Skip to main content

Only stupid Earth brains like yours would have been fooled.


Doctor Who
The Moonbase: Episode Three


Bob is shot dead (“You devils! You killed him!” – the dialogue emphasises that these are horror movie monsters, not science fiction ones) and we see not one but two Telosians (apparently Telos was referenced in the script although it didn’t make the televised programme). When the Cybermen actually start talking it does nothing to make their plan sound any more convincing. The men they have been abducting are alive.

Cyberman: No, they are not dead. They are altered… They are now controlled.

I’ve been wondering how many crewmen have been stricken, since every time a Cyberman enters there seem to be more bodies on the benches. They recognise the Doctor.

Cyberman: You are known to us.
The Doctor: And you to me.

Do they know him from The Wheel in Space? Or The Invasion? Or can they recognise a regenerated Time Lord? Fortunately for Ben and Polly the Cybermen leave them unguarded to hatch a plan of resistance, with the weak threat that if they leave the sickbay they will be converted.

Moonbase crew just can’t resist skinny-stomping.

The headgear applied to the converted crewmen appears to have some sort of third eye attachment. It seems that the Cybermen undressed the crewmen on the lunar surface and carried them back to their ship (why were they so desperate to strip them?) How they survived is anyone’s guess (likewise how did they return to the Moonbase?)

The Cyberplot is just dastardly villainy, with no suggestion of the cosmic ying-yang pull of the troubles of Mondas. They plan to take over the Gravitron and use it to destroy the surface of the Earth. Their motivation is “To eliminate all dangers” Couldn’t they have marched in two episodes ago and achieved the same thing?


Hobson: You’re supposed to be so advanced yet here you are taking your revenge – like children.
Cyberman: Revenge. What is that?
Hobson: It’s a feeling that people have.
Cyberman: Feeling. Feeling. Yes, we know of this weakness of yours. We are fortunate. We do not possess feelings.

He then goes on to show a nice line in rude sarcasm, although the vocal makes it hard to be certain.

Hobson: How did you get in?
Cyberman: It was very simple. Only stupid Earth brains like yours would have been fooled. Since we couldn’t approach direct we came up under the surface and cut out way in through your store room, contaminating your food supplies on the way. A simple hole, that’s all.
Hobson: A hole. That explains the sudden air pressure drops we’ve been recording.
Cyberman: Clever. Clever. Clever.

To be fair, the verbal slap down is well deserved. This is pitiful stuff, but there’s more. In the sickbay with a now-recovered Jamie, Ben and Polly are displaying all-new skill sets. Ben’s physics and chemistry degrees are in full effect as he notes how the Gravitron is thermo-nuclear and that the temperature inside its “power pack” is about four million degrees. He leisurely advises that nail varnish remover contains a “sort of acetone”. Polly, far more resourceful than the Doctor has been thus far, discerns that the Cybermen chest units are composed of plastic and that this could be a means to overpower them.

Polly: It’s simple. Nail varnish remover dissolves nail varnish. Nail varnish is a sort of plastic. So we do what Jamie says. We sprinkle them. See?
Ben: No, I don’t.

Selectively-destructive-to-plastic pollycocktail.

Jamie wasn’t suggesting peeing on the Cybermen, although the way things are going for them it might not be so surprising to discover that urine is highly corrosive to their feet. The “right old cocktail” they produce contains benzene, ether, alcohol and epoxy propane. Which they appear to pour into plastic spray bottles (Frazer Hines refers to them as fire extinguishers on the missing episode audio, but they clearly aren’t).


 Benoit is horrified that the Cybermen will send their controlled crewmen into the Gravitron room without their protective swimming caps. These produce a very intense sonic field, and without the caps they’d go insane within 12 hours. It takes Hobson to point out to the dozy Doctor that the Cybermen aren’t willing to operate the Gravitron controls themselves. The story’s only nod to the previously inventive approach in portraying the new Doctor is his interior monologue as he works out what the Cybermen are afraid of.

The Doctor: Funny. Funny. Go to all that trouble to make the men do the work. Why? Do it themselves easy. They’re using the men as tools. Why? Dunno. Yes, I do though. Must be something in here they don’t like. Pressure? No. Electricity? No. Radiation? Grav- gravity. Now there’s a thought. Gravity. Oh yes. Gravity.

Like most of the Troughton material, it’s a much-needed oasis of inventiveness in a dull-witted story (although the logic of their weaknesses is as suspect as everything else).

Being Enid Blyton in Space, it’s about time the kids had a spat.

Jamie: It takes more than a wee crack on the head to keep a MacCrimmon down.
Ben: Look mate, we don’t want you cracking up on us. I’m sure Polly’s very impressed.
Jamie: Look, I said I was better. Would you like me to prove it to you?
Ben: Any time, mate.

The thought that Ben’s being a prick is only confirmed when he follows it up by instructing, “Not you, Polly. This is men’s work”. On the positive side, she doesn’t act the wilting violet and refuses to remain there.

My God… They’re completely plastic inside!

The sequence of overcoming the Cybermen (aided by the Doctor disorientating the controlled crewmen through his turning up the volume of the RT unit) sounds reasonably effective, and it’s at least dramatically compelling to have a seeming victory just prior to the end of the episode. The Cybermen chest units get all nice and frothy when they are sprayed, whereas the one Ben tackles on the lunar surface (rescuing Benoit) spurts Cyberspunk everywhere. I’m not really clear on why a glass full of Pollycocktail will be so much more effective in tackling a Cyberman in a vacuum than a spray bottle, but it seems to work.

Run, Frenchie, run!

Hobson announces “From our point of view we’re under siege” (the Cybersaucer really does seem very close to the TARDIS, and the scale looks all wrong too), instructing the companions to “Make up as much of that gubbins as you’ve got. We may need it”. The advancing Cybermen look quite effective (strength in numbers), aided enormously by the space march theme.

Phwoooarrrr! The nudie moon vixens have returned!


As witless as ever. Many stories appear to hide behind their plot holes with invented science. This one at least keeps things down to earth, but in doing so reveals itself as ridiculous, nonsensical or foolishly twee. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I think I’m Pablo Picasso!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (SPOILERS) I get the impression that, whatever it is stalwart Venom fans want from a Venom movie, this iteration isn’t it. The highlight here for me is absolutely the wacky, love-hate, buddy-movie antics of Tom Hardy and his symbiote alter. That was the best part of the original, before it locked into plot “progression” and teetered towards a climax where one CGI monster with gnarly teeth had at another CGI monster with gnarly teeth. And so it is for Venom: Let There Be Carnage . But cutting quicker to the chase.

Are you, by any chance, in a trance now, Mr Morrison?

The Doors (1991) (SPOILERS) Oliver Stone’s mammoth, mythologising paean to Jim Morrison is as much about seeing himself in the self-styled, self-destructive rebel figurehead, and I suspect it’s this lack of distance that rather quickly leads to The Doors becoming a turgid bore. It’s strange – people are , you know, films equally so – but I’d hitherto considered the epic opus patchy but worthwhile, a take that disintegrated on this viewing. The picture’s populated with all the stars it could possibly wish for, tremendous visuals (courtesy of DP Robert Richardson) and its director operating at the height of his powers, but his vision, or the incoherence thereof, is the movie’s undoing. The Doors is an indulgent, sprawling mess, with no internal glue to hold it together dramatically. “Jim gets fat and dies” isn’t really a riveting narrative through line.

Maybe the dingo ate your baby.

Seinfeld 2.9: The Stranded The Premise George and Elaine are stranded at a party in Long Island, with a disgruntled hostess.

These are not soda cans you asked me to get for you.

The Devil’s Own (1997) (SPOILERS) Naturally, a Hollywood movie taking the Troubles as a backdrop is sure to encounter difficulties. It’s the push-pull of wanting to make a big meaningful statement about something weighty, sobering and significant in the real world and bottling it when it comes to the messy intricacies of the same. So inevitably, the results invariably tend to the facile and trite. I’m entirely sure The Devil’s Own would have floundered even if Harrison Ford hadn’t come on board and demanded rewrites, but as it is, the finished movie packs a lot of talent to largely redundant end.

Fifty medications didn’t work because I’m really a reincarnated Russian blacksmith?

Infinite (2021) (SPOILERS) It’s as if Mark Wahlberg, his lined visage increasingly resembling a perplexed potato, learned nothing from the blank ignominy of his “performances” in previous big-budget sci-fi spectacles Planet of the Apes and, er, Max Payne . And maybe include The Happening in that too ( Transformers doesn’t count, since even all-round reprobate Shia La Boeuf made no visible dent on their appeal either way). As such, pairing him with the blandest of journeyman action directors on Infinite was never going to seem like a sterling idea, particularly with a concept so far removed from of either’s wheelhouse.

I can do in two weeks what you can only wish to do in twenty years.

Wrath of Man (2021) (SPOILERS) Guy Ritchie’s stripped-down remake of Le Convoyeur (or Cash Truck , also the working title for this movie) feels like an intentional acceleration in the opposite direction to 2019’s return-to-form The Gentleman , his best movie in years. Ritchie seems to want to prove he can make a straight thriller, devoid of his characteristic winks, nods, playfulness and outright broad (read: often extremely crude) sense of humour. Even King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has its fair share of laughs. Wrath of Man is determinedly grim, though, almost Jacobean in its doom-laden trajectory, and Ritchie casts his movie accordingly, opting for more restrained performers, less likely to summon more flamboyant reflexes.

Five people make a conspiracy, right?

Snake Eyes (1998) (SPOILERS) The best De Palma movies offer a synthesis of plot and aesthetic, such that the director’s meticulously crafted shots and set pieces are underpinned by a solid foundation. That isn’t to say, however, that there isn’t a sheer pleasure to be had from the simple act of observing, from De Palma movies where there isn’t really a whole lot more than the seduction of sound, image and movement. Snake Eyes has the intention to be both scrupulously written and beautifully composed, coming after a decade when the director was – mostly – exploring his oeuvre more commercially than before, which most often meant working from others’ material. If it ultimately collapses in upon itself, then, it nevertheless delivers a ream of positives in both departments along the way.

I’ll look in Bostock’s pocket.

Doctor Who Revelation of the Daleks Lovely, lovely, lovely. I can quite see why Revelation of the Daleks doesn’t receive the same acclaim as the absurdly – absurdly, because it’s terrible – overrated Remembrance of the Daleks . It is, after all, grim, grisly and exemplifies most of the virtues for which the Saward era is commonly decried. I’d suggest it’s an all-time classic, however, one of the few times 1980s Who gets everything, or nearly everything, right. If it has a fault, besides Eric’s self-prescribed “Kill everyone” remit, it’s that it tries too much. It’s rich, layered and very funny. It has enough material and ideas to go off in about a dozen different directions, which may be why it always felt to me like it was waiting for a trilogy capper.

Madam, the chances of bagging an elephant on the Moon are remote.

First Men in the Moon (1964) (SPOILERS) Ray Harryhausen swaps fantasy for science fiction and stumbles somewhat. The problem with his adaptation of popular eugenicist HG Wells’ 1901 novel isn’t so much that it opts for a quirky storytelling approach over an overtly dramatic one, but that it’s insufficiently dedicated to pursuing that choice. Which means First Men in the Moon , despite a Nigel Kneale screenplay, rather squanders its potential. It does have Lionel Jeffries, though.

Beer is for breakfast around here. Drink or begone.

Cocktail (1988) (SPOILERS) When Tarantino claims the 1980s (and 1950s) as the worst movie decade, I’m inclined to invite him to shut his butt down. But should he then flourish Cocktail as Exhibit A, I’d be forced to admit he has a point. Cocktail is a horrifying, malignant piece of dreck, a testament to the efficacy of persuasive star power on a blithely rapt and undiscerning audience. Not only is it morally vacuous, it’s dramatically inert. And it relies on Tom’s toothy charms to a degree that would have any sensitive soul rushed to the A&E suffering from toxic shock (Tom’s most recently displayed toothy charms will likely have even his staunchest devotees less than sure of themselves, however, as he metamorphoses into your favourite grandma). And it was a huge box office hit.