Doctor Who #113: The Hall of Dolls

"Four legs, no feet, of arms no lack, it carries no burden on its back. Six deadly sisters, seven for choice, call the servants without voice."TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 2 of The Celestial Toymaker. A reconstruction has been used to compensate for its absence from the archives (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Apr.9 1966.

IN THIS ONE... Steven and Dodo try to figure out which chairs are deadly traps before a set of living playing cards do.

REVIEW: After being turned invisible and intangible in part 1, it gets worse in part 2 as he's rendered mute for again speaking up to try and help his friends. Couldn't the Toymaster just hit the mute button on his monitor instead? At least it's made clearer that Steven and Dodo must complete their challenges before the Doctor does (if I missed it in yesterday's episode, it's probably because my mind was drifting), which explains why the Toymaster keeps advancing the game in time. Well, not really. Those conditions are ridiculous in that the Doctor could hold off on the last move and wait for his friends to finish. Whatever. With the promise of a mute invisible Doctor until the last couple moves, it means Michael Gough and William Hartnell hardly interact, making for the dullest Doctor Who confrontation in history.

Steven and Dodo one again face a contrived game against similar, clownish opponents. The playing cards have really cool costumes, and they're played by the same actors as the previous episode's clowns. We also learn that they're victims of the Toymaster and fighting for their freedom just as the TARDISeers are. It seems they are perpetually being resurrected in different incarnations to play each of these games. That they are not saved from this fate by the end of the story is just another one of its weaknesses. The King and Queen are more pleasant than the clowns, but the Knave is an impetuous, whining child that should have been sat down in a deadly chair as soon as possible. If we had the visuals, we might better assess the gaming sequence. Was the way the dolls were destroyed harsh and creepy? Or were all these sequences of the companions working out the riddle and game in real time as repetitive and tedious as it sounds on audio?

But look, the TARDIS' phone rings for the first time! That'll always be unsettling, even when the TARDIS turns out not to be the TARDIS at all.

VERSIONS: An unfortunate sign of the times, this episode features the King choosing a doll to use with a version of "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" with the N-word in it. Peter Purves' narration on the audio CD covers it up.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - These ridiculous games seem like pointless wastes of time, and the Doctor's absence is sorely felt.

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