Thursday, November 28

The Celestial Toymaker Part 3/4: The Dancing Floor

Ohhhh boy so I watched An Adventure in Space and Time, the special about Hartnell the BBC did as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. I think I love Hartnell now. I take back everything bad I ever said about him. I love him a lot and I highly recommend you check out the special if you can. Gosh. Hartnell. Anyway.

The last episode ended with the Toymaker giving Steven and Dodo the following 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."

So I guess this episode is a dance-off? I mean yeah I'm eager to see what this is going to turn out to be so let's get to it.

Steven and Dodo are in the tunnel that was through the door of the fake TARDIS. They eventually come to a big old door that doesn't have a lock or a handle or anything. Steven is, again, surprised that the Toymaker isn't giving them an easy ride. Dodo, again showing that she's a great deal more astute than a fully-grown man, notices that the dolls from the locked cupboard in the last episode are following them, blocking the way out.

Both being a little concerned about this, they attempt to avert the situation. Dodo tries just telling them to go back to their cupboard but that, surprisingly, doesn't work. Steven, like a big old loser, starts squaring up to them, but before he can get into a fight with the reanimated corpses, the door behind them opens. So that's convenient.

Through the door is a kitchen with two people in it - Mrs Wiggs, a Cockney Mrs Weasley sort of figure, and Sergeant Rugg, an old-school army general with a moustache. Dodo is again entirely unsuspicious of them and happily catches them up on the entire plot. Steven apparently feels his masculinity is being threatened by the Sergeant and is just kind of a dick to him.

SGT RUGG: All right, young fellow me lad, no loitering! Pick your feet up then! Hup two three four, hup two three four--
STEVEN: Why don't you go back to your box?
SGT RUGG: What's that? Why, you young whipper snapper, I'll...
STEVEN: You'll what?
SGT RUGG: Well, I'll... well, you need a good hiding, m'lad!
STEVEN: Hah, and who's going to give it to me?

Actually, he's either being a dick or flirting. I can never tell.

While Steven and the Sergeant have been entertaining themselves with their little pissing contest, Dodo has been talking with Mrs Wiggs and trying to advance the plot a little. She recites the riddle, and Mrs Wiggs says that she knows a dancefloor through the other door in the room, which is locked. Steven, channelling his inner dickwad again, goes over and kicks the door when he finds out it's not already open. Mrs Wiggs and the sergeant are both looking on in confusion and gently remind them of the riddle that Dodo literally just recited in full. Even with this prompt, both of them seem confused until Mrs Wiggs literally has to say 'HUNT THE KEY TO FIT THE DOOR'. Gosh.

Meanwhile, back with old Toymaker, the Doctor has just stopped playing - presumably cos of the caveat where if Steven and Dodo are still playing while the Doctor finishes, they'll all be stuck there forever. This seems like a silly rule to me cos Steven and Dodo's games seem to be pretty infinite, but whatever. The Toymaker gets annoyed and accelerates the Doctor's puzzle by a few hundred steps.

Back in the kitchen, Steven and Dodo are hunting around for the key and making a big old mess. Dodo charms the sergeant into helping them, and Mrs Wiggs is getting annoyed at them all for destroying her kitchen. Sergeant Rugg breaks a couple of plates and then the two of them just have a big brawl - throwing stuff at each other and shouting - while Steven and Dodo awkwardly stand at the side.

While all this is going on, Steven and Dodo notice a kitchen boy in the corner trying to sneak off, and they remark how similar he looks to the Jack of Hearts, whose name was Cyril. Steven storms over and demands to know where the key is; Cyril hands him a jar. While Steven is smashing up the jar to see if the key is inside, Cyril just... goes and locks himself in the pantry and we don't see him again this scene. So. Great.

The key, it turns out, was inside this pie that Mrs Wiggs had just baked. Dodo is obviously the one who figured it out and forcibly pushed Steven through the door before he could get angry at something dumb again. Through the door is the 'dance floor', or the best the prop department could do at the time.

Steven, again being weirdly idiotic this episode, sees the TARDIS and is once again convinced that it's definitely not a fake. What's WRONG with you today, Steven baby? He steps out onto the dancefloor and immediately gets his groove on - being on the dancefloor forces you to dance, I guess? The three dolls on the thing partner up with Steven in turn and keep moving him away from the TARDIS. Steven is mainly concerned that the lady dolls are in control of the dance.

DODO: Can't you dance down to it Steven?
STEVEN: I can't lead! I'm just being carried 'round and 'round!

Bless. And then Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs appear! They've had a meeting with the Toymaker and have been instructed to reach "that big cupboard" before Steven and Dodo do, so Mrs Wiggs joins in with the dancing while the Sergeant tries to reach the TARDIS. Dodo also gets on the dancefloor, for some reason, and is also swept up with the groovin' fever, and also then the Sergeant too. There's a right old party going on, man. The Toymaker's crib is where it's AT.

There's a complicated thing that happens where whenever a new person steps on the dancefloor, the music changes and the three dolls switch partners to dance with someone else, so eventually Steven ends up dancing on his own and manages to somehow get Dodo and dance them towards the TARDIS? I can't really make sense of it, cos this is a reconstructed episode so there's no footage, but basically yeah they escape and go through the door of the TARDIS. Hooray.

To nobody's surprise but Steven and Dodo's, it's not the real TARDIS. It's just a box with an arrow on one of the walls and a sign saying 'Start here'. There's also another riddle, shorter this time: "Lady Luck will show the way, win the game or here you'll stay." Once they've read it, the wall descends to reveal yet another mysterious corridor. They start to walk down it and bump into Cyril again! Brilliant! Cyril pulls a few pranks on them - shakes Steven's hand and gives him an electric shock - and also says that his name is Cyril but his friends call him Billy, and their next game will be played against him. What a weird character, man. Billy/Cyril does an ominous little giggle, and then the episode ends!

One more Toymaker episode left! I wonder if we'll get any explanation as to where they are or who the Toymaker is or how he knows the Doctor. I'm guessing not, but I live in hope.

I hope you are all well and happy. Watch Adventure in Space and Time if you have a spare hour and a bit. It's worth it.


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!