Doctor Who Write-Ups

Doctor Who – The Sensorites (1964)

The TARDIS’ crew find themselves in what appears to be a moving object. Ian muses that “we are different from when we started out with you.” The Doctor agrees, saying that “it’s turned out to be a great spirited adventure.” Although Barbara notes that nearly every time they leave the TARDIS they get into trouble, the Doctor wants to head out to see where they are. Outside they find they are on a spaceship where seemingly the crew, a woman and a man, has recently died with no visible signs of wounds. Before they can return to the TARDIS, they find the captain of the ship, Maitland, who gives Barbara a device that revives the woman, Carol. Maitland explains that the crew isn’t dead but is in stasis. From conversation with Maitland the Doctor and the others learn that the ship is from Earth and that it’s the 28th century. Carol interrupts to urge them to leave, since they’re all in danger. At the Doctor and Barbara’s prompting, Maitland explains that they’re oribiting a planet called the Sense-Sphere, and its inhabitants, the Sensorites, have some mysterious form of control over the ship as well as the crew’s minds. The Sensorites have trapped the ship in space and placed them in stasis, but will not harm them; in fact, they make sure the crew remains well-nourished. At Maitland’s insistence, the Doctor and the others prepare to leave, discovering to their horror that the Sensorites have removed the TARDIS’ opening mechanism, effectively sealing the TARDIS.

Before they can think about the situation, the ship begins to be pulled toward the Sense-Sphere. The Doctor manages to help pilot the ship to avoid collision and theorizes that the near-crash was an intimidation tactic. While they go to retrieve some water, Susan and Barbara are trapped on part of the ship by the third member of the ship’s crew, the mineralogist John. Carol tells Ian that John was her fiancee and that the Sensorites probed him telepathically far more than either her of Maitland, making him dangerously insane. However, John is comforted by Susan’s resemblance to his sister, but soon collapses, claiming that the Sensorites are trying to force him to frighten them. A group of Sensorites come back to the ship, driving John into hysterics. Meanwhile Susan tells Barbara that they can use their own thoughts through concentration to disrupt the Sensorites’ control of John as Maitland and Ian manage to force the door open and put John to rest.

The Doctor and Ian suppose that John must have discovered some kind of rich material on the Sense-Planet and they attacked to keep it secret. Looking over John’s records, the Doctor realizes that the Sense-Sphere’s surface is rich with molybdenum. When Ian runs into a pair of Sensorites, he sees that they are non-aggressive and as frightened of the humans as they are of them. Barbara, John, and Ian lock various doors on the ship to isolate themselves from the Sensorites, who telepathically contact Susan. Now able to communicate, the crew agrees to let the Sensorites in. They tell the crew that they do in fact fear having their planet exploited for its molybdenum, that humans have hurt their people before, and that they expect them to remain on the Sense-Sphere. The Doctor angrily tells them off but, even then, the Sensorites insist that they do not wish to harm them. The Doctor demands the return of the TARDIS, threatening retaliation unless they relent (“I don’t make threats, but I do keep promises!”) Once the Sensorites leave, the Doctor tells the crew and his companions that he observed that the Sensorites’ eyes are totally unaccustomed to darkness. The Sensorites contact Susan again, and she agrees to accompany them down to the Sense-Sphere to avoid having everyone killed.

Before they can leave, after an argument the Doctor forces Susan to join the others again and shuts down the lights to intimidate the Sensorites into submission. Subdued, the Sensorites explain that once an expedition of humans arrived on the planet, had an intense argument between themselves, and when they left their ship exploded. Since then, Sensorites have been dying from an unknown illness in greater numbers. Ian, Susan, Carol, John, and the Doctor depart for the Sense-Sphere, to help the Sensorites diagnose the cause of the sickness in exchange for the return of the TARDIS’ opening mechanism, the liberation of the ship’s crew, and the treatment of John’s mind. Despite the willingness of the Sensorites’ leader, the First Elder, to work out an understanding with the humans, another leading Sensorite, the “city administrator”, arranges to have them killed with a weapon called the disintegrater, but he is stopped by the First Elder’s second-in-command, the Second Elder, who is impressed by the civility of the visitors. At the talks, the First Elder assures them that they did not intend to drive John insane. During the conference Ian, who drank water provided from the city aqueduct, complains that his throat is burning and passes out. The First Elder tells the others that Ian is showing the same symptoms of the illness striking down his people. The Doctor deduces that water from the aqueduct must be the cause of the “illness”, which is actually a poison. Using the Sensorites’ scientific resources, the Doctor is able to devise an antidote. The administrator is convinced that Ian is only pretending to be ill and the antidote is actually a poison the Doctor plans to administer to the populace and sets out to sabotage the Doctor’s “plans” by abducting the Second Elder and disguising himself as him.

The Doctor investigates the aqueduct, despite one of the Sensorites’ warnings that there are monsters there. Ian, who has been treated with the antidote, takes Susan to follow the Doctor into the aqueduct. They find the Doctor wounded with claw-marks, after being attacked by something he did not see, and claiming that the water had been deliberately poisoned. The Second Elder is killed by an ally of the administrator while trying to escape and stop the administrator from using the disintergrater, giving the administrator the opportunity to try to frame the Doctor for the Second Elder’s death. However, Ian is able to prove that the accusation is false, but the administrator acts quickly to convince the First Elder that the Second Elder had been behind the plan. The First Elder decides to promote the administrator to the vacant position of Second Elder. A little later John, who has recovered his sanity under the Sensorites’ treatments, is able to help Susan, with his memories of his former telepathic impressions, piece together that the former administrator is actually their Sensorite enemy.

Ian and the Doctor set out to the aqueduct with defective weapons and a sabotaged map, courtesy of the new Second Elder, who promptly abducts Carol and forces her to write a letter to John claiming she returned to the spaceship. Since Barbara was on her way down from the ship, Susan and John quickly figure out that Carol had actually been kidnapped. John rescues Carol and the Second Elder’s ally is arrested, eventually leading to the Second Elder’s downfall. Barbara and John go follow the Doctor and Ian into the aqueduct, with Susan guiding them telepathically with the help of the Sensorites’ technology, while the Doctor and Ian discover that the water had been poisoned by the three survivors of the last human expedition to the planet, who have been operating under the commands of their hawkish leader and who were responsible for the explosion that killed their comrades. All of them have gone insane and believe that they’re the spearhead of a human invasion of the entire planet. After being reunited with Barbara and John, they trick the leader into thinking that Earth forces have conquered the Sense-Sphere and hand them over to the Sensorites. Maitland, Carol, and John are allowed to leave to return to Earth. On the TARDIS, Ian blurts out, “At least they know where they’re going!” The Doctor grumbles, “So you think I’m an incompetent old fool, do you? Since you are so dissatisfied, my boy, you can get off the ship and the next place we stop I will take you off myself, and that is quite final.”

Continuity Notes

The Doctor mentions that he once met Henry VIII. Naturally the encounter did not go well. Susan also mentions being on a planet called Esto, where there were plants that transmitted thoughts to each other (like The Green from the DC Universe?).

There’s quite a bit established concerning the Doctor’s ethics, points that have more or less been consistent over the years and the various incarnations. The Doctor says he doesn’t like using weapons “at any time” while he not only expresses opposition to the death penalty even in extreme circumstances, but believes that the banning of capital punishment is a requisite of a truly advanced society.

The Doctor comments that Carol is “only a few years older than Susan”, so apparently Susan is young even by human standards, which could be a handy explanation for Susan’s behavior in previous episodes (for instance, Time Lord children take even longer than human offspring to become mentally and emotionally mature, so in human reckoning Susan is, relatively speaking, more like a ten-year old).

The Sensorites appear again, sort of, as the Ood in the 2005 series. It’s even explicitly spelled out in “Planet of the Ood” that the Ood and the Sensorites are related species and that the Ood’s homeworld, the Ood-Sphere, is astronomically close to the Sense-Sphere.

On top of all that, there’s more established about the Doctor and Susan’s homeworld than in any previous serial, even “An Unearthly Child.” Even though it is explained that the particularities of the Sensorites and the Sense-Sphere have made her far more sensitive telepathically than usual, dialogue does spell out that Susan was born with telepathic senses. Whether or not it’s also implied here that the Doctor, and by extension their entire race, is telepathic too is debatable; certainly the Doctor’s own telepathic capabilities or lack thereof do not play a role in the plot. Still, continuity nerds should take note of the fact that the Doctor doesn’t seem all that surprised that Susan has such abilities and even suggests that when they return home Susan should be trained to develop that power even further, all hinting that telepathy does exist in their species but, like pitch perception, some people are just born with more of it than others. At any rate, it’s been established, especially in the 2005 series, that the Doctor is indeed capable of telepathic feats, and the audience has already learned in “The Edge of Destruction” that the TARDIS can affect its passengers telepathically as well.

Although what would become Gallifrey hasn’t been named yet, Susan does describe her homeplanet as being “a lot like Earth” but “the sky is a burnt orange” and “the leaves on the trees are a bright silver.” Later descriptions and visual representations of Gallifrey have followed up on Susan’s explanation (with the exception of “The Three Doctors”, where a blue sky is seen over a Gallifrey locale). She also says “it’s been ages” since she or the Doctor have seen their planet, which, in regard to the mystery of why the Doctor and Susan, at least suggests that Susan was old enough to have memories of her home (of course, there’s always the counter-argument that Time Lords might able to remember things for life even in infancy. If Vulcans can do it, why not Time Lords?).

Our Future History

By the 24th century all of southern England becomes one giant metropolis called “Central City”, making the name London archaic, and at some point Big Ben ceases to exist for an unexplained reason.

Choice Quotes

(When Barbara asks Maitland what the problem is and offers to help)
“No, no, Barbara. I’ve learned not to meddle in other people’s affairs years ago.”
(Ian laughs)
“Now, now, now, don’t be absurd. There’s not an ounce of curiosity in me, my dear boy.”
(The Doctor repeats Barbara’s question, as Ian and Barbara laugh)

Comments

It’s funny how this episode ended up addressing two points I raised concerning the last episode. For starters, the Doctor proves he hasn’t tempered his bite, brutally shooting down Susan’s one moment of selfless heroism (even if he did have every reason to) and bellowing at the Sensorites, even after he knows that they’re (mostly) benevolent and that they’re sensitive to loud noises. Second, Susan comes across as a more well-balanced, capable character, enough so that it’s tempting to wonder whether or not the showrunners were responding to the audience or to Carol Ann Ford’s complaints. Susan’s status as the inexperienced teenager of the group still comes into play, but in a more satisfactory way that doesn’t leave her looking like a hysterical idiot. In fact, as right as the Doctor may have been in stopping her from completely trusting a pair of then-unknown aliens, Susan turns out to have had a point, and she does get to be the hero of the episode in several respects. It remains to be seen if this better, smarter interpretation of the character sticks around (judging from some reviews of future episodes I glanced over, it does not).

This is the sort of story that will become de rigeur as the series evolves, especially the now familiar “trapped by largely unknown forces” scenario, but, compared to “The Daleks”, it seems quite fresh. This is especially because it breaks with what was already a sci-fi cliche by having the invaders turn out to be humans from Earth, although some of the potential edge is taken off by having the “invaders” turn out to be deluded and insane. Admittedly it does take the “Star Trek” way around exposition by conveniently reducing an entire planet to one government and one society (the Sensorites talk about “the city” with virtually no references to anything else on the planet), yet the Sensorites’ society is actually fleshed out, with more than plot-driving details. It makes sense for a species that has evolved telepathy to be vulnerable to loud noises and to have a culture where trust is universally assumed rather than something to be earned and where there are no birth-names, only titles. In this respect “The Sensorites” has a definite advantage over the better known serial from the same season, “The Daleks.”

It’s also fun that the Doctor and his companions actually comment on the changes in their characterization since the show began. It makes the show’s world seem more organic and maintains the already strong emphasis on character, which helps make even this decades-old serial stand out against the reiterations of the formula seen in other sci-fi franchises and in later episodes.

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Comics, Cultural Trends

Why Did Women Love Lady Death?

Ah, Chaos! Comics (the exclamation point is mandatory), you couldn’t go through the racks of a comic shop in the ’90s without running into them, even though their comics were the most blatant celebration of ultraviolence and big boobs imaginable. Of course, if you’ve been following this blog, you should know that I have a nostalgia for them that, like with many things, pushes the boundaries of ironic. Basically Chaos! is exactly what would happen if your high school Magic the Gathering partners who were death metal fans got their own comics company, and you can’t tell me there isn’t something downright magical about that.  And you don’t get more magical than a character like Lady Death.

The embodiment of writer Brian Pulido’s fetishes and less than orthodox ideas about female empowerment, Lady Death epitomized, if not largely kicked off, the “Bad Girl” craze of the ’90s. A generously endowed woman who slaughtered her enemies and even those who just mildly irritated her, Lady Death was almost designed to be the patron saint of “sex n’ violence.” Her origin story, which had her burned alive by medieval villagers who held her responsible for the crimes of her Satanist father and which saw her eventually lead a coup against Satan himself, didn’t end with her becoming a hero pledged to defend the helpless. Instead, cursed to remain in Hell as long as one person remains alive, she expedited the process herself by setting out to wipe out the human race. When we’re first introduced to her, she’s doing so by seducing a telepathic child abuse victim in his dreams, goading him into becoming a serial killer, and manipulating a high-tech attempt to mentally cure him in order to turn him undead and thus initiate a zombie apocalypse. Really, in her first appearances Lady Death made Doctor Doom look bush league.

At first only appearing as a deus ex apocalypse and a fetish fuel attendant in the Evil Ernie comics, Lady Death ultimately got her own stories and became Chaos!’s most popular flagship character. Her stories tended to be over-the-top dark fantasy, a weird combo of Heavy Metal and vintage Thor comics, especially once it was “revealed” that not only was her father a demonic sorcerer, but through her dead angelic mother she was related to Valkyries. For the most part, she spent time ending up in vaguely defined faux-medieval settings, fighting evil scantily clad women who made her the protagonist by default. Especially in the early days, Lady Death did have a harder edge than most of the “Bad Girl” characters out there, but beyond that there wasn’t all that much that made her stand out from other big-chested, bad-ass female warriors taken right out of somebody’s experimental Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

Despite the (justified) complaints of characters like Lady Death being used just to tantalize an ever shrinking pool of male readers, Lady Death had a sizable female following. According to Mike Sterling of Progressive Ruin fame, “I would say a good half of our regular Lady Death customers during the character’s peak were women.” Back in the ’90s, Gail Simone noted, “At the store I shop at, I’m told Lady Death is very popular with female readers.  It’s a bit scary, but that’s probably a good sign.  Somehow.”

Gail Simone probably wasn’t the only one reticent about the fact.  So, why was Lady Death so popular among women?  Let’s ask an actual woman who reads comics, Lauren Martella:

“I read a fair amount [of Lady Death], I’m sure at least three trades worth- I think one could lump Witchblade and a bunch of Image babes in this category. But Lady Death is a cut above- I think it has to do with the fact that in our age group, many of us were living in a post-Watchman/Frank Miller world were sexuality was present in comics, but often it means a complicated or even subjugated history for women that usually meant they were sexual, but free of real agency. Hookers or rape and whatnot. And then there’s characterizations that basically bench ladies: being a love interest or the dreaded side effect of Claremont writing: crisis of self confidence i.e. whining for five pages about being a superhero instead of punching everything. The latter is perfectly fine in the right doses and in context for both genders, but there’s only so many kick ass ladies to go around.

Lady Death was all boobs killing things. And a goddess. And it was terribly written. It just didn’t give a fuck. It was melodramatic in a guilty pleasure type of way, but violent in a fashion that I don’t think we quite appreciate women really enjoying. Sometimes a lady wants to imagine she has Triple D Boobs, can pull off a string bikini and a broadsword and will kill everybody who stands in her way. In an odd way I think it relates to porn enjoyment: they say women prefer erotica and men prefer visual (porn films/images of whatever you like naked, you know the deal). I think it bears out – I’ve talked to dudes who outright dismiss erotica as having as much of an effect as straight up porn, but that dismisses another level beyond the visual that is stimulative to the experience. In relation to Lady Death: you can look at the book and think this is a crap comic with a chick in possession of huge bazongas killing stuff, but it misses levels of enjoyment that women are capable of extracting from them and the power of escapism even in forms so tacky.”

Lauren sums it up nicely, especially by pointing out that Lady Death’s character arcs don’t revolve around a guy. Changing times really have toughened up characters like Lois Lane and Sue Storm, but no matter how independent writers depict them as they still can’t quite shake the fact that they were created (and continue to be used) as foils and romantic interests for male characters. While Lady Death does have a romance with super-zombie Evil Ernie (who, I’m sure coincidentally, resembles Brian Pulido), she definitely does have her own adventures, her own cast, and her own corner of her fictional universe.

It’s also useful to compare Lady Death to another female pop culture icon from the ’90s, Xena the Warrior Princess. Although just the title “Lady Death” does have more cache than “Warrior Princess,” they’re both prime examples of female characters who are sexual but are also assertive and powerful in multiple ways. In other words, being sexual in a feminine way doesn’t contradict being able to kick ass. This is something that’s more rare, particularly in comics, than you might think; look at Wonder Woman and the various (arguably unsuccessful) attempts to make romance and sex more of a part of her character. It’s not a perfect parallel; let’s just say that compared to Xena Lady Death’s sexuality is, um, overstated. But still it is refreshing to have a violent and domineering female character whose sexuality isn’t muted or whose traditionally “feminine” qualities aren’t set up to balance out her cynicism or capacity for mayhem. At the very least, Lady Death helpfully reminds us that it’s not helpful or wise to tell entire groups what they should or shouldn’t be offended by.

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Doctor Who Write-Ups

Doctor Who – The Keys of Marinus (1964)


 

Synopsis

The TARDIS lands on an island with a strange tower in the middle. Stranger still the beaches are filled with glass and the ocean waters are dangerously acidic. Susan follows a set of footprints to the tower, where someone, wearing a strange wetsuit designed to allow it to swim through the acid, grabs her before dying. She, the Doctor, and Barbara are all trapped in a room by a man wearing a monk’s robes.

Meanwhile Ian comes across the same man being attacked by another person wearing a suit like the one Susan encountered. After Ian pushes the attacker into a pit that leads into the ocean, the grateful man explains that he thought Ian and his companions were invaders and that the one Ian fought is a Voord, a group of people who continuously try to take over the tower. After releasing the others, the man, named Arbitan, explains that they are on the planet Marinus, where 2,000 years ago a team of scientists built a computer called the Conscience, which was designed to serve as a judge but eventually became powerful enough to eliminate all immoral and criminal thoughts from the minds of Marinus’ inhabitants. Eventually someone named Yartek and his followers, the Voords, found a way to overcome the Conscience. To prevent Yartek from reprogramming the Conscience without destroying it, the Conscience was shut down with five keys designed to reactivate it. One was placed in Arbitan’s keeping, while the others were hidden across the planet. Recently Arbitan had completed improvements on the Conscience, making it able to overwhelm even the Voords, but all of his assistants and even his own daughter, after setting out to retrieve the keys, have failed to return. Arbitan tells the Doctor and the others that they must find the keys for him since no one else is left. The others refuse and try to leave, but find that the TARDIS is stuck behind a force field. Arbitan explains that he’ll only release the TARDIS if they search for and find the keys. At least he provides a map to the keys’ presumed locations and devices that will allow them to teleport anywhere on Marinus.

As soon as they leave, Arbitan is ambushed and killed by a Voord. Barbara, Ian, the Doctor, and Susan end up in a city where everyone seems to be living a luxurious lifestyle and eager to fulfill the travelers’ wishes. A man named Altos explains that the philosophy of the citizens of the city, which is called Morphoton, is to insure that everyone has a life of peace and plenty. After Barbara wakes up in the middle of the night and removes a disc that had been placed on her forehead, her surroundings, once beautiful, suddenly look squalid. That morning a dress given to Susan by the Morphotonians looks like rags and a cup of juice appears to Barbara as a dirty mug filled with tepid water. When Altos tries to have Barbara taken away to “the physicians”, she runs away and comes across Arbitan’s daughter, Sabetha, who has one of the keys but has become a brainwashed slave to the masters of the city, several disembodied brains. Barbara tries to convince Ian of what she’s seen, but finds it’s too late and that he’s been completely brainwashed. Ian takes Barbara to the brains, who inform Barbara that they use brainwashed people as a work force but, since she’s seen “the truth”, she has to be murdered. Barbara breaks free from Ian’s grip and smashes the brains’ life support equipment, killing them and breaking the city-wide mind control. Along with Sabetha and Altos, who turns out to be another of Arbitan’s lost assistants, they decide to split up to find the remaining keys.

Susan, Barbara, and Ian wind up in a jungle, where Susan claims to have heard loud screaming from the jungle itself. While exploring a temple in the jungle, Barbara becomes stuck behind a trap wall just after she retrieves a key, which turns out to be a fake. Unsure if Barbara escaped using the travel device, Altos, Sabetha, and Susan decide to go on ahead while Ian goes to search the temple to see if Barbara stayed behind. He finds Barbara, but the two become separated and Barbara is nearly killed in a trap. She is saved only by a suspicious old man, who admits that he set the trap. The travel device convinces him that the pair were sent by Arbitan, although the man, who is dying, warns them to beware the jungle and gives them a cryptic clue before he dies. While looking for more clues about the real key’s location, Ian finds a diary where the old man wrote about his scientific experiments, in which he accidentally accelerated the jungle’s natural erosion of the temple. Just before the jungle is about to finally claim the temple, Barbara and Ian find that the old man’s clue was a chemical formula, and discover the key hidden inside a flask in his laboratory.

When they teleport again Barbara and Ian find themselves on a mountain in the middle of a blizzard, where they are rescued from exposure by a fur trapper. Ian braves the weather to go to the nearby village, where the trapper claims to have seen Altos. Alone Barbara quickly discovers that the trapper stole the keys from Sabetha and Susan, leaving them in a cave in the mountains, and left Altos outside to be killed by the cold and wolves. Barbara defends herself against the trapper long enough for Ian and Altos to arrive and force the trapper to show them where the cave is. The three go deep in the cave to find Sabetha and Susan, who have in the meantime gotten lost trying to find an exit, despite the trapper’s frantic protests that demons live in the cave. Although they find Sabetha and Susan across a chasm, the trapper destroys the one bridge across before he flees. The party finds one of the keys inside a solid block of ice, guarded by four immobile knights, which can be melted using a valve connecting to a volcanic spring. Once the ice melts and they take the key, the knights come alive and attack. Ian blocks the knights’ progress with a boulder of ice, long enough for everyone to escape across the chasm with the help of a makeshift bridge made from logs. Stopping by the trapper’s cabin for the other keys, Ian and the others teleport away as the trapper is killed by the knights.

Ian next finds himself in a vault in the city of Millenius containing the key, where someone knocks him out with a mace. Upon awaking Ian finds himself accused by a self-described “Guardian” named Tarron of breaking into the vault, stealing the key, and killing a man withthe same weapon used to knock out Ian. Tarron warns Ian that under Millenius’ legal system the burden of proof is entirely on him. In Ian’s cell, the Doctor and all the companions are united and are horrified to find that Ian is not only accused of murder but faces execution. The Doctor volunteers to act as Ian’s defense, with a man named Vasor as the prosecutor and only two days to gather evidence.

Once the initial hearing is over, the Doctor explains that he met another assistant of Arbitan, Epram, and that they had a plan to get the key, but Epram was murdered by the same person who took the key. Using one of the other keys, the Doctor and Sabetha trick Epram’s killer, one of the vault guards, into confessing his crime before the court tribunal, but before he can talk about who he was working for he’s suddenly killed. As the tribunal concludes that the guard’s accomplice must have been Ian, the real culprit has kidnapped Susan and threatens to kill her if they reveal what they know about the key’s location. Barbara figures out that the guard’s wife, Kala, is holding Susan and she and the

However, the Doctor is able to set a trap for the real killer, Vasor, who breaks into the evidence locker to retrieve the key, which the Doctor deduced had been hidden inside the mace the entire time. Everyone leaves after the city council agrees to allow the key to be brought back to Arbitan.

Back at the tower, Yartek has taken control, subdued Altos and Sabetha, and has stolen all the keys except the last one from Millennius, which is in Ian’s possession. Yartek, disguised (poorly) as Arbitan, talks to Ian and Susan and convinces them to hand over the last key. After the Doctor frees Sabetha and Altos, Ian reveals he suspected Yartek all along and gave him the fake key from the jungle. Yartek, planning to enslave the planet using the Conscience, puts in the fake key, which causes the Conscience to explode and kill him. Before they depart on the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Sabetha to find another way to continue her father’s work, since “mankind wasn’t meant to be controlled by machines.”

Continuity Notes

Another reference to previous adventures by the Doctor: he says he met Pyrrho, the founder of Skepticism who lived in Greece in the fourth century BC. Sign of the Times Barbara points out that the Doctor doesn’t have color television in the TARDIS (well, he says he does, but just doesn’t have it available at the moment), which would have been true for most of the audience as well. Although the technology existed in the 1950s, color televisions didn’t become affordable for a majority of people until about the end of the 1960s.

Comments

My compatriot in obsessing over classic, genre-defining sci-fi shows, Zack Handlen, has pointed several times in his write-ups of “Star Trek” that there are few things Captain Kirk seems to love more than coming across utopian societies and screwing them up. The same can arguably be said of the Doctor and his companions, as they cause the total destruction of a super-computer that literally prevents crimes from occurring, pull a Neo and drag an entire city from a mass hallucination of paradise into urban squalor, and challenge (more or less) the legal foundations of an entire society where murder is a rare occurrence, all in one trip.

This serial has a bad reputation among hardcore fans, and it’s easy to tell why: the scripts were written under the knife to quickly replace an abruptly canceled production, “The Hidden Planet” (which had ideas that were cannibalized by later serials “The Tenth Planet” and “Galaxy 4”), and it shows. Poor William Hartnell has plenty of line flubs, especially in the first episode; the dialogue is shallow and often noticeably expository; and even the episode’s history lessons, where Ian and Barbara suddenly comment on how the tower has architectural similarities to building techniques used by various Earth societies in the past, are utterly out-of-the-blue. Also the series doesn’t really take full advantage of its own premise. Especially compared to “Daleks”, where the anti-fascist and anti-racist moral was subtle yet clear, the script only barely hints at its own possible critique of authoritarianism, and Yartek, who would have been much more interesting if it had turned out he and the Voords were rebelling against the very idea of the Conscience, just turns out to be yet another vaguely defined would-be world conqueror.

The most distracting flaw is probably the giant plot hole that nearly crashes the whole story toward the end; if Marinus has been a society without crime thanks to the Conscience, then how and why did Millenius develop such a Legalist justice system? If it’s because the Conscience has been out of commission for centuries, as Arbitan’s dialogue implies, then how is Yartek still alive? And if Marinan science has found a way to extend someone’s lifespan for more than a couple of centuries, then wouldn’t that mean the Voords have been trying (and failing) to take the tower in all that time? And don’t get me started on how the whole thing about the jungle really doesn’t make all that much sense either. The “Okay so I totally typed it all up at 2 a.m. running on doughnuts and coffee” feel to the whole affair aside, it actually isn’t that bad, and I’m not just claiming that to be a contrarian (well, maybe). Even if it was forced upon by the scriptwriter’s circumstances, the “each episode as its own adventure” set-up is a good change of pace, even if it does create an uneven level of quality for the serial. The murder mystery is very straightforward, largely because of the kiddie pool of possible suspects, but the Doctor as a lawyer standing up to an authoritarian court system works, as does seeing Barbara in the spotlight.

Speaking of which, even in our allegedly feminist era, it really is refreshing to see a show where a central female character does anything but go into Damsel Mode. Not only does Barbara hold her own against a man three times her size, but she also single-handedly takes out an entire evil brain-run regime with brute force. Unfortunately, Barbara is almost balanced out by Susan, who spends an awful lot of time cowering and screaming. I know Susan is supposed to be the audience identification figure, and I think the majority of people out there, let alone adolescents and teenagers, would be at least a tad distressed by being chased by zombie knights in a cavern. Yet, given how many horrific situations the Doctor just puts the people he meets and travels with through, you would think growing up with the Doctor would cause one to experience enough life-threatening situations and near-fates-worse-than-death that one would be able to face dangers that would make Navy SEALs wet themselves without losing a smile. While sort of still on the subject of Barbara and Ian, it was difficult not to notice, since most of the episodes in this serial really centered on them and their interactions, how outright asexual they are. I guess it’s just coming from the vantage point of a place where entertainment laws dictate that whenever two people of the opposite sex are thrown together there must be romantic tension between them (and yes, I admit I tried to think of various ways to “subtly” mention Rose from the 2005 series here, but this review has gone on far enough). Well, at least tie-in writers have respected that romance is not inevitable for a straight woman and a straight man who have spent a great deal of time together. Oh, wait…

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Adventures in Revisionism

Adventures in Revisionism: The Legend of Ganondorf

Even as a child, Ganondorf deeply despised the faith he had been born into. Called the Word of the Three Goddesses, it was the only religion ever known in the entire isolated and backward country of Hyrule. To question it was not only forbidden, it was unthinkable.

However, there was something wrong – or perhaps right – with Ganondorf. He and seemingly he alone recognized how the scriptures flagrantly justified the strong, those like Hyrule’s rapacious merchant class and the sages whose whims had more weight than even the commands of the monarch, and endlessly punished the weak, particularly his own clan of thieves and nomads, who for  reasons completely forgotten were sentenced to eke out a hellish and starving existence on the aptly named “Death Mountain.” Now Ganondorf was no atheist, because no one could deny that the Goddesses were real. The fairies who infested Hyrule’s springs and caves, maliciously passing curses down on anyone who dared to criticize the Goddesses’ will and bringing blessings to their few favored ones, were evidence enough of that. But were the Goddesses truly, fully divine and, if not, was deicide possible? He had gathered hints – in a children’s rhyme here, in a barely comprehensible prophecy there – that the Goddesses were not truly omnipotent in of themselves and that the secret behind their power was an artifact called the Triforce. With the Triforce, someone, even a despised nomad, could reshape the entire world with just some concentration and a thought and cast down divinity…

After years of self-preparation and struggle, Ganondorf and his friends and sympathizers, to their own astonishment, actually found that the Triforce was quite real. Unfortunately, he had underestimated even the Goddesses. With great power comes great boredom, and over the tedious centuries the Goddesses had decided between themselves, even if it meant jeopardizing their own existences, to set up an elaborate snare for the first worthy enemy to appear. The second he placed his hands on the Triforce, he realized that it had been boobytrapped. Simply touching it not only left Ganondorf his allies, and the entire parallel world the Goddesses had made just to house the Triforce grotesquely deformed, but it also created two new souls out of the ether: an instinctively skilled warrior named Link, who despite his power appeared in the form of an impish child because it amused the Goddesses to milk every little drop of enjoyment out of the heretic’s humiliation, and Zelda, a young woman made in the Goddesses’ own image who has the secret of how to use the Triforce to destroy them locked deep in her subconscious.  The Goddesses thrilled at the possibility of their own demise, for the first time in their ancient existences.

It was only after Link had seemingly killed him and released Zelda before Ganondorf could begin to understand the Triforce enough to use it against the Goddesses.  And it was then that Ganondorf, in the dark purgatory his spirit had been condemned to, grasped the full divine madness of the Goddesses’ plan. Every era or so, he, Link, and Zelda would be reborn. The circumstances may be different, Hyrule itself may be different, but the challenge from the Goddesses was always the same: try to learn how to use the Triforce to kill us before our champion, armed with special weapons and spells we have scattered across Hyrule even in your strongholds, kills you. The only thing that saves Ganondorf from becoming as insane as the Goddesses themselves is one little thought: this time it might be different, it just might be different.

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Doctor Who Write-Ups

Doctor Who – Marco Polo (1964)

“Marco Polo” is the first of the many “Doctor Who” serials (and the only one of the first season) to be hobbled by missing episodes, lost when the BBC purged their archives to make room. In fact, not a single frame of any of the seven episodes of “Marco Polo” survive, although fans have reconstructed the episodes using telesnaps (off-screen photographs of broadcasts), the scripts, and most importantly the soundtracks. Even with clever editing and a complete recording of the actors’ dialogue, it’s still miles away from having the original episodes, but I’ve decided that, for the lost serials, if I can get a good fan reconstruction, I’ll do a write-up. If not, in the future I may just link to a summary somewhere and move on to the next complete serial.

Synopsis

Susan, Ian, and Barbara examine a giant footprint in the snow. The Doctor knows he’s on Earth and on a mountain high above sea level, but nothing else. An agitated Doctor tells his companions that a circuit in the TARDIS has burnt out, making them unable to travel and depriving them of heat and water. Ian and Barbara volunteer to look for fuel for heating while the Doctor raves about how they’ll all die from the cold. On their way down Barbara sees something, but isn’t sure what it was, and Ian discovers footprints caused by a boot. The party is found by a man named Tegana and a group of Mongolian soldiers, who are convinced that the Doctor and his companions are evil spirits disguised as humans. A man of European ancestry appears and orders the soldiers to stop menacing the Doctor and the others “in the name of Kublai Khan.” The man notices that the Doctor is becoming sick and volunteers to take them to the nearest town for food and shelter.

Barbara reasons that their host is Marco Polo, who tells them that he’s traveling with a young aristocrat from Samarkand, Lady Ping Cho, and Tegana to “Cathay” (China). The Doctor gets out of Marco Polo that it’s 1289 and that they’re on the Plain of Pamir, the “Roof of the World.” That night Ping Cho introduces herself to Susan, who learns that Ping Cho is traveling to meet her arranged husband for the first time. Tegana, who had witnessed the four leave the TARDIS despite the box not being big enough for all of them, is still convinced that they are disguised spirits. The next day Polo queries Ian about the TARDIS and he has to admit that the TARDIS travels “through the air.” This confirms Tegana’s suspicions, but Polo assumes that the TARDIS moves via the sort of benevolent magic he claims to have seen practiced among Buddhist monks. The Doctor learns from Ping Cho that Tegana is an emissary sent to Kublai Khan from a Mongolian chieftain. Polo offers to take the TARDIS with his caravan to Lop, but warns the Doctor not to enter the TARDIS or the Mongolians might be excited to violence.

Disregarding the warning, at Lop the Doctor nonetheless finds that Polo has barred the TARDIS’ doors and confiscated the Doctor’s key. Angrily he confronts Polo, who explains that Kublai Khan is refusing to allow him and his uncle to leave the imperial court and so he is planning to give the TARDIS to Kublai Khan as a gift in order to grease the wheels. Polo is unsympathetic to the Doctor’s pleas, believing that the Doctor can just make another TARDIS or return to his home by ship while Buddhist priests will be able to unlock the TARDIS’ secrets, but he is at least willing to take the Doctor and the others all the way with him to Kublai Khan’s court. The Doctor is reduced to a fit of laughing and crying. Meanwhile Tegana schemes in secret to have Marco Polo assassinated, steal the TARDIS, and use it as a weapon against Kublai Khan. There are other problems, however, as the travelers cross the Gobi Desert, facing a sandstorm, the loss of supplies, the threat of bandits, and a lack of water. Still, they reach the city of Dunhuang unscathed, where the Doctor completes a substitute key he was working on while feigning illness. Barbara, suspicious of Tegana, follows him into a hidden chamber in the “Cave of Five Hundred Eyes”, where he is meeting with his co-conspirators, but only succeeds in getting captured by Tegana’s accomplices. The others converge on the Cave to find Barbara just in time to save her from her abductors, who were busy playing dice to determine who’d have the honor of killing her. Tegana shifts tactics and warns Polo that the Doctor and his companions are trying to turn Polo and Tegana against each other in order to get the TARDIS back, a warning confirmed when Barbara tells Polo she had seen Tegana sneaking into the Cave.

In the meantime, the Doctor has been sneaking into the TARDIS at night with his key to repair the circuit. At a town the caravan has stopped in, Tegana sets a date for the butchering of the travelers. One night, while the Doctor goes inside the TARDIS to fix the circuit, Tegana sees him and warns Polo, who has the substitute key taken from the Doctor. However, the Doctor tells him that using the key incorrectly will cause the TARDIS to be destroyed, and of course he’ll never willingly tell him how to use the key. As an infuriated Polo calls for guards to take the Doctor and his crew into captivity, the Doctor sneers, “You poor, pathetic, stupid savage!” The crew plan to escape, but find their work done for them, with their guard murdered by Tegana’s allies. Polo’s men are able to hold their own, but Tegana still manages to avoid being exposed, although the Doctor and the others have enough proof to easily confirm among themselves that Tegana was behind the attack. Under instructions sent from Kublai Khan, Polo orders the caravan to hurry on to Zhengding, where the imperial court is staying. Ping Cho takes the keys to the TARDIS from Polo’s hiding place and gives them to Susan. Before the others can take the chance to leave, ultimately Polo once again catches them.

As a last ditch attempt, Ian tries to explain to Polo that they’re time travelers, but Polo is incredulous. Soon he and Ian learn that Ping Cho, now disgusted at the prospect of marriage to a man old enough to be her grandfather, has fled, and Ian volunteers to go find her while the others hurry on to the imperial court. Ian finds Ping Cho, but also discovers that the TARDIS has been stolen and taken to Karakorum, the former Mongolian capital. At the court, the Doctor causes a protocol crisis by refusing to kowtow to the emperor. Eventually he relents, but finds he cannot bend his back enough. Kublai Khan is furious at first, but softens up when he finds that the Doctor suffers from old age the same way he does. Elsewhere Ian and Ping Cho find that Tegana had taken the TARDIS, but before Tegana can have them killed they are found by Kublai Khan’s agents and taken to Peking, where the court has relocated. The Doctor engages in a series of bets over backgammon with Kublai Khan and plays for the TARDIS in the last game, but loses. Later Ping Cho’s husband dies from drinking a potion meant to improve sexual potency, which gives her a chance to win Kublai Khan’s confidence. The Doctor and the others figure out that Tegana must be planning to assassinate Kublai Khan. They warn Polo in time for him to thwart Tegana and disarm him. Before he can be captured Tegana impales himself on a sword; while the court is distracted by the suicide, Polo hands the Doctor the keys to the TARDIS and they escape. After the TARDIS vanishes, Kublai Khan forgives Polo for his betrayal, saying that he would have let the Doctor win the TARDIS back in backgammon anyway. When Kublai Khan says that the TARDIS vanishing would make for good reading in Polo’s travelogue, Polo hints that because such details are too incredible to be believed, he might just leave them out.

Continuity Notes

This is the first of the “historical episodes”, where the Doctor and his companions not only travel to a historic time period but the elements of time travel and the Doctor being an alien are the only sci-fi elements present. Sadly, especially for a history buff and Whovian like me, this trend didn’t last long. With the exception of the 1982 serial “Black Orchid”, the 90-percent-historical episodes ended, to date, with 1967’s “The Highlanders”, although the format did crop up again in several “Doctor Who” novels and the Big Finish audio productions. Afterward the series would imply that the Doctor’s jaunts into history that did not involve him running into aliens, ancient evils, or whathaveyou all take place off-screen, which has so far been true for the 2005 series as well.

Susan says, “I’ve had many homes in many places,” which does strongly imply that she’s been in exile with the Doctor since early childhood, if not infancy.

Marco Polo refers to “the Doctor and his companions.” Is it the origin of the term? I’m not sure, but it’s likely enough.

Comments

In spite of being only one of three “Doctor Who” serials where (as far as we know) not one frame survives, from what I can tell “Marco Polo” has a lofty reputation among diehard Whovians. One might think it’s a case of the episode being trapped forever in a sort of television limbo, but it actually is a very strong episode, perhaps one of the strongest from the show’s earliest years.

Like “Daleks” before it, the episodes are all tightly plotted (again, my lengthy synopsis left quite a bit of ground uncovered), but unlike “Daleks” it manages to avoid feeling padded by daftly packing in various events and twists and by fully exploiting the premise, which allows each episode to take place in a different locale with a different set of circumstances. The showrunners certainly can’t be accused of failing to take advantage of the historical milieu, and, just viewing the telesnaps, the limitations in the reconstruction are most frustrating when it comes to what little we see of the set designs, which were by necessity economical but still quite striking.

Again, it’s amazing how much emphasis was put on characterization for what was a children’s program. The Doctor and Kublai Khan’s cantankerous and then friendly interactions with each other are an unquestionable highlight, played for comic relief but also providing an in-depth look at a major historical figure, as are Barbara’s brief but important skirmishes with medieval chauvinism. However, a couple of the characters do have a habit of changing their tunes when it’s convenient for the overall plot; Marco Polo’s heroic qualities seem to triumph over his opportunistic qualities at convenient times, while, as in “Daleks”, Susan tends to act much more like an average teenage girl than a seasoned time-and-space traveler, such as when she seems shocked at the idea that Ping Cho has been committed to an arranged marriage.

For all that, it’s a shame that the serial has only survived in piecemeal form, but it still stands as court-worthy proof that the Doctor doesn’t need to run into alien invaders to have interesting adventures in the past.

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Knock-Offs

Ninja Turtles Rip-Offs, Case Study #2: Street Sharks

I really do believe that Biker Mice From Mars was one of the better action cartoons to come out of Saturday mornings in the ’90s, but one of the things that worked in its favor is that most of the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired cartoons were total crap. And that brings us to the totally jawsome Street Sharks…


I know it’s not much of an original criticism to say that a cartoon for kids looks like it was written according to a bunch of middle-age peoples’ perceptions of what “the kids are into these days,” but damn, Street Sharks takes it to a Mad Libs level. The heroes are guys with parachutes and rollerblades who were turned into sharks and they like to eat burgers. Their best friend and ally is a surfer and inventor who owns a comic book shop. Really, the only character I found at all interesting was of course the villain, Dr. Paradigm, who I presume was named as the most unexpected reference to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ever. Admittedly he’s the standard mad scientist seeking to turn human beings into gods, but I love the fact that he’s just a standard university faculty member who happens to be able to afford a high-security mad scientist lab with large aquatic mammals kept in fancy tubes. And he has grad students! We only know this because one of them, an African-American female research assistant named Twofer…er, Lena, ends up helping the heroes, but still I couldn’t help but imagine the whacky hijinks the grad students of the mad scientist who makes Dr. Frank Forrester look respectable would get into. Give us that show!

Instead we just end up with four x-treme athletic guys with about as much personality as real-life frat boys (I’d do the thirty seconds of research it would take to remember their names, but…does anyone really care?). Well, one does “do machines” and another leads, which sounds kind of familiar. Anyway, all that matters to the plot is that they’re all sons of Dr. Bolton, a “geneslammer,” which sounds less like a term for a scientist and more like a fantastic drink. Showing poor judgment about the stability of the sinister scientist with a metal eye patch named “Doctor Paradigm,” Burton confronts him in his ridiculously expansive and expensive-looking barracks/lab and gets mutated into some kind of hideous monster (we only see him in silhouette) for his trouble. Showing that Dr. Bolton isn’t the only one who’s book smart but not street smart, Dr. Paradigm stands aside while Bolton-monster smashes through a wall and then decides to pick up and start wearing his watch, just before he also decides to use Bolton’s personality-free sons as lab rats, because…uh, well, somebody has to make the plot go.

The Boltons deploy amazing detective powers by deducing that Dr. Paradigm had something to do with their father’s disappearance because he was wearing their dad’s watch.  It’s too late, though;  Dr. Paradigm, who of course has been allotted the traditional two dumb burly mutant goons, has the boys injected with various chemicals, but is disappointed when nothing happens except they pass out. Again being too dense by the standards of any self-respecting mad scientist, Paradigm has them dumped in a storm drain somewhere without even checking to see if they’re dead. To be fair, if Dr. Paradigm had shown basic villain competency, then we wouldn’t have had the classic Street Sharks transformation scene, where the guys go eat some hot dogs after regaining consciousness, which is totally normal behavior after a family member goes missing and you’re abducted and drugged by an insane bio professor. Then, as soon as they turn into sharks, they right away eat the hot dog stand. To the untrained eye this might seem unscientific, but sharks are well-known for their hunger for wood and metal. Somewhat less accurate is the Street Sharks’ ability to teleport anywhere by swimming through pavement.

Now that you’ve got the set-up, the rest of the pilot goes as you might expect – the good guys decide to become superheroes, suffer a few set-backs, the villain becomes part piranha (but only when he’s mad!) and gets defeated – but it’s even more anti-climatic than that. Besides their power of eating and digesting plastic and metal without (apparently) getting the runs, the Street Sharks are just ridiculously strong, so they’re never in danger except for one point where they surrender to the cops and the military (and then the next episode after they escape they have no qualms with smashing tanks with their drivers still inside). I know Saturday morning cartoons, even action ones, aren’t big on tension and the like, but when your have heroes who can uppercut a tank and push over a roller coaster with their bare hands, stuff even the villains’ thugs can’t do, there’s really no point in ever wondering, “How are they gonna get out of this one?” Add to that bad animation and bland characters, and you’ve got a Saturday morning relic that’s only memorable for how forgettable it is.

However, I am grateful that the show does support my “’90s cartoons created furrydom” theory. Not only are the Street Sharks all buff and shirtless, but there’s also a delightful scene where Dr. Paradigm, who has one of the Sharks good and unconscious, marvels at the size of his chest!

I know, I know, it fits in with Dr. Paradigm’s motive of creating a new evolved humanoid species, but it really does add a pretty disturbing subtext to his actions.  Dr. Paradigm was the first furry mad scientist!   In a way, he was the more successful predecessor of Dr. Heiter.

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Knock-Offs

Ninja Turtles Rip-Offs, Case Study #2: Street Sharks

I really do believe that Biker Mice From Mars was one of the better action cartoons to come out of Saturday mornings in the ’90s, but one of the things that worked in its favor is that most of the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired cartoons were total crap. And that brings us to the totally jawsome Street Sharks…


I know it’s not much of an original criticism to say that a cartoon for kids looks like it was written according to a bunch of middle-age peoples’ perceptions of what “the kids are into these days,” but damn, Street Sharks takes it to a Mad Libs level. The heroes are guys with parachutes and rollerblades who were turned into sharks and they like to eat burgers. Their best friend and ally is a surfer and inventor who owns a comic book shop. Really, the only character I found at all interesting was of course the villain, Dr. Paradigm, who I presume was named as the most unexpected reference to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ever. Admittedly he’s the standard mad scientist seeking to turn human beings into gods, but I love the fact that he’s just a standard university faculty member who happens to be able to afford a high-security mad scientist lab with large aquatic mammals kept in fancy tubes. And he has grad students! We only know this because one of them, an African-American female research assistant named Twofer…er, Lena, ends up helping the heroes, but still I couldn’t help but imagine the whacky hijinks the grad students of the mad scientist who makes Dr. Frank Forrester look respectable would get into. Give us that show!

Instead we just end up with four x-treme athletic guys with about as much personality as real-life frat boys (I’d do the thirty seconds of research it would take to remember their names, but…does anyone really care?). Well, one does “do machines” and another leads, which sounds kind of familiar. Anyway, all that matters to the plot is that they’re all sons of Dr. Bolton, a “geneslammer,” which sounds less like a term for a scientist and more like a fantastic drink. Showing poor judgment about the stability of the sinister scientist with a metal eye patch named “Doctor Paradigm,” Burton confronts him in his ridiculously expansive and expensive-looking barracks/lab and gets mutated into some kind of hideous monster (we only see him in silhouette) for his trouble. Showing that Dr. Bolton isn’t the only one who’s book smart but not street smart, Dr. Paradigm stands aside while Bolton-monster smashes through a wall and then decides to pick up and start wearing his watch, just before he also decides to use Bolton’s personality-free sons as lab rats, because…uh, well, somebody has to make the plot go.

The Boltons deploy amazing detective powers by deducing that Dr. Paradigm had something to do with their father’s disappearance because he was wearing their dad’s watch.  It’s too late, though;  Dr. Paradigm, who of course has been allotted the traditional two dumb burly mutant goons, has the boys injected with various chemicals, but is disappointed when nothing happens except they pass out. Again being too dense by the standards of any self-respecting mad scientist, Paradigm has them dumped in a storm drain somewhere without even checking to see if they’re dead. To be fair, if Dr. Paradigm had shown basic villain competency, then we wouldn’t have had the classic Street Sharks transformation scene, where the guys go eat some hot dogs after regaining consciousness, which is totally normal behavior after a family member goes missing and you’re abducted and drugged by an insane bio professor. Then, as soon as they turn into sharks, they right away eat the hot dog stand. To the untrained eye this might seem unscientific, but sharks are well-known for their hunger for wood and metal. Somewhat less accurate is the Street Sharks’ ability to teleport anywhere by swimming through pavement.

Now that you’ve got the set-up, the rest of the pilot goes as you might expect – the good guys decide to become superheroes, suffer a few set-backs, the villain becomes part piranha (but only when he’s mad!) and gets defeated – but it’s even more anti-climatic than that. Besides their power of eating and digesting plastic and metal without (apparently) getting the runs, the Street Sharks are just ridiculously strong, so they’re never in danger except for one point where they surrender to the cops and the military (and then the next episode after they escape they have no qualms with smashing tanks with their drivers still inside). I know Saturday morning cartoons, even action ones, aren’t big on tension and the like, but when your have heroes who can uppercut a tank and push over a roller coaster with their bare hands, stuff even the villains’ thugs can’t do, there’s really no point in ever wondering, “How are they gonna get out of this one?” Add to that bad animation and bland characters, and you’ve got a Saturday morning relic that’s only memorable for how forgettable it is.

However, I am grateful that the show does support my “’90s cartoons created furrydom” theory. Not only are the Street Sharks all buff and shirtless, but there’s also a delightful scene where Dr. Paradigm, who has one of the Sharks good and unconscious, marvels at the size of his chest!

I know, I know, it fits in with Dr. Paradigm’s motive of creating a new evolved humanoid species, but it really does add a pretty disturbing subtext to his actions.  Dr. Paradigm was the first furry mad scientist!   In a way, he was the more successful predecessor of Dr. Heiter.

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