Hasslein Blog: August 2014


Hasslein Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 036—The Faceless Ones

By T. Scott Edwards

My biggest difficulty in this mammoth task–that of re-watching, and then blogging, each and every Doctor Who serial in order, including the missing serials–is not that which I had expected. It is not one of recon-fatigue, but a simple lack of time. Of course, I have a real job, in the real world. This real job, teaching English and Drama in a Private School, is a time-consuming one, using up almost every waking moment of my time. As such, during term-time, I lose evenings, weekends and even some of my holiday time to lesson planning, rehearsals, marking and choreography. As such, come term-time, the entire project has to come to a screeching halt. The problem with this, though, is that my notes for the latest blog–Patrick Troughton's The Faceless Ones, for those keeping count–were written at the end of the October half term, but never made it onto the computer. As such, page after page of blurred notes with bullet-point, throw-away phrases mean almost nothing to me. Still, this entry will try to make sense of that nonsense. Wish me luck.

The principle issue that most fans have with this serial is simply that it is not completely available in visual form; the entire thing exists in an audio format, but with only two existing episodes–indeed, the two least interesting episodes, judging by what we know from the soundtracks–it is difficult to judge how successful it is. Likewise, in a series of short and snappy serials like The Underwater Menace and The Macra Terror, it seems a little sluggish at times. Running at 6 episodes, compared with the majority of the season running at 4, it seems like there is almost not enough storyline to fill the time. Of course, we know that this is an issue of necessity; The Underwater Menace went notoriously over-budget, and so The Faceless Ones, which is surprisingly restrained by early Doctor Who standards, makes full use instead of the opportunity to use location filming, and so we end up with lots of running around on tarmac and inside the main terminal buildings. Costumes are naturalistic, due to the time setting, which means that few costumes and props need creating for this serial, minimising the cost here. But despite the slower pace, this isn't a bad serial at all. Indeed, it's an interesting premise handled admirably.

Episode 1 opens with the stunning and iconic scene with yon "flying beastie!" looming up over our intrepid travellers, as Hines' Jamie McCrimmon, out of his own time, is faced by the magic of the aircraft. The use of genuine footage, as opposed to stock footage, is wonderful, although the cross editing does leave a little to be desired–there is evidently no threat to the TARDIS, and whilst Jamie's terror is understandable, the fear in the rest of the crew is less clear. The excellence of Jamie's character, though, lies in these little moments which refer back to his history. The Doctor has never had a companion from Earth's history before, with the exception of Katarina, who joined the crew in the last five minutes of The Myth Makers and proceeded to wander around aimlessly as though she were tripping on acid, before dying during the very next serial. As such, what Jamie allows is for the audience to understand the events through the eyes of the companion. Unlike with contemporary companions, for whom the audience previously was able to see the events and understand them, Jamie allows the show to return somewhat to its educational remit; his lack of understanding of even the most basic things allows us to appreciate the wonder behind them.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sculpting the Planet of the Apes, Part One

Posted by Rich Handley

Avid Planet of the Apes fan Michael Kostka has been sculpting custom Planet of the Apes figures since early 2012, when he decided to try his hand at it after seeing some of Jessica Rotich's brilliant work at the SideShowFreaks forums.

"It turned out pretty okay," he says, adding, "I sculpted a random chimpanzee from a drawing, which got me excited. Then I kept doing it and I seemed to be progressing. I made a ton of apes that year and last year. This year had been slower for me when it comes to that, but I'll be getting back into it once the summer winds down."

The Hasslein Blog is pleased to be able to showcase some of Michael's work, beginning with a selection of figures custom-made based on BOOM! Studios' comic book line; he sent along with some comic panel comparison shots as well. Stay tuned for more to come.


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 035—The Macra Terror

By T. Scott Edwards

The Macra Terror introduces the 'terrifying' eponymous creatures, who since have briefly appeared in the revived series – in an appearance utterly redundant to the plot, mind – and sees the time travellers arrive within a seemingly utopian society, run much like a 1950s holiday camp. If The Moonbase was a serial for Anneke Wills to really expand on her character, then The Macra Terror does the same for Michael Craze's character Ben. The Macra Terror is also the very first serial to feature the Doctor's face in the opening credits - again, it a shame we don't get to see this is in action until the first episode of the next serial, which at least exists.

The colony is a suspicious place, and from the telesnaps we can tell that the visuals are superb – the set and costume design is marvellous, and the use of the incidental music, whilst mildly jarring, fits wonderfully with the setting – it is cheery, upbeat, and so fits the jovial atmosphere perfectly. The first thing welcoming the Doctor and his crew is the distraught Medok, played with bleary-eyed enthusiasm by Terence Lodge. Medok is being pursued by Ola and the guards, and thanks to the distraction of the new arrivals he is captured for reprogramming in the correctional facility – "for your own good". It is the first of many clues that not all is well in this colony – despite the cheerful facade and fun and frivolity, something is decidedly wrong here. 

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