Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 3 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

As per my article last week week, I’m going to try writing these articles a little differently. After this last episode, I’m going to stop splitting it into parts and instead of trying to cover every moment. I’m going to summarise what happens in the story, before moving onto the aspects that I find particularly interesting!

So, today we look at the end of the Sensorites, finally finishing it’s six parts and just see where for me, the story fell flat. I also want to see how we feel about our antagonists, the first time Susan ever talks about Gallifrey, and the wonderful Barbara Wright. So, lets kick this off shall we?

What happens exactly?:

Kidnap begins with Ian and Susan saving the Doctor after being left unconscious from what is supposedly a monster in the aqueduct. He’s found the source of the poison, a deadly nightshade, that he believes has been planted there for the Sensorites to use the knowledge. The City Administrator and his ally, The Engineer, has kidnapped the Second Elder. They have been using his power and his sash for own ends. The Second Elder tries to foil the plan, but gets killed in the process, and so they try to frame the Doctor. It doesn’t work and the City Administrator’s ally is imprisoned, though only to be released again in secret. The Doctor suggests that the City Administrator be promoted is indeed the Second Elder is the enemy that was against them and now dead whilst John, the man who the sensorites made sick is finally coming back to full health to his fiancee Carol’s relief. He tells everyone that it was the New Second Elder who was plotting to kill them all. Meanwhile, Ian and Doctor tell the First Elder they want to go into the Aqueduct again to stop the poison and deal with the monsters and ask that Barbara now join them. The episode ends with Carol being kidnapped and Ian and The Doctor being given faulty weapons and a manipulated map by the newly appointed Second Elder so they are lost in the dark.

The Desperate Venture then begins with Carole having to write a fake letter, claiming she went back to the ship, when everyone knows that Barbara being back means that someone would have seen her. They deduce she must be in a room in the palace that isn’t used, and save her from the Engineer. Barbara also demands the First Elder tell them where the Doctor have gone and finally he admits that it is the aqueduct. Even though he was sworn to secrecy not to tell. Susan uses her physic abilities that the Sense-Sphere amplified, to guide Barbara and John into the aqueduct to find the Doctor and Ian. Whilst the pair have found the cause of the problems in the Aqueducts. It’s humans who were going completely insane, believed they were at war with the Sensorites. With Barbara and John turning up to save them, they trick the humans out of the dark to , and were then allowed to be taken home with John, Carol and Maitland, whilst the Second Elder, due to the treachery of the map was also banished to the out-lands. The TARDIS team were given the lock back to the TARDIS so they could finally get away from the Sense-Sphere and start their adventuring anew, though not without Ian making the Doctor mad and ending with the time lord promising to leave Ian wherever they landed next.

What didn’t work:

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first shall we, and rip it off like a plaster. The entire serial had some wonderful moments, but personally so much of the story fell flat and could have been reduced to less episodes to build tension. It could have easily have been a four parter episode. I struggle with the way the serial ended, having humans being the enemies all along in regards to the poison. It added an element to the story that wasn’t necessary. I personally had liked that the City Administrator was the main antagonist in a society built so heavily on trust. To add the element of the insane crew under the aqueduct felt like a very last minute decision. Only put in there so that they don’t have to create an actual monster when the City Administrator was already enough of a threat.

In fact, the villain that we are still used to seeing in this piece doesn’t even get a visual end, we are just told he will be banished.

Sadly, with that it left me a little disappointed that there wasn’t more done with the serial, after such a glorious set up to the story.

What worked:

Despite what I said, there are some lovely moments in this serial making it worth watching in full. I must admit stem from Susan Foreman really growing into a character for me. As mentioned last week, her argument with the Doctor had left more than a sobering tone with me. Still trying to decide if this was because of the 60s or an actual character decision due to what was to come. Even at the end of this serial, she relates to wanting somewhere to belong again. My favourite moment with her is when she is talking to the First Elder about her home. We know that it will later be known as Gallifrey, the only way we as an audience know the Time Lord’s planet:

SUSAN: Grandfather and I don’t come from Earth. Oh, it’s ages since we’ve seen our planet. It’s quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver.
1ST ELDER: My mind tells me that you wish to see your home again, and yet there is a part of you which calls for adventure. A wanderlust.

Part of what makes that part so wonderful, is how much Carole brings to the reading, I genuinely felt sorrow that she was taken away from. This is obviously at a time when the histories of these characters weren’t established, so Susan seems less sad to leave, and as excited to explore the universe. It brings for me, a new dimension to why Susan left with her grandfather.

And, whilst we’re speaking of characters that have grown since the beginning of the series; as an audience member, you really don’t realise how much balance and reason Barbara brings until she’s missing as she has been for almost three full episodes. Within her first moments in the last episode, she’s already making herself useful:

SUSAN: She couldn’t have gone up to the spaceship.
JOHN: Either you’d have seen her, or passed her on the way.
SUSAN: Yes.
BARBARA: She was obviously forced to write this. Whoever made her do it had no idea that I was being brought down here.
SUSAN: I bet the City Administrator had something to do with it.
JOHN: But why kidnap her?
BARBARA: I should think the why’s fairly obvious, wouldn’t you?
JOHN: No, I don’t think it is, Barbara. We’re on good terms with the First Elder, the Doctor’s discovered an antidote for the poison and now he and Ian are tracking down the cause of the trouble.
BARBARA: Look, I’ve been away in the ship so maybe I can see things more clearly. And I think we’re being used by one of the Sensorites who wants to gain power.

And this is why ladies and gentleman, Barbara Wright is my favourite female companion. I will probably say it in my dying breathe. I also loved the moments with Ian and the Doctor as well. When they are both in the aqueduct together exploring it goes to show how they have come along in the series, which is almost at an end. I still can’t believe that my next article is the last serial of series one!

Alas, that is all left to say about the Sensorites. Next week, we look at the Reign of Terror and see just how serious the Doctor’s threat is about leaving Ian behind in 17th Century France.

This week’s doodle is brought to you from the Iles from the household, but not from myself, but my husband, who thought it would be fun to try and doodle the City Administrator now appointed as the Second Elder in his new sash.

Literary Archaeology: Staples of History: The Office in HistFic

By Jon Black

Bob Cratchit, fiction’s most famous office drone.

So, this is the first blog post I’ve ever written inspired by a dream. I don’t even remember the dream, but I woke with the incredibly distinctive scent of mimeograph fluid in my nostrils. For readers who are two young to remember, mimeographing is a technology for reproducing documents in massive quantities. In the commercial world, mimeographing was replaced by copiers in the commercial world by the mid to late 1980s. In more poorly funded institutions, like schools, mimeographing held on rather longer, the early to mid 90s in some locations. For me, the distinctive spicy-ammonia smell of mimeograph fluid, and the warm, slightly damp feel of copies that had recently come off the machine, instantly calls to mind memories of junior high school.

This got me reflecting on what other office technologies have been left behind over the centuries. While it seems unlikely that a Historical Fiction narrative would ever turn on such matters, they can be an interesting part of a story’s background, making it come alive and subtly highlighting how the past is, indeed, a foreign country.

This post is not comprehensive. While technologies are organized in general categories, it does not cover every technology in a given category (for example, the telephone has been omitted from communications, a device that has been so fundamental and changed in so many ways over its long history could easily be the subject of its own post). Depending on the response to this post, I may make other business/office technologies the subject of future blogs. What I have presented today are simply the technologies that, for whatever reason, caught my attention this time.

ACCOUNTING:

Double Entry Book Keeping.

Historical Ledger

One of many ideas that seems obvious in hindsight and, once embraced, transformed the world in ways so profound they are taken for granted. It requires each entry in an account to be matched by an opposite entry in another account. For example, spending $100 on printer toner would be recorded as a $100 debt to a “Revenue” account and a $100 credit on an “Expenditure” account. Double-Entry Bookkeeping provides business and organizations the ability to see clearly where their money is coming from and going while making accidental errors and deliberate fraud much easier to spot.

There are indications that Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty may have used doubly-entry notation as early as the 10th century, though the system was later discontinued. It cropped up again in Italy, possibly as early as the late 13th century, and definitely in use in Genoa by the 1340s. It had spread throughout Italy by the 15th century, the oldest surviving accounting textbook appeared in 1494, written by Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan monk and friend of da Vinci (perhaps unsurprisingly leading some Leonardophiles to suggest he was the true brains behind the book).

Strange as it sounds, I have a special weakness for Double-Entry notion in fiction. In Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, one of the first great time travel stories (that segues into alt-history), a “modern” (1930s) protagonist saves the late Roman Empire from falling … not with “go-to” time travel/alt-history technologies such a gunpowder, but with subtler innovations like distilling and double-entry bookkeeping. TANGENT ALERT: anyone interested in historical fiction, time travel, or alt-history (the work could arguably be considered all three) really needs to read Lest Darkness Fall. Nearly alone within the genre, closing in on a century after publication, the story still feels contemporary and clever.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Pneumatic Tubes

Pneumatic Tube Central Dispatch, circa 1940.

An early and successful attempt at automation, these steam-driven systems of tubes used small capsules driven by combination of pressure and vacuum to transport documents and messages within a building a or between nearby buildings.

The first pneumatic tube systems was installed in 1836 and the technology was in widespread use until the years following WWII. Modern examples are still common at drive-through banks and it is not unheard of to find a larger system still in operation.

Straying from HisFic, the style of pneumatic tubes is great for steam-punk, deco punk, or any other appropriate genre of retrofuturism. And, because of the sheer size and invasiveness of infrastructure, removing them is cost-prohibitive. Pneumatic tube infrastructure still remains, unused, within many period-appropriate buildings. An author could, no doubt, find many clever applications for that.

Tickertape

E-trading in 1918.

The earliest digital electronic communications device, its transmitting the latest stock market information by stock value and volume of trading along telegraph lines. The name is reference to the ticking sound it made as it imprinted information on a long paper roll.

Invented in 1870, the devices quickly became widespread and are ubiquitous part of the image of corporate America in the 1920s an 30s. Broadcast media and computers rendered tickertape obsolete by the 1960s, but the process didn’t die until 1970, exactly a century after its introduction.

WRITING:

Pencils:

Pencil allegedly made by Thoreau.

With the discovery of commercially minable graphite deposits in the late 16th century. Wooden encasement appeared almost immediately, first documented in Italy. Nomenclature notwithstanding, lead has not been used as a writing element, the name stems from the erroneous pre-modern conception that graphite was a form of lead. In an emergency, graphite powder mixed with certain types of clay can be substituted for solid graphite.  Pencils with erasers attached to the pencil appear no later than 1858. The common mechanical pencil sharpener dates from 1848, electric versions from 1917.

Typewriters:

An 1870 Hansen Writing Ball.

The 16th to 19th centuries saw a multitude of devices, some merely alleged others well documented, which could be called proto-typewriters. None failed to catch on.

The first commercially typewriter appeared in 1865, an odd looking device known as the Hansen Writing Ball invented by a Danish clergyman. The first commercially successful model, and the first to resemble modern ideas of a typewriter, was the Sholes and Gilden Type-Writer, first produced in 1868.

The shift key appeared in 1878, drastically increasing the number of characters a typewriter could render. Electrical typewriters first appear in the 1920s and were popular by the 1930s, though mechanical models continued to be popular for private use.

Replaced the typebars (or keys) with a rotating ball.  Such designs became popular but never completely eclipsed typebar modles.

The now nearly universal QWERTY layout appeared in 1874, competing with several other layouts, some of which were more efficient for typing than the QWERTY. The oft repeated explanation that the inefficient QWERTY adopted because its prevented typing so rapidly that keys jammed together is quite plausible but not actually verifiable.

MISCELLANEOUS:

19th century Stapler.

Correction Fluid: (used for written as well as type documents) appear in the 1950s, the first commercially successful formulation was developed in 1956 Bette Nesmith Graham (who, in a curious twist of fate, was the mother of Monkees’ guitarist Mike Nesmith).

Paper Clips: While an imperfect model debuted in 1867, the modern paper clip first appears in possibly in the 1870s, certainly by 1899.

Staples: the first staplers originated in 18th century France, as tools of the royal court. A continuation of the old idea of the royal seal, each stable was engraved with the king’s insignia. A more business-friend version emerged in the 1860s, but the modern stapler design had to wait until 1941.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 2 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

This week, I’m going to try something a little different, a little unorthodox to what I’ve been attempting before. Hopefully, you’ll hear me out. For the length of time I’ve been doing these articles, I’ve been splitting it into parts. I’ve wanted to cover everything in every moment that sometimes it feels that I start to lose what it is that makes these episodes magical to me.

So, whilst I will summarise briefly what happens in these episodes, Hidden Danger and The Race Against Death, I want to draw attention to aspects to the serial that I find important. I will also start doing an article per serial once i’ve finished writing about the Sensorites. Unless it’s an incredibly long serial that warrants some more talking!

Hidden Danger is basically splitting the team up. This leaves Barbara up on the spaceship, with Maitland, whilst everyone else goes to the Sense-Sphere to meet the aliens and see their way of life. They meet the wise leaders, The Second and First Elders, and also meeting corrupted and evil one out to kill them, aka the City Administrator. It turns out they don’t like humans because the last time they had humans, it started a disease which was spreading around their planet. At the end of the episode, Ian succumbs to this disease after drinking different water to Susan and the Doctor. This leaves them to have to look urgently for a cure and with the hope of curing the others suffering too. They discover it’s poison and have a remedy to cure Ian. The Doctor believes the source of the poison is coming from the Aqueduct and goes to investigate. Despite the warning he wasn’t expecting to be attacked. This leaving a cliffhanger at the end of Race Against Death as a recovering Ian and Susan go looking for him…

For forty minutes of Doctor Who, very little happens over the two episodes. What I want to focus on this week is Susan. In particular, I want to focus on something that carries into the rest of Susan’s appearance in the show: how her and her grandfather’s relationship has developed.

This was sparked because of the first ten minutes of Hidden Danger. The cliffhanger included Susan offering herself to be taken away from her grandfather and friends so that the others would live; to stay on the Sense-Sphere alone. It’s a brave choice for her. Despite my fears for her safety, it was never because I didn’t think she could handle herself. Why, in The Daleks she was the central figure to saving her grandfather’s and her teachers lives!

So seeing the Doctor so livid actually made me as an audience member quite tense. He’s fuming, shouting at the Sensorites before they can take her away. He’s also unknowingly causing the sensitive aliens pain. She listens to his commands but it’s not smooth sailing.

Ian and Barbara summarise the moment after, much better than I ever could.

BARBARA: Sorry, I was thinking. You know, I’ve never seen the Doctor so angry.
IAN: Oh, yes. Susan set him off, didn’t she. The Sensorites must have hypnotised her in some way.
BARBARA: No, I don’t think so. She’s just growing up, Ian.

Susan has done much in the short time we’ve gotten to know her, and that goes for Ian and Barbara too. This glorious teenager is growing up with the children watching the show. We can now see her worth within the team, and really being apart of it.

But even with such progression, is it still the feeling in this era that men still think they know better than women? Or is it just her youth? “Children should be seen and not heard?” Perhaps it is due to these ideas that Susan’s attempts at independence is shot down by the Doctor.

And when I say shot down, I mean shot down:

DOCTOR: What is all this, setting yourself against me, hmm?
SUSAN: I didn’t, Grandfather.
DOCTOR: Oh, I know you thought you were doing your best, child, in the circumstances, but I think I’m a better judge of that.
SUSAN: Well, I have opinions too.
DOCTOR: My dear girl, the one purpose in growing old is to accumulate knowledge and wisdom, and to help other people.
SUSAN: So I’m to be treated like a silly little child.
DOCTOR: If you behave like one, yes.

The Doctor is unwilling to let her explain why she is right in this situation, or listen to her point of view. We know that the First Doctor is a stubborn old fool, but even in the case of Ian and Barbara at this point, he has let them take direction, or listened to them both.

Susan on the other hand, perhaps because of her youth, is always treated with kid gloves. The poor kid can’t express herself without being chided by her Grandfather in this moment. Even when she offers advice with the Sensorites with his way of speaking, he barely listens.

It’s almost heartbreaking to watch, the way Susan finally relents and submits. The Doctor is constantly blaming the Sensorites for their argument but actually, if he had listened instead of barked orders, or spoke to her with a different tone of voice, the teenager that she is might have in fact been able to explain herself without sounding like she’s whining. The ongoing issue of most worried parents, not listening.

At least Barbara has the foresight to explain to Susan how this works, and why she is such a good figurehead for the show.

BARBARA: Susan.
SUSAN: Yes?
BARBARA: Look, I know how you feel, but your grandfather loves you.
SUSAN: Yes, I know.
BARBARA: Be patient. We’re all on your side really, you know.

Even as this episode progresses, Susan has a good head on her shoulders as she starts to see things the Doctor hasn’t noticed. John  being healed by the Sensorites being able sense the good and evil within a person. She can also seem to have more links to the aliens because of her telepathy. The Doctor is finally impressed with her and seems to have actually taken Barbara’s advice himself, be patient.

It’s a really interesting place to be, watching Susan and the Doctor’s relationship develop over these two episodes. Just in our first serial, Susan couldn’t bare to be apart from her grandfather, screaming for his safety. Now she’s standing on her own two feet, willing to take on large tasks to help their team.

And now of course, taking care of Ian as they go looking for her grandfather in the aqueduct with the hopes he’s not hurt, whilst Ian is not really in a good enough state to take care of himself. Who’s the teenager now? Who’s having to take control? The wonderful Susan Foreman that’s who. Susan is one of my favourites. If not for the lack of good stories to continue this for her after this point, she could actually be my favourite.

And that’s why, today, you get a picture of Susan as my doodle. Next week, I’ll look at the end of The Sensorites, and see just what sort of story it ended up telling….

Longdog Library: CSI: Edinburgh

By John Linwood Grant

We’re going way back in the Longdog Library archives this time, for something which is both an episode of early Victorian history and yet spawned a popular detective character known today. OK, who can tell me what connects Silence of the Lambs, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edinburgh Old Town in the 1830s. Yes, the girl at the back, with the green hair and the switch-blade. No, sorry, it’s nothing to do with butchers. Not directly, anyway. It’s the actor Brian Cox, of course.

What? You want to know more? I can explain.

You see, I love Inspector McLevy. In fact, I think anyone who likes crime and detective stories, or police procedurals, would enjoy McLevy. He isn’t occult, psychic or any of those weird things you’ve come to expect from me (though see more below about the audio adaptation). He was a tough cop in a tough city, and a real person, whose history I came across a while ago when I was looking for Victorian period detail. You know, like what brands of mobile phones they had in 1850, that sort of thing. I’m a meticulous writer James McLevy (1796-1875) was, by many accounts, the first proper police detective in Edinburgh, in the cheery old days of hanging and transportation.


Magistrate: Why did you steal that loaf of bread, you little vermin?
Street Urchin: ‘Cos I wanted to be a-feedin’ of them kangi-roos dahn under, guv’nor.
Magistrate: Oh God, just string him up anyway.

After time as a nightwatchman with the Edinburgh police, McLevy was given the rank of detective in 1833, and had a successful career which spanned thirty years and a reported 2,220 cases. This might all have ended up as a minor historical note, except for three things:

1) McLevy wrote up his cases in a number of books from 1860 onwards, around his retirement. How much of what he recounts is true, we can’t tell, but they are not wildly exaggerated tales. They cover the ups and downs of policing Edinburgh Old Town, with its slums and theatres, cobblers and cut-throats. Dickens without the silly names, so to speak.

2) Actor/writer David Ashton, whilst researching Conan Doyle, decided to create a series of radio plays about McLevy’s, developing fictional exploits from the actual case histories. These are quite superbly done, terrific fun, and occasionally rather moving.

3) More directly relevant to our library, Mr Ashton has also written a number of novels featuring the character as well, including ‘Shadow of the Serpent’, ‘Fall from Grace’ and ‘A Trick of the Light’. These are well worth checking out

The real McLevy was a hard worker. He had an insight into criminology, employing stings and forensic techniques. He seems to have had a certain sympathy for the miscreants in his parish, and was not without mercy at times. Eventually he became well enough known to be consulted by parliament and social reformers on the subject of how to deal with criminality.

Some claim that because he consulted the medical school of the University of Edinburgh, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle later studied, he might have influenced Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes. McLevy was better known back then, and Conan Doyle might at least have considered some of the cases when constructing his own stories.

On the radio, Brian Cox gives one of his best performances yet as Jamie McLevy, thief-taker in the Parish of Leith. He brings humour and humanity into what can be quite brutal tales, covering such diverse subjects as:

  • Revenge tragedies;
  • The horrors of the Crimean war;
  • Women’s rights;
  • Deadly rivalry between brothels, and
  • Victorian pornography.

McLevy’s own accounts in his books are relatively dry and straightforward, so don’t expect detective thrills as such. Ashton’s McLevy is far more accessible. He’s dedicated to his job, cranky and occasionally eccentric. He needs his coffee. He has a dry wit, and he eats too many sugary sweets.

The good Inspector (not as high a rank as it is now) has a love-hate relationship with Jean Brash (played in the audio version by Siobhan Redmond), the owner of a body house, or brothel, called the Happy Land. I’m guessing that there is intended irony from Ashton here, as the real Happy Land was a tenement/slum area in Victorian Edinburgh. If I wanted to sound really mock-academic, I could point out that it’s also referenced in an 1838 hymn:

“There is a happy land, far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day.”

‘The Happy Land’ was therefore sometimes mentioned by spiritualists as where the souls of the departed would end up – if they were lucky.

Curiously, while James McLevy was an Irishman who came to Scotland as an immigrant in his teens, Brian Cox is himself a descendant of Irish immigrants to Scotland. A match born in… well, somewhere up there. David Ashton, for fun, plays Lieutenant Roach, McLevy’s superior.

The other notable character on the radio is Constable Mulholland, McLevy’s assistant, who spends his time getting exasperated with his Inspector, fishing, keeping bees and hitting people with a big stick. And he likes the ladies, but is not the luckiest of fellows. Mulholland is supposed to have been a real contemporary of McLevy, but I can’t prove that bit.

I’m always mithering on about occult detectives and period crime, so I look out for spooky references in everything I read or listen to. The radio series does have a distinctly unsettling element – odd presentiments, a sense of the violence and death which follows McLevy, and a prophetic vision or two from the locals. You can feel doom and vengeance on the wind.

However, the original James McLevy gives little shrift to spookiness. The best you get is the ending of The Cobbler’s Knife:

“This is the only dream-case in my book; and I’m not sorry for it, otherwise I might have glided into the supernatural, as others have done who have had more education that I, and are better able to separate the world of dreams from the stern world of realities.”

You’ll have guessed the other connections by now, which include the title. If not…

Brian Cox plays Inspector McLevy, but he also played Hannibal Lecter in the original 1986 movie Manhunter, the film adaptation of the book ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris, who wrote Silence of the Lambs. Cox’s son Alan played Dr Watson in the film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). And in Manhunter, the lead FBI agent/profiler hunting Hannibal was played by William Petersen, who, of course, was Gil Grissom in CSI.

And none of the above are actually from Edinburgh.

If Walls Could Talk: The Value of First Impressions

M.H. Norris

There is something to the saying, “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” When you’re writing a novel, you have to make sure that opening page, the opening chapter, stand out and make your reader want to come back and read more.

Openings can be tricky, there are many ways to start a story. Some people launch right into the plot, still others set up the premise, still others use the opening pages to introduce a character. One method is not better than another, it’s up to you as the writer to decide which option is best for your particular story.

Opening the Curtain for your Readers

Let’s look at some examples. First, the opening to Badge City: Notches:

Curled up under a tree in the middle of Coal Hill Park, the girl lay in such a way that Detective Deidre Tordano could almost imagine that she was sleeping and dreaming of princess and ponies, sunshine and rainbows.

The camera flash could be mistaken for a parent taking a picture of her sleeping child, wanting to hold that memory for years to come.

The leaves crunched under Deidre’s feet as she got out of her car.

“Got the call an hour ago, jogger found her on the trail. She was left with her backpack that had an ID in it. Grace Miller.” Officer Hamilton walked up to her, clipboard in hand.

“How old.”

“Ten.”

A gust of wind blew past them and Deidre pulled her trench coat closer. “Coroner’s here?”

“Just arrived a few minutes ago. CSU is almost done with the scene.”

There are two things out of Badge City: Notches that I’m especially proud of are the climax and the imagery of the opening two paragraphs. Here I am, embarking on my first murder mystery and I open with that scene.

What do I establish in this opening?

  • The Protagonist, Detective Deidre Torando.
  • The victim, Grace Miller, and that she is a child.
  • That she was murdered, and it staged so you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a murder scene.
  • That this novel is a police procedural, and implies that it will strive for accuracy.

There’s something about crime fiction that people can’t seem to get enough of. There are spin offs of both “NCIS” and “CSI” (with “NCIS” still beginning its 15th season this week) along with a handful of other shows spread across the networks all dealing with crime and the people who solve them.

With a mystery, hooking them into the idea that it’s there’s a crime to be solved might not be a bad idea.

But, let’s look at another set up, from my upcoming “Midnight”:

Dr. Rosella Tassoni looked over the auditorium full of half-asleep freshman and quickly remembered why she usually only agreed to lecture upper-level courses.

“Since the beginning of time, man has told stories. When a written language came along, these were written down. Some would surpass their own cultures, becoming what we know to be legends. Today we call the study of those legends mythology. Every culture has their own distinct legends, yet many share a similar foundation. Max Müller considered these legends ‘a disease of language,’ but clearly they’re something more. I prefer Tolkien’s explanation for legends in his essay ‘On Fairy-Stories,’ originally delivered to students very similar to you.  ‘The history of fairy-stories is probably more complex than the physical history of the human race, and as complex as the history of human language.’”  

Rosella clicked the slide over before reading the quote. “What are the origins of, as Tolkien would call them, ‘fairy-stories’? ‘I am too unlearned to deal with this question in any other way than with a few remarks…It is plain enough that fairy- stories (in wider or in narrower sense) are very ancient indeed. Related things appear in very early records; and they are found universally, wherever there is language. We are therefore obviously confronted with a variant of the problem that the archaeologist encounters, or the comparative philologist: with the debate between independent evolution (or rather invention) of the similar; inheritance from a common ancestry; and diffusion at various times from one or more centres.”

Turning away from the screen she studied the crowd. “Tolkien is considered one of the greatest fantasy writers in the history of mankind. His books are still widely read and have even inspired a popular MMORPG.”

That comment helped her pick out the gamers in the audience by their grins. She could tell a couple of them were thinking about playing that as soon as class was over. In fact, the way one boy’s head shot up, she couldn’t help but wonder if she looked at his screen if she would find Middle-Earth.

“But, more than that, he was one of the great philologists, with an intense knowledge of language’s history—and the mythology that has always clung to it. Gilgamesh, after all, is our earliest surviving written record. Tolkien acknowledged Müller’s quote though and had this to say, ‘Max Müller’s view of mythology as a ‘disease of language’ can be abandoned without regret. Mythology is not a disease at all, though it may, like all human things, become diseased. You might as well say that thinking is a disease of the mind. It would be more near the truth to say that languages, especially modern European languages, are a disease of mythology.’”

That caused her to chuckle. “I prefer to agree with Tolkien on this. After all, that quote is how I earn my living, in a sense.”

As she walked across the stage, clicking through slides, she eyed one of the students. He slipped into the back of the lecture hall, border-lining the time that it was socially acceptable to arrive late. Which was, also, the time it was polite for Rosella to be late. She’d earned her doctorate. At least according to the old myth—Rosella preferred to be on time to speaking events, not in the mood to waste not only her time but the time of those listening. The student quickly opened his laptop and tried to look attentive, but his shoulders were tense yet his face portrayed a different story. His face appeared to be relaxed but his clenched jaw told her he was stressed and a little over focused on the task at hand. Not only that but she could see his wire from here. He must be new, he was too tense. That or he hadn’t been warned that she was pretty good at reading body language. But seriously, Quantico was slipping if they thought that act was covert. She assumed he was wired simply to test him in the field, in a safe situation. Baby’s first op.

“Some stories are to teach a lesson, it’s the reason we have fables and how Aesop became a household name. Others are fun stories to tell around a campfire or a childhood sleepover or to be turned into the next Disney movie.”

“Others take a darker side, or rather people choose to let them.” Another click another slide.

“Serial killers, immortalized in this day and age by the influx of crime dramas which seem to occupy most major networks. People are obsessed with the idea of the forensic sciences.”

Now she had their attention.

“Sometimes, the two meet. Killers think they can hide behind the myths. Forensic Mythology if you will.”

Here, instead of a crime, I set up the concept of not only the story but the series that will follow. I introduce the character before properly introducing the plot. I allow Rosella to tell you what she does and what to expect from her investigations.

What do I establish in this scene?

  • The protagonist, Rosella Tassoni
  • The tone of the series
  • Her approach to her work
  • That while this is not specifically a police procedural, it remains an accurate approach to police procedure
  • Her relationship with college-age people, which will be expanded on later.

Both approaches, for all their seeming differences, draw the reader in and establish your story.

Conclusion: Openings are Important

They’re the first thing your readers see when they open your book. I’ve said it in this column before, but I have put books down because they failed to capture my attention.

Sometimes, when writing, finding the proper place to start is half the battle. Remember the story I wrote about a couple of weeks ago that I’m having problems with? The opening scene has shifted at least a half dozen times. I’ve changed the circumstances, location, characters involved, all to find what fits the story I’m trying to tell best.

Keep in mind, if you go with a plot base opening, you need to be careful that you don’t give too much away. But, you want to give enough to hook your readers in.

It’s a balancing act and you get a sense of where the line between enough and too much is (and this is another instance where a good editor is invaluable).

Whether you’re doing a plot based opening or a character based opening, make sure that these opening pages shine. This is your story you’re telling. It’s something you will spend hours upon hours on and you want to give it its best chance at succeeding.

And a strong opening is the best way to do it.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 1 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

It’s that time of the week folks, today I’m writing live from the outskirts of Devon to bring you my take on The Sensorites. A story with some flaws but with some great moments, and lets Susan shine for the first time in the series. 

Let’s take a look! 

We left the team confused about how the TARDIS could have stopped, but the instruments show they still moving. Everyone has changed clothes. It’s been at least a few hours, even a sleep, for our humans before they all return together to the console room. It’s Ian’s turn to wear a polo neck jumper, Barbara’s in a pretty dress and Susan’s in a dress. With this change of dress comes a fresh attitude to their next adventure. In fact, the conversation they have before they leave the TARDIS to explore is one of my favourites!

Our content TARDIS team, Susan, Barbara, The Doctor and Barbara.

IAN: There’s one thing about it, Doctor. We’re certainly different from when we started out with you.
SUSAN: That’s funny. Grandfather and I were talking about that just before you came in. How you’ve both changed.
BARBARA: Well we’ve all changed.
SUSAN: Have I?
BARBARA: Yes.
DOCTOR: Yes, it all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard, and now it’s turned out to be quite a, quite a great spirit of adventure, don’t you think?
IAN: Yes. We’ve had some pretty rough times and even that doesn’t stop us. It’s a wonderful thing, this ship of yours, Doctor.

Look at that development! It’s lovely to watch how this four before used to really despise the idea of being together and having to rely on each other (see Edge of Destruction). Now, not only are Ian and Barbara so willing to leave the TARDIS for adventure, they accept there is danger. It still appears that they still have hope the Doctor will still get them home, one day. 

So, off the TARDIS they go and they find they are on a spaceship, and the two crew are dead. Except they’re not. Suddenly, one of them wakes and asks for a heart resuscitation device, which they use on him and his colleague. The two members of crew, Maitland and Carol explain they were not dead but in a deep sleep. They said they were put there by The Sensorites; aliens who live on the planet The Sense Sphere. They have been orbiting the planet for as long as they can remember, as it appears the aliens are using mind control to attack them.

One of the more fun moments in this episode is finding out that the crew are from 28th Century Earth. Excited about this knowledge, Ian and Barbara want to learn about their future. They then learn not only is there no more Big Ben but that London is now part of ‘Central City’. It’s the first time the series dealt with the future of Earth before, even though we had a futuristic sense of time from Marinus and The Daleks. It’s a good clip to watch these humans of the 20th Century get excited about the future they will never live to see, unless the Doctor has his way of course…  They also learn that Maitland and Carol have another crew member called John. He’s somewhere else on the ship, having been the most affected the most by the Sensorites and could be temperamental. The team decide they shouldn’t get involved or learn too much about the future; but when they go back to the TARDIS to leave the lock has been completely removed! They haven’t got a choice now but to get involved in this mystery.

The Crew and the TARDIS team in the Observation Deck.

Moments later the Sensorites attack the group telepathically again rendering them hopeless. Luckily, it doesn’t affect the Doctor or his companions. The affect on the crew causes the ship to try and go out of orbit and crash which fortunately the Doctor stops. These creatures being able to make such a difference without being present is quite a powerful thing. When the situation has solved itself, Barbara and Susan go looking for water but find John instead. He’s moving around in a zombie like state and terrifies them. Also, as the door shuts behind them it can’t be opened again. Now Ian and The Doctor can’t go to help them so they have to deal with John themselves.

The whole sequence is actually quite creepy. Despite the reuse their corridors in this episode, Barbara and Susan do a wonderful job of convincing us of the threat. They hold hands and stand their ground together against the threatening, deranged crew member. Finally, John breaks down in front of them, weeping at the horror of being controlled. Always the mother figure, Barbara strokes his hair as he lays in her lap, comforting him in their predicament. She’s hoping that the others will break through the door so they can all be reunited.

Meanwhile as Maitland is trying to cut through the door to get to them, they here another sound. It’s the the transport the Sensorites use to get onto the ship makes a low whining noise, which they can all hear. This is our first cliffhanger of the serial ends, with the Sensorites finally being introduced outside the window, peering through the observation deck.

So this is how we meet the Sensorites. As a NuWho fan, you might recognise this look from somewhere. If you look at a picture of an Odd from the Tenth Doctor era you’ll see resemblances. The mild mannered poses, the larger heads and the eyes being small are all comparable. In fact, The Tenth Doctor tells us that the races planets revolve around the same sun, which is a cool piece of canon that Russell T Davies created when he made them. 

Either way, though the Odd can appear a evil at times, the Sensorites don’t appear as threatening as their actions have been. They disappear from the observation deck window to enter the ship. The Doctor and Ian have to wake up the crew again as they have been made to fall asleep. Once awake, they can continue to cut through the door. Meanwhile, poor John is still being affected by the Sensorites as they closer to him. This time, Barbara and Susan are there with him. They tell him, to build his confidence, so that they feel safe with him now he’s on their side. This moment is when Susan shows a beautiful moment of intelligence and cunning that I wish we had seen more often in her character development. She tells Barbara about how they should try and use mental telepathy of their own to fight back against the Sensorites. She suggests that if they think about something clearly in their mind they could then defend themselves together, with the same thoughts. 

SUSAN: He’s quiet now, but we can’t be sure the Sensorites won’t make him help them. Look, if they can use their brains, why can’t we use ours?
BARBARA: To defend him?
SUSAN: Yes, and ourselves. Grandfather and I landed on a planet once called Esto. The plants there used thought transference. If you stood in between two of the plants, they set up a sort of screeching noise. Grandfather said it was because they were aware of another mind.
BARBARA: Breaking in on their communications.
SUSAN: Yes, exactly. I thought if we both tried together.
BARBARA: Well anything’s better than just sitting here.

It works! The Sensorites crumple and can’t fight back. Though it causes Susan faints it means that there probably is a way to keep themselves safe. This happens just in time for Ian and Maitland to be able to cut through the door to save them and bring them back to the observation deck to safety.  

It cuts from that scene to later on in time. The Sensorites appear to have left them to their own devices for now. Ian puts John to bed, who mumbles the phrase “the dreams of avarice.” Ian shares this with the others. This leads to the team to try and figure out why John’s reaction to the Sensorites is bigger than everyone else by seeing what he was doing before the Sensorites affected him. The Doctor puts his finger on it. He notices that John’s job, studying minerals in the Sense Sphere, meant he saw that the planet is rich in molybdenum. This is a precious material and it could make them all rich! All the intentions of the Sensorites make sense. This is why they’re keeping them hostage, but not wanting to hurt them but not wanting them to leave. 

Once that happens, the Sensorites attack telepathically at the crew again. This time, Ian and Barbara go running through the corridor to go looking for them but when they do. Ian orders Barbara to find a way to lock the doors, rushing towards the observation deck but Maitland can’t help. Meanwhile, Ian raises a hammer to defend himself from them as they move backwards as they move after him. It’s a horrendously tense moment that made me shiver to watch. Barbara runs to get John who could help her instead at the Doctor’s request but she observes when they return to him that Ian is never attacked by the Sensorites. John closes the door, it’s a relief but a wonder as to what they will actually do now they are on the ship….

Back on the observation deck when they are all back together with all the doors locked. Now, the Sensorites try something new… Susan gets a message from them, asking if they can talk. Clearly, she is more telepathic with her than the other TARDIS team in this moment. The two aliens enter the room to speak to the Doctor and the crew for the first time and they give their demands. With the discovery of the material on their planet they can’t let the Doctor go or the crew, as predicted, but they don’t want to hurt them. They offer instead to give them a place of their own to live on the Sense Sphere.

The Doctor refuses. In fact, it leads to one of the first time that we see how the Doctor is with another alien race when threatened. Something that he wasn’t like previously except with perhaps the Daleks, and even then he was their prisoner standing his ground. Now, in this moment, despite not knowing how to defeat them, he is in his element here that we recognise more in future episodes. 

DOCTOR: Now listen to me, both of you. You’ve taken the lock of my ship and I want it returned immediately.
SENSORITE 1: You’re in no position to threaten us.
DOCTOR: I don’t make threats. But I do keep promises. And I promise you I shall cause you more trouble than you bargained for if you don’t return my property!

The Sensorites leave, temporarily to ‘decide’ on what they want to do next. Meanwhile, The Doctor has noticed more things about his enemy. Their possible weaknesses with dealing with darkness could be a help to them. Also, there was a really interesting comment made by the Doctor in regards to telepathy…

BARBARA: Well, how can you be sure that the Sensorites will be frightened of the dark?
DOCTOR: My dear Barbara, wouldn’t you be afraid if you couldn’t see your enemies, hmm? Thank you for your admiration, dear boy. Thank you.
IAN: I never said a word.
DOCTOR: Telepathy. You know, telepathy isn’t only a prerequisite of the Sensorites. I know sometimes what you’re thinking.

Now is this intentional to suggest that The Doctor, like Susan are telepathic. They are aliens after all, and not humans, perhaps there was an intention here to show the difference again. After all The Doctor and Susan as opposed to the rest of the crew are supposed to be more alien. This telepathic streak is played on before in the future with NuWho and the Classic Who era, so it’s really awesome to again speculate if this was the intention or not. I wonder if this was what led to the use of telepathy with the Doctor later on… 

And speaking of telepathy…

Susan with the Sensorites…

It’s then when Susan is getting another message for the Sensorites. Worriedly, they watch as she listens and replies to them out loud before moving away from her friends and towards the door. Turns out that they told her if she didn’t go live in the Sense Sphere, they would kill them and she couldn’t have that on her conscience. This left us with a cliffhanger, both for the following week in the past all those years ago and now with this article. 

So! Part Two will show us the best parts of Susan Foreman, The Sense Sphere and just how much the crew need Barbara Wright. This week I don’t have a doodle because I’m actually away from home.  

But have a picture of my brother in law watching the Sensorites with me instead.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Part 2 of 2)

By Sophie Iles

Welcome back Whovians! We are into the second part of this serial and already we’ve had everything you could possibly want. There’s danger, there’s history, there’s hints of a romantic subplot and now there’s this bone chilling cliffhanger that we were left on as Ian is about face death at the hands of his rival Ixta. It’s up to Barbara Wright to save the day, as she often seems to do…

Before I start laying down the groundwork of the next two episodes I must say out of all of the episodes, this one has such a variety of things going on. Lots of threads being neatly sewn together for the climatic ending of episode four. I really think David Whitaker was a very good script editor to make this serial as good as it is!

So, without further ado let’s find out how our foursome get out of their sticky situation in The Bride of Sacrifice and The Day of Darkness!

Barbara saves the day, because she’s awesome.

Barbara saves the day obviously. She snatches a knife and uses it to threatens the life of Tlotoxl if they don’t let Ian live. They do as their told. Her fierceness sincerely got my back up as I watched this sequence. As this is the end of the fight, no one is given the victory; Ian is unconscious and Ixta ‘cheated’. When Ian next wakes up, Ixta promises to kill him next time (foreshadowing Ixta’s last scene in the serial). Ian also learns that Ixta’s promise to give The First Doctor drawings was false, as there were none. Imagine my frustration as I shake my fist at the screen. I want this dude dispatched as soon as possible.

Ian also learns that Tlotoxl is plotting something, but he doesn’t know what, and he goes straight to Barbara to tell her. It’s strange, but up until this moment in the series, Ian has never been this physically active to me. He was always an action man surely, but he really does feel like a man who trained in the National Service in this series with how well he handles himself and even how he speaks to Barbara about how Autloc is the only good man here willing to see her point of view about sacrifice; it all seems clearer cut than Barbara’s idealistic wish to stop the Aztecs from destroying their civilisation.

Meanwhile, with Barbara having threatened Tlotoxl he’s even more suspicious of her than he already was. Planning with another man, Tonila, to see if poison will kill the goddess, a way of proving she is false.  When both he and Tonila go to her with a poisoned chalice, Ian is hiding waving his hands suggesting she shouldn’t drink it after his warning, and Barbara calls them out on it trying to make them drink it first. Obviously they don’t.

TLOTOXL: I only meant to test you.
BARBARA: With poison?
TLOTOXL: Yetaxa would have lived. The gods are immortal.
BARBARA: Well I would have died. I am not Yetaxa.
TLOTOXL: False. False! I knew.
BARBARA: And who will believe you? I warn you, Tlotoxl, you say one word against me to the people and I’ll have them destroy you. Destroy you!

She’s so upset and angry by the whole event that once he’s gone she just begins to cry into Ian’s arms and her really at her weakest point. This adventure just seems to get rougher and rougher for Barbara with every passing minute and I would personally hate to be in her shoes.

Whilst all of this is going on, Susan and The Doctor have their own problems, though in the case of the Doctor, it’s his eagerness and clear misunderstanding of reading the signs that gets him into trouble. Perhaps, you can call this the good kind of trouble? His relationship with Cameca reaches a new level, when she brings cocoa beans to him when they’re spending time together in the Garden of Peace. In Aztec custom, if you make someone a drink of cocoa beans, you offer them a marriage proposal due to their importance in use as currency.

She wishes to see if the Doctor feels the same way about her, by bringing the beans, which, out of what is probably just politeness and excitement to have a hot chocolate he insists on making a drink for her. To Cameca this is a massive moment, to be made a marriage proposal, and for her feelings to be reconciled. For the Doctor, he’s barely aware of the meaning and just can’t wait to share a drink of hot chocolate with her as a distraction from the chaos around him.

As a viewer you basically know this information before he does, it’s only when she announces the truth that you see William Hartnell react to the news, and it is one my favourite scenes of the serial.

The Doctor gets engaged….accidentally.

DOCTOR: Happy days, my dear.
CAMECA: The happiest of my life, dear heart. Was ever such a potion brewed? In bliss is quenched my thirsty heart. 

DOCTOR: Very prettily put, my dear.
CAMECA: Oh, sweet-favoured man, you have declared your love for me, and I acknowledge and accept your gentle proposal.

It does make you wonder just how much the First Doctor felt about Cameca, bringing in that thought again about previous adventures he had with Susan before we are introduced to them and what ideas William Hartnell had about the Doctor’s past.

Whilst this is going on Susan is still training to be a good Aztec housewife. With Tlotoxl now wanting to destroy Barbara he decides to put pressure on Susan after hearing how defiant she had been before and tells the Perfect Victim to visit her. Of course, being that he is considered the Perfect Victim he can marry who he chooses before he is sacrificed and he chooses Susan. She’s outraged of course! She refuses. This gets her in a hell of a lot of trouble, as even Barbara, not knowing this was Susan who made the mistake, clearly insists that their teachings must be stuck to.

Whoops. That Tlotoxl is a real sneaky git isn’t he?

Susan’s due to be punished, Ian’s unable to be truly helpful to anyone because Ixta is always watching him, and the Doctor has his own issues, but he’s finally found an idea thanks to his new “fiancee”. She offers him a gift of a stone with Yetaxa’s mark on. The Doctor strikes on an idea that there’s another stone, a large tablet in the garden he had been sitting behind. Perhaps that will lead to the tomb.

He tells Ian about this and they decide to meet in secret in the Garden of Peace to check it out for themselves, though this isn’t without the Doctor admitting “he got engaged”, which is hilarious to watch Ian find that funny, a proper belly laugh at that. When they do finally meet, The Doctor can’t take the stone off out of the wall on his own, and Ian has to do it as it’s too heavy. He uses a flashlight to climb into the tunnel, hoping this is an entrance to the tomb. Of course, it’s never that simple with Doctor Who. Ixta was following and tells the Doctor he must put the stone back because it will flood the Garden. He knows full well Ian is in there, trapped in the dark as water floods the tunnel and The Doctor even tells him that Ian is trapped in there but it just means Ixta has defeated Ian again his mind!

Of course, it’s a perfect moment for a cliffhanger too, but luckily, we all know Ian is a smart cookie. He finds another symbol of Yetaxa’s in the tunnel, and he pushes it to find another to crawl through, reaching back into the tomb just as he and the Doctor hoped.

Now, just to find a way to keep the door open so they can get back in the tomb, all of them safe and sound.

It would be easy to say it was as simple as Ian made it look, tying some old cloth from the tomb so the door could be opened on the other side whenever they want it. Alas, even when all four of them are reunited after Ian rescues Susan from waiting to be punished they have difficulty getting into the tomb. Ian’s trick with the cloth just causes it to get snapped before they can open it again. The Doctor concludes they need a pulley of some sort, in a time when the wheel didn’t exist.

Ian and Susan go back to the Garden, with the hope of climbing through the tomb tunnel again, but little do they know Ian is being set up to be framed for an assault on Barbara’s only ally Autloc (Oh, Doctor Who loves setting Ian up for murder don’t they?) so Susan and Ian are locked away to be punished during the eclipse, Tlotoxl is hoping to bind Barbara and get rid of her, and The Doctor is creating a pulley device of his own.

It’s in this moment, that Cameca has realised that the Doctor doesn’t really intend to marry her, and this sad subplot makes me feel so much for the Doctor, he clearly has enjoyed her company, smiling at her and comfortable. They have been sat together looking quaint. Even discussing a garden of their own. We all know that the Doctor can’t do that. Even in this early in the life span of the show, we know he needs to go off with the others.

She’s no fool, she tells him she knows he plans to leave, and he confirms them, not unkindly, but not apologetically either but he doesn’t even meet her eye. It is a sad moment to watch and William Hartnell does so well to pull you into the moment.

DOCTOR: There you are, my dear, it’s nearly finished.
CAMECA: As is our time together. I do not know what its purpose is, but I’ve always known it would take you from me.
DOCTOR: Yes. I’m sorry, my dear.
CAMECA: Tomorrow will truly be a day of darkness.
DOCTOR: For both of us.
CAMECA: Tlotoxl is determined to destroy Yetaxa?
DOCTOR: He must do to safeguard his own beliefs.
CAMECA: We are a doomed people, my dear. There’s no turning back for us.
DOCTOR: You’re a very fine woman, Cameca, and you’ll always be very, very dear to me.  

Cameca’s part of the story isn’t over, and has in fact saved them all with her wisdom in all matters and her influence. She, aided by the Doctor before she realised the truth asked Autloc who survived his attack go to see Barbara. Their friendship isn’t quite the same, but still believes that Ian did hit him round the head with the club. Barbara tries to explain to him that there would be no reason why her servant will attack him, but even then, his faith is shaken. Poor Autloc decides that it would be better to disappear into the wilderness and find his own way.

But not before asking Cameca to bribe the guard protecting Ian and Susan so Susan can get away. Though Ian uses the opportunity to knock the guy out so he can also escape.

This also makes for one last time for Cameca and The Doctor to meet, he thanks he for giving him back Susan, but you can see the heartache. The first time we ever see someone ask to be taken with them wherever she is heading and he doesn’t even face her. Truly heartbreaking to watch, and again both William Hartnell and Margot Van der Burgh do it all beautifully before she rushes away.

This leaves the climatic ending of the whole serial now they have the means to escape into the tomb because of the Doctor’s pulley. Ian — dressing in the guard’s head dress is on hand to protect Barbara at the sacrifice of the Perfect Victim when Tlotoxl tries to stab her. Tlotoxl and Tonila move to the side calling for Ixta to fight Ian, which leads to a really wonderful tense final fight between Ixta and Ian, and we know it’s to the death this time.

Ian and Ixta face off for the last time…

It’s not the best fight scene (my favourites are within The Romans) but it does make for a dramatic climax, whilst Barbara Susan and the Doctor get the tomb open. Ian and Ixta’s finally stand is tense and the matte painting to show the rest of the Mexico  really gives depth to the situation when Ian finally uses his feet to throw Ixta down the steps to his death.

Ian finally joins them in the tomb, to get back into the TARDIS, where Barbara removes the jewellery and the headdress of the goddess and place it back from where it once came, on the bones of the high priest she had taken them from before.

BARBARA: We failed.
DOCTOR: Yes, we did. We had to.
BARBARA: What’s the point of travelling through time and space if we can’t change anything? Nothing. Tlotoxl had to win.
DOCTOR: Yes.
BARBARA: And the one man I had respect for, I deceived. Poor Autloc. I gave him false hope and in the end he lost his faith.
DOCTOR: He found another faith, a better, and that’s the good you’ve done. You failed to save a civilisation, but at least you helped one man.

Her heart to heart with the Doctor leads to the realisation that at least Autloc, the man she trusted can now find his own faith and not be restricted to the forced Aztec traditions and it really nice to see how NuWho echoes this in the future. Of course, personally, I think this serial did it better.

Next week it’s time for The Sensorites an adventure though I have already seen before can’t wait to revisit, and personally, one of the best stories to depict Susan so we’ll talk about that next week.

Here’s my fanart for the week. Barbara in her Yetaxa garb, and an extra bonus, I’m adding this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNgxtnBHxRs where you can watch me draw and colour it too!