Gonna do a cheeky re-introduction to the action since it's been so long.
Currently aboard the TARDIS we have:
- THE DOCTOR in his first incarnation. He's pretty useless. Often he'll just wander off on his own for hours at a time while the companions sort his shit out, and then he'll come back and act like it was part of his plan all along. I'm not a huuuuuge fan, but he's okay. Endearing in a doddering-old-fool kind of way. You'd have him over for Christmas but avoid him most of the rest of the year.
- STEVEN, human male (potentially in his late twenties?) from the 23rd century. While I'm pretty sure his character wasn't intentionally written that way, Steven basically has sexual chemistry with everything. It's great and I love him. He's been kicking around in the TARDIS for ages, and likes to call the Doctor out on his bullshit, which I appreciate.
- DODO, Northern human female from the 20th century. She's kind of annoying, but she's only been around for one serial (four episodes), so my feelings for her remain mostly undecided. She's also overconfident and cocky, despite being, like, 16, but is decent-hearted enough, I suppose. Idk. I don't really like her but also I'm reluctant to pass judgement so early in her run. We'll see how she goes.
Since this is a recap I should also reiterate that the footage from most of these episodes was destroyed in some BBC fire/purge/crazy house party thing, so often when you're watching these early serials, the only thing remaining is the audio and a few still images. This is one such episode, which is fine, but because this is also an episode with invisible characters, the still images are just, like. Pictures of chairs.
But moving on with plot: Dodo suggests that, if they're under attack, maybe they should just haul ass out of there. The Doctor says no, and he cites three reasons for this:
- The scanner is blank, but it's not broken, because when it's broken it's "not as clear" as the current blankness, so this is part of the attack!
- If they dematerialise then it might be worse than if they don't. He doesn't explain this point further.
- Not only is the Doctor invisible, but also he is intangible, so he can't move the switches or anything. Steven suggests that the Doctor tell them which switches to move and they'll do it for him, but the Doctor adamantly refuses this. Again for no explained reason.
Elsewhere, a dude dressed in what I think is traditional Chinese(?) robes is being all creepy. He takes two clown dolls from his huge stash of toys (I'm assuming this is the Toymaker that the title of the serial refers to) and uses a magic ring to grow them to human size. He then instructs the creepy humantoys to show Steven and Dodo some 'tricks'. So. That could be anything, really, couldn't it.
Back inside the TARDIS, the Doctor has reappeared! Dodo is most relieved and asks whether this means that they can go to somewhere less creepy now please. The Doctor, striding out of the TARDIS, says that no! He was MEANT to come here! Dodo is hilariously unimpressed with this bullshit.
STEVEN: What's this extraordinary place?
DOCTOR: Well, I'm not quite sure, dear boy, but it's, ah, it's somewhat familiar...hmm?
DODO: It looks dead boring to me. C'mon!
DODO: ... I said come ON, guys. Guys. ... guys?
Steven interrupts Dodo's weak attempts at getting them all out of there by shouting and pointing to a nearby screen that has a picture of him on it.
Remember when I said that everything Steven does is a little bit sexy? What exactly is going on in this picture, Steven. Steven please.
The Doctor sees the screen and immediately tells Steven to turn around and not look at it. Steven is confused - the picture of him has changed, it's now one of him in Paris with his lover, Nicholas. The Doctor seems to finally get his shit together and stops being a whimsical loser.
DOCTOR: Turn away from it, dear boy! We're now in the world of the Celestial Toymaker! And that screen is hypnotic. It's trying to dominate your mind.
STEVEN: But Doctor...
DOCTOR: There is nothing there. You understand me? There is nothing there at all. You must believe me.
DODO: Who's the Celestial Toymaker?
DOCTOR: He's a powerful evil. He manipulates people and makes them into his playthings. Whatever you do, neither of you must look at that screen. It's a trap.
CELESTIAL TOYMAKER: Did someone say Celestial Toymaker?! :D
The Toymaker in his fancy robes appears and does the whole villain 'ah Doctor you're spoiling my fun' schtick. The Doctor makes me angry again by saying 'I might have guessed it was you!' when the Toymaker shows up - yeah, you ACTUALLY guessed it was him, Doctor. That's what happened when you said, "We're now in the world of the Celestial Toymaker." That's what that was.
Dodo gets a little bit of character development here when she sees herself on the screen and exclaims that that's a video of her from the day her mother died. Steven drags her around when she can't stop looking at it, and Dodo gets upset and asks again why they can't leave, exactly. The Doctor has a good excuse, finally, because the Toymaker has duplicated the image of the TARDIS so there's hundreds rotating all around them. Shouldn't have gone outside in the first place, some might say, but what can you do.
Further peril! Once Steven and Dodo have turned away from the rotating TARDIS images, the Doctor and the Celestial Toymaker have disappeared! And so have all the TARDISes! And in their place are the two human-sized clown toys, making 'shh' gestures.
Just look at those creepy shits.
The clowns piss about for a bit, pulling silly pranks on them like getting Steven to shake a false hand and giving Dodo flowers that squirt water. Clown stuff. Y'know. Steven gets angry and demands to know what the clowns want with them, whereupon the Celestial Toymaker reappears. The situation, the Toymaker tells them, is that the Doctor is in a different location and he has to win some games that the Toymaker sets him. Steven and Dodo have to do the same, and the two of them have to win all of their games before the Doctor wins his. Finally, a TARDIS will appear to Steven and Dodo at the end of each game they win - it may or may not be the real one. If they lose any of the games, they have to stay there with the Toymaker 4evs.
With these rules bestowed, the Toymaker disappears again to rejoin the Doctor. Idiot that the Doctor is, he's all complaining about how he should never have left the TARDIS (yes) and how they should have got out of there as soon as they realised where they were (yes). The Toymaker tells him to stop moaning otherwise he's lost by default, and presents him with a hardcore logic puzzle before disappearing again. The Doctor takes the opportunity to press a conveniently-placed intercom button to warn Steven and Dodo that the Celestial Toymaker is a tricksy bugger, but before he can tell them anything they didn't already know, the Toymaker reappears and punishes the Doctor by making him intangible again - except for one of his hands so he can still solve the puzzle. The Doctor grumbles and goes back to his little logic game as naught but a floaty hand and a pompous voice.
Back with Dodo, Steven and the clowns (who we learn are called Joey and Clara - wouldn't put it past Moff to use that in the 50th anniversary special this year), a weird blindfolded obstacle course has been set up, wherein Steven has to navigate a bunch of blocks and rope swings and stuff with a blindfold on while Dodo directs him with a buzzer - one buzz for turning right, four for forwards, etc. Joey the clown is just messing about while they play, moving obstacles before Steven can get to them and generally just being a tool.
When Steven finishes the course to find that Joey has arranged the obstacles so he's back to the beginning again, Steven gets annoyed and takes off his blindfold. He accuses the clownpeople of being Massive Cheating Shits (not a direct quote) and then makes Joey put a blindfold on and do it himself. Obviously Joey fails, and a TARDIS appears! Even more obviously, it's a fake TARDIS, but after looking around they find a piece of paper with a riddle on it:
"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."
And then they walk out through a door that just appeared inside the fake TARDIS, leaving the clownpeople (who are now dolls again) slumped over on the ground.
And that's the end! I'll leave the riddle here until next time, might take that long to figure out. I have an idea of what it could be but also the irony of having LOGIC PUZZLES in episodes of classic Doctor Who where logic has absolutely no place is not lost on me so I'm reluctant to make a serious guess. It's probably something like an alien species or the concept of breathing. I don't even know.
I'll be back soon(ish) with part two. Promise.