February 7: "Journey Into Terror" / "The Death of Doctor Who"

(The Chase episodes 4 & 5)

"Journey Into Terror" is primarily set in some sort of haunted house, it seems.  Truth be told, I found the whole sequence very uninvolving, and although I generally try to see things from the point of view of a first time viewer, this time I couldn't view it without knowing the twist at the end, and so the Doctor's theories about where they've landed fall flat.  It's also really poorly structured; there's some effort toward building tension and mystery, but that all goes out the window once the Daleks show up, and it's just a mad dash back to the TARDIS.  This means that Vicki's disappearance and Barbara's vanishing into the wall are never dealt with: they're just suddenly back in the main room and ready to leave.  And there's also the odd moment where, when the Dalek first appears, it demands to know where the time travellers are, as if it doesn't recognize two of them standing right in front of it, and then when Ian slams a metal grating down it tells them not to move instead of just exterminating them through the grating. 

Once the haunted house is left behind, things get marginally more interesting as Ian, Barbara, and the Doctor realize that they've left Vicki back at the haunted house, and they resolve to fight and defeat the Daleks at their next stop so that they can capture their time machine and go back for Vicki.  This means the battle will be fought on the planet Mechanus.  "Just look at that vegetation!" Barbara exclaims.  "Yes, just as though it were alive," replies Ian the science teacher.  Vicki, meanwhile, has stowed away with the Daleks.  She might not hear the reappearance of the slow comedy Dalek ("Er...er...in Earth time...er...four minutes..."), but she is present when they unveil their latest scheme: a robot double of the Doctor, with a resemblance so "uncanny" that you wonder if the Daleks can actually see things the way humans do.  Of course, then the close-up is of William Hartnell rather than Hartnell not-really-a-lookalike-at-all Edmund Warwick, which ultimately ends up just being mildly disconcerting than threatening, even when the robot announces he will "infiltrate and kill."  The next episode is called "The Death of Doctor Who" -- wonder how that one will turn out?

The city of the Mechonoids. ("The Death of Doctor Who")
And really, when you're naming episodes you'd think you'd know not to give hostile critics titles like that, but no, this is "The Death of Doctor Who" (spoiler alert: it's not).  It's not a bad episode, but it does feel a bit like marking time: the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara spend most of the time holed up in a cave waiting for the right moment to strike.  The battle with the robot Doctor is quite entertaining, even if it's even more apparent that Edmund Warwick looks almost nothing like William Hartnell.  And Vicki is reunited with the others!  But meanwhile, the jungle set, while reasonably good (except for the obvious studio floors, but there's not much you can do there when you're dealing with Daleks), means that we have lots of gaps through the set in which you can see things.  Including a BBC camera in virtually full view for an awfully long time.  But at least the Fungoids are a good design and reasonably menacing.  And that final part with the Mechonoid is pretty good, even if it takes a couple listens to work out what it's saying.