Monday, April 30, 2007

A Break from History


I'm a little pressed for time today so we'll be holding off on the Third Doctor's Dalek adventures until tomorrow.

In the meantime, I point you to the press release for the Land of the Giants complete series box set coming on July 24. Land of the Giants was one of the worst ideas ever had by Irwin Allen but the show still has a certain charm to it despite some of the plot idiocy. Okay, that and Deanna Lund was pretty hot back in the day. For added nuttiness, here's a website all about the show called Giants Log—write your own joke.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Exterminez-vous! Part Deux - Le Deuxieme Docteur (The Second Doctor)

Yesterday, my intention for an all-encompassing article on the Daleks had to end with the First Doctor due to his many encounters with the warbly-voiced pepper pots. So today, we move on to the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton).

The Second Doctor was immediately exposed to the Daleks in his very first adventure, The Power of the Daleks. Unfortunately, the Doctor's companions (Ben and Polly) are skeptical of this new guy claiming to be the Doctor even when confronted with the metal horror that is the Daleks. They travel to the human colony on the planet Vulcan (Spock was noticeably absent) only to discover three inert Daleks from a crashed spaceship. The colonists stupidly reactivate them and chaos ensues. The Doctor manages to destroy all of his arch-foes at the colony using the power source of a device intended to churn out more Daleks.

Season Four's finale story arc would also be the Second Doctor's final confrontation with the Daleks. In The Evil of the Daleks, the Doctor and his companion Jamie (a genuine Highlander from 18th century Scotland, Ben and Polly returned home) inexplicably find themselves transported to 1866 when trying to retrieve the TARDIS from some thieves. These thieves are actually amateur time travelers whose time machine brought in a number of Daleks (Safety tip of the day: If you build a time machine, make sure it has a door).

The Daleks demand the Doctor isolate the "human factor" so they can incorporate it into themselves. The reasoning is that humans have been able to survive every Dalek encounter so far and this factor would create a race of "super Daleks." After the Doctor completes his work, they all travel to the planet Skaro, which you might remember from yesterday's entry as the homeworld of the Daleks. The Dalek Emperor deduces that in isolating the "human factor," the "Dalek factor" was also isolated, which will be sown throughout humanity to create billions of Daleks. Through a bit of convoluted trickery, the Doctor switches factors and a number of Daleks begin a rebellion against the Emperor and civil war ensues with what is hoped to be the end of the Dalek menace once and for all.

But we know better, don't we? Despite Terry Nation's intent on this being the final Dalek story on the series (he had hoped to use them for another series), the Daleks would return nearly five years later to menace the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee, pictured below) in Season Nine.

The incredibly unfortunate fact about the Second Doctor's Dalek encounters is that neither story arc exists in video form, save for a single episode of The Evil of the Daleks and some assorted clips. The BBC's short-sighted video purge of the 1970s saw many an episode's destruction. Keep in mind, that VCRs were not prevalent at all during the 1960s and storage space was at a premium. However, complete audio recordings exist for every single one of the lost episodes so all is not lost...
  • The BBC website has a "photonovel" of The Power of the Daleks that uses images, video clips, and the original soundtrack. The complete script is available here. The official US CD release can be found at Who North America (it includes images) while the unadulterated soundtrack is available from Amazon UK.
  • The Evil of the Daleks has also been produced as a "photonovel" on the BBC website and the complete script is available here. I couldn't find a US release, but the original soundtrack is available on CD from Amazon UK.
So what happened to the Second Doctor? He was recalled to Gallifrey by his own people—the Time Lords—for trial and sentenced to exile to Earth for interfering with people and cultures during his travels. He was also forced to regenerate again...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Exterminez-vous!


Over the past few days, I've been reading about the universe of Doctor Who and, in particular, the Daleks.

The Daleks are, by far, the most recognizable aspect of the Doctor Who mythos aside from the TARDIS and Tom Baker's scarf. But who are the Daleks really and why do they resemble giant salt shakers?

It all started back on December 21, 1963—four days before Christmas—when the second story arc aired. This story arc consisted of seven chapters encompassing one story called The Daleks. The First Doctor (William Hartnell, pictured below) and his companions (Ian, Barbera, and the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan) visited the planet Skaro and soon encountered the Daleks in their already-familiar form.

As we follow this adventure, we learn that the Daleks were originally known as the indigenous humanoid Dal people and shared the planet with the Thal people (supposedly non-humanoid in origin). Five hundred years before the Doctor's visit, the Dals and the Thals engaged in a genocidal nuclear war. The resultant radiation mutated the survivors of both sides with the Dals now physically dependent on artificial means to survive (i.e., their casings) and the Thals now physically perfect humanoids (a bit of a twist on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine). The Doctor and his companions thwart the Daleks' plan of total extermination of the Thals before taking off to parts unknown.

This span of seven, weekly episodes catapulted Doctor Who into popularity and the BBC answered fan inquiries with another Dalek story the following year—The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Doctor and his companions arrive on Earth sometime in the 22nd century only to find Daleks running the place! In this story, we learn that the events of The Daleks take place a million years in the future. We run into our first bit of inconsistency here:

If the Dal/Thal War takes place 999,500 years in the future, why are the Daleks in casings?

For the record. this question has never been satisfactorily answered aside from the occasional bit of fan speculation ranging from time travel by the Daleks to a mistake on the Doctor's part. In any case, the Doctor and his companions thwart the evil plan of removing the Earth's core and replacing it with an engine in order to fly the planet around space (I swear I'm not making this up).
With allegedly no Daleks left at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, how could they come back to be a major pain in the Doctor's posterior? The answer was to have them attempt to beat the Doctor at his own game—time travel. Toward the end of Season Two, the six-part story The Chase aired with the Doctor and his companions (plus Vicki, a girl found in the story immediately following The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but minus Susan who stayed behind on 22nd-century Earth after the Daleks were stopped) finding Daleks on an alien planet and being chased through time. This chase ultimately ends on an Earth colony world where the colonists' robots duke it out with the Daleks. Ian and Barbera use the Dalek time machine to return to the 20th century where it's destroyed immediately.

The First Doctor's final encounter with the Daleks came in the 12-part (13 if you count the preview episode Mission to the Unknown) story arc The Daleks' Master Plan, which aired in Season Three and was the longest story featuring William Hartnell. This story involved the Doctor and his companions Steven (a stowaway from The Chase) and Katarina (a girl from ancient Troy encountered in the story just prior to this one, replacing Vicki who stayed in Troy) desperate attempts to stop the Daleks' plan of constructing the Time Destructor, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, at the dawn of the 41st century.

So for all of you counting at home, the First Doctor encountered our favorite free-wheeling would-be exterminators on four separate occasions, the most out of any incarnation of the Time Lord so far. Incidentally, the First Doctor would meet his demise by another race of cyborgs—the Cybermen—and regenerate into the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton, pictured right). We'll delve into his Dalek encounters tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hump Day Happenings

Anyone else jazzed about the new planet find? While the potential for water (and perhaps life) on Gliese 581 c is great news, the planet is unfortunately too far away (20.5 light-years or 120,519.5 billion miles) `to obtain any kind of empirical data. Get cracking on that warp drive, Professor Hawking!

In case you're interested, Cornerstore Comics is having a clearance sale on many of their DC Direct action figures. I spent way too much but I truly appreciate the bargain prices.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday's Grey....

The pollen count is expected to be rather high today and I would have to concur with that assessment if the dry eyes and sneezing on my end can be counted as a means of confirmation. I take a Claritin daily and I'm still hating life. Rain is expected for the rest of the week which may or may not wash away this stuff.

In other news, I had no idea this was coming to DVD:

This two-disc set hits the street on May 15. Amazon has a pre-order price of $19.99. "I'm so happy."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Miscellany

The Richmond show went reasonably well despite a scheduling snafu that nearly derailed the show. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and our unique brand of home spun comedy was able to be performed. One other plan was to watch the new episode of Doctor Who on Saturday night but a technical difficulty kept that from happening. Em and I were able to watch "Daleks in Manhattan" last night and it was an okay build up to what I hope will be an awesome conclusion this Saturday.

The Miscellany:
  • Babylon 5: The Lost Tales will hit the street on July 31, but I'm not sure whether to be excited or not. The made-for-TV movies that have been produced thus far have been pretty bad (though I do kind of like In the Beginning). Can this direct-to-DVD release break the chain or will I be wishing for my $20 and wasted time back?
  • Heroes returns tonight! Personally, I could watch a show featuring just Hiro and Ando with 80% subtitled and still love it.
  • To the editors at DC Comics, World War III was fairly lame. Did we really need to see four issues worth of Black Adam going nuts? The short summary in 52 was good enough. Speaking of 52, it'll be finished next week. Hopefully, Countdown will be just as entertaining.

Friday, April 20, 2007

How Suite It Is

We managed to make it to Richmond in about two hours and are now enjoying the free wi-fi connection here in our spacious suite. In fact, I'm typing this message while lying down on a couch down the hall from the bedroom.

Last night, Em and I got caught up with Doctor Who and here's my lowdown of the episodes so far:
  • "The Runaway Bride" -- Okay, but a bit annoying between the shrill bride and the lame alien villain.
  • "Smith and Jones" -- Lots of fun. Martha Jones is hot and smart.
  • "The Shakespeare Code" -- Eh. The running gag didn't work for me at all.
  • "Gridlock" -- Interesting plot twist and a bit of a tearjerker. But why take Martha where he took Rose?
According to the previews, a familiar villain returns in tonight's episode. Should be fun!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Belated Update

Thursdays used to always be fast and furious due to the sheer amount of stuff that has to be edited quickly and then printed for the upper management. Now I'm only tasked to do all of that every other Thursday and today happened to be that other Thursday. Le sigh.

Today will end the work week for me since I'll be off tomorrow so I can drive to Richmond for the second annual Ravencon. Luna-C has been hired to perform again and that means a weekend in the fabulous capital of Virginia. Thankfully, the convention is at one of the airport hotels, which is a hell of a lot better than hanging out in the heart of the city. This hotel has free wi-fi and that means an update for all you cats tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Little Nemo I Am Not

It's not often that I remember dreams, but I certainly remembered the one from the 2-5am stretch of sleep. Check this out...

Believe it or not, I was a co-host on Today sitting on the couch with Meredith Viera. The story of the day was household nudity and I had to keep myself from undressing the former star of The View with my eyes.

Weird, weird, and weird...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Blows

The wind from a Noreaster came barreling through the area yesterday, uprooting many a tree. Uprooted trees tend to fall and one of the many targets are power lines. This is especially true out where I live where you can see the forest and the trees. With power out last night, there wasn't a lot to do but eat the pizza we brought home and go to bed. Thankfully, my laptop had some battery power left and I was able to read some issues of Rom before dozing off.

Monday, April 16, 2007

This Guy's Been Awake Since the Second World War

I'm really having trouble sleeping. I've more or less cut off caffeine in the afternoon and evening, it's no secret that I'm already physically exhausted, and I've even used mild sedatives. I'll usually get to sleep without much trouble, but I'm awake again within a couple of hours. Em says I've been gasping for air in my sleep which means sleep apnea may be a very real deal. And that's just super.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Timely Commentary Ripped from Today's Headlines

Have you heard about the brouhaha over Don Imus's comments regarding the Rutgers University women's basketball team? Criminy, I can't turn around without seeing or hearing something about it be it on TV, radio, newspapers, or the Internet. As Charlton Heston would say, "It's a madhouse! A madhouse!!"

Seriously, I'm not surprised Imus was fired over this because that's how radio works. The corporate giants certainly don't mind making money from their "bad boys" but these same corporate giants don't lift a finger to defend their talent the moment an incident generates more than a few complaint phone calls. They are afraid to tell people to change stations if they don't like what they hear because Joe and Jane Q. Public don't like to be told such things and *gasp* may actually decide to listen to something else. That causes lower ratings and lower ratings mean less money. Heaven forbid a multi-billion dollar conglomerate make a little less money.

Please do not get me wrong (and I'll put this in bold to emphasize): The remark was mean-spirited, racist, and misogynistic.

However, I cannot honestly believe that the mass populace thinks nothing like this has ever been said on the radio before. Hell, the guy that was involved in the initial on-air discussion followed Imus's remarks with a well-known racial slur (yes, he was referring to a Spike Lee movie but still). CBS Radio has known for years that Imus's brand of comedy relies on being a total jerk with behavior that has a history of flipping the race card. Quite frankly, what was said was pretty damn tame compared to some of the crap that has come out of his mouth before.

But "shock jocks" bring in the listeners—CBS was fine with that and had been for the past ten years. For CBS to suddenly pretend that this sort of thing is unacceptable is cowardly at best.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Good That Men Do


As a result of commuting via Metro, I've been passing the time by reading and just finished The Good That Men Do by Andy Mangels and Michael Martin. The novel is an attempt to continue the adventures of Captain Jonathan Archer and his crew from the canceled TV series Star Trek: Enterprise.

Mangels and Martin attempt to rectify the injustice that was the final episode of the series using the devices of historical inaccuracy and "recently declassified" records to marry their newly-created continuity with what we saw Riker and Troi experiencing in the episode. For the most part, the author duo do a decent job of interweaving elements from previous episodes to build their story—continuity hounds will be happy. However, the very premise falls flat at the end as a result of attempting to end things conveniently. By ending things the way they did, it flies in the face of an important continuity point we've accepted for the past 40 years.

Overall, it's a pretty good read (save for the aforementioned ending) and is a "must-read" for fans of Star Trek: Enterprise. There's no doubt in my mind that this is going to spur a truckload of debate within fan circles for a good long while.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Banished to Limbo


Hi kids. Remember—only you can defend your family from the Dire Wraiths. Sure it helps to have a suit of alien armor but let's not whine about it.

My Sincere Apologies

Since I have no idea when the virus situation will end (if it ever will), I present to you this alternative. Stay tuned...

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