I first saw “The Celestial Toymaker” (episode four on the Lost in Time DVD set) early on in my Doctor Who watching and, frankly, didn’t get that much from it. At that time I had yet to meet Steven, much less Dodo, so I had no connection to the companions whatsoever. Stephen was a companion for quite a while, but most of his tenure (seven out of ten stories) is missing. Much of the relative newcomer Dodo’s tenure is missing, too, but at least I’ve since had the opportunity to see entire stories featuring Steven and/or Dodo.

Episode One: “The Celestial Toyroom”

Soon after departing the planet Refusis (see “Doctor Who Reactions: ‘The Ark’”), the Doctor becomes suddenly and inexplicably invisible and intangible. The Doctor regains his visibility when the TARDIS lands. The Doctor, Steven and Dodo emerge into a strange environment and presently meet the Celestial Toymaker, an old adversary of the Doctor’s. The Toymaker abducts unwary space travelers and forces them to play games for their freedom. If they lose (or if they refuse to play), he transforms them into toys in his collection. (I am reminded of two of Marvel’s Elders of the Universe, the Grandmaster and the Collector.) The Toymaker hides the TARDIS among humdreds of duplicates, forcing the Doctor to play.

Separated from Steven and Dodo, the Doctor is set the task of playing the “Trilogic Game” (which sounds much like a puzzle I once read about in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”). He is again made invisible and intangible (except for one hand to play the game), ostensibly so he won’t interfere with Steven and Dodo’s games, but really so William Hartnell could take a vacation for episodes two and three.

Meanwhile, Steven must run an obstacle course while blindfolded, with Dodo shouting instructions. All the while, two clowns are interfering with Steven, making it more difficult for him to complete the course.

Cliffhanger: Steven and Dodo must solve a riddle:

One, two, away they flew…

No, no… that’s not right. Ah, here it is:

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

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Cliffhanger: Steven and Vicki must solve a riddle:

One, two, away they flew…

 

Awesome.

Episode Two: “The Hall of Dolls”

William Hartnell recorded a few lines of dialogue before he left on vacation, and after the Doctor attempts to assist Steven and Dodo, the Toymaster strikes him mute as well as invisible and intangible.

Have you solved yesterday’s riddle?

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


Steven and Dodo enter a room with three chairs in it and deduce that the first line of the riddle refers to the chairs. The next room has four chairs in it, and they conclude that only one of the chairs is safe to sit in, and they must find that one to win the game. In the rooms are also living playing cards (a joker and a knave in the first, a king and a queen in the second) they must play against and several life-sized (I assume) dolls. The playing cards are also prisoners of the Toymaster, like the clowns, turned into toys and forced to play for their freedom.

Each chair is booby-trapped with some sort of execution device: one electrocutes, one freezes, one slices, one disappears, etc. By the use of strategy and dumb luck, Steven and Dodo determine the safe chair by setting the dolls in them and win the game. Nor have they haven’t figured out the last past of the riddle, whether it means to call the servants without using one’s voice, or to call the voiceless servants, or what.

Cliffhanger: A new riddle:

Cut the key to fit the door that leads out on the dancing floor
Then escape the rhythmic beat or you’ll forever tap your feet
Episode Three: “The Dancing Floor”

I’m sorry, that should have been “Hunt the key to fit the door…” Appy-polly-loggies to those playing along at home. Steven and Dodo decide to concentrate on the first part of the riddle and begin searching for a key. They soon encounter a Sergeant named Sgt. Rugg and a cook named Mrs. Wiggs. The Sergeant and the Cook are the same toys/prisoners as the clowns and the playing cards. Steven and Dodo conduct an intensive search and eventually find the key hidden in one of the Cook’s pies.

I would like to mention at this point that Steven and Dodo complement each other very well as companions. They each have their own methods for confronting and solving problems. Steven is more analytical and Dodo is more instinctive. Their chemistry together is similar to that of Jamie and Zoe, but different. Steven and Dodo must find the TARDIS before the Doctor solves his puzzle.

The action scenes are interspersed with scenes of the Toymaker and the Doctor’s silent, disembodied hand playing the game. The puzzle takes 1023 to complete, and throughout the course of the episode the Doctor progresses through the 700s… the 800s… the 900s. (Why the Doctor cannot simply slow his play I don’t know.) It also strikes me that the Celestial Toymaker would have fit quite well in Lost in Space.

Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo have found the “dancing floor” of the riddle. Something about the floor compels one to dance (I think life-size mannequins force players to dance against their will), but Steven and Dodo manage to beat the game by dancing with each other.

Cliffhanger: Another riddle:

Lady Luck will show the way
Win the game or here you’ll stay


Tonight I will watch episode four for the first time within the context of the entire story.

From here:

 

"Soon thereafter, however, a major problem arose. One of the central elements of Hayles' storyline -- an aspect on which Tosh and Wiles were both quite keen -- was the appearance of characters named George and Margaret. These were drawn from a Thirties play entitled George And Margaret by Gerald Savory -- recently appointed Head of Serials for the BBC -- the gimmick of which was that although the entire story revolved around the imminent arrival of the eponymous characters, the play ended just as they were about to appear. Hayles thought it would be amusing to have George and Margaret finally seen as pawns of the Toymaker who would play various games against Steven and Dodo.

Unfortunately, less than a month before the start of production on The Celestial Toymaker, Savory withdrew his permission for George and Margaret to appear, despite the fact that Campbell Singer and Carmen Silvera had already been cast in the roles. With Hayles still unavailable, new story editor Gerry Davis was forced to make major changes to the scripts. In so doing, he replaced George and Margaret with various other pairs of characters who could be played by Singer and Silvera (the clowns Joey and Clara, the King and Queen of Hearts, and Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs)."

Yes, the CD liner notes mention that the scripts for "The Celestial Toymaker" were extensively rewritten, for this and other reasons. The liner notes also say, "To tie in with episode one's transmission, Radio Times ran a piece entitled 'Doctor Who Plays the Trilogic Game', in which the rules of the game were laid out.

 

More here: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Trilogic_game

Tonight I will watch episode four for the first time within the context of the entire story.

Okay, now that’s more like it! (The final episode is still quite silly, though.)

Episode Four: “The Final Test”

The Doctor does try to slow his own playing of the Trilogic Game, but the Toymaster occasionally speeds up the play by making moves for him. Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo have to navigate a life-sized game board playing against an over-sized schoolboy named Cyril. They must jump from one triangular dais to another based on a roll of dice, but Cyril plays unfairly, revealing the rules in dribs and drabs and otherwise interfering with Steven and Dodo’s play. The daises are safe but the floor is electrified. Cyril eventually falls prey to one of his own traps and the two companions reach the TARDIS.

It is now time for the Doctor to make the final move of the game and solve the puzzle, but the Toymaker has rigged the game to destroy his own pocket reality as soon as the final piece is correctly placed, not giving the Doctor enough time to reach the TARDIS. The Doctor outsmarts the Toymaker, though, buy moving the final piece from within the TARDIS without actually touching it, as the Toymaker himself had been doing.

Seemingly safe, Dodo offers the Doctor a piece of Cyril’s candy, which he immediately pops in his mouth before howling in pain!

NEXT: The next story in sequence is “The Gunfighters,” but a DVD of that one is slated for release on July 12, and besides, Bob has dibs on leading that discussion. The next one after that, however, is another missing story, “The Savages,” and I plan to start that discussion on Monday.

Cyril was a thinly-veiled gag on long-time British humor character Billy Bunter.

 

"Bob has dibs on leading that discussion."

 

I'm eager to see "The Gunfighters" again, if only for proof that the British can butcher American accents as badly as Americans can butcher British ones.

As I mentioned here, I thought "The Gunfighters" was a hoot ... and not in the "so bad it's funny" way.
I plan to make it a double bill with Star Trek's "Spectre of the Gun."

Watched "The Final Test" again last night.  Not much to add except that apparently, it was originally planned to replace Hartnell during this episode - when the Doctor became visible again, he would have been played by whoever they might have chosen to replace him at that time. In the end, they deicded to keep him on for awhile longer.

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