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The Friday Docback Undertakes 'The Chase'!! DOCTOR WHO Story #16, And More!!

Merrick here...

...with a look at "The Chase," a Hartnell-era DOCTOR WHO story which transmitted May-June 1965.  

Terry Nation is credited with scripting this tale, although the DVD's extras imply more than one person may ultimately have had a hand in the penning of this adventure.  

"The Chase" introduces a new companion for the Doctor and Vicki, and exits a pair of old friends.  



A brand new WHOTININNIES podcast is online, for better or worse.  

An indispensable testament to why anyone producing a podcast should edit their work, WHOTININNIES 10 is....much like "The Chase"...perhaps our most ADD and fragmented effort to date.  This week's topics include...

** The wonder and horror of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL


** A protracted and non-productive distraction by eBay

** Glen's desk collapses during the podcast, making typing impossible and threatening to drop his entire computer to the floor

** a recap of "The Chase"

** a brief preoccupation with the Sexual Happyness Woman Cat Animal Dress 

** numerous communications lags as our Skype connection hiccups, or something

** a tease about an upcoming DOCTOR WHO related announcement which shoiuld happen on AICN this week via a mid-week mini-Docback posting as well as on AICN's main page...

** contemplation of the word "droidgasm"...

** and more! 


WHOTININNIES 10 can be found HERE, while previous installments are available HERE.  




We posted the previous installment of WHOTININNIES at an odd time last weekend.  In case you missed it, here's the link once more.  Keep your eye on this very space for another installment, later today (Friday Feb 17) or over the weekend.  Links forthcoming.  

The current WHOTININNIES 9 considers:  

** the greatness of Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY 

** the misguidednesss of THE THING (2011) 

** the awesomeness of WINGS (1927) 

** the not-so-awesomeness of RED TAILS

** lambasting PHANTOM MENACE 3D and the STAR WARS Special Editions in general 

** pondering why contemporary Science Fiction television and film rarely seems to carry social resonance

** why DOCTOR WHO: "The Sensorites" may've ended up sucking when it didn't have to

** an exaltation of ICE PIRATES 

** a disagreement regarding DOCTOR WHO: "The Caves of Androzani" 

** Ken evokes Rick Moranis and sends me into a PTSD meltdown 

** and more!! 

You can find  WHOTININNIES 9 HERE, with previous episodes being available HERE.  





"Help yourself to a piece of eternity..." Stephen Taylor - DOCTOR WHO - “The Chase” Part 6 - ‘The Planet of Decision’ 
For the purposes of this Docback, “The Chase” emerges as a fascinating contradiction.  For all its scale and ambition, it is a rather high concept, straight-forward tale whose ultimate payoff lies not in the resolution if its primary plot line, but in its emotionally charged exit of Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) - the Doctor’s most longtime and stalwart companions up to this point in the show’s history. In fact, in many regards this six part story acts as little more than a platform to enable their jettisoning.    
Accordingly, because this story is conspicuously low on substantive thematics, the write-up below will partake in a healthy portion of plot description and assessment.  So, considering yourself warned.  I’m actually leaving OUT quite a number of pointed details about this story - I personally don’t consider anything herein to be heinously spoilerous.  However, if you wish to remain completely in the dark until seeing “The Chase” for yourself?  Well, you decide where to go from here. 
Early in the story, Ian is reading a "Monsters from Outer Space Book" - proclaiming it to be "far fetched."  
When distilled to its barest essence, “The Chase” finds the Doctor and companions Ian, Barbara, and Vicki being pursued across time and space by a cadre ambitiously snarky Daleks who are determined to exact revenge on our heroic travelers.  Seems these Daleks are pissed that the Doctor stalled/thwarted their conquest of our planet in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth" - and now they’re rolling out to kick the old man’s ass, vowing to pursue him through “eternity” if necessary.  
Given that Hartnell portrayed the first of eleven Doctors (to date), it’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that these dippy Daleks yet again miss their mark - their eventual routing leaves their time/space device unmanned and fully functional.  Evidently sensing they may never return to their time of origin unless they take drastic action (is the Doctor’s failure to get them “home” genuine incompetence, or a deliberate stalling tactic?), Ian and Barbara seize the opportunity to use the Dalek time/space device to return to their London 1963 lives. 
The exit of Ian and Barbara is not an easy one - high tension and genuine strife and intensity abounds as the duo argues a stubborn and condescending Doctor into acquiescence (they need his knowledge to program and target the Daleks' time/space mechanism).  He never condones their departure - at best he petulantly tolerates it.  
These closing moments, and this tempestuous farewell, represent what are perhaps the show’s most edgy confrontation to this point in its run...possibly equalled only by the riveting histrionics of Jean Marsh and Julian Glover in “The Crusade.”  There is genuine hostility and heat surrounding the duo’s departure - in this DVD’s commentary, William Russell (Ian) indicates that Hartnell’s real world reaction to the exodus of Hill and Russell’s was not dissimilar to what we see on screen.  In their final sequence together, it would seem, there’s not only excellently performed drama...but an uneasy, voyeuristic truth.  
In the episode’s closing moments, we see Ian and Barbara frolicking around London via a series of stills (a sequence actually overseen by Douglas Camfield, the subsequent episode’s director).  
The two are giddily, deliriously free.  A final tag reveals the Doctor’s true reaction to their departure - strongly implying that his interest in keeping them at his side was essentially to fill a void he was refusing to admit he had.  Ian and Barbara are not privy to the Doctor’s touching coda, lending a bittersweet tragedy and sting to this rather amazing conclusion.  
“The Chase” is more or less a romp, occurring over several settings across several time periods.  The story’s mechanics are greatly enabled by the Doctor’s newly acquired Time Space Visualizer - retrieved at the conclusion of "The Space Museum,”  the show’s previous episode chronologically.  The Visualizer is, essentially, a television on steroids - allowing the Doctor to eavesdrop on any point in history.  With this Visualizer, one can watch Abraham Lincoln (Robert Marsden ) offer The Gettysburg Address, or see Queen Elizabeth the First (Viviennne Bennett) talking to Shakespeare (Hugh Walters).  The device also allows our heroes to witness the Daleks proclaiming unending vengeance against the Doctor, allowing them to get a head start on these scuzzy little pepperpots.  And when this happens the game is afoot, propelling our heroes and villains on a journey which moves them across multiple locations and time frames.  Visiting settings like...
--- the twin-sunned Planet Aridius, where Daleks stalk a desolate “Sagaro Desert” and carnivorous “Mire Beasts” terrorize a monster-weary underground...
--- New York City, 1966.  Where our heroes encounter Morton Dill (Peter Purves), a (not terribly convincing) hick from Alabama whose performance so impressed producer Verity Lambert that she immediately cast him as astronaut Steven Taylor, a replacement companion for Ian and Barbara. Oddly, Steven Taylor’s first appearance is later in this very same story.  I.e. Purves plays two distinct roles here.  
 --- 1872 on the Mary Celeste (a "crummy old ship" per Ian),  where Captain Briggs (David Blake Kelly)  and his crew mistake our recently arrived heroes for stowaways - a suspicion quickly rendered irrelevant by the Dalek arrival on the vessel.  The Mary Celeste, by the way, is a real world ship which was discovered adrift and inexplicably abandoned, with all valuables still on-board.  This story’s explanation for WHY this happened is certainly humorous, although a tad over the top.  
-- a haunted(ish) mansion of some sorts, populated by Frankenstein’s monster (John Maxim), Count Dracula (Malcolm Rogers), and other spooky denizens.  
The Doctor’s over thought mis-estimation of this circumstance leads to one of the early WHO’s most genuinely humorous and charmingly character effacing gags...
--- and, finally, the planet Mechanus.  
Where “Mechonoids” (human-built robots sent to pave the way for a colonization which never arrived) patrol endlessly, securing their environment against all intruders...a protocol reversible only with code cyphers neither our travelers nor their Dalek pursuers possess. Resulting in a Dalek -vs- Mechonoid smackdown which is sure to stir even the most cold-hearted Geek.  
It is on Mechanus that the Doctor and company encounter the aforementioned companion to be.    It is on Mechanus that Ian and Barbara decide it’s time to move on...
There’s a saying in Texas: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes...”  - this pretty much sums up “The Chase.”  Easily the most ADD DOCTOR WHO story up to this point in the show’s progression, “The Chase” never focuses on any one concept long enough to bog itself down.  Nor does it give viewers much time to fully absorb or consider anything that’s happening.  Are these negative qualities?  Not at all - they’re merely atypical sensibilities for a show which, in its early years, frequently spent too much time accomplishing too little.  Accentuating the story’s odd structure is the inescapable truth that its principal reward doesn’t rise from its own plot line.  Instead, it depends solely on viewers’ familiarity with the show and its characters to achieve its big payoff.  
“The Chase” was originally targeted to be a third installment in Peter Cushing’s bizarroverse bigscreen DR. WHO adventures - succeeding his DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS and DALEKS: INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D.  The pacing and nature of this particular tale might have worked quite wonderfully as a fast-paced, oversized adventure spectacle.  The underperformance of DALEKS: INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D. eventually sunk big screen designs for this story, but I did find myself wondering if the funkiness of iits structure might simply have been a result of Nation & Co. anticipating its eventual translation into a considerably more breezy and concise motion picture.  
Strange, goofy, and chock full o’ “What the hell were they ON?” moments, “The Chase” is breezy fun and loaded with a generous portion of memorable iconography (Daleks on the Mary Celeste!).  At the end of the day, that’s not a bad note for Ian and Barbara to go out on.  Not a bad note at all.  
"The Chase" is available on a three disc DVD set which also includes "The Space Museum."  You can find them HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the U.K.  







"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"


"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  



"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7 - full DVD release) 

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Crusade" (Story #14) 

"The Space Museum" (Story #15) 

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story #71) and SHERLOCK: "The Reichenbach Fall" (Story #6) 

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "The Hounds of Baskerville" (Story #5) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios(Story #132)

"The Caves of Androzani" (Story #136) 

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits


Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2



1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  " **SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  
And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation. 
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on...
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