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EARTHSHOCK


Chase - Posted on 01 July 2009

Prelude

So we've arrived. Depending on the  mood I'm in this is regarded by me as the point where DW ends as a good series and starts being redunant. I'm not sure why but the death of Adric is either the best thing the series ever did (probably not) or the worst (very probably). John Peel told me that sooner or later one of the companion's luck had to run out but why Adric's? I mean he was the only realistic character on the show, a true teen among fake science types. He had flaws and faults and was easy to identify with. In addition, he was interesting and almost natural. Waterhouse's uneasy acting ability only furthered Adric's unease at being with this team after having his family (Romana, K9 and the Fourth Doctor) taken away from him. The actors tell Matthew that this was the best way to go out and the most memorable and they are probably right, however...it just doesn't feel that way. So many fans and even the actors on the show HATE Adric and it's hard to see why but there are reasons that I wont' go into again. Truth is after Adric, they kept trying to find substitute Adric's to come up with. What they settled on was Turlough, a public school boy (no snickering as Mark doesn't look like a boy and I believe at the time was married) character with zero charm and a nasty attitude. And he didn't last long either. In addition, the show didn't last longer either and the quality went downhill faster than Scooby Do or Johnny Quest on skis.

Sad me. I kept hoping for an Adric reference or an Adric mention someplace ahead but none were to come. Beyond that TIMEFLIGHT beginning. Mind you that started out well enough with the grieving process beginning. But then moments later, the Doc's like, "To cheer us all up we're going on a holiday!"  I would have settled for a sign that said, "Six months later..." or anything other than that. That whole grieving scene, the only good thing about TIMEFLIGHT was ruined by that afterthought. And then worse: he appears as an illusion sent to stop them, an enemy! Why bother? 

Additionally, the Doctor, THIS Doctor in particular is made to look uncaring, callous and stupid by not saving Adric, by not going back in time to change it to get him back, and by not really agonzing enough over it. And behind the scenes, it was Davison who was responsbile for Adric going. The dolt. He jsut wanted a trad companion so that it would not steal his limelight. Not as if he got better as the Doctor, for he really didn't. For all I put forth about Davison not being the wet vet Doctor, he really, when compared to the other four, WAS. He had no real presense, had no humor to speak of, and was really quite dull. ANd for this, he wanted rid of the other two that had some of that: Adric and Tegan. Nyssa, for all her supposed niceness, was rather wet too. She could have been so much more interesting.

That said, DW wasn't fun anymore. I looked, sad as I was, for someone, maybe even the next Doctor to go and save Adric. The Sixth? Surely the seventh! I looked for him in any spin off, the comics, later the audios (gosh I was so unhappy with THE BOY TIME FORGOT so be careful what you wish for, although ep1 was good).  I looked and looked and for a long time he was only mentioned as a wraith, a ghost, an image in the Doctor's mind or a nightmare death of some image on fire. This was just adding insult to injury. One novel had him meet the 7th Doctor and was amazing. Another, by Gary Russell, had the Toymaker and  just treated Adric badly. Some of the SHORT TRIPS had him and treated him well and sensitively. But for the most part the death was never really dealt with. To this day, we feel a comp can die thanks to this.

Rambling again. Anyway onward we go. For better or worse, this is the story Adric supposedly dies in. Of course FASA games has him saved by a Time Lady Leona and some of the FASA continuity was entered into some of the "real" continuity someplace but I can't recall what or where or maybe I'm not recalling it correctly. But anyway Adric in FASA was saved, of that I"m sure. The Doctor to me was never the same after Adric died, allowing his comp to die and not doing anything about it. Of course, it made the show more dangerous after he died (but they'd never do it again, would they to anohter comp?), but it also made it less fun, less like an adventure and more...sort of mundane. That also had to do with the mostly poor scripts that followed but never mind. I never looked at the Doctor the same again nor the show. It always felt rather sad to me.  

Peel told me, at my request, that the reason I didn't see Adric's name in the credits in FANTASY EMPIRE was that Adric was going to die (of course, his name should be in TIMEFLIGHT's credits but that's another story). BUT Peel did'nt tell me what ep or when or how Adric would die. For that reason, and probably that reason only, EARTHSHOCK was the most tense DW I ever watched. EVER with maybe DOOMSDAY coming close. I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time. When it was over, I felt horrid. I hated DW, hated JNT, hated Davison and hated the Doctor and Eric Saward. Then the opening to TIMEFLIGHT. At least Tegan and Nyssa felt for Adric and wanted to go back and get him. THe Doc wouldn't. Insisting. ANd did'nt. And to make things worse, he just put them on a holiday not long after to cheer them up. And they  all just forgot Adric. In my mind, the death of Adric and its repercussions have never been dealt with. Forget Rose being put in a parallel Earth. That was sad enough, tearfully. But this...was worse. MUCH WORSE and the Doctor's reaction to it...was UNACCEPTABLE.   

To me, the Doctor never really dealt with Adric's death and that was a missed oppurtunity for find out more about the Doctor. Or maybe we did and I just didn't like what we found out. Adric's death made me HATE DW and for a long time, I just thought it was crap. When I review what followed EARTHSHOCK, I still realize today that most of it was crap. I mean how to explain things like TERMINUS, THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD, TIMELASH, ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN, VENGEANCE ON VAROS, TIME AND THE RANI, PARADISE TOWERS, BATTLEFIELD, DRAGONFIRE, and many many more?             

1

That was a great start. Yes, the Doc, Nyssa and Tegan are sticking their heads up too high and could be shot as Davison comments on on the commentary but whatever. This episode builds nicely and creepily (is that a word?). The TARDIS scenes are super and this team is now a full fledged family. I love Tegan's look when the Doctor tells her, "Do you really think I'd be making all this fuss if it weren't?" She looks like a scolded puppy, bvacking off, for once. I also think most of what Adric says rings true to most teenagers or at least some of them, maybe not now but back then and maybe now too, who knows? I think what he says is true. The Doc never wants to be criticized...at least this Doc. Even Tom Baker's Doctor took criticism, sometimes from himself  as well as Romana and others. And almost all the other Doctors explained things ...to everyone. It does seem as if some time may have gone by but since the book BLACK ORCHID is brought up...who knows? That Adric feels made fun of, teased and ingnored in favor of Nyssa and Tegan seems apt and unfair of the Doctor to do. He does do al those things. And this Doc and Adric sitting down and talking...maybe the Doc meant his previous self. THEY got along. That Doctor cared about Adric a lot. This Doc...not so sure. I also love love love Adric's line, "You know since his regeneration, I think he's become decidedly immature."  I also love a very short bit when outside, the Doc is goaded by Tegan and Nyssa into at least accepting to look at Adric's calculations. He says, "I'm not promising anything."  To which Nyssa says, "no, of course not, Doctor."  At that moment, he's heading for the door of the TARDIS and Nyssa and Tegan exchange looks, knowing amused looks and as the Doctor hears Nyssa's comment late, he lately turns around in a sort of shock that she said it. That's brilliant!

The dino thing makes sense. Recently saw ANIMAL ARMEGGDEON and its was heart breaking. Cause Adric died. No just kidding. Cause it just was.

The guest cast is pretty good, the music tense and apt. The story moving along and the caves look like caves. The robot androids are pretty creepy and the gore , well disgusting really. If I didn't know it was the Cybermen at the end, I would have been totally suprised. Even so, I thought it was a good ending and a good cliffhanger.

Oh and Adric's also right about something always inteferring from he and the Doc having a talk or having any meaningful stuff going on. It happens again here! Oh and the Doc seems not to want to lose Adric for some reason and Adric seems to want the Doctor to stop him. Are these two a couple? :) Or maybe it's just parental and teen growing pains...either way they finally got the relationships correct here.            

2

that was just as good. Beryl Reid is a bit shocking but whatever, not too bad. The change to the space ship was an interesting one. Once again, Adric is correct in that they were being too casual about announcing their presense as this idiot Doctor keeps waving about and yelling to be caught. Adric wanted to go back but I guess he wanted to come with the Doctor. Earlier a nice "make up" scene between the two of them and an earlier scene of Adric helping the Doc disarm a bomb. All well done, well acted, well scripted...all for once. Of course, the Cyberplan makes little sense. Why plant a bomb in a cave where it might be seen? Why put guards over it that might be seen? Why not just stick it in a hole someplace or a forest where no one might find it? How did it get to Earth? Why not detonate it right away? Why leave it there for so long? It does'nt really make sense.

Once again Matthew does a good job here and the Adric part, a shame that it's NOW only being written excellently, is well done. The guest stars are rising to the occasion and we hear our first "Brave heart, Tegan"  from the Doctor, apparently improvised by Davison.

When I first saw this, I didn't get the idea that the beam came from the spaceship but the Doctor explained that the crew probably didn't know anything about it. Then...why were the Cybermen or whatever was on the ship start killing crewmembers? Did they get too close to something? Explanations later and mindyou, those don't make much sense either but have fun, this story is full of tension and action...DW action that is, which means two fourth the action yu'd find in a movie like ALIEN. Wonder why that came to mind?

This is also a bit like the best of Cybermen as in the 1980s DWmagazine kept telling us how great TomB OF THE CYBERMEN was and how the other Cyber stories had bombs, weaknesses of the Cybermen exploited, Cybermen hiding and skulking as in THE MOONBASE, etc. The only thing missing was a Cybermat. Not that this was bad. EARTHSHOCK might just be the best CYBERMEN story ever...until the two parter RISE OF THE CYBERMEN in the new show.

3

That had a lot of action, technobabble, and Adric fun. It's as if Saward were packing in all the Adric he can because he's on his way out. The Cybermen stuck in the door, Tegan running around and shooting Cybermen, Nyssa basically being safe and sound in the Tardis ranting on about dangerous magnetic fluctuations and stuff, Scott being all butch, etc. The battles are fast paced and not very laughable although other scenes are: including a stick being waved around for light by a crewmember, a clipboard holding phantom (one of the crew), and two Cybermen being spied on are talking like two human beings making hand gestures (maybe they are always like this away from human eyes). Davison finally has some presense, too bad after this story, it won't matter to me because he was always the Doctor that let Adric die and stay dead. A word about Adric's death while it's on my mind: if you were younger than maybe you loved him, if you were a self absorbed person older than Adric or Waterhouse, thinking you were so much better and so great, then you probably did'nt like him at all. Many of the younger fans loved him; many of the older ones didn't or the same age as either Adric or Waterhouse, take your pick as the age difference wasn't that great. Anyone not lking him didn't look at the potential the charcter had and still does have, noting the poor acting ( I just don't see the totallity of the bad acting to be honest especialy compared to Sutton and Fielding), and the whining (teens do that too). Whatever.

Anyway the Cyber plan is crap as ever. WTF? They haave a second back up plan like the Master had in CASTROVALVA in case their first one didn't work. And that one? Load a million or so Cybermen on a frieghter (HOW'd they do that?) and crash it into Earth! WTF? Also: what? How did Ringway deceive them? Why was he working for them? Why would they just kill him? and I'll go into the whole time travel thing later in ep4 and the two POVs as to whether or not Adric caused it to go back in time and almost let the dinos live or was it the Cybermen's fault? Or did Adric actually save anyone or anything or the timelines or did his sacrifice savenothing and change nothing? All that guff later.

For now, the ep is fun and fast paced and the cliffhanger good but...really it looked wrong visually. I liked the two women in the control room, yes even Reid. If nothing else, she was different. The battles were okay and Tegan doesn't annoy here. I love her self description of her being "I'm just a mouth on legs."  In a way she should have stayed put too. If she did, then perhaps the bargaining tool they would have used would have been Adric and he'd be alive today. So she didn't really help at all did she?

The Doctor is quite funny in "You never change, always the perfect guests,"  just after the Cybermen kill Ringway. I also like Adric's "NO" to when the Cybermen were about to kill the Doctor or he thought they were. Again, I had no idea when Adric would die, for all I knew it could have been at any moment in any ep and that made it more tense for me. His interaction with Davison's Doctor here is at its height and its best. Too bad it didn't continue.      

4

Okay I still get a lump in my throat watching this. And no where else. Anyway, I almost cried. There are two ways of looking at this. One: Adric failed miserably and died for nothing and what was going to happen had he been there or not happened and the dinos were killed off. It would have happened if he were on board or not and I believe this is how the novelization makes it seem AND probably what Eric Saward  intended and the production team. The other way of looking at it and the more optimistic is that Adric slowed the Freighter down enough to stop it from splitting Earth in two or destroying it utterly. His interference caused the Frieigther to not have the same impact it would have had. This some small mammals survived, thus the Earth itself wasn't split in two and survived and the dinos were wiped out by Adric's moves. To be fair, almost everyone talks about the Earth being destroyed totally. Almost everyone says that the Earth will never have existed...thus the second thing holds some water. On the other hand, the Cyberleader talks of other Cybermen troops moving in and dealing with or rounding up the survivors. WHAT? So he thought Earth wouldn't be destroyed. Adric talks of the idea that the planet will still be there but unusuable. I'd like to live in denial this one time and say that Adric saved the Earth and even took out the dinos by tampering with the device but ...tha'ts not what the actors, writrs, and team say happened...I"d like to have him the hero in the end but really he just mucked it up, I guess. But on the other hand the Friegither explodes before it hits the Earth.

There's some real sloppiness going on here: one moment a female trooper is grabbed frm behind by a Cybermaan as Scott and two other males enter the TARDIS and the next...THAT same female is entering the TARDIS with Scott and one other male. Later, one of the males stands guard for Scott and then that one is the one that is iwth himn on the bridge and the other one who went iwth Scott is seen on guard duty which where ...you get the idea. I think their names are Marshall and Brooks and they seem to change places magically from the hallway to the bridge!  On leaving the TARDIS, Scott leaves with one male and one female but she's gone again never to be seen again. And it seems Marshall was either killed by a Cyberman i the battle or was left on the station, I"m not sure which as Brooks escapes with the women and Scott. WHy they left Adric on board is beyond me, the door closed --they could have opened it and got him. 

The bridge scenes are all tense and nicely done. The Doctor's debate with the Cyberleader is well done and he loses the debate and allows Adric to remain on board. He should have sat down and refused to go.   

Nyssa using a gun, being forced too could go a long way emtionally and it was nice to see her get some action and go against her peaceful ways. It was also very rewarding to have the Doctor kill the Cyberman with Adric's gold badge.

Adric's death scene is still sad and still unforgetable and the entire ending is well done and really works in terms of gripping you in a terrible state...

I can't watch this again so I guess this is it for me.

Also remember I didn't know how Adric would die only that he would and the tension was almost unbearable as the wounded Cyberman came up on to the bridge. Would he shoot Adric?

All in all, a good story wiht ALOT OF production problems that should have been caught and fixed. Matthew claims he wasn't sad but in past interviews he claims he was. I wouldnt blame him.

Adric was, as I've gone on about elsewhere a missed oppurtunity to follow a male companion from boyhood to adulthood and the team failed this utterly.     

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