Monthly Archives: March 2011


Doctor Who Classics
3rd Doctor and Maggots of Death
5 Inch Scale
By: Character Options
$35.00

In late 2009, (has it really been that long?) Character Options began releasing their first versions of the Third Doctor. We reviewed the 3rd Doctor and Sea Devil shortly after. All told, there were three sets of Jon Pertwee released. Each set was largely the same figure, with minor tweaks to set them apart. The last set released, with the Doctor as seen in the Green Death serial, was clearly the worst of the three.

UNIT calls the Doctor to investigate a series of strange happening at a company called Global Chemicals. The Doctor, Jo joins forces with a local environmental group, led by Professor Clifford Jones am discover that the mine workings are full of giant maggots and green slime – both lethal to touch.

These have been produced by chemical waste pumped from the Global plant, where the workers have been hypnotized by BOSS, a computer intelligence with a will of its own and a plan to control the world. As the maggots reach maturity, the Doctor must find a solution, using a fungal virus and a blue crystal from a planet called Metebelis Three.

By now most Doctor Who Classics fans are used to two packs with one Doctor and a villain. While the other two sets came with an interesting pack-in, this set featured only three “giant maggots” as it’s villain. Hardly comparable to a classic Dalek or a great variant of the Sea Devil. Given that this was the last pack released, many fans skipped it.


The “leaked” new 3rd Doctor set

Now that yet another Jon Pertwee set was just recently leaked onto the internet this past week, we’re taking a look back at this set, to see if this particular incarnation is really worthy of a spot in your collection.

Packaging:
Before we had window boxes, the Classic Who two packs all came in clamshells. These are nice clamshells if you’re a fan of this style of package. The great part about the packaging is that it matches all your previous Doctor Who Classics single cards… Well at least it did until they started coming in boxes!


The package has some nice still shots and a pretty basic breakdown of the plot of the episode. I realize that’s not a big deal, but I think it’s important for a line like this. I doubt kids are rushing to buy Jon Pertwee figures, but if they did, at least this gives them some idea about him and his adventures.

Sculpt & Paint:
For all intents and purposes, the bulk of this figure I reviewed last time, so I’m going to try to point out the key differences. When I reviewed it back then, I remarked that it was one of the finest head sculpts from CO that I could recall. Incredibly since that time, Character Options have continued to refine their art of toy making to the point that this sculpt is still very good, but hardly top of the heap anymore.


The face is still a little lacking emotion, but I’d much rather have that than some goofy Jakks style screaming sculpt. My Pertwee has a little issue with his eyes. The actual eye is made up of three unique dots and one of the dot’s placement on mine is a little off center. It makes it seem as if one of those pepper pots he was always going on about was actually a flask! As well, the hair is still a bit too white. Personally I think CO should have varied the colors of the hair a bit more between the releases. The newest figure that was leaked onto Ebay seems to have the same white hair as well.


The costume is quite good and I prefer this outfit to some of the other 3rd Doctor releases. It’s the torso from the “Death to the Daleks” set and the legs from the “Sea Devil” set. CO have been very smart in choosing outfits where they can pull the old switcheroo when it makes sense. I had a little bit of paint issue around the neck piping on the coat, though. Nothing major, but some bleed and unclean lines.


The Maggots are a horse of another color entirely. These are all new sculpts for these guys and despite the generally simple design, they look quite good. Each Maggot has it’s own unique sculpt, as well. They’re really quite grotesque little buggers.


The paint work on them is equally as excellent, with a variety of washes to give them color. They also have a fair amount of “green death” on them as well. These maggots would be really cool if they weren’t so largely forgettable in general and there were more of them. With only three maggots in the package, you can’t help but feel like perhaps they shouldn’t have called the Doctor, but just the Orkin man instead.


Despite the few paint defects and the general boringness of what is a Frankenstein of 3rd Doctor parts and some gross little maggots, it’s a nice set. Even though I’ve seen it nearly a half dozen times now, the Jon Pertwee likeness is still quite good and the attention to little details like his ring are still impressive. Sculpt wise, this Pertwee might be one of the best. My QC issues are pretty rare in my experiences with the line and they are, quite minor.

Articulation:
Some people want ball joints and such with their Doctor figures, but I just don’t need that. Outside of a ball jointed neck, I think these guys have a pretty good range of movement. The 3rd Doctor was one of the few who was willing to mix it up and showcase a little of his Venusian Aikido from time to time, so he needs perhaps a smidge more articulation than most.


You won’t have too much of an issue posing him, but his coat does hinder the leg movement some. The coat is a soft rubber, so you can get some stretch, but the movement is still hindered a bit. I also found that the neck joint on my Pertwee was super stiff and could barely turn. I haven’t had these issues with the others so it could just be a stuck joint.


The maggots once again disappoint. While each one does have a unique sculpt that allow them to be displayed in different fashions, they are not poseable. Personally I think a bendable rubber wire figure would have made good sense here. It’s rare I call for a bendy figure, but here it would have worked.

Accessories:
While these sets aren’t really known for their accessories, we typically get a little something. If this set was sold as a single figure and not a double pack, this set would be brimming with accessories.


Like any good Doctor figure, he comes with his trusty Sonic Screwdriver. The sculpt and paint work on such a tiny item really are a testament to the quality work that Character Options puts out. This is a nearly identical tiny replica of the Third Doctor’s Sonic. Bravo!


If the Maggots were purely accessories, they’d be great. Unfortunately I can’t really call them accessories because they are indeed supposed to be their own figure. A rare misstep by Character Options and Underground Toys.

Value:
See the sticker on my in package shot? Yeah, at some point places were trying to charge $55 for this figure. OUCH! Considering that most two packs run in the $40-$60 range, you can see why this set with it’s weak secondary character was not a huge seller. Most places now have this guy marked down in the $35 range.

The set itself wouldn’t be such a bad deal if you got 6 or even 8 maggots. With only 3 maggots, you really don’t have enough to do much with. Perhaps the value would have been better if it would have also come with that awful giant fly from the same episode… Then again, maybe not. Personally I picked him up on clearance for less than $20. At that price, I don’t feel like I was screwed. However, if you’re paying $35 and above you’ll probably want to spend your dollars on a better Pertwee set.


Score Recap:
Packaging: 8
Sculpting: 8
Paint: 7
Articulation: 7
Accessories: Sonic Screwdriver
Value: 4
Overall: 6 out of 10


The Pertwee figure himself is a great likeness and despite a few hiccups in the paint department, he’s still a great addition to any Third Doctor fan. The maggots are also a great little piece and make for a fun little display piece. The problem with the set is the price and when you combine a figure that’s more or less already been released with a below average counterpart, you’re left with a unsatisfying package. This set is only for completists, people who love the 3rd Doctor or those who find it for a good deal.


Massstersss of the Universsse Classicsss
King Hssss
7” Ssscale
By Mattel
$20.00 + ssshipping from www.mattycollector.com

King Hsss is a bit of a sssore sssubject for Massstersss of the Universsse fansss at the moment thanksss in large part to a vitriol filled thread on the he-man.org forumsss. Fansss are up in armsss becaussse of a blunder on Mattel’sss part that causssed King Hssss to end up with bicssepsss that are on the wrong arm, an error that’sss happened 2 timesss before.

COUGH COUGH cough! Achem!

Whoa, sSsomething in my throat there.

Crap, hold on.
Salisssbury.
SSSalisbury.
Salisbury Steak.

Alright!

While I’m bothered by the mistake (and by Mattel’s response to it) I’m extremely excited to get my hands on the leader of the Snake Men. I had a King Hiss (spelled Hssss now) when I was little but never really knew the story behind him. All I knew was that he had SNAKES for ARMS and that I loved him. According to the old mini-comics he is supposed to be hiding in plain sight as a hero who eventually is foun out for the villain he truly is.

King Hssss is going to be on sale again in a few days on www.mattycollector.com for people who missed out previously. Is he worth the trouble of braving the harrowing masses? Should you spend your hard earned money on a figure with known flaws in the construction? Is the entire sale just a giant April Fool’s Joke?

The ansssswer to (mosssst) of thesssse quesssstionsss liesss inssside!

Packaging:
The King comes in the good ol’ fashioned white mailer box with his name printed on it, within the mailer is the standard Masters of the Universe Classics package. The only thing notable is the super cool “THE SNAKE MEN” sticker slapped on the front so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt who El Rey is the King of.


The back features a snazzy cross-sell showing several Preternian Characters including Zodak. I appreciate that they showed Zodak because not only is he the guy who helped lock Hssss away for a long time but he’s also an under-appreciated and amazing action figure!

Inside the plastic shell he’s tied up with a few devilish rubber bands to make sure he doesn’t climb out and take over at the USPS. His second torso, the snake head, is stowed away out of sight so as not to freak out visitors to your home should you keep him in the box. I kinda think this is a dumb move since him being all “A SNAKE!” is the defining core of his character, but you know, Mattel?


Sculpt:
King Hssss is downright pretty guys! The 4 Horsemen (the sculptors responsible for Masters of the Universe Classics’ design) have done an amazing job of creating a figure that is undoubtedly King Hssss but doesn’t look nearly as awkward as the vintage figure who’s human form I was always very quick to cast aside in favor of the snake within.


There is a whole lot of sculpted detail all over the place including overlapping armor plates that cover him from head to toe. He’s nice and bulky looking, like a muscled dude in armor would actually look, standing out amongst the other MOTUC figures thanks in large part to the vibrant dark green used for most of his armor.


King Hssss has a great knowing smirk on his face that could be taken as friendly, you can almost understand why the Eternians thought he was good guy until you remember that he has snakes as his main motif. Of course you and I know that his half smile means “I am made of snakes, fool.”.


Hssss’s “true form” torso is a nicely detailed bendy toy that plugs into a slot in the top of his waist. It’s been sculpted to look very creepy and the proportions are done just right to look like it could have actually been hidden inside his human shell just like the vintage toy. It’s painted in a glossy finish that resembles the slimy look that a lot of snakes have


The paint on Hssss is well done overall with no big problems in the slop department. I would have liked the green snake on his silver necklace to be a little better detailed but it’s far from bad.

I was really impressed with the job done on his snake eyes, it would have been really easy to mess up these tiny black lines but they were done excellently.

Articulation:
King Hssss has the same articulation as all other MOTUC figures, this includes ball joints at the head, shoulders and hips; hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abs as well as swivel wrists, biceps, waist and knees. This makes him, in theory, able to get into all kinds of poses but a lot of this theoretical movement is hindered by his armor and by the sculpt itself. As a result he is a lot more limited that I would have liked.


The biceps are a major offender, they don’t allow him to bring his arms fully to rest at his sides. It’s hard to tell if this is a result of the reversal of the biceps by Mattel or if it’s caused by the extra bulk the armor adds. The biceps are also extra tough to turn, they don’t feel like they are scraping against anything though, hopefully this is not a sign of further issues to arise down the line.

Similar to Bow (last month’s figure), King Hssss does not get the full range of motion from his hip joints thanks to the crotch piece blocking much of the forward and backwards movement. I hope that Mattel is able to figure out a good solution to this going forward, otherwise we may end up with a lot more figures in Furry Underpants to allow them to sit down.


Hssss’s head is ever so slightly bobbly, it’s not as bad as my Green Goddess (the worst head joint on any of my MOTUC figures) but it is loose enough to shift a little while you are posing the rest of the figure. The head stays in place well enough though so it’s a minor quibble overall.

My biggest gripe with the figure comes from his main feature, the torso swap. While the true form snake torso stays plugged in securely, his human disguise pops loose with the slightest pressure. I had to reconnect the human torso so many times while taking pictures for the review that I actually lost count, everything from moving a leg to clipping on his shield would set the torso free.

On the up side, the bendy nature of the snake torso works extremely well to get his “arms” into whatever pose you want. They wrap around other figures nicely and even allow him to hold onto his staff. The hinged jaw is a nice touch that they didn’t have to include, it breaks up the “one piece” nature of the torso and makes it feel like more than just a bendy.


Accessssssoriesssss:
Included in the package are 2 accessories besides his true form torso, a badass snake staff and a nifty shield. Mattel continues to do right by us with accessories for the MOTUC line, this is the 3rd figure in a row who has come with a great assortment of gear. Poor Stratos!


The snake staff is made of 2 separate pieces that are intertwined to make the weapon. The snake is painted with a wicked diamond pattern and creates a set of organic hand guards for King Hssss to use when he clashes with Zodak and his Cosmic Staff. The staff feels very solid and sturdy in the hand, not bendy like some of the MOTUC accessories can be.


The shield is also nicely designed and continues the snake theme, not only does it have snakes sculpted onto it but IT IS A SNAKE ITSELF! Aaaaiigggh! My only complaint is that a shield feels kind of silly without a sword to go with it. I’ve given him the recolored Tri-Klops sword from the 1st Weapons Pak and it seems to match Hssss’s colors nicely.

Value:
King Hssss cost me effectively $25 including shipping, slightly less than average thanks to his being shipped with Battle Armor Skeletor. It’s hard to say that this is a good price, but when you’re able to combine shipping with other figures a lot of the sting is taken out. Over the last few months Mattel has done a great job of making multiple figures available on their site on sale days and I feel like that’s a big step in the right direction.


There are no figures truly comparable to the Master of the Universe Classics figures available in stores. Nothing comes close in style, quality or variety of figures to MOTUC and until something does $20 + shipping is the cost of admission. I’m curious what the price point will be on the new Thundercats Classics toys when they’re released, they seem to be similar to MOTUC in their size and design, and I bet they’ll cost at least $20 each in stores.

With prices for toys rising higher and higher it seems that just about everyone is going to have to choose their toy purchases carefully. While MOTUC figures are definitely towards the higher end of the action figure market I think they are definitely worth the asking price, quality control problems and all. I’ve cut out a lot of the fat in favor of keeping MOTUC in my budget and I haven’t regretted it in the least.

Summary:
King Hssss manages to slither past a lot of major problems to be a really cool figure. He’s got limited articulation in a couple of places, reversed biceps, a torso that likes to pop off when you aren’t trying to remove it and a head with ADD….. yet I love him. This is a case of the sum of the crappy parts making a really nice whole.

The fact is that once I get finished taking pictures for this review he is going to go on my shelf where I won’t care about his problems. He’s going to look amazing mixed in with my other villains and someday leading the rest of the Snake Men into battle and I guess I just don’t find any of his issues all that serious.


In the end each person is going to have to make up their own mind on Hssss because there’s a lot of baggage packed into that mailer box. If you’re a fan of the character I think you’d be making a big mistake passing up on him when he’s back on sale. If you don’t care much for King Hssss or for the Snake Men as a whole then you’re a silly person and you need to reevaluate your taste in fictional reptilian monarchs and their subjects named after what special abilities they have.

Massstersss of the Universsse Classicsss

King Hssss

7” Ssscale

By Mattel

$20.00 + ssshipping from www.mattycollector.com

King Hsss is a bit of a sssore sssubject for Massstersss of the Universsse fansss at the moment thanksss in large part to a vitriol filled thread on the he-man.org forumsss. Fansss are up in armsss becaussse of a blunder on Mattel’sss part that causssed King Hssss to end up with bicssepsss that are on the wrong arm, an error that’sss happened 2 timesss before.

COUGH COUGH cough! Achem!

Whoa, sSsomething in my throat there.

Crap, hold on.

Salisssbury.

SSSalisbury.

Salisbury Steak.

Alright!

While I’m bothered by the mistake (and by Mattel’s response to it) I’m extremely excited to get my hands on the leader of the Snake Men. I had a King Hiss (spelled Hssss now) when I was little but never really knew the story behind him. All I knew was that he had SNAKES for ARMS and that I loved him. According to the old mini-comics he is supposed to be hiding in plain sight as a hero who eventually is foun out for the villain he truly is.

King Hssss is going to be on sale again in a few days on www.mattycollector.com for people who missed out previously. Is he worth the trouble of braving the harrowing masses? Should you spend your hard earned money on a figure with known flaws in the construction? Is the entire sale just a giant April Fool’s Joke?

The ansssswer to (mosssst) of thesssse quesssstionsss liesss inssside!



Packaging:

The King comes in the good ol’ fashioned white mailer box with his name printed on it, within the mailer is the standard Masters of the Universe Classics package. The only thing notable is the super cool “THE SNAKE MEN” sticker slapped on the front so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt who El Rey is the King of.

The back features a snazzy cross-sell showing several Preternian Characters including Zodak. I appreciate that they showed Zodak because not only is he the guy who helped lock Hssss away for a long time but he’s also an under-appreciated and amazing action figure!

Inside the plastic shell he’s tied up with a few devilish rubber bands to make sure he doesn’t climb out and take over at the USPS. His second torso, the snake head, is stowed away out of sight so as not to freak out visitors to your home should you keep him in the box. I kinda think this is a dumb move since him being all “A SNAKE!” is the defining core of his character, but you know, Mattel?

Sculpt:

King Hssss is downright pretty guys! The 4 Horsemen (the sculptors responsible for Masters of the Universe Classics’ design) have done an amazing job of creating a figure that is undoubtedly King Hssss but doesn’t look nearly as awkward as the vintage figure who’s human form I was always very quick to cast aside in favor of the snake within.



There is a whole lot of sculpted detail all over the place including overlapping armor plates that cover him from head to toe. He’s nice and bulky looking, like a muscled dude in armor would actually look, standing out amongst the other MOTUC figures thanks in large part to the vibrant dark green used for most of his armor.



King Hssss has a great knowing smirk on his face that could be taken as friendly, you can almost understand why the Eternians thought he was good guy until you remember that he has snakes as his main motif. Of course you and I know that his half smile means “I am made of snakes, fool.”.

Hssss’s “true form” torso is a nicely detailed bendy toy that plugs into a slot in the top of his waist. It’s been sculpted to look very creepy and the proportions are done just right to look like it could have actually been hidden inside his human shell just like the vintage toy. It’s painted in a glossy finish that resembles the slimy look that a lot of snakes have



The paint on Hssss is well done overall with no big problems in the slop department. I would have liked the green snake on his silver necklace to be a little better detailed but it’s far from bad.

I was really impressed with the job done on his snake eyes, it would have been really easy to mess up these tiny black lines but they were done excellently.

Articulation:

King Hssss has the same articulation as all other MOTUC figures, this includes ball joints at the head, shoulders and hips; hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abs as well as swivel wrists, biceps, waist and knees. This makes him, in theory, able to get into all kinds of poses but a lot of this theoretical movement is hindered by his armor and by the sculpt itself. As a result he is a lot more limited that I would have liked.



The biceps are a major offender, they don’t allow him to bring his arms fully to rest at his sides. It’s hard to tell if this is a result of the reversal of the biceps by Mattel or if it’s caused by the extra bulk the armor adds. The biceps are also extra tough to turn, they don’t feel like they are scraping against anything though, hopefully this is not a sign of further issues to arise down the line.

Similar to Bow (last month’s figure), King Hssss does not get the full range of motion from his hip joints thanks to the crotch piece blocking much of the forward and backwards movement. I hope that Mattel is able to figure out a good solution to this going forward, otherwise we may end up with a lot more figures in Furry Underpants to allow them to sit down.



Hssss’s head is ever so slightly bobbly, it’s not as bad as my Green Goddess (the worst head joint on any of my MOTUC figures) but it is loose enough to shift a little while you are posing the rest of the figure. The head stays in place well enough though so it’s a minor quibble overall.

My biggest gripe with the figure comes from his main feature, the torso swap. While the true form snake torso stays plugged in securely, his human disguise pops loose with the slightest pressure. I had to reconnect the human torso so many times while taking pictures for the review that I actually lost count, everything from moving a leg to clipping on his shield would set the torso free.



On the up side, the bendy nature of the snake torso works extremely well to get his “arms” into whatever pose you want. They wrap around other figures nicely and even allow him to hold onto his staff. The hinged jaw is a nice touch that they didn’t have to include, it breaks up the “one piece” nature of the torso and makes it feel like more than just a bendy.

Accessssssoriesssss:

Included in the package are 2 accessories besides his true form torso, a badass snake staff and a nifty shield. Mattel continues to do right by us with accessories for the MOTUC line, this is the 3rd figure in a row who has come with a great assortment of gear. Poor Stratos!



The snake staff is made of 2 separate pieces that are intertwined to make the weapon. The snake is painted with a wicked diamond pattern and creates a set of organic hand guards for King Hssss to use when he clashes with Zodak and his Cosmic Staff. The staff feels very solid and sturdy in the hand, not bendy like some of the MOTUC accessories can be.

The shield is also nicely designed and continues the snake theme, not only does it have snakes sculpted onto it but IT IS A SNAKE ITSELF! Aaaaiigggh! My only complaint is that a shield feels kind of silly without a sword to go with it. I’ve given him the recolored Tri-Klops sword from the 1st Weapons Pak and it seems to match Hssss’s colors nicely.

Value:

King Hssss cost me effectively $25 including shipping, slightly less than average thanks to his being shipped with Battle Armor Skeletor. It’s hard to say that this is a good price, but when you’re able to combine shipping with other figures a lot of the sting is taken out. Over the last few months Mattel has done a great job of making multiple figures available on their site on sale days and I feel like that’s a big step in the right direction.

There are no figures truly comparable to the Master of the Universe Classics figures available in stores. Nothing comes close in style, quality or variety of figures to MOTUC and until something does $20 + shipping is the cost of admission. I’m curious what the price point will be on the new Thundercats Classics toys when they’re released, they seem to be similar to MOTUC in their size and design, and I bet they’ll cost at least $20 each in stores.

With prices for toys rising higher and higher it seems that just about everyone is going to have to choose their toy purchases carefully. While MOTUC figures are definitely towards the higher end of the action figure market I think they are definitely worth the asking price, quality control problems and all. I’ve cut out a lot of the fat in favor of keeping MOTUC in my budget and I haven’t regretted it in the least.

Summary:

King Hssss manages to slither past a lot of major problems to be a really cool figure. He’s got limited articulation in a couple of places, reversed biceps, a torso that likes to pop off when you aren’t trying to remove it and a head with ADD….. yet I love him. This is a case of the sum of the crappy parts making a really nice whole.

The fact is that once I get finished taking pictures for this review he is going to go on my shelf where I won’t care about his problems. He’s going to look amazing mixed in with my other villains and someday leading the rest of the Snake Men into battle and I guess I just don’t find any of his issues all that serious.

In the end each person is going to have to make up their own mind on Hssss because there’s a lot of baggage packed into that mailer box. If you’re a fan of the character I think you’d be making a big mistake passing up on him when he’s back on sale. If you don’t care much for King Hssss or for the Snake Men as a whole then you’re a silly person and you need to reevaluate your taste in fictional reptilian monarchs and their subjects named after what special abilities they have.

Doctor Who
Classic Series Review
The Seeds of Doom


Staring Tom Baker as the Doctor, Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
Director: Douglas Camfield

Alright, I was not planning on doing another Doctor Who review for a while, but this little fella just came in the mail the other day, and to be honest I have been deriving a ton of fun from watching it over the last few days, so I felt it was worth my temporary ban to temporarily review it, temporarily, of course.

The Plot: This is a long episode, so I am going to try to keep the summary to the important points, and get on to the DVD special features as quick as I can.

At a research station in Antarctica, a group of researchers turn up a mysterious pod of unknown origins. They take it back to base, and radio back to England to share the discovery. There, two men from the world ecology bureau show 4th Doctor Tom Baker pictures of the pod. The two men think little of it, but the Doctor seems strangely worried, and insists on leaving as soon as possible to investigate. He also warns the men not to let anyone touch the pod until he arrives.

As the Doctor prepares to leave, one of the men, Richard Dunbar (played by Kenneth Gilbert) spirits away to the mansion of the flora obsessed millionaire Harrison Chase, played brilliantly by actor Tony Beckley (whom many might recognize from the 1969 film The Italian Job) Chase is fascinated with the idea of owning an extraterrestrial plant, and immediately dispatches two men to get it. They are Scorby, a thuggish but strangely eloquent mercenary, and Keeler, a nervous and ill-fated botanist. Now, why a millionaire who is obsessed with plants needs a mercenary for hire on the payroll is beyond me, but he also has a home patrolled by armed guards, so who am I to judge?


You can tell this is a serious episode. I’m wearing my serious face.

Arriving in Antarctica, the Doctor discovers one of the crew has been infected by a mysterious vine that came shooting out of the pod. The Doctor quickly identifies the pod as Krynoid, and goes out into the ice fields to find the second pod he knows must be there. While he and Sarah Jane search, Scorby and Keeler arrive and pretend to be lost. They make themselves cozy, planning on staying until their plane can leave again. While the Doctor and Sarah Jane try to deal with the crewman who is ill, Scorby and Keeler begin making plans to find, and steal, the now useless first pod.

After much running about, from bad guys and Krynoid, The Doctor and Sarah manage to narrowly avoid being blown up by Scorby and Keeler who have themselves managed to locate and steal the second pod, and escape the base leaving the Doctor for dead.

Upon arriving home, the Doctor finds himself the target of a deadly assassin (heh, Doctor Who joke) who fails to kill the Doctor, but does lead him to an eccentric old woman, who in turn leads the Doctor and Sarah to Chase. What follows is classic Who, with the inevitable Doctor vs. Madman speech, where in the Doctor explains how terrible their plan is, and the Madman (Chase) ignores the Doctor. This of course leads to the villain’s eventual downfall. Just once I wish they would listen to him. Now that would be a surprising episode. The Doctor shows up, explains how terrible their plan is, and they agree and leave. Hardly thrilling, I know, but definitely new.

In the end, the Doctor and Sarah manage to escape from killer vines and a vicious wood chipper, as well as defeat the villain, and save the world from giant, killer plants. And the episode ends with a fun Tardis misjump leading Sarah Jane into the snow in her swimsuit, and the Doctor with a pun. I’m glossing over a lot, including the Doctor’s fight scene and Sarah’s verbal jousting with Scorby, but I don’t want to give too much away. Trust me, there are a lot of great lines and fun surprises in this episode.

In my opinions this is one of the best scripts of the Tom Baker era. It contains all of the elements of what made Baker great, without skewing too far one way or the other. The plot is straight forward, but with depth and subtlety to it, and the actors take the material seriously, which is always important in an episode like this.

The Good:
This episode has all of the classic Who Elements, including, but not limited to:

1. Evil alien menace that does not appear threatening until it is too late
2. Danger only the Doctor can see, but quickly shown to others
3. Eccentric super villain with his own mad schemes
4. Nervous scientist who keep telling super villain they are insane
5. Sarah Jane trapped and screaming
6. Doctor caught in machine that might kill him
7. Exploding models
8. Mutated Humans
9. Brutal henchmen
10. UNIT soldiers

And that’s just what you’d expect. You also have a Doctor who is, in this episode, much more subdued than normally. Not we’re missing his usual quirks and goofiness, but in a lot of ways this episode reminds me of another six-parter, Genesis of the Daleks. Baker is serious and focused in the episode, and while jokes are made, you can tell how dangerous he considers the threat by how seriously he takes it. He really strikes a nice balance in this story that shows what a good actor Baker really could be.

The rest of the cast is also superb. Liz Sladen is, of course, the greatest companion ever to travel with the Doctor (sorry Adric) and does an excellent job here as well. I know I have watched classic Who with several friends who complain that all Sarah Jane does is get herself trapped so the Doctor can rescue her, and while I agree that happens a lot, there is a lot more to her character than just getting stuck. When you watch the scenes between her and Scorby, a mercenary for hire who would just as soon shoot someone than talk to them, you really get an appreciation for Sarah’s spunk and determination. She holds her own in all of her scenes, and has no problem standing up for herself.

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well, and this episode really feels like it has some major gravitas because of that. There are few moments that make one groan, and even fewer where the viewer is bored. In a word, it’s fantastic.

The Bad:
This episode does have some kind of cheesy effect for the modern audience, and yes, you can occasionally see the sets wobble in the background, but that’s really part of the charm. To keep it in perspective, pick up one of the Doctor Who DVDs that has new, redone special effects, or watch the rerelease of Star Trek with the new effects. As bad as the effects look today, with newer effects it looks even worse. Just enjoy the campy charm, and stop worrying.

Bonus features:
This DVD is so packed with extras they had to include a second disk. Not only do you get commentary on each episode, several of which include Tom Baker himself, you also get info track subtitles that reveal fun facts about each episode, a feature on the making of the episode, a special on Doctor Who comics in the 70’s, a feature on the music of the episode, and even a tour of the property used in filming. All in all you have at least 10 solid hours of quality viewing here, much with repeat watching value.

Packaging: One thing that does irk me just a bit is that occasionally in England they release special sets of the Doctor’s adventures in collectable boxes. With a feature like this, a 6 part episode with 2 full discs, it would be neat if they could have done a special edition box. As is, it is pretty standard, like the other releases, and contains no inset material, which is also disappointing.

Still, it’s a nice picture on the front, but it’s nothing to write home about.


Two disks? Amazing!

The Breakdown:
Packaging: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Commentary track: 9/10
Bonus features: 8/10
Total score: 8.5/10

The Verdict:
New, this DVD will run you about 28 bucks on Amazon. Not cheap, but at the same time well worth it. Even the casual classic Who fan will find this episode a treat. This one is definitely a buy.


It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these “Best of What’s Around” segments, but it’s something I want to get back to doing somewhat more regularly. Today we’re looking at Fare Necessities food blog. Although the blog is only 2 months old, there are quite a few recipes to be had that are not only tasty, but easy to make. Several new recipes are added every week. There are also restaurant reviews and a whole plethora other all things food. It can help you with your daily meal preparation. Everybody’s gotta eat!

One of the areas we’re trying to expand here at Infinite Hollywood is our Infinite Cuisine category. It’s where we look at a variety of pop culture as it relates to food. With that in mind, we’ll be teaming up with the creator of the Fare Necessities blog to do some creative projects in the weeks and months ahead to help expand upon this idea.

So check out Fare Necessities for everyday food recipes and check back here soon for some out of this world nerd foodery in conjunction with them.