Whale of a Tale Productions

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Che Part 1: El Argentino by Steven Soderbergh (2008)

I am a huge Benicio del Toro fan, and have been wanting to see this since it came out, but it does not even come out on DVD until next year, but with the new Criterion streaming deal with Netflix I was finally able to watch this first of 2 films in HD and was absolutely blown away. Not only is this well directed, with an engaging, and true story with a fantastic performance by Benicio del Toro, but this film looks amazing, and it was one of the first films shot on RED cameras, and this part was even shot anamorphic with RED, and looked fantastic! In fact for all the complaining I hear about RED, it is films like this and District 9 that really show me just how good it is, and make me wish the damn Scarlet would come out, so people in a smaller budget can get their hands on it! This is the up film of the pair, this covering the Cuban Revolution, and it really does recreate the mood of the time, and a look into this world, and what happened. This is an absolute must see, and I am sure Criterion will be do an exemplary blu-ray of this film, and I look forward to the special features.

The film is intercut between 1964 and starting in 1955 at a gathering in Mexico City where the Cuban Revolution really began, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Benicio del Toro) first met Fidel Castro (Demian Bichir). In 1964 we have Che being interviewed by Lisa Howard (Julia Ormond), which is intercut through the film, as well as Che’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly about the Imperialism of the United States in South and Central America. In 1955 Che, Castro and around 80 others head to Cuba via boat, and start the armed revolution in Cuba. It is not easy for Che, who has asthma. At first he is not trusted by many because he is an Argentine, and not Cuban, and even Castro ends up demoting from him division, and putting him in charge of the wounded, but it is there that he learns to truly be a soldier.

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Sherlock Holmes by Guy Ritchie (2009)

This Sherlock Holmes reboot was a strange choice for a Christmas Day release, because it is nothing more than a summer blockbuster. A pretty fun one, but not amazing, and certainly not worthy of it’s Oscar release date. Still having Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes as perfect, and Jude Law as Watson is also spectacular, though some of the other casting, like Rachel MacAdams could certainly have been better. I was impressed by Guy Ritchie though, as it seems he has grown up. Now I love his stylish previous films, but did not think it would fit here, and it seems neither did he, because this is a well done film without his signature style, and it does work, but it is the writing and a big coincidence in the end that just should not have happened in a film about a character so obsessed with logic that serves to bring this down to a lot less than this could have been. It is fun, but nothing you will ever think about going to see a second time.

London, 1891, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) on his last mission with his friend and associate Watson (Jude Law) run into a ritual for a human sacrifice, where Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) is about to kill a young girl. The pair manage to stop the ceremony, and arrest Blackwood, though someone does escape. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) comes in and takes possession of Blackwood, and he is set to be hung in 3 months time. In that time Holmes becomes a hermit in his room, never leaving or doing much useful, while Watson prepares to move out to his new place, where he plans on living with Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) whom he intends to wed. Blackwood requests that Holmes comes before his execution. Holmes finds everyone scared of Blackwood, who has supposedly made a guard sick, and has covered his cell with occult symbols. Blackwood promises there will be 3 more deaths after his execution, and that it will change the world, and outfox Holmes. Watson is there at the hanging and declares Blackwood dead. Holmes has a visitor in the form of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) the one person who has managed to outwit him, and the love of his life, though she is a thief. She wants him to find a red haired midget for her. Holmes follows her, disguising himself as a beggar, and seeing a man hidden in her coach with a gun in his sleeve. A few days after Blackwood’s execution, Holmes gets a call from Lestrade that Blackwood has rissen from the grave, and broken out from the inside. Holmes takes Watson, as it his reputation as a doctor on the line, and they go to investigate. The game is afoot.

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Avatar written and directed by James Cameron (2009)

I was looking forward to this film for some time, being a fan of Cameron’s films, but have to say was very put off by the trailer, which did not look very good at all, but I still wanted to see it, especially in 3D. We went to see it at the Cineramadome at the Arclight in Hollywood, and were quite pleasantly surprised. The film is long, but it is enjoyable, even if it the story is a bit of Dances with Wolves, crossed with Aliens with a dash of Final Fantasy the Spirits Within (the whole living Gaia thing), and the 3D is amazing (though the shaky camera of the film made Kelly very motion sick, but my mom and I loved it). In fact I would like nothing more than to go see it again, but Kelly can’t go, and isn’t going to want me to go on my own. And the computer graphics looked much better on the big screen in 3D, with the aliens looking quite lifelike, and the world looking pretty convincing. I greatly enjoyed it, with the only thing that really through me out being that lead actor Sam Worthington kept slipping in and out of his Australian Accent, which he did not do in Terminator Salvation. This is not a deep film, but it is a very enjoyable popcorn film that is very worth seeing in 3D (and the active 3D made it look better than anything I have seen in quite some time). It is also interesting that this could very well be the same world as Aliens, with the space Marines and their gear, and the evil company, which could easily have been the Weyland Yutani Coporation. Saw it a second time in IMAX Digital 3D and I have to say it looked even better. It would seem the curved screen of the Cineramadome did not help the 3D at all. This film looks amazing, and the 3D is mindblowing! I loved it, and can’t wait to own the Blu-ray and see more on how they did it! Saw it a third time at the Sherman Oaks Arclight, and it had Dolby 3D glasses, which were better than the cheap ones because you could move your head, though were a bit too reflective of light on your face, still better than the really cheap pair! Damn I really do love this movie. It is just as good or better each time I see it. Sure it has some cheesy dialogue, but Cameron usually does, and it really does not hurt the film.

It is the year 2154, and a Space Marine Corporal named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who suffered a spinal injury and can’t use his legs is on his way to the planet Pandora, being put under for 6 years to make the trip. He is going to replace his brother had trained for years for the mission, but was killed, and Sam could replace him because of his genetics, even without any training. The Planet Pandora is a jungle planet run by the Company, where humans want to strip mine for the mineral unobtanium (the stupidest name I have ever heard), and the planet is run by Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), and security is headed by ex-space marine Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). The planet Pandora is already inhabited. Along with a rich flora and fauna, there is a native race named the Na’vi, which are huge, 9 feet tall with blue skin, carbon fiber bones, and a propensity to use huge arrows and knives. They worship nature and their god lives in the trees and is named Eywa. The Company wants to move the tribe away from their huge sacred tree so they can get the large deposit of unobtanium underneath it. The Company employs a team of scientists led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) who run the Avatar Program, where a human/Na’vi is grown, and their minds are projected into the creature so they can go and talk to the natives, and affect a diplomatic solution. Jake’s brother was going to be part of it, so Jake now is, but he is co-opted by the Colonel to spy for them and get information to help use if the Na’vi do not agree to deal. Grace knows of this, but tolerates it, because she knows that it is the company that sponsors her science. Jake very quickly takes to his Na’vi body, loving the ability to use his legs again (his sick legs effect looks amazing). On one of their first outings into the jungle, they are flown out by Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez) and go along with Jake’s brother’s friend Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) another Avatar driver and Grace in her Avatar form. Jake has a run in with a huge local creature, but he stands his ground, and is OK, until a more viscous predator, a Thanator attacks, forcing him to run and jump down a waterfall, and become separated. The other’s try to find him, but they according to the Colonels orders there are no night ops, so Jake is left alone in a hostile jungle to fend for himself. Jake does not do to well, and is surrounded by a pack of dog like things, and is going to be killed by a Na’vi female named Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña who played Uhura in the new Star Trek film), but when the seeds of the Na’vi’s sacred tree land on her arrow, she instead saves him. And she is going to leave him, but again the pure creatures land all over him, and so she takes them back to her clan, the Omaticaya. Jake meets the aggressive Tsu’Tey (Laz Alonso) who is betrothed to Neytiri and will become the Cheiftan of the tribe, the Chieftan, Neytiri’s father, Eytucan (Wes Studi) and the spirital leader, Neytiri’s mother Mo’at (C.C.H. Pounder). Mo’at sees something in Jake, and since he is a warrior, unlike the scientists, they decide to bring him into the tribe, and teach him all of their ways, and Neytiri is forced to be his teacher.

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King of Hearts by Philipe de Broca (1966)

A classic film that I watched with mom as a kid. I passed this on by showing it to my wife, who was charmed by this film. This is really a slightly slapstick anti-war film with the warmest of all hearts, and a message about just how crazy the world can be. If you have not seen it, you have missed out, and if you have, go watch it again. It is every bit as charming as you remember!

Set during the first World War in France, Scottish Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) is sent into a town that was known to be occupied by the retreating Germans. The German’s have set a large cache of explosives, and the Scots know about this because they had someone spying for them in town. What they do not know is that the entire Town has in fact run, and the German’s have left, but the door to the insane assylum has been left open, by Plumpick himself who was hiding from German’s, and the lunatics have taken over the town.

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Up in the Air by Jason Reitman (2009)

Easily one of the best films of the year, this one is hard to describe. I guess it is a drama, though it has elements of both comedy and romantic comedy, but it certainly is not either of those. Jason Reitman has really knocked it out of the park here with amazing performances all the way around, and a really good screenplay adapted from the novel by Walter Kirn (now I really need to read the book) We really get into the world he has created, of a lonely man, who likes his solitary life, until he realizes that he wants more, and is not going to be able to get it if he keeps living the way he does, apart from people, and even his family. A really powerful and moving film. This is really one of the must see films of the year.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a man without a home. He has an apartment in Omaha, Nebraska, where his company is based, but it is not his home. His home is in the air and in the hotels around the country where he does his work, and he is constantly on the move. In fact he dreams of being the 16th person to ever get 10 million air miles on American Airlines, and getting the super special platinum card, actually made out of. Ryan’s job is travel around the country and fire people, and he is the absolute best at what he does. He also gives motivational speeches on having the simplest life with the least connections to other people, literally being able to live out of a backpack, much as he lives out of his carry on suitcase. Ryan ends up meeting another frequent flying named Alex (Vera Farmiga) who is impressed by his frequent flyer status, and they start a casual relationship, but then Ryan is called back to the main office, because something is afoot that may permanently change his life.

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The Lovely Bones by Peter Jackson (2009)

Peter Jackson’s latest is a return to a Heavenly Creatures type of film, and while the reviews are pretty mixed, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Sure some of the effects do look pretty digital, and the story is not at all complicated, but to me, it is well done, well acted, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone this Holiday season.

Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a 14 year old girl living happily with her family in 1973, who we learn will soon be brutally murdered. Susie could not be a happier girl, living with her family, her accountant father Jack (Mark Wahlberg), her mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz), her younger sister Lindsey (Rose Mclver) and the youngest child Buckley (Christian Thomas Ashdale). Susie is smitten with an Indian boy from England Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie), and with some pushing from her Grandmother Lynn (Susuan Sarandon) and his like for her agrees to go meet him at the mall. Susie also takes a lot of photos with the 110 camera her parents gave her, going through 24 rolls in a short time, much to the chagrin of her parents who agree to develop only one a month, but she may have a photo of her killer in it.

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Terminator Salvation by McG (2009)

I have to admit to never liking any McG films, so even with Christian Bale in the lead, I ended up staying away from this in the theaters and watching it on Blu-ray via netflix. And I can honestly say at least I did not see it on DVD, because this is pretty visually impressive. Sure it is a popcorn action movie, but is better than I thought it would be, and not about what I thought, especially since Christian Bale isn’t the lead here, Sam Worthington who would go on to do AVATAR is really the lead, and does a very good job here. This is an enjoyable science fiction film, and I would love to see another of these made, but with all the troubles with the rights, somehow I doubt another will be made. It is actually a shame because this is an enjoyable film, with some killer special effects. Well worth checking out.

In 2003, just before Judgment Day, cancer stricken Doctor Seran Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) who works for Cyberdine Systems get convicted death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to give up his body for science after his execution. A year later Skynet is activated, and most of the Earth is laid to waste, and the machines take over.  Then in the year 2018 resistance fighter John Conner (Christian Bale) leads an attack on an important Skynet base and discovers data about a new type of partially organic terminator. The machines attack again, and the base is mostly destroyed, with John crashing in a helicopter, and his men being destroyed by a huge explosion. The only survivor is Marcus, who does not know how he got there, but walks he toward Los Angeles. Meanwhile John heads to the Resistance headquarters, and old Nuclear Submarine to talk tell General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) about what he found, and what happened. Ashdown does not seem to like John too well, probably because he is revered, and thought of as the true leader of the resistance because of his radio broadcasts to survivors. The Resistance has discovered a radio frequency that they think will shut down Skynet machines at close range, and they plan on using it in a big attack, to stave off an attack on the Resistant command staff they have discovered the plans for. John is also on the list, as well as Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin who went on to play Chekov in the new Star Trek) who John knows to be his father. John returns to his base to test the signal.

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(500) Days of Summer by Marc Webb (2009)

Of late I have enjoyed the films that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been in, so I was interested in seeing this, but never got around to it until now, and am sorry I waited so long, because this is a great film, really the perfect version of what would be called a romantic comedy, because it is not a comedy, and it’s non-linear style really lends itself to this story, and makes you love these characters and get you into it, while getting you to really pay attention. A very well done film, and one of the best films of the year.

The film is totally non-linear telling of the breakup and relationship between Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). Tom is a trained architect, but makes his living as a writer at a greeting card company. Summer is the assistant to his boss Vance (Clark Gregg). Tom immediately starts liking Summer, but is too scared to tell her, only confiding in his friend McKenzie (Geoggrey Arend) and his young sister Rachel (Chloé Moretz). A drunken McKenzie out at a work karaoke tells Summer that Tom likes her, and she ends up kissing him in the copy room, and their relationship starts from their, but she does not want it to be serious, or even admit to a relationship, while Tom immediately does.

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon, directed by Chris Weitz (2009)

Now I am a Twilight Fan, possibly even a Twi-Hard, having read all the books, twice in fact, and having enjoyed the first film, TWILIGHT quite a bit, even owning the Blu-ray, so I was quite excited about seeing New Moon. And solely as a sequel to TWILIGHT I did enjoy this film, because, well, it is more TWILIGHT, but it could have been oh so much better without Chris Weitz’s shoddy at best directing. Sure I enjoyed ABOUT A BOY, but this is the guy who did ruined the adaption of the THE GOLDEN COMPASS, ripping out the most important aspects of the book (like it’s comments on religion) and making it devoid of any emotion, and who on the day of TWILIGHT’s release twittered about how he would rather be shot in the head than to go see TWILIGHT, and he was allowed to direct. And he, unlike Catherine Hardwick does not seem to actually get the book at all, making arbitrary changes that do not add to the story (the first Motorcycle scene, and the death of Harry Clearwater do not add and in fact only detract from the film), not eliciting good performances, and relying on exposition and camera to tell the story, editing that could have easily been tighter, and having so many gratuitous fan service shots (shots of Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattison shirtless) that is starts bringing the movie towards parody, and why did Alice’s vision have to look like some cheesy Jay Crew commercial? Weitz’s direction is so staged. Look at how bad Bella’s birthday is staged, there is no life to it, as there is not for much of the film. Sure some things are good, like the casting of Michael Sheen as the Volturi Aro, as he is amazing. And the effect showing the movement of the vampires has been improved a great deal, though the digital on the werewolves looks awful, as do the water and ocean effects, which look so incredibly cheap. And I am glad the film did so well, making the 3rd largest opening of all time (incredible for a $50 million dollar film) because it means they will greenlight BREAKING DAWN, but I hope it does help to shine on Weitz, and it sure has not for reviews, and it’s 29% on Rotten tomatoes. Another minus for the film is that it really requires you to have seen TWILIGHT or read the books, there is no way you could just jump in, and since it requires so much knowledge, if you don’t get it, why not at least just adapt the book, and not make arbitrary changes that do not nothing but detract from the story. An fun note is that if you can see it with the rabid young fans it adds to the enjoyment, especially all the gasps and giggles, though the texting through the movie was driving me crazy, and the girls filming scenes with their phones, need to be taught just how illegal that is. There are rumors that they are waiting to fully green light the final film in the series until Chris Weitz steps aboard, PLEASE LET THIS BE FALSE! It was not Weitz who made this so big, but just the fact that it is a TWILIGHT FILM!!

Back in Fork’s Washington (now shot in Canada) just after the events of the last film, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has a strange dream, first she runs though a strange city she does not know, then she comes across her Grandmother in a clearing in the woods, and her boyfriend, the Vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison) comes out into the sunlight, sparkling, which she is nervous about because her grandmother, but when she looks back, she realizes it is her in the mirror, having grown old with Edward, since he refuses to make her into a vampire, and she is getting older every day. Her best friend the young Quilute Indian Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) comes to see her at school, and then Bella goes over to the Cullens for her Birthday, though she swears she wants nothing, but Edward’s sister Alice (Ashley Greene) always gets her way. There are the rest of the Cullens, Alice’s boyfriend Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone), Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and her boyfriend Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and their parents Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and Esme (Elizabeth Reaser). Bella gets a paper cut, and Jasper, the youngest to stop drinking human blood goes nuts. Edward hits Bella back into the wall, making her get cut more, but holds off Jasper. Bella is OK, but Edward is crushed and he goes to her, tells her he and all the Cullens are leaving, and she will never see them again, and since she never believed she was good enough for him, she believes he no longer loves her, and accepts it. Bella is completely crushed, and becomes lost in the woods, with the whole town out looking for her. She is found by Quileute Sam Uley (Chaske Spencer. She is safe, but becomes a zombie, barely skating through her life for months on end.

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Tegan and Sara, Orpheum, Los Angeles, CA

Took my ailing wife (the muscles in her back have locked up, and I could not convince her to just rest) to see Tegan and Sara for the 3rd time last night, and once again it was an amazing show.

Tonight was the kick off of their new tour for their 6th Album Sainthood which is released on Tuesday (though their album has been streaming on MySpace for a few days, so we could hear it first). The Quin sisters were amazing as usual, not only in their playing, but of course in their banter, which is what makes their live shows so much fun, in fact I think my wife enjoys it more than the show. They are hysterical, honestly they could do a comedy album! Actually I would love to hear an album of theirs with songs, and banter in between each! The show was excellent, and I just wish they were like Pearl Jam and released each concert on MP3 could purchase later, because I would love to have copies of all the shows I have seen of there’s, as they are all great shows, and quite amusing.

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Where the Wild Things Are by Spike Jones (2009)

As a child I grew up loving the slightly disturbing children’s books of the great Maurice Sendak, my favorite being IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN followed by WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. And I love the insane films of Spike Jones, so I was really excited for this, and even more so after seeing the amazing trailers with the Arcade Fire soundtracks and the fact that the wild things were done by Jim Henson studios (at least for the bodies, with digital faces). I was so excited to go into the World of the Wild things, the world of Wild Little Children, and I did enjoy the film, but I must say it is a bit too melancholy for my tastes. I loved it, but came out a tad depressed. Now I think it has a great message, but I think the melancholy may make this film too much for most children, and bring down the childhood memory a bit. Now I like the fact that it is at times scary, but the sadness brings it down, and while it does make the message that much more powerful, I felt there should have been a bit more of the childlike wonder and less of the sadness brought by anger and lashing out at ones family without thinking. Still I did greatly enjoy the film, and the Wild Things were fantastic, which makes me want to see ti again, and again soon. The other complaint is the child seems a little old to be dressing up like he did, but he did do a great job in his role, so I can forgive that. One complaint is the constant handheld shaky cam, which Spike Jones seems to favor, made my wife sick. Sure it made the computer harder to do, and made it more chaotic, but I do wish that more filmmakers would invest in a few steadicams, as I find gently moving images much more enjoyable. Overall this is an enjoyable, though slightly sad film, which is too much for most children, and a bit melancholy for the remembrance of the fans who loved the fun of the book, and did not find it so sad as a child. This could have been perfect, but instead is a worthy try, that is quite enjoyable, but still slightly missing something.

Max (Max Records) is a child living with his older sister Claire (Pepita Emmerichs) and his single mom Connie (Catherine Keener). Max has some anger issues, some stemming from his father being gone (it is never explained why), and he lives in his own little world. He plays outside in the snow, making his own snow fort in a pile of snow left by a snow plow, and tries to get Claire to come and see, but she ignores him. When her friends come to pick her up, he starts a snowball fight, but it gets out of hand and Claire’s friends gang up on him, and jump on and crumble his snow fort with him in. Max starts crying, and Claire ignores him, and goes with her friends, so he freaks out and goes into her room, trampling the whole room in snow, and smashing everything he ever gave her, then realizing he has done wrong, going and cowering in bed. When Connie returns, he shows her what she did, and they clean up the room, using towels to sop up the soaking wet carpet. That night Connie has her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) over for dinner, and Max dresses in his animal outfit, and because he is not getting attention, freaks out, screaming at the top of his lungs, and ends up biting Connie, when she yells at him, saying, “what is wrong with you?” Max freaks out and runs out of the house, evading his mom, and finding an abandoned sail boat which he gets into, and sails out to sea, much like he played with a little boat in his blue sheeted bed. Max realizes he can no longer see the shore. Eventually he sees an island, and in the darkening sky he sees some lights and heads for it, barely making it to the rocky shore, and dragging the boat in with him. Max climbs perilous rocks, and goes into the woods towards the light, and gets his first glimpse of the giant wild things.

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Doctor Who 040: The Enemy of the World written by David Whitaker, Directed by Barry Letts (1967)

Another of the missing series, and only the 3rd episode has been recovered, and is only available on CD, and it is a real shame since Troughton got to play 2 roles here, the Doctor, and the evil Salamander and it would be a joy to get see these dual roles in action and not just hear them. An enjoyable series with a good storyline. A real shame it doesn’t exist to watch in full, though it is great to be able to see one episode.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) along with his companions Jamie [James Robert McCrimmon (Frazer Hines)] and Victoria [Waterfield (Victoria Waterfield)] arrive and start running around a beach when there is an assassination attempt on the Doctor. They are rescued via helicopter by Astrid Ferrier (Mary Peach) who takes them to their boss Giles Kent (Bill Kerr). Giles is against a man named Salamander who is a physical double of the Doctor. Salamander rules the United Zones Organization which controls the Earth. Salamander used technology to use the sun to increase crop production and has been ruthless in his use of power, killing off anyone who gets in his way. Kent used to be a deputy leader in North Africa and Europe, but when he crossed Salamander he was destroyed. Kent convinces the Doctor to impersonate Salamander to get information so they can try and take down this evil man.

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Doctor Who 094: The Image of the Fendahl written by Chris Boucher, directed by George Spenton-Foster (1977)

As you know if you read this, I love Tom Baker’s Doctor, but I am glad that the Deadly Assassin Came out on the same day, because that is an amazing story, and this one was pretty much a stinker. Sure it has my favorite Doctor, and Leela (Louise Jameson) who is such a great contrast to him, but the story itself is not too good, and overall not too well done. Just a throw away series in my opinion. Only for the die hards.

A research center in Fetch Borough England is being run by the eccentric millionaire scientist Dr. Fendelman (Denis Lill) along with technical Thea Ransome (Wanda Ventham) and paleontologists Adam Colby (Edward Arthur) and his colleague Maximiliam Steal (Scott Fredericks). They are studying a strange crystal skull that was buried under a volcano 12 million years ago, or 8 million years older than man. Fendelmen activates a scanner on the skull, which causes many strange things. First the skull starts to glow. Then a man hiking though the nearby woods freezes and is taken by some force. And finally Thea seems to be taken over by some power in the skull. The Tardis feels the effects as well, being tossed around by a hole in time made by the scanner, so he and Leela decide to investigate. Leela is quite ferral here, almost killing the man they run into, but he does lead them to the Fetch Priory where the scientists are ensconced. Colby finds the corpse of the hiker, which has been completely drained of life, and wants to call the police, but is overruled by Fendelman, who also calls in his own security, led by David Mitchell (Derek Martin) making the scientists his prisoners. Stael does a post mortem on the corpse, and finds a strange mark on the back of the neck, and that the body is decomposing rapidly, and Fendelman has him hide it. Thea once again activates the skull, and seems to merge with it. The Doctor is almost attacked by the same creature that got the hiker, but manages to get away, and it attacks the Prior killing Mitchell, and it only stops when Colby shuts down the scanner.

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Doctor Who 088: The Deadly Assasin written by Robert Holmes, directed by David Maloney (1976)

You never forget your first Doctor, and Tom Baker was my first, so I will always remember him, and amazing episodes like this are part of the reason why. Not only does he shine here, but this Manchurian Candidate-esque tale of intrigue on Gallifrey is one of the best Doctor Who stories all the way around, and I finally know what happened to him after he left Sarah Jane Smith on Earth to return to Gallifrey. Honestly I would have loved a few more stories sans companion of they were going to be this darn good! If you read my blog you also know I love episodes about Gallifrey, and while this is not the first, it really did set what the Timelord Homeworld was like for years to come, the look, the feel, and all the intrigue. We finally see that the other Timelords are not these benevolent watchers of time, but are petty and power hungry, and very very human. This series also features about an entire episode fought in a “virtual” computer world, which is action packed, and fun as can be. This really is one of my all-time favorite episodes!

The Doctor (the great Tom Baker) is on his way to Gallifrey after being summoned, and leaving Sarah Jane Smith behind. On the why he has a vision of the future, a vision of the President of the Timelords (Llewellyn Rees) being murdered, and he knows he must do all he can to stop it. As soon as the Doctor’s TARDIS arrives on Gallifrey it is pegged as an old illegal TARDIS type 40 which should be out of service, so soldiers, led by Commander Hildred (Derek Seaton) are sent to arrest it’s pilot. The Doctor realizes something is wrong, and hides. The Castellan Spandrell (George Pravda) is informed of the events. The Doctor runs for a service elevator, and is confronted by a guard, but a cloaked figure kills the guard, and is off before the Doctor can do anything. He realizes he has been set up, but he has to try and save the President. The Doctor sends the lift on it’s way, but sneaks off another way, so that Hildred will search the wrong building. We see the cloaked figure, who is the Master (Peter Pratt) who is watching, and of course has set up the Doctor.

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Doctor Who by Geoffrey Sax (1996)

If you haven’t noticed, I am on a huge Doctor Who kick of late (was even the 4th Doctor for last Halloween, and my license plate on my blue prius is TARDIIS), and I had heard so much of this infamous attempt to bring Doctor Who to America that I really wanted to see it, even if it was as bad as it sounded. Well I finally did manage to track it down and check it out, and it is really, really bad (and even worse is considered canon), which is too bad, because it has 3 thing going for it. First the first 20 minutes features the 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy who does a great job here. Second is the production design of McCoy’s Tardis which looks like something out of HG Wells, and looks all the better for it too. Third is in fact the eight doctor, here in his only on screen appearance (now in his popular 3rd season on the excellent Big Finish Audio Adventures) is Paul McGann who makes an excellent Doctor, even with the terrible script and horrific acting of the rest of the cast. He could have gone far, if only this had been done in England with producers and writers who really love Doctor Who instead of trying to make him a cheesy 1980’s American Action hero (and what is up with him supposedly being half human? WTF?!?!??!?). With how good the 3 things are, it takes a lot to take this down, but down it goes, down in flames! This to me is the worst Doctor Who adventure ever, and this chance to revitalize the show (which had run from 1963-1989) killed it until the 2005 revival of Doctor Who. Honestly only really serious Doctor Who fans should even try to see this, because it is after all considered Canon, but it just is is so bad, that it really hurts the whole Canon, and it is not like Doctor Who was not previously cheesy!

The film stars with the most epic version of the Doctor Who theme yet, and we learn that the Doctor’s most notorious nemesis The Master has been exterminated on Skaro (homeworld of the Daleks) for his crimes (Huh? Why would the Dalek’s do something for the Timelords their mortal enemies?!?!??!) and the current Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) was sent to pick up the remains and return with them to the homeworld of the Timelords, Gallifrey, but the remains escape, and cause the TARDIS to make an emergency landing on Earth in the 21st Century, San Franscisco’s Chinatown to be exact. There a Chinese boy named Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) is being chased by a Triad, and the Doctor is shot as he exits the TARDIS, with Lee safe behind it the materialized time machine. Lee takes the Doctor to the hospital, where he is quickly brought into surgery. They find the Doctor has 2 hearts, and call in surgeon Dr. Grace Halloway (Daphne Ashbrook). She thinks the x-ray is a double exposure and starts surgery. She inserts a cardiac probe, and the Doctor awakens, and tries to stop her, and tells her he needs a beryllium atomic clock (to fix his TARDIS) then passes out again, and dies of cardiac arrest (and the drugs she gave him supposedly slow the regeneration process, so it does not happen immediately, and also cause the 8th Doctor to have some memory loss, and possibly be half human, which seems completely ridiculous, but so is most of this story). So he is placed in the morgue. Lee quickly sneaks out with the Doctor’s possessions including the TARDIS key. The remains of the master take over the Ambulance driver, Bruce (Eric Roberts) possessing him. He kills his wife, and heads out to find the Doctor’s body, which he wants to use as his own, as he out of regenerations (having passed his 13th incarnation). That night in the morgue, the Doctor regenerates (into Paul McGann), taking a Wyatt Earp costume from someone’s locker for a New Years eve party, and heads out to find Grace, and convince her he is the same man as the one she operated on, to get her help, as his memory is foggy.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS...

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Doctor WHo 039: The Ice Warriors written by Brian Hayles, directed by Derek Martinus (1967)

An enjoyable adventure and the first appearance of the Ice Warriors an ancient race from Mars that have not been used enough. This has 2 missing episodes that had a reconstruction made from the audio and stills for VHS, but exists other than that, but has not been released on DVD as of yet.

Earth of the future at Brittanicus Base they are trying to slow the progress of glaciers that are rolling over Britain. Leader Clent (Peter Barkworth) says they will be able to stop the ice age, but the others including technician Jan Garrett (Wendy Gifford) know they are close to being forced to leave and losing Britain to the new Ice Age. Clent is pissed at a maverick scientist named Penley (Peter Sallis) who left the team. The remaining scientist Arden (George Waring) is searching for archeological finds in the glaciers and he finds an armored warrior in a block of ice. Arden doesn’t listen to Clent’s appeals to come back and help with the ioniser and instead works on digging out the man from the ice. They are watched by Penley and Storr (Angus Lennie) who have given up on Technology. When their is an avalanche, Storr has his arm badly broken.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) and Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) arrive in the TARDIS outside the base, and the Doctor offers to help Clent with the Ioniser. The Doctor manages to stabilize the Ioniser, realizing the Ice Age is caused by a drop in CO2 levels after all the plant life has died.

Arden and Walters (Malcolm Taylor) arrive with the frozen man, and he realizes it is n Ice Warrior from Mars entombed since the last Ice Age. An emergency meeting is called, and no one notices that the ice on the Warrior has started to melt.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 038: The Abominable Snowmen written by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln, Directed by Gerald Blake (1967)

Another adventure of the missing series with only the second of six episodes not missing, which reveals a recurring enemy the Yeti, and also Professor Travers (Jack Watling, Deborah Watling’s father!). I love the control spheres, the Yeti are not the most impressive looking enemy I have seen, this one could possibly have been improved by being audio only with the excellent narration by Frazer Hines.

Professor Travers (Jack Watling) in Tibet is awoken from his sleep, and sees a huge Yeti over the body of his friend an destroys his gun. Travers runs. The TARDIS arrives. The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) is overjoyed where they are and he begins to search for something that will get them quite a welcome when they go to the Detsen Monastery and gives it to them, this is the Ghanta a relic from the temple he got at 300 years ago.

The Doctor goes to investigate in a fur cloak, leaving Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) and Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield) find the Ghanta and Jamie also finds a sword, which he decides to keep. The Doctor heads to the monastery on his to his own and finds Traver’s camp and the dead body and he takes the crushed gun and backpack.

Victoria gets bored and she and Jamie go out and decide to look on their own, and they find huge animal prints, which they follow.

The Doctor gets to the monastery, but finds his way barred by armed monks. Travers blames the Doctor for killing his friend, and the monks listen to him and lock up the Doctor, especially the head of the warrior monks Khrisong (Norman Jones).

Jamie and Victoria enter a cave and get trapped by a huge creature behind a boulder.

The Doctor looks out the window, but as Travers tells him it is a 100 foot drop and accuses the Doctor of being a journalist who is trying to sabotage him and his work about the Yeti. The Doctor knows the Yeti are in fact timid, so they can’t be attacking, and neither could he.

The monks are talking about the fate of the Doctor who they believe to be a murderer, and Khrisong believes Travers that the Doctor is a murderer even if the other monks don’t quite believe. And the fact that the Yeti are attacking make it worse, so he has the Doctor tied to the front gate of the keep.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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9 by Shane Acker (2009)

Produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, this is an expansion of Acker’s oscar nominated short, that is amazing visually with a great cast, but the story is a bit too simple, and short, and the ending kind of falls flat. Still pretty impressive to watch, and I did enjoy it. The worst part was taking my friend Keith who is in from Guam to see it at the Arclight, and having the Arclights digital projector break down! They did fix it fast, and switch to film, but it would have been great to see it digitally, as this film is all about it’s impressive 3D visuals. Still enjoyable, but it did feel stunted, like you met characters and they just die too fast, which proves it is not for kids at all, but then just wraps up too simply. Enjoyable enough, but could have benefited from some more writing, or possibly some more length to it’s 91 minutes including credits.

The creation of a scientist as small ragdoll like creature named 9 (Elijah Wood) awakens in a laboratory in a post apocalyptic world, finding a strange device, which it zips into it’s own body, and goes out exploring. Shortly 9 runs into another like itself, this one designated number 2 (Martin Landau) who is exploring. He tells 9 of others like himself, but is then captured by a mechanical beast made with the bones of a cat, which also takes the small device that 9 had found, and heads to a factory seen in the distance. 9 ends up finding an enclave of others like himself, first finding the kind 5 (John C. Reilly) who was best friends with 2, as well as the vision having 6 (Cripsin Glover) who constantly draws the device that 9 found, and the brutish 8 (Fred Tatasciore) who protects their leader 1 (Christopher Plummer), who tries to keep them from the outside world, knowing something that he does not tell the others. Against the wishes of 1, 9 convinces 5 to go with him, and heads toward the factory to try and save 2.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS….

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Doctor Who 037: The Tomb of the Cybermen, written by Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis, Directed by Morris Barry (1967)

The earliest serial of the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who that exists in it’s entirety, this is a classic series, with a great villain. And the joy is to really see Troughton shine as his zany space hobo version of the Doctor. This is a must see, and might help to convert some more Tom Bakers fans over to the greatness of Troughton who has become my favorite doctor.

An archeological expedition on the planet Telos finds a hidden entrance into a mountain. The TARDIS lands nearby and the Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) and Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) join them. The leader of the expedition Professor Parry (Aubrey Richards) are here to find the remains of the Cybermen who died out centuries before on best of Kaftan (Shirley Cooklin). Kaftan is accompanied by his servant Toberman (Roy Stewart) and Eric Kleig (George Pastell). They enter the chamber, finding a control panel and a large sealed door. The Doctor finds some hidden passageways, but does not manage to open the door, while Toberman sneaks off. Victoria along with Kaftan and Parry find a room with a huge sarcophagus, which Victoria climbs into. Meanwhile the Doctor and Klieg argue about not turning on the controls, but the Doctor gives Klieg the hint he needs to activate the machines, which restores power and locks Victoria in the sarcophagus.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 036: The Evil of the Daleks written by David Whitaker and directed by Derek Martinus (1967)

The Daleks are always a classic enemy of the Doctor, and this one introduces Deborah Watling as a companion, and starts right where the last adventure left off. Another of the missing episodes and a shame too, because it would be so much fun to see the Doctor Manipulating Jamie as he does in this one. Interesting to see the Doctor so manipulative towards Jamie too. He is trying to save them, but still he really puts Jamie through the ringer here, and we get to see just how great Jamie truly is, and how truly good.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) in London’s Gatwick Airport watch as the TARDIS is loaded on a truck and driven off. They give chase and end up at the antique shop of Edward Waterfield (John Bailey) who sells victorian antiques that seem brand new. In a back room we see that Waterfield is being forced by the Daleks, who kill Kennedy (Griffith Davies) who stole the TARDIS for Waterfield. When the Doctor and Jamie go to investigate, they are knocked out, and dragged into a time machine, and wake up in 1866 in the manor of Theodore Maxtible (Marius Goring), Waterfield’s partner. They had been working on a time machine using mirrors and static electricity, when the Daleks arrived through the machine, and took over, taking Waterfield’s beautiful daughter Victoria (Deborah Watling) as a hostage, so that Waterfield would lure the Doctor here. Maxtible meanwhile seems to be going along with the Dalek’s for his own reasons. The Daleks threaten to destroy the TARDIS unless the Doctor will help them in their experiments to isolate the “Human Factor” that allows humans to constantly defeat the Daleks. They want to the Doctor to implant his Human Factor into 3 Daleks and create a new Dalek Super Race. They force the Doctor to put Jamie through a series of test in an effort to rescue Victoria.

REVIEW CONTAIN SPOILERS…

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Shinjuki Incident 新宿事件 by Derek Yee Tung-Sing (2009)

Interesting to watch the Story of Chinese Immigrants in Japan, who once they get power start to turn into a Triad, becoming what they hated, those who pushed them down. Jackie Chan Sing Lung tries his hand at serious crime drama, where he does not do the action he is so well known, and the film mostly succeeds, with some failings in that Chan’s character Steelhead starts to turn bad, but then has to turn back to the light, because Jackie can never really be a villain (though I did love the moments when he is going that way here). And it is too bad they do draw back from it, because the film is at it’s best watching the darkening of Steelhead’s soul. He is a man who has given up everything to find the girl he loves, including the village he loves, and even the ability to return to his own country, and when he finds her married to a Japanese mobster, he gives up all his ideals, ready to kill for power. Sure he still wants to do it for his friends, but their is still that loss of his morality when he goes from never doing illegal acts or taking people’s money when he hasn’t worked, to willing to break the law. And it is when that gets pulled back from that the film starts to lose it’s charm, but it does end with a huge yakuza fight, so that does partially make up for it. And a great Chinese and Japanese cast and compelling story help to make this an enjoyable film, that could have been better, but is still very worth checking out.

Steelhead (Jackie Chan Sing Lung) is a Chinese farmer, who lived happily in his village, until the love of his life Xiu Xiu (Xu Jinglei) loses touch after her aunt dies in Japan, and he goes to find her, sneaking into Japan illegally. He sneaks into Tokyo, and finds his childhood friend Jie (Daniel Wu) and his friends, including Dai (the great Ken Lo, formerly Jackie’s personal Bodyguard) and Lao Gewi (the great Lam Suet), who all live together and do any work they can to survive. Steelhead and Jie do any work they can get, working in a dump, or wherever. When Steelhead saves Hong Kong Boy (Chin Kar-Lok) at the dump, he gives Steelhead a bunch of illegal calling cards, and Steelhead starts to see the underbelly of Japanese society. Meanwhile there is a bit of a power struggle going on within the Yakuza because of the death of a leader, and Mob bosses Taro Watagawa (Kurata Yasuaki) and Toshinari Eguchi (Kato Masaya) vie for power. Steelhead and his friends are working in the sewers when the cops show up, led by Inspector Kitano (the great Takenaka Naoto who I will never forget for his role in Shall We Dance). Kitano chases Steelhead, but when he falls into the water, Steelhead saves the cop, who cannot swim, and the cop looks for Steelhead to settle his debt.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 035: The Faceless Ones, written by Eavid Ellis and Malcolm Hulke, Directed by Gerry Mill (1967)

I do love the 3rd Doctor, and I love how Science fiction his episodes were. There were so many elements of space, like this one, which takes place on Earth, but still has that science fiction side to it, that helps make it so fun (along with such a great doctor, and my favorite companion). This is another of the lost series, so I listened to to it with narration by Frazer Hines, and two episodes are available on the Lost in Time Patrick Troughton DVD.

The TARDIS lands right on the runway at Gatwick Airport in England, and the Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Ben Jackson (Michael Craze), Poly (Anneke Wills) and Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) all split up and run to avoid arrest, and the TARDIS is taken away by the authorities. Polly ends up the building of Chameleon tours, where she sees a man killed by Spencer (Victor Winding) with a futuristic gun. Spencer reports to his superior, Captain Blade (Donald Pickering) while Polly escapes, and finds the Doctor and Jamie. The trio come and find the body, but are seen by Blade. They go to warn the authorities, but Polly is taken by Blade. The Airport Commandant (Colin Gordon) does not want to believe the doctor, but goes with him and Jamie to Chamelon Tours, to see if there is any truth to the story, but the find no body, nor do they find Polly. After they leave, Spencer opens a crate and brings out a faceless humanoid creature, and the hospital nurse Pinto (Madalena Nicol) comes in with an unconscious air traffic control named Meadows (George Selway) and connects it to the creature, making the creature look like Meadows, and storing his body. The new Meadows returns to Air Traffic control. The Doctor and Jamie see Polly emerge from one of the planes, but the denies knowing them, and says she her name is Michelle and she is from Zurich.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 034: The Macra Terror, written by Ian Stuart Black, directed by John Davies (1967)

Another of the missing episodes, and very enjoyable as an audio adventure, though I am sure the Macra might not have been quite so terrifying as realized visually, but I still greatly enjoyed it, and would love to see these episodes in full. A disturbing look at a subverted society. I really love just how often the 3rd Doctor was out in space, or on a science fiction adventure instead of just being on Earth. I hope they do more of that with the 11th Doctor! Good fun, and so much fun listening to an episode each way on my way to work. I love that the Macra returned in Gridlock with the 10th Doctor as well. Very cool. This is narrated by Collin Baker strangely, but it is an enjoyable narration.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer HInes), Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) have just seen a giant claw on the scanner, and they arrive on an Earth Colony in the far future. They exit the TARDIS and run into Medok (Terence Lodge) a Colonist that has escaped from their medical facility, and when Ola (Gertan Klauber) the colony chief of police arrives, they hand the much chagrined Medok over to him, and they too are taken to the Colony. The people here are too happy, with strange songs playing extolling the joys of work, and obeying the Colony Controller (Denis Goacher) and the Colony Pilot (Peter Jeffrey) who gets his orders from the Controller and runs the Colony. Medok is taken to the medical section and locked up because he claims the Colony is infested by giant creatures with huge claws, like what the travellers saw on the TARDIS screen, called the Macra.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 033: The Moobase, written by Kit Pedler, directed by Morris Barry (1967)

A partially missing series, this Doctor Who story is missing the first and third episodes, but at least we get to see some of it (though I would have loved to have seen more of them in spacesuits in the moon). This is available in the Patrick Troughton Lost in Time DVD, though unlike the audio DVD’s the 2 episodes do not have narration like the BBC Radio Collection, so they are quite a bit harder to know exactly what is going on. A best case would be the creation of hybrid with both versions, and adding in the missing stills on the narrated version. This is an enjoyable adventure with fighting the arch enemies the Cybermen, though it is obvious that Jamie was thought to have left the show by now, because he spends most of the series unconscious babbling about some Scottish Demon that was going to attack him, which is in fact a Cyberman, though Hines does narrate the CD version.

The Doctor (the great Patrick Troughton) manages to land the TARDIS, this time on Earth’s moon in the year 2070. He with his companions Polly (Anneke Wills), Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) and his new companion the Scotish HIghlander Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) head out in spacesuits to play on the moon surface. Jamie though is hurt in the low gravity. They band finds a Moonbase, which they head towards. The base is run by Hobson (Patrick Barr) who runs the Earth Weather Controller from the moon surface with a large machine called the Gravitron. The moonbase is having trouble with people collapsing into comas with some strange infection going though their whole bodies, and showing up as spider web like veins, making the base quarantined. The Travelers arrive in this mess, and the Doctor tries to see what he can do, putting Jamie into the sickbay, and trying to learn if he can help these people cure whatever it is that ails them.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 031 The Underwater Menace, written by Geoffrey Orme, Directed by Julia Smith (1967)

Another of the missing episodes, again listened on CD with narration by Anneke Wills, and this one also includes some interviews showing some great insight into the shooting, and being on set with Troughton. It has such nuggets as him never remembering his lines, but being so good at bullshitting, that he got away with it. And all of them terrorizing first time director Julia Smith. It also talks about the low quality of the sets, which she thinks detracted from the story, but which is missing from this silly (the Villain is way too over the top) but fun Doctor Who Adventure. This one I got for a very reasonable price from Audible. Sure you can’t lend it to anyone, but it is much cheaper than the out of print CD’s.

The TARDIS lands on a deserted beach of a volcanic island. The Doctor (The late great Patrick Troughton) looks at Tidal pools, while Jamie (Frazer Hines), Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) explore the volcano. Polly goes into a cave seeing a strange object, but it is a reproduction, making her realize it is the 1960’s, just after her time, but then she is grabbed. Ben and Jamie come to get her, and they too are grabbed, and so is the Doctor, and they are tied up and sent down an elevator shaft going deep under the volcano. They are given food, which the Doctor eats, and realizes it is the seaweed of the supposedly late Professor Zaroff (Jospeh Furst), and then they are led to be sacrificed to sharks, but the Doctor gives a servant girl named Ara (Catheine Howe) a message to give to Zaroff. Zaroff is intrigued, and frees the Doctor and agrees to free his friends as well, angering the high priest Lolem (Peter Stephens). Zaroff likes that the Doctor lied to him, and brings him onto his scientific staff, as he plans to raise the Atlantis to the surface. Jamie and Ben are sent to work in the mines, but Polly is taken by a scientist named Damon (Colin Jeavons) to have surgery to be turned into the underwater farming (as Zarof’s food cannot be preserved and only lasts a day) as Fish People.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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