into himself again (same regeneration and Companion and everything) right away in a plot point that's left unresolved (that is, we don't see The Doctor going back) by the end of the adventure.
- The Daleks don't seem to fully implement the advantages of industrialization even for a resource-gathering economy.
- Oh, so that's why the Klingons gave up their mind-sifter: they sold it to the Daleks, for all the good it does anyone.
- Hey, what's The Doctor doing shooting anyone?
- The editing used to create the illusion of there being a whole fourth Dalek on the scene at once is really extraordinary.
- No sonic screwdriver? How did The Doctor do everything, then?
A listing of things at which I point and giggle like that may sound hostile, but I did enjoy the episode. The only piece I really found dissatisfying is that the core of the crisis --- rebels from a rather unhappy (for Earth) future are trying to overturn the previous (to them) two centuries of history --- suggests a crisis of values which, so far as I can figure, the episode doesn't address. It'd be fair not to have a good answer for whether the lives of enormously many people should be made better at the expense of killing the enormously many people who in their time live, but to not raise the question? Otherwise even though the story was getting at one of those temporal paradoxes that makes so much of Star Trek: Voyager such a tooth-pulling experience the plotline was straightforward and roughly sensible enough, and the treatment not too pompous, for it all to work.
One more thing: midway through my watching, my father came in and asked who was that on screen. I ... well, I had to check on The Doctor's name, but then my father said, ah, yes, he thought he recognized Jon Pertwee. What's my father doing recognizing the third Doctor?
Trivia: The Nippon Music Culture Association announced in January 1943 it would expel jazz from Japan. It set aside each third Friday to discuss ways to out jazz music. Source: A Modern History of Japan, Andrew Gordon.
Currently Reading: No Highway, Nevil Shute. Yes, this is the dramatic novelization of the de Havilland Comet mess, cleverly written years before it happened. Henry Petroski is never more than three thousand words away from mentioning it. I was curious how the story worked.