Sunday, January 26

The Gunfighters Part 1/4: A Holiday For The Doctor

A new serial! Can you imagine! By the title this seems like it's going to be another one of those episodes where the Doctor just wanders off on his own and we don't see him for a few episodes. No wonder the show is called Doctor Who - I can barely remember who he is. Haha no but seriously jokes on Doctor Who where the punchline is 'Doctor Who?' are the worst thing in the world and they make me want to vomit up everything I've ever eaten in my whole life. Let's move on.

The episode begins with a shot from under a wagon of a traditional western set-up: dusty road, saloon entrance, rocks. And there are horses! Actual real-life horses being ridden by three dudes, one of whom shoots a sign with his real-life cowboy gun. One of the other dudes tells him off, saying he should 'save his bullets for Holliday,' so maybe the title is a clever wordplay! That'd be nice.

The three of them are speaking in absolutely atrocious southern American accents, and I think they're brothers. The youngest (who shot the sign) is Billy, the middle one is Phineas and the oldest one (who told Billy off) is Ike. They used to have another brother called Reuben, but this Holliday guy shot him? I think. They're all on their way to meet a guy called Seth.

PHINEAS: Where do we all meet up with Seth?
IKE: The Last Chance Saloon.
BILLY: Why do we need Seth Harper?
PHINEAS: Oh, Pa’s paying him, and Pa wants us to work along with him.
BILLY: Mate you're quite obviously a middle-class English dude, I don't know who you're even trying to fool.

The three of them go inside the saloon, and the TARDIS appears inside a barn on the other side of the square. Remember how at the end of last episode, the Doctor ate a toffee that Dodo got from one of the baddies of the episode, and then he doubled over in pain and it was all very dramatic? Yeah, basically all that happened is he got a toothache, and they don't have any painkillers. They landed because the Doctor says they need to find a dentist because he'll definitely have to have the tooth extracted! What a drama queen, jeez.

While the Doctor is sitting on a nearby barrel whinging about how much pain he's in, Steven and Dodo realise that they're in the good ol' Wild West and get, like, weirdly excited about it. They both ignore the Doctor entirely and run back into the TARDIS so they can find clothes that'll help them blend in cos they want to EXPLORE. They come back out again, really pleased with themselves (Dodo puts a cowboy hat on the Doctor's head), looking like a pantomime version of Woody and Jessie from Toy Story.

While Steven and Dodo are dicking about with cowboy stuff, another terribly-accented local appears! He seems fairly displeased that these English weirdos are hanging out in his barn, and brandishes his big old cowboy gun at them. His name is Wyatt Earp and Dodo is really pleased to meet him - I just Googled his name and he's a real person that really existed, so that's why she was so happy. I swear, I haven't known about most of these big historical figures/events in Old Who so far. I feel like an uneducated loser but at least I'm learning, right?

Back in the saloon, Billy, Ike and Phineas meet up with Seth, who is another cowboy, but seems friendlier than the three brothers. The four of them are planning to kill this Holliday dude, and also getting steadily more drunk. The bar's singer, Kate, overhears their conversation and sidles out the door to find Doc Holiday, who has set up a dentistal surgery nearby? She tells him that there are four dudes in the saloon who are planning to kill him. He is displeased.

DOC HOLLIDAY: Who are these men anyway?
KATE: Well there's a guy called Seth Harper, then there's three brothers by the name of Clanton.
DOC HOLLIDAY: Clanton?! You kill a guy out of sheer professional ethics, and then you've got three of his brothers chasin' after you. That makes me real angry!

'Professional ethics'? I don't know about you, but my psycho bells are ringing here. While Kate and Doc Holliday are arguing, ANOTHER cowboy, whose name is Masterson, walks up to them. Oh, and he's the Sheriff! He's basically there to warn Doc Holliday off from shooting people. Holliday promises to be good and walks away holding hands with Kate.

Man, all these characters are getting confusing so here's a cowboy round-up so far:
  • Doc Holliday - ex-shooty cowboy. Killed a guy called Reuben and is now into dentistry
  • Masterson - Sheriff
  • Ike, Phineas and Billy Clanton - shooty cowboys and brothers of Reuben, want to kill  Doc Holliday
  • Seth Harper - plotting to kill Doc Holliday with the Clantons
  • Wyatt Earp - taking the Doctor, Steven and Dodo to the Sheriff's office, object of Dodo's fangirl affections
  • Kate - bar singer and girlfriend of Doc Holliday
  • Steven, Dodo and the Doctor - definitely not cowboys

Speaking of Steven, Dodo and the Doctor, they enter stage right and the Doctor happily introduces them as a band of travelling musicians (there's a point where he says '... and I'm the Doctor,' and Masterson says 'Doctor Who?' like urgh what did I JUST SAY IN THE INTRO TO THIS VERY POST). The Sheriff then essentially tells them to piss right off because there's no room for happiness and music in Tombstone, Arizona, and the Doctor tells him that it's all cool! They're not actually here to perform, he's just here for - gasp! - a dentist!

So, in a wonderfully-executed turn of events, Steven and Dodo go to find a hotel and the Doctor heads towards the surgery of the dude who is a target for a big old cowboy assassination. The logic of going to a dentist in 1881 rather than getting back in the TARDIS until they landed in a place with more advanced medical technology is a little lost on me, but there it is.

So the Doctor rocks into the dentist's and walks in on Doc Holliday and Kate doing some pretty serious kissing. Doc Holliday jumps up, threatens the Doctor with a gun and demands to know what he wants; the Doctor timidly says that he has a toothache, but he should probably leave, actually. BUT NO Doc Holliday and Kate happily usher him into the dental chair and tell him that (a) he's their first ever customer, (b) that Kate can't stay and watch because she faints at the sight of blood, (c) they have no idea what anaesthetic is but Doc Holliday will hit the Doctor over the head with his gun if it'll help ease the pain and also (d) Doc Holliday takes a big old swig of booze before he operates. And the Doctor still just sits there and opens his mouth. Wow. Although to be fair he doesn't seem overly pleased about it.

Back in the Last Chance Saloon, the three brothers are getting a bit stir-crazy. Billy (little brother) shoots a bottle behind the bar, possibly because Billy is a bit of a knob. Right after that, Steven and Dodo walk in, continuing the theme of the TARDIS gang being really dumb about putting themselves in dangerous situations because they would have definitely heard that gunshot. They book the rooms they want for the night (even though the TARDIS is literally round the corner and there are definitely beds?) and in doing so have to sign a register with their names and occupations - when the barman notices that they're apparently musicians, he offers them a job! They turn it down, thankfully, and head off upstairs to their rooms.

Buuuuut the Clanton brothers and their mate Seth overheard the conversation and assume that Steven and Dodo are in league with Doc Holliday - partially because Steven is apparently carrying six guns as part of his cowboy outfit, the massive dork, but also because they mention 'the Doctor' and 2+2=5. So, Phineas goes upstairs to fetch Steven down again, and Seth heads out to bring Doc Holliday to the saloon.

Seth's never actually seen Doc Holliday before, so when he gets to the dental surgery and sees the Doctor in the room alone, post-extraction, he assumes he's found his guy.

SETH: Doc!
DOCTOR: Yes, what? What is it?
SETH: Holliday?
DOCTOR: Holiday? I suppose so. Yes, you could call it that.

Brilliant. Seth casually invites the 'Doc' over to the saloon and then swaggers out again;  the real Doc Holliday, who has been listening, swans back in and encourages the Doctor to head over there right away! First, though, he should take a GUN with him. Just to be safe. Kate straps a gun belt on him and Doc Holliday lends him a gun, absolutely coincidentally with DOC HOLLIDAY engraved on the side. The Doctor, oblivious as always, happily takes it, thanks both of them and heads out the door to go to the saloon. I don't know what he's expecting to happen.

Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo have been brought downstairs again and are being heavily encouraged to sing. And by 'heavily encouraged' I mean, like, threatened with guns. And, to be fair, Dodo sits down and plays the piano like a PRO while Steven sings 'The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon' - he somehow knows the tune already. The three brothers all sit around them with their guns still pointing at them so they just have to keep going - I'm not entirely sure if they understand that the Doctor is about to walk in and get shot, but even if they did, there isn't that much they can do about it.

And that's the end! I gotta admit - I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one very much, but it's okay so far! I do love a good case of mistaken identity, and it's written quite well here. See you soon for part two!


Sunday, January 12

The Celestial Toymaker Part 4/4: The Final Test

HELLO FRIENDS and welcome to the final post in the Celestial Toymaker serial. It's been over a year since we had anything different so kudos for sticking around so long. In previous episodes we saw the Doctor separated from his companions and forced to do a massive version of one of those little puzzles involving moving wooden things from one pole to another. Steven and Dodo have to complete a series of their own puzzles before the Doctor finishes his, otherwise the Toymaker (who is maybe the ruler of the kingdom? with magic powers?) will keep them there forever. Steven and Dodo have just stumbled upon the beginning of their next test, which is something to do with this guy called Cyril and/or Billy who has so far been the Jack of Hearts and a kitchen boy? I have no idea what's happening. The riddle they have to help them through this next puzzle is "Lady Luck will show the way, win the game or here you'll stay."

So! Cyril cheerfully leads Steven and Dodo to their next game: TARDIS HOPSCOTCH.

Not actually as fun as it sounds - basically there are three dice and they each take one and roll it. Then they move forward the number that they rolled and the first to 14 wins. If they step on the floor between the little triangle stepping-stones then they get electrocuted, and if they land on the same stone that another player is on then the first player gets sent back to the beginning. Bit like Frustration. 

Aaaaanyhow they all play for a while - Cyril keeps messing with them, trying to make them fall off and go back to the start for moving from their stones. Steven eventually gets annoyed with this and tries to just walk across the stones to the TARDIS, but the Toymaker appears with his unexplained teleportation powers and is all dumb and mysterious again, and tells them that there's an invisible wall that can only be passed if you're playing the game by the proper rules, so. Steven has to go back to the start again.

The game all culminates with Cyril pretending to be hurt so Dodo will go to help him, then she has to miss a turn cos she moves from her stone. Cyril then rolls the winning number but when he rushes to the end he slips on some trick powder he left on one of the stones and falls off onto the floor and gets all electrocuted and that.

And hey, the Doctor's back being all visible and able to speak and stuff again! He's right back to acting like he planned this whole thing out, the smug bastard. I love him. He gets his puzzle to the penultimate move and then just walks out, all casual. The Toymaker, despite being seemingly all-powerful, doesn't do anything to stop him.

CELESTIAL TOYMAKER: Make the last move, Doctor.
THE DOCTOR: No! Not yet. I see Steven and Dodo have found the TARDIS. Wonderful trick! And your little trick is broken. I am now visible!
CELESTIAL TOYMAKER: You are, indeed, Doctor. Well done. The three of you have won your little game.
THE DOCTOR: I am glad you take it so calmly. Well, now if you will excuse me, I will go and see if the TARDIS is all right. Peace out motherfucker.

So the Doctor goes and finds Steven and Dodo and the TARDIS (which, conveniently, was actually the real one that time) and the three of them bro-hug it out, but it turns out the Toymaker has done "something" to the TARDIS so it won't go anywhere until the Doctor has finished his last move. But, once the Doctor does win the game, the whole world of the Toymaker will disappear, all of the Doctor's crew with it.

Oh, and here we get some explanation about the Toymaker himself!

STEVEN: Why doesn't he just let us go? He can't want to be destroyed.
THE DOCTOR: Well, he won't be.
DODO: But if everything disappears, why not him?
THE DOCTOR: If the Toymaker loses the game, his world will vanish, but he has the power to build a new one.
DODO: How?
THE DOCTOR: The Toymaker is immortal. He's lasted for thousands of years. Very occasionally, of course, he loses a game, and then he has to pay the price.
STEVEN: And that price is the loss of his world?
THE DOCTOR: Yes, but, ah, he himself is not destroyed. He goes on forever.

Clears up literally nothing.

Oh, but the way they get out of it is good! The Toymaker refuses to allow them to finish the game inside the TARDIS because then they'll be able to dematerialise at the exact moment the Toymaker's world is destroyed so they'll escape (and Steven offers to go out there and sacrifice himself, the adorable munchkin, but the Doctor refuses) - but throughout the serial, the Toymaker has been using voice controls to speed up the Doctor's game. The Doctor just goes to the door of the TARDIS and does an impression of the Toymaker saying, "Go from move 1023!" (the final move) and then flies the TARDIS away as the Toymaker gets blown up! Schweeeeet.

The gang, all safely holed up in the TARDIS, have a celebratory powwow where they talk about all the great things each of them did. Dodo breaks out a bag of Werther's Originals that she got from Cyril - Steven, back on form, says that he thinks they probably shouldn't eat them because Cyril was a minion of the Toymaker, but the Doctor cheerfully eats one and then CRIES OUT IN PAIN WHAAAT.

The next serial is The Gunslingers, wherein all the characters wear cowboy outfits (and yes, the Doctor does wear a Stetson), so I'll meet you back here for that one in a week or so. Hah. Have a good morningafternoonevening!