Tuesday, 14 September 2021

REVIEW OVERVIEW: WHICH IS THE BEST DALEK SAGA?



DEFINITION: 

Probably the biggest question one might have when one sees a title of this nature would be: "What in God's Name is a Dalek Saga?!

And it's a valid one. 

It's another one of those terms I came up with that no other fan really uses. From time-to-time, I have noticed that certain stories featuring Daleks strongly interlink with each other. Essentially, the smaller tales tell a bigger adventure. But, if  I am to label things as a Proper Saga, they do have to be stories that are separate from each other. It can't just be one long adventure like The Dalek Masterplan (even though we could count Mission to the Unknown as a story onto itself that is distinct from the rest of the plot. But, because it doesn't feature the Doctor or anyone else aboard the TARDIS, I've decided it doesn't count!) A good Dalek Saga is made up of multiple stories that usually take place quite some time apart from each other. But, if you do watch them back-to-back, they display a nice ongoing arc. 

With these strange, convoluted parameters in place, here are the Dalek Sagas we will be rating. In chronological order, of course:   


The Intergalactic War With Earth Saga

Frontier In Space

Planet of the Daleks


The Davros Saga - Part One

Genesis of the Daleks

Destiny of the Daleks


The Davros Saga - Part Two

Resurrection of the Daleks 

Revelation of the Daleks

Remembrance of the Daleks 


The Cult of Skaro Saga

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks 

Stolen Earth/Journey's End 


The Recon Dalek Saga

Resolution 

Revolution of the Daleks


SPECIAL NOTE: If one is being pedantic (and, given you're a Doctor Who fan, you probably are!), one could almost  say that all the stories in the Classic Series that feature Davros could be considered one long Saga. And I wouldn't dispute that point too hotly. They do connect together quite nicely as we follow Davros through a whole series of unfortunate events.

But, for various reasons, I do prefer to break them down into two parts. The most significant reason for doing this is that there is a huge shift in Davros' motivation between Destiny and Resurrection. The Mad Kaled Scientist still cooperates with his creations in his first two tales. But, after that, he actually conspires against them and works on creating a special army of his own that is obedient exclusively to him. To me, this constitutes a whole new Saga that should be considered distinct from the first two Davros adventures.  


CRITERIA 

As usual, this is a REVIEW OVERVIEW not a BOOK OF LISTS. So we will be judging each Saga by certain points of criteria rather than just spewing complete unfounded opinion! In this instance, we will be looking at the strengths of five different elements that each Saga contains. In the last few essays of this nature, I've even attached a point value to these sort of components. This time, however, I will just discuss them in each review and make a call on them without going to such lengths as giving them a specific score. 

Let's explain, however, which each point means: 


Dalek Presence: 

A simple enough idea, really. But it is a problem that exists in some of the Sagas. Even though it's meant to be all about them, we don't actually see a whole lot of the Daleks for great chunks of the story. There is some justification for this, of course. They're "hiding" the Daleks for a big reveal at the end of an episode or something else of that nature. But, sometimes, a Dalek Saga just doesn't feel like one because there just aren't a lot of Daleks in it! 


Dalek Development:

This one's inspired by a very interesting quote from Steven Moffat. It went something to the nature of: "There's no point in doing a Dalek story unless it reveals something new or different about them." And he's very right. Just having Daleks trundle along and shoot people up only works well for so long. Something has to exist in the plot that propels the idea of the Daleks ahead in some sort of way or reveals some hitherto-unknown nuance to their culture. Or, if you've got a really good writer working on the script, both of these things happen.  


Connectivity: 

This one relates to the overall execution of the Saga. In some instances, it really does feel like the various stories flow into each other quite nicely. In other cases, the whole thing comes across as much more disjointed. The adventures seem as though they're held together quite tenuously. This can definitely damage the effectiveness of the Saga. 


Execution of the Overall Theme:

Similar to Connectivity, but not quite the same. 

There does seem to be some specific themes to every Saga. A sort of central idea that all the tales are built around. Some Sagas adhere well to that core issue and display it clearly. Others seem a lot more muddied. Sometimes almost to the point where we find ourselves wondering if we can really refer to them as a Saga. They almost don't seem to be telling a larger plot, after all. 


Quality of Stories:

As always, one category is reserved for personal opinion. In this one, I simply discuss how I feel about the various adventures that make up the Saga. 


RANKINGS

So, we've made everything in this latest REVIEW OVERVIEW relatively clear, let's get on with actually rating the Sagas. We will start at the bottom and work our way up. Reviews will be quite comprehensive, so I will only tackle the worst two in this entry and do the other three later in the month. I do hate it if these things go on for too long! 


Fifth Place:

The Cult of Skaro Saga

I can remember being just a tad frustrated with RTD back when he wrote for Doctor Who. One of the things that he did that really got to me was the way he never seemed to have much good to say about 80s Who (one of, if not, my favorite eras of the show). What irritated me even more about him was the fact that he still did certain things to emulate that period but failed at it miserably. It's one thing to denounce something. It's another thing entirely to imitate the thing you're deriding but execute it far worse than the source material did. 

The Cult of Skaro Sago is one of the obvious examples of this phenomenon. It seems clear to me that he was trying to re-create the dynamic we first saw in the last three Dalek stories that came out in the late 80s (Resurrection, Revelation, Remembrance). There are all sorts of similarities in the way both Sagas are structured. The big difference between the two, however, is that the 80s Who stories are outstanding and Cult of Skaro sucks pretty bad! 

Dalek Presence: 

Most of the trilogy has a very strong Dalek Presence. Army of Ghosts is the only exception, of course. But that's because they're trying to do an end-of-episode reveal.  But suddenly including the Daleks in what appears to be a Cybermen story was a bit odd and really only worked so well. I was impressed, at least, that when we got to Davros in the final story, the Daleks didn't seem to take a back seat like they sometimes have before. 

Dalek Development:

Aside from announcing the idea of the Cult of Skaro (but not really showing off that idea all that particularly well), we don't see a lot of that much-needed element that Moff mentions. There is a fair amount of Daleks just trundling along and killing people and not really doing much else in both Army/Doomsday and Stolen Earth/Journey's End. Only Manhattan/Evolution really shows the Daleks exploring something new and interesting. 

Connectivity: 

The bridge between Army/Doomsday and Manhattan/Evolution does work quite well. It really does feel like the two stories link up nicely. 

However, the very rules laid down in the first two stories about how an Emergency Temporal Shift works seem to get thrown out the window for the third installment. It's already established that Dalek Khan has drained himself of almost all his power from the first shift that he made in Doomsday. How, then, does he manage to break the time lock on the Time Wars and go in and rescue Davros? If his first trip through time forced him to hide in the sewers of New York because he has so little energy left, how can he accomplish such a monumental task?! 

There are other stories in other Sagas that require you to imagine a bit of head cannon to get the links to work (Davros creating an Imperial Dalek Faction between Revelation and Remembrance, for example). Most of the time, it's not that hard to make the jump. But I do find this particular leap a bit difficult. To me, a time lock should be near-impossible to break. Certainly, a burnt out Dalek shouldn't be able to accomplish it. Even if the whole things seems to have wrecked his casing and made him insane (and, somehow, prophetic at the same time!)    

Execution of the Overall Theme:

The actual theme of these three stories seems a bit muddy. Which speaks volumes of its execution, right there. 

I was under the impression that it would be about the Cult of Skaro exploring new ideas that Daleks would never face before. We do get a bit of that in Manhattan/Evolution, of course. But, most of the time, the stories seem to be more about the Daleks trying to re-build their empire over and over but getting it wiped out by the Doctor every time. 

Since this premise was already explored in Series One, this theme gets tired pretty fast. I am, in fact, quite thankful that Moff finally lets the Daleks succeed at doing this in Victory of the Daleks so that we can move on to other more interesting things. 

Quality of Stories: 

This is where I will ramble on quite a bit!

The first thing I noticed as I re-watched these stories together was that they really haven't aged well. When they first came out, I was a much easier fan to please. I was just so happy to see my favorite TV show back on the air. The actual content didn't need to be incredibly well-written, it was just great that Doctor Who had returned!

Now, of course, I'm much more discerning. And looking back at a lot of those early days can be a bit painful, sometimes.  

The utter simplicity of Army/Doomsday is what I find the most underwhelming. Some Daleks and Cybermen are bleeding into our reality. The Doctor sends them back. That's, pretty much, the whole plot, right there. There are some subplots going on, but quite a few of them are cringeworthy. The worst being, of course, the Doctor and Rose saying goodbye. I have been known to just shut the story off once all the baddies have been thrown back in the Void. Those last few minutes of Doomsday are just too damned sappy for my tastes.   

While most fans berate Manhattan/Evolution quite heavily, I actually like this one the most out of the three. Particularly since it tackles best what I thought would be the central theme of the Saga. It is still riddled with all sorts of problems, of course. Many of which have been pointed out endlessly by other fans, so I won't go into extravagant detail, here. I'll just simply say that RTD was mad to give Helen Raynor another two-parter involving a well-established monster from the Classic Series  a season later. Her track record did not merit such a privilege. She deserved a second chance - as some of her writing did show promise. But she probably should have just gotten a single episode story with a new monster we've never seen before. RTD does seem a bit arrogant in this choice. Like he was saying: "Screw you, fans! I'll give you more Raynor even though you want less!"

While I do claim to be a less critical fan during the first few seasons of New Who, I was still not very impressed with the Series Four Finale. It seemed far too soon to be taking such a huge nostalgia trip. Particularly since the entire plot of Stolen Earth is, pretty much, just checking in on various old companions and spin-off characters at regular intervals. 

There's also a lot of elements to the story that don't seem to be making a whole lot of sense. The Doctor suddenly being able to siphon off regeneration energy so that his appearance doesn't change would be one of the bigger ones. I'm still not entirely sure how his hand floating nearby in a fish tank, somehow, facilitates this process. Nor do I fully understand how it creates an extra copy of him, later.  It all seems to be happening for the sheer sake of plot convenience.   

I have literally tried to like this story. But there's just too much going on in it that makes me full-on wince while I watch it ("cringe" didn't seem to be a strong enough word - had to go for "wince"!). I would say it's the worst story of the entire New Series - but The Next Doctor follows immediately after it!  

If we're going by story quality alone, The Cult of Skaro Saga really doesn't fare well. The fact that it's not doing good with some of the other points of criteria just worsens the problem. This Saga really didn't work It's a pity that RTD made it such a huge crux of his whole era. It gives his period as Head Writer a very unsatisfactory undertone. 


Fourth Place:

The Intergalactic War with Earth Saga

This is, of course, the first real attempt at a Dalek Saga. So I am a bit more forgiving of it, in places. Still, there are a few problems with this Saga that we can't make excuses for. Although I'm much more satisfied with it than I am Cult of Skaro

Dalek Presence: 

This is a tricky one, of course. We only get the briefest of cameos at the end of Frontier in Space. But such a low Dalek presence in this story makes total sense. The surprise of the Master appearing on the ridge with Daleks in tow is one of my favorite moments of the Pertwee Era. And the fact that we still have some Dalek Presence in Frontier allows the two adventures to be labeled as a Saga. I heavily considered putting The Long Game and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways onto this list. Long Game is, after all, part of a huge plot by the Daleks to re-build their army. But since the episode contains absolutely no Daleks, I decided it didn't qualify. Frontier, at least, gives us Daleks for a few minutes. And their lack of presence in the other five parts makes total sense. 

Continuing to hide the Daleks in Part One of Planet of the Daleks, however, is downright silly. We know, already, that this is a Dalek story. Not just because the Doctor explains to Jo at the end of Frontier that he is following the Daleks into the next story, but also because the tale actually has the word "Dalek" right in the title! So why are we waiting til the Cliffhanger at the end of the first episode to bring the Daleks in?! (I lament about this quite a bit in another recent entry. Check it out if you want: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/08/complete-and-utter-silliness-few-more.html

Dalek Development: 

While we might look at the Saga now and not see much in the way of shedding new light on the Daleks, it does actually accomplish this if we view the story more contextually. This is the first real story that shows the military presence that the Daleks have in the galaxy. Yes, we did see them invade worlds and act in a militaristic fashion in other stories. But those cheap Dapol models in a polystyrene cave gave an atmosphere to the Daleks we had never seen before. Up until this Saga, their army was talked about here and there. Finally, we actually witness their forces in their full miniaturistic glory!   

Connectivity 

This is definitely one of the sore points of this Saga. There is even some dialogue slipped in during Part Four of Planet to try to highlight the idea that the stories really are intertwined. But they do feel pretty separate from each other. Like they almost don't need to be connected at all. The plots of the stories are just so different from each other that the link between them feels very weak. In some ways, it's nice to have two stories that are so diverse still telling a larger adventure. But, in many other ways, this seems to work against the Saga. 

Execution of the Overall Theme: 

This is a great illustration of how this category is different from Connectivity. While the two adventures don't join together very well, we are always thinking at the back of our minds how the Doctor is fighting to save 26th Century Earth and its various associated colonies from the evil clutches of the Skarosian Conquerors. Which is the central theme of the Saga. So, as far as I can see, the theme was well-executed all the way through. 

Quality of Stories: 

While I do say that I am happy with this Saga, Frontier in Space does actually make it a bit difficult for me to truly feel that. 

The plot is threadbare. We need about two episodes to tell it - not six! To compensate for the deficit, we get endless captures-and-escapes to mark time (It actually breaks a record! Read about it here: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2019/11/complete-and-utter-silliness-capture.html). The story, itself, just drags and drags and drags... 

There are some good points, of course. Like the Silurians, Malcolm Hulke creates another three-dimensional species in the Draconians. And I've already mentioned that great reveal of the Master and the Daleks working together at the end of the story. 

But I will have to say that I find Frontier more disappointing than enjoyable. 

Planet of the Daleks is not without its flaws, either. While it took me years to genuinely see the similarities, it is a bit of a re-tread of The Daleks. It also follows a bit of a formula that Terry Nation is trying to exploit so that his job as a writer can be much easier. Death to the Daleks follows a lot of the same patterns that he first establishes in this tale. (There was a temptation, by the way, to include Death in this Saga since I do believe it takes place at the end of the War these stories are foreshadowing - but I did feel that the connection between the stories just wasn't strong enough). 

But Planet does rise above its flaws and tells us a very entertaining story.  Most of the time, the constant peril that the characters seem to be in works quite well and gives the whole adventure a nice "edge". It's quite nice to see the Thals back, too. I wish we'd get more of them. The fact that a complete anti-thesis of the Daleks lurks on their own planet is an interesting concept that bears further investigation. One imagines that the Thals are either wiped out by their enemies or emigrate to another world. It'd be nice to find out what their ultimate fate was. But Planet, at least, builds nicely on their mythology.  

Because Planet is a vast improvement over Frontier, the Saga, in general, works fairly well. It's weak enough in places that it ranks pretty low in the list. But it's still better than the mess that is The Cult of Skaro Saga



Well, that's enough for now. Not sure if you agree with my sentiments, thus far, on the Sagas that I've covered. You may love the whole Cult of Skaro thing or think Frontier In Space is a work of art. If so, sorry if I offended you. 

Anyhow, I'll be back in here shortly to cover the other three stories... 

If you like REVIEW OVERVIEW essays, here's some links to a few more: 


Actors in Multiple Roles - Part One: 

https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/01/review-overview-when-leads-play.html 

Actors in Multiple Roles - Part Two: 

https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/01/review-overview-supporting-actors-who.html 


The Very First REVIEW OVERVIEW of Them All! 

https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/01/review-overview-supporting-actors-who.html   



 

   




Saturday, 28 August 2021

COMPLETE AND UTTER SILLINESS - A FEW MORE LUDICROUS CLIFFHANGERS

I was really only planning to write one entry in August. 

My career suffered from Lockdown longer than most but I was finally starting to work again. After a somewhat long period of inactivity, I was feeling extra tired from my renewed endeavors. So I was getting lots of extra rest between jobs. Which meant, of course, that certain activities in my life were going to get neglected for a bit. Working on this blog was meant to be one of them. 

I was quite happy with the one post that I did make in mid-August. As was the readership. Some pretty good hits on it and some very nice feedback. And I thought to myself: "That really wasn't too difficult to write!" And I also thought to myself: "There are a few more cringey Cliffhangers that I could talk about." And, finally, I thought to myself: "A second part to this essay before the month is over would look nice."    

So, here I am... 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #10

Stacking the Peril 

We're starting things off in New Who, this time. As mentioned in the previous post, fans seem to think that only Classic Who is guilty of silly Cliffhangers. But that's not always the case. 

This is one that's not just New Series, but seems almost exclusive to the RTD era. It's something he liked to do now and again that kinda worked well but, when you stop to think about it, is a bit on the silly side. I call it the Stacked Peril. 

It's a Cliffhanger where everyone seems to get in trouble all at once. Several major characters are in several different plot threads and they all, suddenly, get caught up in a life-threatening event at the same time. It certainly produces a Cliffhanger with high stakes.  And the resolutions at the beginning of the next episode can give us a nice sense of breakneck pace. But we must still ask ourselves: "Can so many people be in peril at exactly the same moment?!" This really does seem like too much of a coincidence! 

The end of Stolen Earth shows this off quite well. Everybody looks about ready to get exterminated and the Doctor appears to be regenerating. On the first watch, this does feel quite exciting. On re-watches, though, I've kinda felt like everything just feels a bit far-fetched! 

But I do think the Cliffhanger for Aliens of London is the best example of this. It sticks out more because it is the very first Cliffhanger we see in the New Series. Jackie's in danger. Rose is in danger. The Doctor's in danger. And, of course, some Slytheen are farting! It's like RTD was thinking: "First Cliffhanger in the Revival. I better make this big!!" He may have made it a bit too big, though.  As it all does feel a bit preposterous. 

The resolution, at least, works a bit better than Stolen Earth. All the perils get solved by one single clever choice by the Doctor. Whereas the beginning of Journey's End seems a bit sillier as each peril solves itself individually. It stretches credulity all-the-more. Can so many problems arise and then get fixed so quickly?! 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #11

Bad Effects Killing the Moment

This one is definitely much more of a Classic Who problem. The tight budget they had to work under meant that some of the effects looked intensely cheap. But when that bad effect appeared near the end of an episode, its ludicrousness was compounded. 

We're meant to be held in suspense at a Cliffhanger. We're meant to be wondering: "However will they get out of this one?!" But it's really hard to get wrapped up in the tension of it all when something so laughable is happening onscreen. 

Many cite Part Four of Seeds of Doom as the most memorable moment of this nature. We get our first solid look at the Krynoid in its full form. And the first shot we see of it actually looks quite good. Which, I think, just aggravates the disappointment that happens a moment later when the Krynoid trundles forward in the most ridiculous-looking of ways. Clearly, there's just an artiste beneath it all making the creature hop along like a rabbit. As the Cliffhanger Sting cuts in, we're seriously unimpressed. 

But I think Part Three of Robot is far more painful. That toy tank rolling into the bad CSO shot just sticks in my memory like an accidental fart on a hot date. There's just nothing more humiliating. The fact that the episode then ends on this, sort of, weird note gets the whole thing to feel even more "off". K-1 seems like he's going to do something horrible to everyone but doesn't, really  It's all quite strange. 

Of course, the special effects we will get throughout most of Part Four will get us to almost forget about that silly little toy tank! 

I've never been much of a fan of Robot. People complain about Twin Dilemma and Time and the Rani as being terrible "first Doctor stories". But I really feel Robot is so much worse than these 80s Tales could ever aspire to be. The awful Part Three Cliffhanger and the ensuing mess of the fourth episode really help to re-enforce my point!   


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #12:

Is it Really That Dangerous? 

This one is a bit similar to something we talked about in the first part. 

There have been instances in the show where the episode just suddenly ends without any real danger or a shocking revelation or anything of that nature. I mentioned in the first Ludicrous Cliffhanger entry how The Horror of Fang Rock seems to do this with great abundance. The first three episodes just seem to conclude out of nowhere without really trying to create any kind of actual suspense to entice us to come back next week. 

A reader did point out that there is the slightest sense of peril happening at the end of Part Three. The Doctor realizing that he's accidentally locked everyone into the Lighthouse with the Rutan is very subtle, but it does represent a Cliffhanger. Something bad is about to happen.

"Yeah," I had to admit, "But after two episodes of no real danger, being subtle was probably not the best choice. We needed something with some real wallop!

Which got me to see that there are a few other Cliffhangers out there that flop in a similar manner. There is an implication that something mildly nasty could be, sort of, happening soon. And we're meant to be concerned about it. But, quite often, it's just not quite hard-hitting enough. We're left with another one of those "That's it?!" kind of sentiments. 

I think Part Four of Frontier In Space models this best. The Doctor, Jo and the Master have been captured by Draconians. The Master seems quite nonplussed as they are locked up in a cell. We see him activate a homing device that his Ogron slaves are following. 

Clearly, the Ogrons will be up to some sort of no good in the next episode. We're aware of that. But it still doesn't seem like all that particularly intense of a Cliffhanger. It's like watching a character in a story who hates the protagonist calling a hit man to inquire about his prices. Yup, chances are something bad is going to happen to the hero sometime down the road. An attempt will probably get made on his life. But ... well, it's just not anything all that scary yet! 

Subtler Cliffhangers do work, sometimes. They're even a bit of a treat. As they offer us something a little different. But, admittedly, there are quite a few of them that seem more like the writer really wasn't able to come up with anything all that effective. So, instead, we get Michael Kilgariff in an elaborate ape costume staring at a blip on a screen.

 

Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #13:

The Terrible Zoom-In

We actually see numerous examples of this throughout both Classic and New Who. Oftentimes, the device is quite effective. Sometimes, however, it comes across as silly. And, during one specific era, it was genuinely excessive. 

During Season 23, JNT decreed that the directors zoom in on Colin Baker's face as much as possible when the Cliffhanger presents itself. Which is not a bad idea. Focusing on the Doctor as he looks on in horror at the fate that has befallen him is a good note to go out on. But, if it's done too much, it does start feeling a bit absurd. 

That magic moment, I feel, happens during Part Two of Mindwarp (or Part Six of Trial of a Time Lord - depending on how you choose to number these things!). Ycranos and Dorf spring out from nowhere and take out the guards that are meant to be protecting the Turncoat Time Lord. Ycranos then turns his attention to the Doctor, himself. With a sense of relish and menace that only Brian Blessed could do so perfectly, he threatens to kill Our Hero. 

And the Terrible Zoom-In occurs. But, by this point, it's happened at the end of most episodes this season. Not only have we really begun to notice it, but we're also getting tired of it. 

I mean, Colin is a handsome guy - don't get me wrong. Particularly with those nice long curly blond locks. And those sumptuous full lips. And his .... uh .... sorry, am I getting carried away?    

My real point is: the Terrible Zoom-In is definitely being abused by this point. We've had enough of it. But it will still go on a few more times before it's truly over. From there, we will move on and do it to Sylvester McCoy from time-to-time. But it will be less frequently. By the time Doctor Seven arrives, the Balance of the Terrible Zoom-In will be restored. 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #14

That Happened Quickly! 

This will be one of the few times I will pick on a 60s Who Cliffhanger. The truth of the matter is, a lot of them are actually quite good. Yes, some of them look as cheap as the ones I just described in a previous category. But, for some reason, bad effects don't make me cringe as much if they're shot in black-and-white!   

Keys of Marinus is a genuinely fun adventure during Season One. After stunning us with the darkness of Nazi allegory and the Cold War in The Daleks, Terry Nation gives us something far more rollicking in his next contribution. It's way too ambitious, of course. Which causes some sequences to look like they came straight out of Plan 9 from Outer Space. But, because the overall story is so enjoyable, I'm willing to forgive! 

There is still one scene in Marinus that is just a tad too difficult to swallow. It happens at the end of Part Three. Ian and Barbara have dealt with the weird Screaming Jungle and have teleported to the next location. This time, it's a frozen tundra. They are without any kind of decent protective clothing in this harsh environment - so it is bound to affect them pretty fast. But the effect is, perhaps, just a bit too quick! They are passing out within seconds of arriving! Because, of course, there are only seconds left in the episode! 

Jacqueline Hill and William Russell are trying so hard to sell it. They even come quite close to pulling it off. Their efforts, however, come to no avail. We just watch two people start freezing to death in record-breaking time. The whole moment becomes high comedy rather than gripping suspense. 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #15

Yup. We Know There Are Daleks in This 

This is one that Moff jokes about quite a bit. 

For quite some time in the Classic Series, "Of the Daleks" titles were quite popular. We had Power of the Daleks and Day of the Daleks and Planet of the Daleks and Power Tools of the Daleks and Re-Mortgaging of the Daleks and .... okay, I might be making up a few of these. But there were a lot of stories that had names like these!    

Moff's point was that Part One of many of these adventures would end with a revelation that the Daleks were in the story. A surprise that might have been effective if we had missed the title sequence, not checked any of the listings or paid attention to any trailers or previews. Otherwise, we know there are Daleks involved cause their names are right in the title! When you've put it in the name of the story, it seems pretty silly to build your first Cliffhanger around surprising your audience with the appearance of a Dalek!    

Of course, some of the sequences still work because there is a sense of peril that accompanies the "surprise appearance". When Daleks smash through the wall at the end of Episode One of Destiny of the Daleks, for instance, they still converge on Romana and threaten her. So the Cliffhanger is effective to a certain extent.

But there are other tales that really do make it all about revealing the presence of Daleks in the plot. Even though we know, already, that they're there. The one that does this best, I think, is Part One of Planet of the Daleks. They go to great lengths to keep that Dalek hidden to the very bitter end of the episode. They actually take the trouble of making it invisible until Jon Pertwee and Bernard Horsefall give it a paint job. There's also no sense of danger that  helps to make the Cliffhanger achieve a threat of some sort. The Dalek has perished from light wave sickness (whatever that is!) and can't hurt them in any way. 

But still, we're supposed to react to the surprise of it all. "Oh my God!" we're meant to exclaim, "There's Daleks in this story! What a shock! Even though we already knew there were Daleks in this story!"    


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #16:

Impact Over Logic 

This one happens mostly when the show is trying to do a surprise reveal of some sort. 

When the Master strips off his Kalid costume at the end of Part Two of Time Flight, for instance, we're meant to just exclaim: "Wow! It's the Master!". Which is exactly what I did for the first few seconds of that particular Reveal. 

But then I stopped and thought. In the next few seconds, I exclaimed: "For the first two episodes, the Master was alone in a room. Why would he be in a disguise for no one?!" The only sane answer, of course, is that we were watching Kalid during these scenes and the production team didn't want to ruin the surprise. 

The Part Two Cliffhanger of Time Flight is a great example of what I like to call Impact Over Logic. Where something happens at a Cliffhanger that packs a big punch but doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. The Master being Kalid the whole time, however, is still not the worst case of this. 

The end of Part One of Dalek Invasion of Earth is probably the most ludicrous case of Impact Over Logic. Because this is an era where each individual part gets a name, we don't have another Cliffhanger Style #15 going on. The episode is merely called World's End. The full name of the story isn't something that's created til much further down road. So the audience really is genuinely surprised when the Dalek slowly emerges from the Thames to stop the Doctor and Ian from going for a swim. Admittedly, it's a pretty damned nice visual. I'm sure, if I had been watching the moment when it was actually transmitted, I would have been blown away. 

But, once more, as the shock of the Reveal subsided - I had questions. The biggest one being: "Why the Hell is a Dalek just strolling along at the bottom of the River Thames?!". I also asked: "How does a Dalek just happen to come ashore at that very moment?!" I had a few other quibbles of this nature, but I think you get the point. 

As cool as the whole sequence looks, it makes no real sense of any sort. It was merely created to bring the episode to a very thunderous conclusion. But it seems to me that you can't just put Anthony Ainley in a silly outfit or pull a Dalek casing out of the Thames just so that the audience can have a nasty shock. There needs to be a legitimate reason for this to happen.    



If you missed Part One: 

https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/08/complete-and-utter-silliness-few-of-my.html













Tuesday, 17 August 2021

COMPLETE AND UTTER SILLINESS - A FEW OF MY FAVORITE LUDICROUS CLIFFHANGERS

After several entries of deep, heavy analysis, I felt it was time to lighten things up a bit. Pointing out a few of my favorite plot holes in certain stories a while back seemed to be well-received (apparently, one of the entries was published in a fanzine. Or, at least, I gave permission for it to be published. Not sure if it actually went to print!). Since the readership seemed to enjoy me poking a bit of fun at the show, I thought I might do it again. This time, though, I'm going to look at some cringey cliffhangers.   


In my 10 Amazing Cliffhangers That Weren't Particularly Cliffhangerish entry (https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2020/06/book-of-lists-ten-amazing-cliffhangers.html), I explain how strong of a role the Cliffhanger has played in the history of the show. Particularly during Classic Who, of course, where most episodes finished on a "However will they get out of this one?!" note. But even the Revived Series likes to throw out, at least, a few Suspenseful Final Moments That Will Get Solved in the Next Episode per season. One cannot dispute it, the Cliffhanger is a significant trademark of the show. 

But there are downsides to this. Sometimes, a story is contrived in a way that doesn't quite support the Cliffhangers that are required of it. At a point that is completely inconvenient, the author of the script has to just shoehorn one in that massively interferes with the flow of the narration. Or a writer is trying to come up with a type of Cliffhanger that we've never seen before and creates something original but completely ludicrous. Or we just get a Cliffhanger that, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to work. 

We're going to spend this entry looking at a few of those really shaky Cliffhangers and have a bit of a laugh over them. As usual, when I write something like this - I'm not trying to demean the efforts of the writers that created the content. But I am, perhaps, poking a little fun at them in a lighthearted way. I hope no one takes offense to this. 

In my similarly-written series that looked at Plot Holes, I tried to pick some stuff that doesn't get discussed so much in Fandom. This time, however, I am going to go for a lot of the more famous Ludicrous Cliffhangers. With, maybe, the occasional obscure one peppered in. 

Like the Plot Holes entries, we do see certain recurring styles of Ludicrous Cliffhangers. I'll try to showcase a few of them. 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #1

Crammin' It In 

I've mentioned this phenomenon already. It's when there really isn't a whole lot of room in the plot for a proper cliffhanger but there still needs to be one. The writer almost seems to just suddenly pull one out of their ass and shove it in so they can conclude the episode with some kind of implication of danger. The effect, however, just feels very incongruous. Clearly, the Cliffhanger doesn't really fit in. 

My favorite example of this is one that I don't actually hear much discussion about. Part Three of the immensely brilliant Snakedance is moving along at a cracking little pace (even though most of it features the Doctor locked up in a cell!). We really start getting a sense of the whole impact the Mara will have if it returns to Manussa. The Doctor, Nyssa and the Assistant Guy Who Finally Believes Them are running around trying to work out a way to thwart the Mara's re-manifestation. It's all very intense. 

But, unfortunately, the episode has run its course. We're twenty-three minutes in so we need something perilous to occur. The trio of do-gooders suddenly zip around the corner in a series of corridors (there's something we've never seen before in Doctor Who!) and, suddenly, find a few guards waiting for them. Members of a completely sophisticated and peaceful society have a huge change of character and decide to kill our protagonists. Just to punch things up a bit - Nyssa lets out a scream as they advance on them. 

The whole thing really seems to come out of nowhere and doesn't sit right in the slightest. Especially the very rushed shriek that Sarah Sutton has to emit. It causes the moment to feel even more shoehorned. It's the only real flaw in an otherwise amazing tale. But it looks quite ridiculous the way the sequence is crammed in just to give us some kind of Cliffhanger.


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #2

Can We Even Call it a Cliffhanger?! 

Horror of Fang Rock is guiltiest of this transgression. Pretty much every episode just seems to suddenly end with no real implication of any kind of actual peril. Terrance Dicks seems to have almost forgotten the whole show's format and just lets the episode run out of time without providing us with any kind of real incentive to come back next week. The story's just gonna pick up where it left off and keep going. After several years of almost always seeing a Cliffhanger at the end of most episodes of a Doctor Who adventure, the conclusions to Parts One, Two and Three of Horror feel tremendously jarring. To the point of being comical. 

If we had to choose one Cliffhanger that illustrates this best, I would go with the end of Part Two. Once more, we get a scream from nowhere that heightens the comedy of the moment. In this case, however, the sound technician seems to have put some sort of post-production modulation on it that makes it sound quite silly. Then the Doctor and Leela run off to investigate while a couple of supporting characters look on in horror and make a shocked remark. That's it. That's really how they're going to end the episode. "Let's find out what that goofy-sounding yelling is about!" hardly creates any kind of real sense of impending doom. 

Again, it's the abruptness of it all that really gets the moment to flop in a quite hilarious manner. We're just, sort of, sitting there as the Cliffhanger Sting starts up and thinking: "Oh! I guess we're done?!". It's almost a bit surreal! 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #3:

Bohemian Rhapsody 

The end of Part One of Attack of the Cybermen is usually the one fans like to cite for this. To enjoy the full comedy impact, you almost need to close your eyes and just listen. The dialogue and music almost seems to come in at such weird places that it really does sound like the operatic portion of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. One is almost expecting the Cyberleader to suddenly proclaim: "Easy come. Easy go. Will you let me go?". And the rest of his Cybermen to chime in with: "Bishmallah! No!. We will not let you go!" 

But I think there's an even clearer example of this in New Who. Yes, there are even Ludicrous Cliffhangers in the modern version of the show. It's not just the Classic Series that commits these sins. 

The ending of Silence in the Library comes across way more like Bohemian Rhapsody than Attack of the Cybermen could ever hope to. The interplay between Donna's repeating quote and the poor archaeologist that was stripped away by the Vashta Nerada that keeps saying: "Hey! Who turned out the lights?!" just needs some Brian May guitar licks playing underneath to really complete the effect. 

The fact that the whole thing seems to go on for what feels like eight minutes really gets the Cliffhanger to appear quite silly instead of threatening. It's like Moff  couldn't fill up the episode so he just wrote six pages of Donna and "Hey! Who turned out the lights?!" and hoped no one would notice!


Ludicous Cliffhanger Style #4:

Supporting Character in Danger That We Just Don't Care About

This one, I think, is another situation that is the result of a plot that is just not able to support the Cliffhanger structure properly. 

If we want a good Cliffhanger, the Doctor and/or companion(s) are the ones that need to be in some sort of jeopardy at the end of an episode . But, in some stories, they are all in the middle of something that can't really be interrupted with an element of danger when the run-time demands it. 

When this happens, scriptwriters seem to think that threatening the safety of a supporting role that we've just met will create a suitable substitute. In some cases, this does actually work. We really have fallen in love with this new character that we will only see for this tale. Killing them off will genuinely upset us. 

Most of the time, however, we don't really give a rat's ass about them. Or, at least, we're not so attached to them that creating a sense of peril for them as a part ends is going to tug all that hard on our heartstrings. And, because their death wouldn't really be all that significant to us, the Cliffhanger feels almost hollow. Like you just want to say: "Who cares?!" as the ending credits roll on.    

My favorite example of this would be Part Two of Face of Evil. Tomas, a character so forgettable that I had to go look up a plot summary on a fanpage to retrieve his name, is trying to fight off the Giant Floating Invisible Tom Baker Heads that are roaming the jungle sets. Once more, there's that sense of twenty-three minutes passing since the last episode and something bad has to happen soon. But the Doctor and Leela are too busy climbing over giant rock teeth. So, instead, we decide that Tomas firing indiscriminately to protect himself is the note to go out on. 

The sequence is laughably ineffective. The stakes are just too low. Yes, Tomas is a nice guy and we'd hate if a Giant Invisible Floating Tom Baker Head (who leaves footprints in Part One when he really shouldn't!) ate him. But, in the end, we're not so invested in him that he deserves a Cliffhanger. It all just comes across as a weird place to end an episode.  


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #5

Shoulda Cut it Sooner

This is one that's all about the visual. You just get a Cliffhanger every now and again where they hold on to the shot a little longer than they should have. And the poor actors that are being filmed have to just try to keep reacting in abject horror to the terrible fate that's befallen them. And, of course, the whole thing becomes hilarious rather than compelling. 

Elisabeth Sladen seems to get stuck in these more than anyone else. Directors just loved to keep that camera on her while she struggles for her life at the end of an episode. The scene with her trying to fight off a cybermat at the end of Part One of Revenge of the Cybermen, for instance, could have been cut a lot sooner than it was. Watching her face getting squashed by the G-force of Guy Crawford's rocket lifting off in The Android Invasion is another moment that goes on for an awkwardly long time. 

But the clear winner, here, is the end of Part Two of Pyramids of Mars. Poor old Liz has to spend eternity mugging up a storm as a robot mummy stalks towards her with the intent of throttling her to death. Her face contorts in fear for several long seconds. Whatever tension the moment was meant to inspire melts away and the whole thing turns into high farce. To Sladen's credit, she still almost manages to sell it. But I have no idea why the director thought it was a good idea to not edit that shot down a bit. Unless, of course, he was aiming for camp sensibility instead of suspense.


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #6: 

We Just Don't Know it's Dangerous!

Just like in the last Cliffhanger Style, 70s Who seems to be the biggest perpetrator of this crime. Even the aforementioned Pyramids of Mars does this a bit at the conclusion of its third episode. "Oh no!"  we cry, "Tom Baker is being bathed in a green light! How horrible!" The impression is still given that the green glow we see first from Sutekh's eyes  is a death ray of some sort. But it's not really made as clear as it should be. 

But there are far more glaring examples of this. The most notorious one, of course, is the end of Part Three of Death to the Daleks. Fans make endless fun of this one. 

The Doctor and Belal are assailing an endless array of traps in the Sentient City of Exilon. Even Indiana Jones would be like: "Wow! These are a lot of traps!". As the episode nears its end, they are approaching a funky-looking design on the floor. "Stop!" the Doctor cries out. The camera zooms in on the floor decoration as the Cliffhanger Sting kicks in. 

As we will find out in the next episode, this is the latest trap they need to overcome. It's quite similar to the one in The Five Doctors but doesn't rely on pi to defeat it. The sonic screwdriver takes care of it just fine (perhaps a COMPLETE AND UTTER SILLINESS entry on Times the Sonic Screwdriver was a Blatant Plot MacGuffin might soon be in order...).

Here's the thing: it's not explained in the slightest at the end of Part Three that the floor design is dangerous in some way. We just get a bit of a crash-cut to some red shapes on the ground and everything is over until next week. We really have no idea why the sequence merited this Cliffhanger. It's just a cheap paint-job on the floor that is, somehow, meant to represent peril. All it really conveys, of course, is a complete sense of silliness. How is a bit of decor meant to hold us in suspense?!  


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #7

Something Was Going on in the Previous Part That We Don't See til the Next One

This one has another story that we all remember it for. To the point where we almost seem to think it only ever happened in this adventure. When, in truth, even the New Series has done it. 

We all love to talk about how cheap the cliffhanger resolution is in Mark of the Rani. At the end of the first part, the Doctor is strapped into a gurney on a mine cart and is hurtling towards a seemingly bottomless pit. There seems to be no one near enough to help him. He's doomed! 

Turns out, as Part Two starts up, there really was someone around to help him. George Stephenson was conveniently strolling along in the nearby forest and just happens to see the Doctor in trouble. In the nick of time, he runs up to the cart and stops it. 

This already seems like a fairly cheap way to save him. But what makes it even more ludicrous is the fact that there is no sign of Stephenson at the end of the first episode. His scenes of walking through the forest and charging to the Doctor's rescue are only edited in to the beginning of the second part. Which makes it all seem like a pretty big cop-out. Stephenson really does just come out from nowhere and provides a very cheap fix to the problem. 

"But Rob!"" some of you are saying, "You said the New Series has done this too. Where does this happen in New Who?! 

Check out Zygon Invasion/ Zygon Inversion. Clara's Zygon impersonator takes out the Doctor's presidential jet with a bazooka at the end of Invasion. But then, at the beginning of Inversion, we discover the Real Clara was in a weird dreamscape influencing things so that the Doctor has time to escape the plane before it's destroyed. Because of the way it's written, the sequence doesn't feel as much like the trick that's pulled at the end of Mark of the Rani. But, in essence, it really is the same execution. A Cliffhanger is resolved by something that was going on at the same time that we didn't see happening until the next episode. 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #8

The Full-On Extremely Awful Resolution 

Again, there are any number of stories that have featured this particular embarrassment. But there is a clear winner in this competition. One tale that has such an intensely bad resolution that all other examples of this pale in comparison. 

Again, poor Liz Sladen has to be the one caught up in this. As Sarah Jane Smith is climbing the scaffolding alongside the Thal missile at the end of  Episode Two of Genesis of the Daleks, she seems to lose her footing and plummet to her death. The Cliffhanger actually looks really good as the whole scene stops in a very gripping freeze-frame. I still vividly remember the first time I saw it and thinking: "Nice! I gotta see how she gets out of that one." 

As it turns out, she just seems to land on a part of the scaffolding that is only slightly lower than where she was falling from. She's okay. 

What makes this work even worse is the fact that the Cliffhanger clearly shows Sarah falling way off of the scaffolding. Like, several feet away from it. Did a strong wind suddenly blow in and send her back onto it?! Was there a wider configuration to the scaffolding that we just never saw that made it possible for her to land on it? Did a freak time eddy open up and transport her to a parallel reality where she didn't fall quite so far away from the scaffolding? It really is a sequence that is just so terribly executed that it looks downright laughable. 

Fandom goes on endlessly about how great of a story Genesis of the Daleks is. I feel it is over-rated. It's an okay story - but it's not great. This opinion has been known to cause fans to foam at the mouth and insist I face summary execution.  

"It is an absolutely perfect story!" they will claim. 

"It has it's flaws." I will respond. 

"Impossible!" they will insist, "There is nothing wrong with Genesis of the Daleks! It is sheer perfection!" 

"The Resolution to the Part Two Cliffhanger." I will plainly state.  

The Room always falls silent after that. 


Ludicrous Cliffhanger Style #9

The Truly Bad

And then, finally, we have those Cliffhangers that are best left forgotten. But are just so bad that we can't block them out of our memories. 

Again, there is an obvious victor in this category. There is no Cliffhanger worse than the end of Part One of Dragonfire. And there probably never will be. 

In defence of the writer, the scene does not play out the way it was scripted. He had intended for the Doctor to climb along a series ledges to a point where he could go no further but would also not be able to make his way back. And then, on top of that, he starts to lose his footing. Or something to that effect. It's described by the author in a DVD bonus documentary in a somewhat contrived way. 

I'm guessing they were just running out of time to shoot the sequence. Or perhaps they just didn't have the budget to create a series of complex cliff edges. Or a combination thereof. 

The end result, of course, is a sequence that almost seems to be a parody of a Doctor Who Cliffhanger. Sylvester McCoy just climbs onto a ledge and gets stuck there. Like the Doctor was thinking: "Well! Time to be in peril!

Most people neglect to mention just how awful the resolution is too. In fact it's nearly as bad as the one in Genesis of the Daleks. Sabalom Glitz seems to find a lower ledge that comes out from nowhere. We have no idea how he got to it. We even have to wonder why the Doctor didn't just use that particular ledge in the first place! But, it's there. Almost as if by magic, the Intergalactic Rogue helps the Time Lord from his seemingly self-inflicted predicament.   

While I am a great lover of McCoy's gift for visual comedy (Read about it here, in fact: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/04/review-overview-which-doctor-is-best-at.html and Part Two: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/04/review-overview-which-doctor-is-best-at_23.html and Part Three: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/04/review-overview-which-doctor-is-best-at_27.html), the slapstick that he creates throughout the Cliffhanger and its resolution just add insult to injury. It feels like the actors involved are consciously admitting that this whole thing is a mess. Like they're making fun of it a bit.

It's almost a bit surreal that, of all the moments that could have been chosen to highlight the Seventh Doctor during Name of the Doctor, this one gets picked. I guess, quite sadly, this is one of the things we remember most about his era.  

Forget killing the Supreme Dalek with mere words Or the extended game of chess he played with Fenric for several seasons. Or strolling off into the sunset with Ace as a beautiful monologue plays out in voice-over and the whole show comes to a close. 

It's the damn Cliffhanger in Dragonfire.














 







  







 

Sunday, 25 July 2021

ANALYTICAL: THE INTERSTELLAR WARS OF DOCTOR WHO - PART TWO: THE STUFF WITH DALEKS AND CYBERMEN

THE REALLY BIG WARS 

Having covered conflicts that didn't involve the two most dangerous aliens in the Universe, we now move into the second section of this essay. In this installment, we will finally take the time to examine a few major battles that have involved either Daleks or Cybermen. It should be noted, of course, that if you didn't catch the first part of this essay, you may want to go check it out in this link: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2021/07/analytical-intergalactic-wars-of-doctor.html. I will be using quite a bit of terminology that may not make much sense to you if you haven't read the first chapter. 

It should also be noted that these wars tend to be very large in scope. Both in terms of how big of a toll they had on the Doctor Who Universe and how much content has been created about them. 

Wars involving these two races seem to span across a larger portion of space than the ones that were mentioned in Part One. There would also appear to be a greater loss of life in these battles. It would even seem that, quite often, many different alien species become involved in these conflicts. It's not just two simple and distinct "sides" like Draconians and humans or Sontarans and Rutans. Alliances are often forged between several different civilisations. Everything is much larger and complex. They resemble all-the-more the World Wars of the early 20th Century that we've been comparing them to. 

At the same time, writers for the show have explored them more deeply. Most of these wars have several stories devoted to them. Aside from the Sontarans and Rutans, Space Wars in Part One of the essay were explored in two tales, at best. Most of the battles involving Daleks or Cybermen are featured in three or more adventures. In general, these conflicts get more attention from production teams. 


ANALYSING SOME MORE WARS...

As we dive into analyzing these Great Wars waged by Daleks and Cybermen, we will try to tackle them in chronological order. However, in a show about time travel, "linear" can have a highly subjective definition. 

For instance: In The Sontaran Strategem we hear General Staal lamenting the fact that his people were not allowed to fight in the Time Wars. While Sontarans do possess limited time travel capabilities, we're fairly certain this battalion hails from the era they are currently in. They don't come from the future or the past. Which would infer that the Time Wars, themselves, happened sometime around the 21st Century (although, certain things we see in Night of the Doctor might insinuate otherwise. Cass is a clearly human-sounding name but she seems to come from a futuristic society - definitely not from our time period). 

However, if we examine the timeline of the Daleks (which I do and you can read about it here: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2015/07/chronologies-and-timelines-episode.html), it seems most likely that the Daleks begin the Time Wars sometime after their exploits in The Dalek Masterplan. This seems the most likely place for it to happen because the Skarosian Mutants have finally reached a level of technological sophistication that would enable them to properly rival the Time Lords. So it's sometime in the 40th Century that the Daleks initiate the Time Wars. The War, itself, may actually still erupt sometime in the early 21st Century. After all, the combatants are all time travellers. But, in terms of Dalek history, it happens much later. So, the big question is: whose timeline are we going by? 

The answer is: there is no clear answer. In some instances, I will use the Humanian Timeline. On other occasions, I might go by the chronology of another species. Whichever suits the narrative best.

Okay, then. Let's get to it: 


THE FIRST GREAT CYBER WAR

Tomb of the Cybermen 

Attack of the Cybermen

Earthshock

Revenge of the Cybermen

As we approach the 26th Century, humanity seems to get into some pretty big scraps. There's the war against the Draconians, of course - which we've mentioned, already. There also seems to be a major skirmish against both the Cybermen and the Daleks. It's difficult to determine the order in which these battles took place. I believe it was the Cybermen first. But there's little to substantiate or disprove my theory. It's more of just a gut instinct.  

Both Tomb of the Cybermen and Attack of the Cybermen constitute major Flashpoints for the war in the 26th Century. But it's safe to say that some considerable attrition built up between us a few centuries earlier. 

In the late 20th Century and the 21st Century, we had quite a bit of trouble with the Cybermen. There were major incidents like The Invasion and The Tenth Planet. Where the Cybermen led a full frontal assault against us. We also had more subtle attempts at sabotage that transpired in The Moonbase and The Wheel In Space. On top of that, other "schisms" of Cybermen plagued us. Cybermen from an alternate reality briefly attacked us during Army of Ghosts/Doomsday. Missy also built her own special army of Cybermen on  21st Century Earth in Dark Water/Death in Heaven. We even dealt with some time travelling Cybermen in stories like Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. Or Cybermen that were accidentally stranded here in a crash from Closing Time

Basically, we dealt with a lot of Cybermen for a bit! 

While we should have, perhaps, led some sort of attack against this race of cyborgs, we were still at a fairly primitive stage of technological development at the time. The Cybermen probably would have beat us back quite badly. We needed to maintain a more defensive position during this era. And, of course, we needed to rely heavily on the Doctor to save us. 

Fortunately for us, the Cybermen seemed to be experiencing some sort of resource crisis towards the end of the 21st Century and needed to shut down to conserve energy for a bit. They retreated to Telos. Sealing themselves into cryogenic suspension, they disappeared from the Universe. We were safe for a while. 

But then a group of curious archaeologists went to Telos to investigate them. This ended up opening a huge can of worms and became the first major Flashpoint in a Great War that was to come. It should be noted that the Cybermen located near the surface of Telos left a whole series of logic codes that could only be assailed by humans that had reached a certain level of intellectual sophistication. When they were revived, the Cybercontroller stated outright that they were waiting for Humanity to be more suitable for conversion. That opening up the Tomb could only be accomplished by humans that were being governed more greatly by logic than emotion. If human nature had not evolved in such a direction as to produce something like the Brotherhood of Logicians, the Cybermen probably would have never been awakened. Essentially, we set in motion the First Great Cyber War. This Flashpoint would never have occurred if we had just left the Tomb of the Cybermen alone.

The Tombs were re-sealed by the end of that fateful expedition. But it was still made clear to the Cybermen that humanity was now ripe for conversion. Attack of the Cybermen represents a second Flashpoint as it shows the Cybermen truly marshalling themselves for a campaign of conquest.  One that seems to be focused on Earth. Especially since they were making an effort to alter the Web of Time by destroying the Earth in 1985. 

Earthshock sits in one of those grey areas where we could consider it one more Flashpoint or even a First Shot. Leading a legitimate assault on an Alliance that is being assembled to destroy you does certainly resemble some actual combat. A bomb was planted on the Earth and an army was being smuggled to the planet to mop up anyone that survived the bomb. That does, sort of, constitute some First Shots if you want to see it as that. 

(This, by the way, is a prime example of me using the Humanian Time Line. I do believe this particular group of Cybermen are time travellers who hail from the future. To get a better explanation of this, click on this link: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of_27.html)

Thus far, no stories have been made that illustrate Actual Fighting or Final Shots. But we do get Revenge of the Cybermen telling us about the Aftermath. The Cybermen's weakness to gold is exploited and they are nearly completely wiped out. There is, of course, a vague attempt in this particular tale to resurrect their power and embark upon a new campaign of conquest but the Doctor is able to nip that in the bud. 

I mentioned earlier how these wars often involve several different races. The First Great Cyber War  exemplifies this nicely. We get the impression from Earthshock that humans and other aliens are uniting together to fight the Cybermen. And Revenge definitely shows us that the Vogans were heavily involved in the conflict. 


THE FIRST GREAT DALEK WAR

Frontier In Space

Planet of the Daleks

Death to the Daleks

A short while after the First Great Cyber-War concludes, there's a diplomatic misunderstanding between Earth and the Draconian Empire that causes a massive battle. It does seem to rage on for a few years but not, necessarily, too long. Many of the characters in Frontier In Space were alive when it was going on but the war seems to have only taken up a few years of their lives. 

Frontier In Space, as specified in Part One of this essay, represents a  Nexus Point. It sorts out the Aftermath of the Earth/Draconian conflict but it is also a Flashpoint in the First Great Dalek War. Working with the Master, the Kaled Mutant Cyborgs are attempting to instigate a second war between the humans and Draconia. Hoping to weaken both empires and make them easy to conquer. The fact that the Doctor helps uncover the truth of things has, more than likely, galvanised all the different forces that would be involved in the war-to-come with the Daleks. 

Naturally, Planet of the Daleks is a second Flashpoint. Frontier flows right into it by whisking the Doctor off to deal with a huge army the Daleks have built up to help them in their campaign. Greater proof is unveiled about the desire of these intergalactic conquerors to engage in combat with Earth. Again, we can make some assumptions, here. The Thals probably revealed what was transpiring on Spiridon to Earth Authorities. More than likely, this spurred humanity on to do something about the Dalek Menace before it became too great of a threat. 

Like the First Cyber War, we still haven't gotten any Actual Fighting or Final Shots for this conflict. Perhaps a story will be made someday that illustrates this. But, until then, we must go to the Aftermath that is displayed in Death to the Daleks. 

While the Cybermen appear to be, more or less, wiped out by the end of their engagement against humanity, the Daleks seem in a position that is more similar to the Draconians. Territories get marked out and opposing forces stay out of each others' way. Much of this is explained during Pertwee's final outing against the Daleks. The events of the war are fresh in the memories of everyone so we learn a lot of Aftermath through backstory dialogue. 

This is probably another example that re-inforces the "more than just two sides" concept that I have mentioned. As I'm quite sure that, at the very least, the Draconians probably fought in this war alongside the Earth. After learning of the Dalek plot to drive a wedge between them and humanity, the Draconians would feel honor-bound to assist in the campaign to take down the evil Skarosians. 

 

THE DALEK/MOVELLAN WAR 

Destiny of the Daleks

Resurrection of the Daleks 

(and, for an interesting clue that indicates a possible second war, watch that bit near the end of The Pilot)  

For a time, the Daleks seem to leave humanity alone. This is because they get distracted by other enemies. In some cases, one could even say Greater Foes. 

As the 27th Century progresses, they enter into a most peculiar battle with the Movellans. This is a very similar race to the Daleks. They, too, depend heavily on logic to govern their decisions. Oftentimes oblivious to the ideas of emotion or intuition. This, of course, created a gigantic stalemate between the two opponents. Because of the logic-based strategy used by both armies, each battle computer could easily sort out the enemy's next move and counter it. Not a single shot was fired as two massive spacefleets hung in space, squaring off with each other. 

In this instance, we see no Flashpoints or First Shots. In some ways, Actual Fighting is going on as Destiny of the Daleks begins. But, at the same time, we almost have to say Actual Fighting isn't really going on! 

Resurrection of the Daleks not only deals with the Aftermath, it also mentions what the Final Shots of the war were. Once more, through the use of backstory, we learn that the Movellans managed to develop a virus that exclusively attacks Daleks and unleashed it upon them. 

Shortly after the disease was released, the war ended and we moved into the Aftermath stage. The Daleks scattered to the Four Corners of the Universe to prevent the spreading of infection and work on a cure. In some ways, they seem to disappear for a while in the same manner the Cybermen have on several occasions. They only cause their presence to be felt again by humanity when they attempt to break Davros out of prison in hopes that he can find a way to conquer the virus. 

Resurrection of the Daleks doesn't just provide us with the Final Shots and Aftermath of the Dalek/Movellan War. It is another Nexus Point. As I do believe it also has role to play in the Time Wars. 

We should probably also mention that all-too-brief Movellan cameo in The Pilot. I don't actually think that it's a snippet of Actual Fighting from this particular war. I believe it to be from a second battle that takes place between the Daleks and the Movellans sometime after the Time Wars. I explain my reasoning more thoroughly here: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2020/03/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of.html


SECOND GREAT CYBER WAR 

The Haunting of Villa Diodati/Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children 

Nightmare in Silver 

We have just one more conflict that develops before the Great Time Wars. By my reckoning, it's sometime around the 31st Century. Although some of it's Aftermath Story is much later...

The Second Great Cyber War seems to have no stories, thus far, involving Flashpoints, First Shots or even a lot of Actual Fighting. Things seem to start in the Aftermath. The Final Shots have even been fired as the events of Villa Diodati/Ascension/Timeless occur. After the destruction of the Tiberian Spiral Galaxy, the Lone Cybermen still remains intact. With the help of a few other surviving Cybermen and some drones, he is searching out any surviving humans from the conflict. He also goes back in time to retrieve the Cyberium. All of this is done so that the Cybermen can rise again. 

It is Nightmare in Silver, however, that gives us a much better idea of the Aftermath of this Second Great Cyber War. This story, technically, takes place a good 1000 years after the war ended and contains quite the info-dump on how it concluded. It is yet another attempt by the Cybermen to rise from their own ashes. This time, they are using the Cyberiad to do this. Which is probably an offshoot of the Cyberium. I have another link that explains this all better: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2020/06/chronologies-and-timelines-appendixes.html


THE TIME WARS

Genesis of the Daleks

Resurrection of the Daleks 

Remembrance of the Daleks

Night of the Doctor 

The End of Time - Parts One and Two

Day of the Doctor

Rose

The End of the World 

Unquiet Dead

Dalek 

Time of the Doctor 


Optional: 

Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways 

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords

The Stolen Earth/Journey's End

and, maybe, even a little bit of Doctor Who: The Movie 

The Sontaran/Rutan Conflict is, most likely, the longest-running war in Intergalactic History. But the Time Wars, it would seem, were still the biggest. The wars appear to have done tremendous damage to Time and Space. At one point, many believed that the entire Universe would get wiped out by the battle. 

While the War seemed to mainly be between Daleks and Time Lords, other forces were also involved. Strange armies like the Horde of Travesties and even bizarre beings like the Nightmare Child participated in it. And it also takes place in some unique location that seemed to be almost outside of Time and Space, itself. This odd Corner of Creation was also under a Time Lock. This forbade time travellers outside of the Wars to enter it. It also trapped the participants of the War inside it. As isolated as the War was, though, there did seem to be all kinds of Fallout from it that was damaging the cosmos beyond it. 

There are several stories that I would consider Flashpoints that led to the War. The first is one many fans believe was responsible for getting the whole thing started. In Genesis of the Daleks, the Time Lords seemed to have glimpsed a terrible future where the Daleks are the dominant life form of the Universe. Might this have been a Matrix Prediction that showed the Time Wars concluding with the Daleks victorious? Fearful of this Prophecy, the Time Lords try sending the Doctor to the very origins of the Daleks to prevent the terrible event from happening. Some fans do believe that the Daleks did, eventually, discover that the Time Lords tried to curtail their creation and that this is what initially put Gallifrey in their cross-hairs. That the Daleks decided they must become sufficiently advanced to take down the Time Lords. Which would make Genesis a gigantic Flashpoint. 

Resurrection of the Daleks becomes the next Flashpoint. The Daleks decide to be a bit ironic. Since the Time Lords used the Doctor to try to wipe them out, they now try to use the Doctor to send a crippling blow back. An attempt is made to duplicate the Doctor and use him as an assassin against the High Council. This seems to be the first time we see the Daleks trying to strike at Gallifrey. One might even call it an attempted First Shot that failed. Resurrection, of course, is also a Nexus Point. As it deals with both the Time Wars and the Aftermath of Dalek/Movellan conflict. 

Finally, we have Remembrance of the Daleks. Daleks are trying to steal a super-weapon of the Time Lords to use against them. The Doctor is attempting to commit some low-key genocide by wiping out Skaro's entire solar system. If that doesn't say: "Major Flashpoints", I don't know what does!

Then we get into some Actual Fighting with Night of the Doctor. The usual trick is employed. The Great Battle appears to be taking place somewhere off-camera and only gets discussed. But we do bear witness to the most pivotal point in the Time Wars: the Doctor, at last, decides to get involved. 

The End of Time and Day of the Doctor take place during the Final Shots of the Time Wars. In fact, we get to see the final conclusion as Daleks accidentally dice themselves in their own cross-fire and Gallifrey is sealed in a stasis cube. The Doctor, of course, believes that he has used the Moment to wipe out both forces. And continues to believe this for quite some time. Only as Eleven nears his end does he learn the truth of things. 

Rose, The End of the World and The Unquiet Dead all highlight important aspects of the Time Wars' Aftermath. Rose shows devastation that was caused on both a cosmic scale and as a personal impact on the Doctor. We learn that the Nestene Consciousness lost its Protein Planets during the War and has turned to Earth, again, for sustenance. We also hear some considerable pain in the Doctor's voice as he explains that he tried to contain the effects of the Time Wars but failed. 

End of the World continues to explore the personal damage the War has done to the Doctor. We even see him shedding a tear as Jabe tells him she knows who he really is. By the end of the story, he confesses to Rose that he is the last of his kind and gives her a very strong idea of how he feels about that. Clearly, he is in the deepest pit of depression as he tells her of the Time Wars. 

Unquiet Dead displays another effect of the Aftermath of the Time Wars has had on the surrounding Universe.  In this case, the Gelth appear to have also suffered some sort of near-fatal damage from the conflict. In an attempt to survive, they slip through a Time Rift and try to invade the Earth.   

For a few episodes after that, Series One tends to stay away from showing the Aftermath of the Time Wars. But then we get to Dalek. I would actually be more prone to saying that this is a story about Fallout rather than Aftermath. A Dalek is forcibly ejected from the Time Wars and causes some major trouble on Earth. We do seem to see a single Dalek spinning out of control at the end of Day of the Doctor as the Daleks destroy themselves after Gallifrey disappears. I'm guessing that is the Dalek we'll see in VanStatten's bunker in 2012. 

Finally, there's Time of the Doctor. Another Aftermath story that shows where Gallifrey ended up after it escaped the Time Wars and what kind of effect its return to our Universe had. It's also a bit of a Nexus Point. As I'll explain in a bit.  

I do list quite a few "optional" stories to watch. They are mainly the Season Finales of the RTD era. They deal ever-so-vaguely with the Aftermath of the Time Wars. They do seem a bit like Fallout stories but I wouldn't really call them that. To me, a Fallout story involves warriors that were forcibly ejected from a war. These are beings that found their way out of the Time Lock and back into our own Universe. There's a bit of a difference, there. However, I do still recommend watching these stories as there is a considerable amount of expository dialogue in them that gives us a better idea of how the Time Wars played out. 

Finally, the first minute or two of Doctor Who - The Movie almost, sort of, qualifies as a bit of a Flashpoint. Some sort of mild treaty seems to have been struck between the Daleks and the Time Lords to handle the Trial of the Master. However, it seems like the terms of the treaty get pretty badly violated as the Master goes on to try take over the Doctor's body and nearly destroy the Earth in the process. 

That, to the best of my knowledge, is everything you can watch that deals directly with the Time Wars. 


SECOND GREAT DALEK WAR 

Victory of the Daleks

a brief snippet of The Wedding of River Song

Into the Dalek

Time of the Doctor 

While the Time Wars do seem to take place in a sort of "Timeless Place", I do estimate that the Daleks join battle with the Time Lords sometime shortly after The Dalek Masterplan. Which takes place in the 40th Century. 

There is, at least, one major conflict that occurs after this date. So I consider it a Post Time-War Event. Once more, it's about the Daleks fighting humans. 

Not to be outdone by the Cybermen, the Daleks also attempt a second war against Earth. It begins when a small group of time-travelling Daleks that survived either Parting of the Ways or Journey's End get their hands on an old Progenitor and see it as an opportunity to re-build their empire. There are some complications to re-activating the device which leads them to constructing a complicated trap for the Doctor to confirm their identity for them in Victory of the Daleks. This story, to me, is a major Flashpoint in the Second Great Dalek War. As it presents the moment where the Daleks can re-build themselves into a formidable army. Not a force as great as the ones we saw in Parting Ways or Journey's End. But still dangerous enough. 

After interfering a bit with World War II, the Daleks do return to their appropriate time (sometime after Dalek Masterplan) and decide to wage a second war against humanity. 

We see the briefest bit of Actual Fighting near the beginning of The Wedding of River Song. The Doctor approaches a damaged Dalek from a battle during what I presume to be the Second Great Dalek War and steals its data core. 

Into the Dalek shows us a considerable amount of Actual Fighting. The first few minutes display a moment of rarely-seen actual space battle as Colonel Blue and her brother try to escape a pursuing Dalek saucer. There is also quite the battle at the end of the story as the Daleks board the human medical vessel. It is interesting to note that the humans don't seem to be doing well in this war. In fact, the Daleks might actually be winning. We get the impression that we will eventually triumph in this conflict as there are plenty of Future Earth Stories that take place later in the timescale that don't seem to involve us being dominated by the Daleks. We just haven't seen how we get out of this one, yet. 

I do like to include Time of the Doctor as part of the Second Great Dalek War. I think it happened as the war was going on but was a Side Campaign. While they were still fighting humanity, some of the Dalek forces branched off to investigate and conquer Trenzalore. They knew that the Time Lords could not return to our Universe. If they did, it would represent a war on two fronts. One against humanity. Another against Time Lords. It was a war the Daleks couldn't win. So this was a very important Side Campaign. It also makes Time of the Doctor another Nexus Point. As the story also conveys some important Aftermath in the Time Wars. 




That, to the best of my knowledge, represents all the Interstellar Wars we've seen in Doctor Who. You may have noticed I am now using the term "Interstellar" rather than "Intergalactic". This is because it was pointed out to me by a reader that "Intergalactic" is a bit of a misnomer. It would be near-impossible to wage wars across entire galaxies. While some may consider such a correction massively pedantic, I still can't argue with it. 

There have been quite a few ANALYTICAL essays of late. I may veer away from them for a bit. More than likely, I'll polarize and write a few opinion pieces. I have a "doozy" that I've been working on. It may even spark some legitimate controversy. 

We'll see if I get the courage to post it....





 


  



Monday, 5 July 2021

ANALYTICAL: THE INTERGALACTIC WARS OF DOCTOR WHO - PART ONE: THE STUFF THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE DALEKS AND/OR CYBERMEN

This wasn't really meant to be an entry. I was just trying to view my DVDs in a new and different way. I wanted to just watch them with a certain theme in mind and not try to blog about it later. For some strange reason that I viewed as psychologically healthy, I felt it was important that I view some Doctor Who without trying to blog about it later. To just enjoy the show for the sheer sake of it.   

But then I started noticing the patterns. Always the damned patterns! And, within a very short time, I had to admit: there was the potential, here, for a half decent ANALYTICAL essay. 

Before long, I was typing my little heart(s) away....


With a programme that has lasted as long as Doctor Who, it can be quite easy to create a few ongoing epic ideas that writers can return to from time-to-time and build upon. A short while ago, for instance, we did an essay that looked at how the show will occasionally create trilogies of stories that deal with a certain plot element or theme. It's a great concept that gave various creative teams interesting short-term arcs to indulge in. We enjoyed fun storylines like The Regeneration Trilogy and some really amazing stuff like The Tutelage of Ace.

The way Who has also established in its huge, ongoing mythos that certain crucial intergalacttic wars will happen in our future is another excellent example of this phenomenon. Whenever a story is produced that is meant to take place in a certain time period, the plot can be built around the idea that a war did erupt in that era. The author of the script can focus as little or as much as they want on this event. In some instances, it is only mentioned very incidentally. On other occasions, it's the central element of the adventure. 

For the next few entries, we're going to look at various tales that have dealt with some of the Intergalactic Wars that have occurred within the framework of the show's canon. As usual, we won't really get into too much of a discussion until we set up a decent definition or two. 


WHAT CONSTITUTES AN INTERGALACTIC WAR? 

On the most basic level, an intergalactic war happens the moment beings from one planet engage in a military conflict with another. These don't even need to be two different species. We could have a story from the 24th Century, for instance, where humanity has now colonised several different worlds. One of these colonies gets annoyed with Mother Earth for some reason and sends a fleet of ships to attack. There you go. You got yourself an Intergalactic War. 

This would mean, of course, that any invasion that we've seen throughout the course of the series would also fall under this definition. It is, technically, denizens from one world fighting another. But, let's be honest, if I had to tackle every single invasion attempt in this analysis, the entry would go on forever. So we're going to have to narrow the definition a bit. 

I'm going to say that a proper Intergalactic War should work, more or less, the same way that World War II, did. There should be a front line where most of the battle takes place. There might also be civilian population centers away from the main action that get attacked. Certain factions may gain or lose ground here and there. Territory might get occupied for a bit and then surrendered later. But most of the fighting is taking place on a remote battlefield of sorts.  For an Intergalactic War, this battlefield will, most likely, be in Deep Space. But it could also be a certain planet that is being converged upon by multiple armies. 

The war should also last for a protracted period of time. This would disqualify a lot of  Invasion Stories, right there. The Doctor stops most of them from happening before they even really start. Or if an attack does begin, it's quelled quite quickly. To me, a good Intergalactic War should last a few years. Again, just like World War II, did. 

Finally, there are wars that have only been briefly mentioned. For example: the Doctor brings up the fact that the Xeraphin were destroyed in the cross-fire of the Vardon/Cosnax War during Timeflight.  We won't really take any real time examining something like this. A brief name-check really doesn't merit any real attention. 

Even something like the war that's discussed in Leisure Hive between the Foamasi and the Argolins that only lasted for 20 minutes won't really get talked about. It fails to meet two criteria: it's only ever mentioned - not seen. And it doesn't last long enough. 

Essentially, if an Intergalactic War is of a sizeable magnitude, it will be brought to light and scrutinised. The smaller stuff will be brushed aside.  


RECURRING PATTERNS

As I viewed the various adventures the Doctor has had that involved Intergalactic Wars, I noticed that many of them touched upon similar elements. In some instances, we even saw certain "types" of stories being written over and over. 

These tales dealt with core points that we see in the structure of real wars that we've had here on Earth. Throughout our bloody history, major battles do seem to follow a specific pattern or, more simply, happen in a certain way. Writers of Intergalactic War tales made sure to include these elements in their scripts. It gave more realism to what they were creating. 

So, if you should want to go through all the different stories of this nature, here are the recurring concepts to look out for:   


Flashpoints

Most wars do not just suddenly start out of nowhere. There is a build up of attrition between opposing forces that takes some time. Usually, there are very specific events that will really incense the tempers of enemies and massively accelerate aggression. These are usually referred to as "flashpoints." 

If we look at the First World War, in this instance, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be considered a major flashpoint. In fact, shortly after this tragedy, the First Great War began. 

As we look at Intergalactic Wars, we'll see that there are whole stories that are flashpoints. 


First Shots

There can be a bit of a blur between this element and the first. Some historians, for instance, would claim that the assassination of Ferdinand constitutes the first shot fired in World War I. But I prefer to be a bit more literal about it. 

I'll reference a different war to illustrate the point. I actually live in a city in Canada called Windsor (not to be confused with the one in the UK - we don't have a castle!). Just across the Detroit River from us is the U.S. When the War of 1812 erupted between Canada and the United States, the very first skirmish took place in my city. A battalion of American soldiers led by General Hull crossed the river and attempted to invade us. We actually have a spot along our shore that we refer to as "Hull's Landing."  Quite literally, the very first bullets of the entire war were fired in this region. That's how I view what constitutes the First Shots in a war. It's the moment were the first real battle happened. 

We don't see a whole lot of stories that include this element in Doctor Who. More times than others, it will be Flashpoints. Although, if you're less pedantic than I am, you may consider some of the Flashpoints we look at to be First Shots. 


Actual Fighting

The real "meat" of any war. The ongoing skirmishes that take place in the front lines of a battlefield. These fights will wage on endlessly. Oftentimes, there's little indication of who is truly "winning" in these battles. It just people firing on each other over and over. Causing damage and death whenever they can.

The War Games actually provides us with an excellent terrestrial version of this phenomenon. We witness the futility of the trench warfare that made up the bulk of World War I. Within the story, we see only a few days of what the battle was like. The very knowledge that this sort of fighting went on for years nearly renders one exhausted just from thinking about it. What it must have actually been like in real life seems almost overwhelming. 

Ironically, we don't actually see a lot of the Actual Fighting that goes on in the Intergalactic Wars of Doctor Who. Particularly in the Classic Series. The reason is obvious: showing fleets of spaceships engaging each other costs real money. And Classic Who is not exactly renowned for its gigantic budget! 

New Who does correct this problem a bit. Although, as we'll see, even Old Who finds clever ways around the problem. 


Final Shots

Just as there are First Shots in any war, there is a specific moment where the last little bit of crossfire happens and one side finally surrenders. We'll return to World War II, once more, to provide examples. It was fought on several different fronts, so we can actually pinpoint a few instances that constitute Final Shots. 

In terms of the fight against the Japanese, most will say the Final Shots occurred when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After this demonstration of superior firepower, the Japanese chose to fold. 

In the European battles, historians site D-Day as being the Final Shots of World War II. A huge concerted attack by the Allies to storm the beaches of Normandy finally pushed the war effort into a conclusion. 

We do, sometimes, see the Final Shots of an Intergalactic War in Who. More times than others, though, they are discussed during our final category rather than displayed. 


Aftermath

Historians will claim that we don't truly get an idea of how a war went until sometime after it's over. Victors can still seem like they were defeated. Or alliances can be formed from those who lost that lead into new wars. Or any number of other circumstances of this nature. These are important developments that only truly come to light after the Final Shots were fired and peace returned for a bit. 

If we go back to the World War II comparison, for instance, we see that Britain did defeat the Nazi menace but that it came at quite the price. Before the War, the UK was considered one of the most powerful nations in the world. Up there with the other Great Super Powers of the time. However, for whatever reason, it never returned to its former glory once the war concluded. Many will even claim that, even though they won World War II, Britain still lost in many other ways. 

We don't really get a clear idea of how a war concludes until after the dust truly settles. There have been any number of Doctor Who tales set in the Aftermath of major Intergalactic Wars to give us a proper impression of how those great battles ultimately finished. Aftermath stories, in fact, are quite common.


SLIGHTLY MORE EXCLUSIVE TERMS

While I did find certain patterns in Intergalactic War stories that were consistent with how wars are waged in our own history, there are also a few trends that I noticed in the plots that we don't normally see in terrestrial wars. Or, at the very best, they don't appear often. 


Fallout

Several stories involving Intergalactic War feature this premise. Somehow, a warrior is  ejected from the battle and causes problems in another culture that is not involved in the slightest with the conflict. The people from that unrelated society do end up suffering a bit from  what is, essentially, some fallout from the war. 


Side Campaigns

There is, usually, a main thrust to any war. Every fight is driven by a central purpose. World War II, for example, was about a group of fascist countries wanting to take over the world. This was their mission. The mission of the Allies, of course, was to stop them. 

We see this in Intergalactic Wars, too. However, there are times when certain combatants become distracted and get involved in missions that are largely unrelated to their main campaign. There are entire stories in Doctor Who that show this. The plot of the adventure focuses on what one might call a Side Campaign. 


Nexus Points

On certain rare occasions, two different Intergalactic Wars will converge on one story. The adventure will, essentially, touch upon two different wars at once. 


SOME ACTUAL WAR STORIES

As usual, I've chewed up serious word-count to get some basic parameters established. But I can still cover some of the real topic before wrapping up Part One of the essay. As specified in the title, we'll be looking at the Intergalactic Wars that don't involve Daleks or Cybermen. We'll cover the wars of these two vicious races in Part Two. 


FIRST WAR: ATRIOS VS ZEOS 

The Armageddon Factor

This war almost didn't make it on the list. It's not particularly large in scale. It's only two planets fighting each other. And it all takes place in just one story. 

It does, however, display quite a few of the traits I just discussed. It's one of the few Classic Who stories that shows us Actual Fighting. It does it in a very economical way, however. Civilian bombing is shown by simply wobbling the set a bit and dropping some light-weight props from the ceiling. We also get some actual dogfights in space. But they are witnessed via radar rather than going to the trouble of doing a bunch of model work with spaceships. 

We also see a demonstration of Final Shots. Although it's highly subjective what exactly constitutes the Last Shots in the Atrian/Zeon War. In the middle of a Zeon raid, the Shadow suddenly tells the Marshal the war is over. So, from a technical standpoint, those would be the Last Shots. But the Marshall flying to Zeos to fire bombs at it and Mentalis' self-destruction could also be considered Final Shots that were prevented. 

Drax has the briefest of discussions with Romana and the Doctor about his plans to negotiate a deal with the Marshal to re-build Atrios. This does signpost a bit of an Aftermath for us. 

If you really want to get subjective, though, the Shadow speaks of how the Atrian/Zeon War was but a staging ground for a far greater war that he and the Black Guardian were planning to create through use of the Key to Time. So you could almost consider the whole story to be a Flashpoint for a much larger battle that never happened. 

I also have a theory you might find interesting about how the quest for the Key to Time actually leads to the Time Wars.  Have a look at it if you like (Part Two is the one that really dives into the theory, but I've included both parts just to give you a fuller frame of reference): 

What the Hell Happened at the End of the Key to Time? 

Part 1: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2016/06/fixing-continuity-glitches-what-hell.html

Part 2: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2016/06/fixing-continuity-glitches-what-hell_19.html 


SECOND WAR: THE FEDERATION VS GALAXY FIVE

Curse of Peladon

Monster of Peladon

A bit more scope to this one. It actually involves two stories, this time!

Some might feel Curse should not be included here, as all the real fighting takes place in its sequel. But, to me, the first story in the Peladon Saga is just as crucial. It constitutes as a major Flashpoint for the war that is to come. The richness of Peladon's mineral resources becomes crucial in the war effort. So the conference that gets the planet admitted into the Federation is quite important. Just think: how much differently would the battle have played out if Peladon wasn't in the Federation? 

Not to mention that Curse almost becomes a Flashpoint for another war. Arcturus does make an attempt during the whole diplomatic process to stir up the Bad Blood between his people and the Ice Warriors. 

Monster of Peladon really is the meat of the conflict. There is some Actual Fighting going on. But it's taking place in another part of the Universe and only gets talked about. This is what I really mean when I say we never actually see a lot of the Actual Fighting in Classic Who. Most of the time, it's never seen - just discussed. 

When the Breakaway Ice Warrior Faction fails in its attempt to take over Peladon, Galaxy Five immediately sues for peace. So the fighting we see in the mines and in the throne room would be the Final Shots in the war. 

We don't get a particularly clear idea of what the Aftermath of this war might be. While Armageddon Factor points towards a restoration of Atrios, there's not much discussion of what's to come next now that the battle is over. 

Want a better idea of how the Peladon Saga fits in with the history of the Ice Warriors? Check out this link: 

The History of the Ice Warriors - https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/02/chronologies-and-timelines-brief.html


THIRD WAR: THE SONTARAN/RUTAN CONFLICT

The Time Warrior 

Horror of Fang Rock 

The Two Doctors 

The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky

The Sontaran Experiment

A Good Man Goes to War (just Strax's first scene)

The longest-running of all the Intergalactic Wars. The Doctor indicates that, by the early 21st Century, it has been going for a good 50 000 years. Two thousand years after the events of Sontaran Strategem/Poison Sky, it still seems to be going on. 

With such a long history, we have no idea exactly how the war started. Thus far. there have been no stories with Flashpoints or First Shots. Actual Fighting was already going on by the time we hear about this whole conflict. In fact, Actual Fighting seems to be happening throughout almost all of the stories involving the Sontaran/Rutan War. As usual, of course, it all transpires somewhere offscreen and only gets mentioned.

Both Time Warrior and Horror of Fang Rock represent the first stories in our discussion that display the idea of Fallout. Linx's ship was, quite simply, shot down in battle and he was forced to land on Earth to effect repairs. The Rutan scout that crashes on Fang Rock was actually intending to go to Earth to investigate it as a possible tactical point, but has trouble landing. So this still does come across as a Fallout story too. It is a more of a complication from an Intergalactic War that accidentally happens rather than some valid strategic planning. 

The Two Doctors and Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky might seem a bit like Side Campaigns. But these stories are more about missions that will strengthen Sontaran might to the point where they believe they can finally defeat the Rutan Host. So they don't deviate from the central thrust of the war that much. If anything, they enhance it. 

There are some interesting notes we can make about the Actual Fighting that takes place in and around the 20th Century. We do hear in Horror of Fang Rock that the Rutans had once conquered the Mutter's Spiral. But, by the early 1900s, they were being heavily pushed back and had lost most of their control over it.   

Somewhere around the mid-1980s, some serious fighting was going on in the Madillon Cluster that required the intense attention of Sontaran officers. Group Marshal Stike is desperate to return to this battle and is pushing along Dastari's plans as much as he can. 

Sontaran Experiment and that brief scene in Good Man Goes to War, however, do definitely seem to be about Side Campaigns. The Sontarans have turned their focus away ever-so-slightly from the Rutans to embark upon a war against humanity. They were depending heavily on a report from Field Marshal Styre before embarking upon the venture. When it never came, this seemed to only delay the effort. It does look like, by the Year 4037, they went ahead with the whole thing after all. The Sontarans are definitely fighting humans during that brief scene in Good Man Goes to War. The Doctor does state in Experiment that conquering humans will, somehow, assist them in their overall battle against the Rutans - but that's pretty vague conjecture, at best.  He's still probably right. But it does seem like a huge digression from their main battleplans. 

Some of you may be wondering why I'm not including The Invasion of Time in this list. It does have Sontarans in it, after all. The reason why I'm not discussing it is because there is absolutely no mention of the Rutans in that particular story. So it's entirely possible that the war wasn't actually going on when this story takes place. 

To get a better understanding of where Invasion of Time might fit in the Timeline and to have a better idea, in general, of Sontaran history - click on this link:  

History of the Sontarans: https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2016/04/chronologies-and-timelines-probable.html


FOURTH WAR: EARTH VS DRACONIA

Frontier in Space

This is another war that almost doesn't merit mentioning. The battle between Atrios and Zeos, at least, is displayed. But all we really see of the Human/Draconian Conflict is the Aftermath. Frontier in Space seems to take place quite some time after the whole war is concluded. A treaty has been drawn up between the two forces and boundaries have been set in space pertaining to who owns what part of the cosmos. But the whole arrangement seems tenuous, at best. It's still relatively easy to tip these two societies back into fighting each other. Hostilities over the diplomatic misunderstanding that General Williams had with the Draconian Ambassador that sparked the whole war are still running quite high. At the end of the adventure, there does seem to be a better level of understanding between the two super-powers. Perhaps true peace will now be attainable. 

The other interesting thing about Frontier in Space, however, is that it also represents the first Nexus Point in our analysis. This story also touches upon another Great Intergalactic War. One we will examine in the second part of this essay.