Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Celestial Toymaker

Dodo and Steven are confronted by dancing dolls.

This story starts off with the Doctor disappearing. Then reappearing. Then disappearing again. Whew, confusing! Back in to recon territory for the first three episodes of this story, I was surprised to find this very similar to my own journeys in some ways, especially my earlier stories. I would often be disappearing and appearing, as do many characters in my adventures. And ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ reminded me distinctly of a particular adventure of mine ‘The Game Master’ – where I battle a villain called, strangely enough, the Game Master. My friend Andrew, who has documented many of my adventures, tells me with regret this story is not on Youtube.

‘The Celestial Toymaker’ is though, and its reconstruction is marvellous. Like ‘The Game-Master’, ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ is a story about games. In this instance, Steven and Dodo have to play a series of games against the Toymaker’s toys. ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’, ‘Which chair won’t kill me?’, and a dice game where you go from square to square.  The Doctor has to play the ‘Trilogic Hame’, where he needs to move a pyramid of pieces across a board in exactly 1023 moves.
Steven, Clara and Joey
William Hartnell gets two weeks off in parts two and three where we only see his hand and occasionally hear his pre-recorded voice. It was interesting to watch a DVD feature a little time after I watched this story to see the production team were going to write him out altogether in this one, and when he reappeared in part four he would be played by a different actor. As a Time Lord I am appalled because that’s simply not how regeneration works! Get your facts right Mr John Wiles!
Although by now Wiles had moved on too by the time the story was in full production. Interesting it was written three times too, by Brian Hayles, then Donald Tosh and finally by Gerry Davis. I gather it was a very very different story from what I have heard originally. In the end it’s quite plotless to be fair. There are no interesting characters bar the Toymaker himself, who could have been given a lot more to do, but instead we just watch Steven and Dodo playing games, dancing and coming up against dolls and playing cards brought to life. It’s frankly quite a dull piece, but perhaps one the kids would enjoy. Maybe. Did little for me. To me it was a simple idea stretched to four parts.
Carmen Silvera and Campbell Singer
On the plus side visually quite interesting I guess, and containing some good acting performances. Who doesn’t love ‘Allo’ Allo’’s Carmen Silvera? She has three roles in this one! The clowns are quite good in episode one. She is then the Queen of Hearts and Mrs Wiggs. She is paired with Campbell Singer who’s ‘Joey’ the clown is wonderful. Peter Stephens supports and comes into his own as Cyril the strangely old plump school boy in Part Four. Michael Gough is perfect casting as the Toymaker.
Then we have the regulars. Hartnell hasn’t a lot to do until the second part of the final episode, and Purves and Lane give good performances but I would suggest the material was not a stretch for them at all. I rather liked elements of this story, episodes one and three are rather decent but at the end of the day its 100 minutes of Steven and Dodo playing games.
I hope it appealed to the younger viewers because it simply and sadly didn’t appeal to me.

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