Four Hundred Dawns
"We have a small number of men, as many as we need, the rest we kill. They consume valuable food and fulfil no particular function."
The Loose Cannon recon for this story is great, with lots of creativity being used to give us as much moving footage as possible. This is the best done recon I've seen so far. Sadly, the quality of the original audio isn't as good, and what with my hearing being poor anyway I had trouble hearing much of this story. Still, an intriguing and entertaining episode one, as we've come to expect from the sci-fi stories. As always, we start with some nice character stuff, and it's nice to get the references to The Space Museum.
The Drahvins are clearly up to no good from the start, and I'm not just saying that because their doors make the same sounds as the ones in the Dalek city. They're very B-movie-esque alien Amazons, and if there's any serious comment about sexual politics here (I strongly doubt it) it's impossible to take it as such. Still, the Chumblies are great, and we get to see the Astral Map from The Web Planet again. Er, yay! Nice cliffhanger though- the TARDISeers are in more trouble than they'd realised...
Trap of Steel
"My Ship's not made of tin like this old trash!"
So far this story's quite good, dramatic and well-paced. I've often seen this story criticised because the Drahvins are so obviously the baddies, but although not judging by appearances is clearly a strong theme it's not this that's propelling the drama; it's the pressing need to escape from the imminent destruction of the planet that's the central fact here.
Hmm, so the Drahvins' doors have the sound of the Daleks', and the Rills' ship has the pulsating noise from Dalek ships. The Daleks are being most generous with their sound effects.
"We are not deaf, you know!"
It never fails to amuse me in these early stories how the episode starts with a cliffhanger reprise and then everything has to stop for the title and writer's credit to be displayed. Otherwise, not much to say about this episode. The first two episodes were quite engaging, but things are now beginning to flag. It doesn't really help that the script has no more surprises for us; we pretty much know what's going to happen from this point.
"We respect you as we respect all life."
The speech to Steven by the rill is dull and patronising, as is much of this episode- the drama of how our heroes are going to escape the planet is largely gone, as no convincing obstacles are put in their way from this point. The moral of the story is all very good but the heavy-handed way it's conveyed- taking up much of this episode- is unnecessary and dull. Still, it's nice to see a full photo of a Rill.
Strange and interesting way of doing the cliffhanger, with Vicki making a random comment about a planet that happens to be on the scanner. Still, a Terry Nation episode next. oh look- it's set on a jungle planet.
This story actually works well and holds the attention for the first two episodes, but once the Doctor and Vicki start talking to the Rill the plot stops, as there are no more significant plot twists or threats to our heroes. Instead the time is filled with heavy-handed moralising. A shame, as there's still much to like about this story. 3/5.