Sunday, November 17

The Celestial Toymaker Part 2/4: The Hall of Dolls

Hello friends. We rejoin the travellers in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker. This is an unknown planet and time (possibly also universe), but is basically made up of a few rooms and this dude with magical powers. So.

Magical Dude - the Toymaker - has shown that he can make people invisible, intangible, and can also turn dolls into people and vice-versa. And he can teleport. Pretty sure there are just no rules of physics in 1966 and I am okay with that.

The Doctor has been separated from Steven and Dodo - he's mainly hanging with the Toymaker, who is making him solve puzzles for a laugh. Steven and Dodo have also been subject to the Celestial Toymaker's whimsy - their challenge is to win a bunch of games before the Doctor can solve all of his puzzles. Last episode they were given an obstacle course to navigate while wearing blindfolds; their 'opposing team' was two clown dolls-turned-human, who lost. The prize for winning a game is a TARDIS - maybe fake, maybe real - and the potential of sweet, sweet freedom. The prize for winning their last game was a fake TARDIS and the following riddle:

"Four legs, no feet, 
of arms no lack,
it carries no burden on its back. 
Six deadly sisters,
seven for choice,
call the servants without voice."

What d'you reckon then guys? A chair? Table? An epic journey over mountains? Let's head on in to episode seven part two and find out.

Okay, well, I'm already annoyed. At the back of the fake TARDIS, there's a door with loads of locks and bolts on it. Steven and Dodo undo them all and try to push the door open but it won't move. They're both really confused and frustrated, but then Dodo says, and this is a direct quote, "I know, let's pull it instead." And then it FUCKING OPENS. How did you not try to - I don't understand why - urgh.

Through the bewildering door is some kind of medieval throne room with four thrones with weird carvings on them. When the Doctor sees this on the Toymaker CCTV system, he grabs the intercom with his single hand and tries to warn Steven and Dodo about it, but again the Celestial Toymaker stops him before he can say anything interesting. For punishment, he makes the Doctor mute as well as almost entirely intangible, so all he is now is literally just a Time Lord hand. Which, as we've seen from Russell T Davies's reign, can actually be quite useful, so we'll see how that goes.

The Toymaker, mulling over how Steven and Dodo defeated the clown dolls, decides to send out some new creepy inanimate objects made human - a pair of playing cards. Specifically, the King and Queen of Hearts.

Mr and Mrs Playing Card seem to be looking for a throne, but reject the few chairs in the room. Steven suggests that he and Dodo just completely ignore them because they're obviously meant to be a distraction, so he and Dodo wander off. While they're in the next room over, the King and Queen of Hearts are joined by the Jack of Hearts (whose name is, inexplicably, 'Cyril') and a Joker.

Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo find four more thrones in the next room, so figure the riddle probably meant them. (Chairs! Nailed it.) Their weird interpretation of the Toymaker's riddle is that six of the thrones are dangerous, and they have to find the one that's okay. To do this, they conclude, they have to use seven human-sized dolls (basically corpses) that they found in a couple of cupboards. Dodo recites the end of the riddle ("Six deadly sisters, seven for choice, call the servants without voice") and points out that it still doesn't make sense, but Steven ignores her.

While they're figuring this system out, the King and Queen sneak up behind them. Dodo is weirdly happy to see them and just explains the entire plot to them. And then she makes fun of them for being playing cards, which the Queen objects to, and tries to prove that they're actual real humans by getting Dodo to grope her husband. Dodo is pleased and tries to get Steven to join in with the groping fun. Uncharacteristically, Steven refuses.

QUEEN: Henry, let this wretched child feel your arm.
KING: ... Feel my arm?
QUEEN: There, child. Isn't that an arm? Not much of one, I grant you, but nevertheless, a real arm.
DODO: It is! Steven, these are real people. Feel his arm!
STEVEN: No, I'll take your word for it.

Maybe he just doesn't like having an audience, idk.

Queenie tells them that the Heart family are victims of the Celestial Toymaker just like Steven, Dodo and the Doctor are. To that end, she insists, they should share the dolls to test the thrones individually. They argue about this for a while, before Steven gives in and says he and Dodo will take their dolls to the next room and they'll try the thrones out separately cos he still doesn't trust them. So they clear off again, and the King picks a chair at random by being WOAH HELLO far too racist for the BBC surely?! That's. Gosh. I won't repeat the exact dialogue but it involves the rhyme 'eenie meenie minie mo' and a certain very offensive racial slur that I will definitely not have on this blog. So that happened. Three cheers for 1966.

The King puts the doll/corpse in the chair that his horrific racism chose at random. As soon as he does, clamps come out of the arms and hold the doll down, then it starts to shake so violently that the doll's head just... falls off. So that's not the one they want. They try a second, and it makes the doll disappear. Meanwhile in the other room, the chair that Dodo chooses electrocutes the doll until it's all frazzled and burnt, and Steven's one has a saw in the back that cuts the doll into two, so that's 4/7 chairs down, leaving chairs 2, 5 and 6 untested.

But, shock horror, the cupboard that contained the last three dolls is locked! The King and Queen decide they're going to try and make the joker sit on one of the chairs that they've left untested, and Dodo bites the bullet and sits in another one while no one else is looking. It doesn't go well for her. She's frozen in place - like, literally, she can't move but also she's getting all cold and that. Steven tries to reach her but there's an invisible barrier surrounding the chair? But also he just breaks through eventually because he tried really hard?

Basically she ends up being fine and they rule out chair number 2 for being a freezy shit, and they go to rejoin the King and Queen in the other room.

Unsurprisingly, the Joker refused to try out any of the chairs and stormed off, and the Jack of Hearts followed him. The King and Queen eventually decide that the only solution is to try one together! Awww they don't call them the Heart family for nothin'! But yeah no they pick the wrong one and it explodes on them and they die. So.

Steven and Dodo walk in just after it happens; Dodo is all like, 'Oh man we should try to help them!' and Steven basically tells her to shut up because this means they've won! Oh, Steven come on, honey, you're better than that. He sits in the right chair and a TARDIS appears - both Steven and Dodo seem shocked when it turns out to be a fake one. Its phone rings and Steven answers it - it's the Toymaker, giving them another riddle:

"Hunt the key to fit the door 
that leads out on the dancing floor; 
Then escape the rhythmic beat, 
or you'll forever tap your feet."

Dodo again points out that they never solved the other one ("call the servants without voice") but they shrug it off and head through the fake TARDIS to the next game. Behind them, the extra three dolls/reanimated corpses from the locked cupboard emerge and start to follow them. Dun dun dunnnn.

That's the end! The 50th anniversary inspired me to pick this up again but I won't make any promises as to when I'll see you again because my track record is against me. I hope you are well and happy! Let's hope Moffat doesn't mess the special up on Saturday, if I don't see you before then!



  1. You may or may not remember (I shan't be offended if you don't, cos it was ages ago and I'm just some randomer off the internet and also you have a life) that I started my own viewing of Classic Who in order to watch along with you. I hope you won't be *too* offended if I tell you that I bit the bullet and moved on ahead of you some time ago :)

    Anyway, these always raise a smile and it's a really pleasant surprise whenever one shows up. If it's gotta be months between them, then so be it!

    It may interest you to know, and feel free to shake your head and weep for humanity, that I grew up in the 80's and early 90's (God I'm old) and that particular version of 'eenie meenie...' was still very much the norm in schoolyards. So I wasn't, sad to say, all that shocked to hear it in this episode.

    1. Ah man no I would skip ahead of me if I could. And by my time at school (mid 90s) it had been firmly replaced by 'baby', so I was APPALLED. ;)

    2. Because catching babies by their toes is much more socially acceptable :)

  2. I agree completely with paflad - these are always a joy when they pop up - and I'm happy to get them whenever they come as well. :) I have also been watching them...but I'm still in Season 2 (kill me now).

    I also grew up in the early 90s and have to say it took me a minute to place the racial slur - ours was cleaned up a bit, though it's not hard to figure out. (yikes, the things people did/do.)