Top 10: The Worst Laid Plans…

Two of the remaining TARGET book reviews are Christmas related and will be coming in December.  For now…prof zaroff

So there I am with my wife having dinner at Angelo’s in New York City (not to be confused with New New York) when I look at the picture on the wall next to me.  There, David Letterman sits with Madonna in the very booth we were occupying.  And a thought hit me: everyone loves his Top Ten lists.  The thing is, there are a lot of Doctor Who stories and a lot of contenders for any list.  I’ve tried to really think through some of the most outlandish ideas for:

The Worst Laid Plans of Monsters and Megalomaniacs

#10) I have to give this to the Cybermen’s first appearance in The Tenth Planet.  They want to power up their dying planet by draining the Earth of its energy.  Now, in Tomb of the Cybermen, it’s established that the Brotherhood of Logicians want to bring the Cybermen back because, you know, Cybermen are logical and it would be great to have someone logical running things.  (If only…)  Yet these logical giants are trying to jumpstart their car battery with a Boeing 747 engine.  This would typically send your car flying through the neighbor’s house wiping out their sitting room and mother-in-law’s guest room in the process without actually starting the car!  They don’t realize that hooking their jumper cables from Mondas to Earth will literally blow their entire planet up.  In fact, all the First Doctor has to do through this story is die of boredom.  He lets the Mondasian’s do their thing and watches as the blow themselves to smithereens.  Here’s a better idea: maybe use some of that logic to build a shutoff valve!  Or a gauge!  Or build solar panels…

#9) The Second Doctor encounters his own people in The War Games where the War Lord is building an army to take over the universe.  He’s building it by stealing armies from all time periods and having them fight to the death so that the handful that remain can be his actual army.  Because, you know, they wouldn’t be exhausted by then at all.  And obviously, there is something to be said about the Darwinian solution to weed out the chaff.  Unfortunately for him, this just gets him noticed.  Imagine gun runners testing all their weapons down by the deli… maybe someone will take notice?  This is why underhanded activity is usually done in the shadows.  Alas, Monocle-maniacal geniuses don’t really think things through.  They’re short sighted in both eyes, but wear a monocle which only helps them get half way there.

#8) The Daleks aren’t the sharpest lot in the universe, regardless of what Chris Eccleston said about them in Dalek.  In The Dalek Invasion of Earth their big plan involves hollowing out the earth’s core to fly it around the universe as a really big spaceship.    Why couldn’t they do this with any other planet?  They could pull off their plan without anyone noticing if they used a … I don’t know… deserted planet?  But even so, why do it at all?  What’s wrong with actually building ships?  They’d be more maneuverable, certainly.  Surely there are better ships than a giant planet.  This is obviously a result of them getting transmissions of Space: 1999 and thinking in Dalek, “gee-that-is-a-re-ally-great-i-dea.”    How do you disembark anyway?  Leap?  Oh, wait, “E-le-vate…”

#8a) The Tractators of Frontios are a second runner up for the same genius idea.  Hollow out a planet, boom, there’s a jolly good ship to fly around with.  How do you pilot it?  No idea.  I mean, do you put a helm at the North Pole?  And how do they disembark?  At least the Daleks can levitate.  Ah, make really big ramps, roll up into pill bug roundness, and away they go…

#7) Because his creations are so smart, one has to look at Davros in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.  Here, our genius geneticist has a great idea.  And I quote: “Detonate the reality bomb!”  Let’s take a second: your big plan is to wipe out all of reality?   This, typically, involves being caught in the explosion since there is actually nowhere else to hide.  At all.  Fact.  This doesn’t even send the message like the Master does during Logopolis because he’s not even trying to send one (like “all hail the Daleks, destroyers of everything”).  No last minute dose of fear to instill in the universe at large.  He just has this whim to wipe out reality.  Believe me, there are some situations that make me wonder if that’s not actually a great idea, but typically, I can’t see working on such a bomb; one false move and…

#6) It really is hard to say what’s worse: detonating reality, or creating reality TV?  In Bad Wolf the Daleks are pulling humans as livestock to create more Daleks.  They are actually using, in the Doctor’s own words, the “stink of humanity”.  There’s a lot to take in here.  Let’s skip the “reality tv is for the stink of humanity” analysis for another day.  Perhaps if the Daleks were setting up science fiction conventions and having a contest where the winners were taken to the “set of a new film” wherein the Daleks were then harvesting them, they would have had a better class of livestock!  But besides that, gone are the Robomen and, well, every other half-decent idea for pulling in slave labor.  This is literally creating the pretense of a reality show to ultimately do what they were going to do anyway: conquer.  But at least they did it with the ratings in their favor!  The whole story is this long game (<– I know…) where they are creating Daleks while waiting to be found out so they can make their move.   Why didn’t they make their move sooner?  The season wasn’t over yet and they were obviously enjoying the ratings war!

#5) In the miraculously weak Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a group of scientists want to bring back the Golden Age.  This isn’t the 60s when all good TV was starting out and when channels signed off at night with the national anthem and color bars until morning; oh no!  This group of wizards want to bring us back to prehistoric times.  You know, pre-plumbing.  No hot water, no microwave ovens… not even a digital watch.  (Who will come down from the trees then?!)  Ok, lunatic president or getting eaten by a velociraptor, you decide?  A night in with the wife watching Netflix or a night out hunting saber toothed tigers for food?  A quick trip to the loo where you can flush, or a quick trip to a hole in the ground 50 meter away so you don’t smell it and hope you’re not eaten in the process.  “Where’s daddy?”  “He went to the toilet”  “Wasn’t that three days ago?”  “Yes, but there’s been a T-Rex lurking around down there and I’m still holding out hope that daddy’s hiding somewhere!”   The more I think about it, the more I realize they were probably working on a pitch for a reality sitcom set in the cretaceous.

#4) The Master, known for such genius ideas as summoning a god with the intent to control him or her (on at least 2 occasions), has a great idea.  Take over the Earth by making everyone a clone of himself in The End of Time.  For a megalomaniac, how would this work?  Any one of them would give the other orders that another would not follow because, well, he too is the Master.  Like a computer, you can’t have multiple master drives, and the same should go for the Master.  But no, his big idea is to make so many of himself that if he’s ever put on trial on, say, Skaro, he has plenty of scapegoats and still plenty of chances to get away!  In fact, had he taken over another planet, say Peladon, we could have had an excuse as to why he shows up time after time even having been defeated the episode earlier.  Crushed under a steamroller?  No problem, grab a Peladonian Duplicate and we’ve got another Master story in the works!

#4b) Logopolis really warrants a hard look.  When I reviewed it recently, I realized just how much of it is the Master trying to pull a prank on the Doctor.  He somehow knows the Doctor got a new tape measure for Christmas and gets to an actual police box first, knowing the Doctor will materialize around it solely to measure it.  (Clearly the Fourth Doctor was bored!)  This gives them time with this puzzle box for the Doctor to work on, all while the Master is literally laughing at him.  Every step the Master makes seems designed not to hurt the Doctor but to get a punchline out before the Doctor can see it coming.  It’s impossible to ignore once you watch it with that realization.

#3) The Time Lords, normally a little iffy on their plans anyway, like when Hedin used the Doctor as a template for bringing back Omega instead of any of the less reputable members of society (the Master included), come up with a real whopper in Heaven Sent.  Here, they decide to lock the Doctor up and torture him for 4.5.   Billion.  Years.  Why?  To find out what he knows about “The Hybrid” that will destroy all of Time Lord society.  By Rassilon’s Underwear!  4.5 billion years and nothing happened to Gallifrey in that time and they think there’s validity to this prophesy?  It’s like waiting for that last paycheck from the video store I worked at when I was 16.  I don’t think it’s coming, but maybe I’ll sit by the mailbox waiting.  And that’s no 4.5 billion years ago, contrary to some of my friends beliefs…  Not to mention: a) you think they might just try to ask him, what with him having saved all of Gallifrey from utter annihilation?  Maybe he actually likes his own kind to some extent and deserved a question instead of billions of years of torture!  b) Maybe there are no psychologists on Gallifrey but someone must have read a book!  I mean most Gallifreyans retire to Earth anyway; someone must have gone to a bookstore.  (Earth is Gallifreyan for “Florida”, where all old Time Lords retire.)  Didn’t anyone think: maybe 4.5 billion years of torture might snap the Doctor and make him the Hybrid?  Maybe?  We know what to get any of our Time Lord friends for Christmas: Psychology 101 textbooks?

#2) How can we ignore this Brainiac?  “Nothing in ze world can stop me now!”  I have to hand it to Professor Zaroff in The Underwater Menace, he actually comes up with something more idiotic than the Time Lords.  He’s going to split open a crack in the earth to make the oceans pour into the liquid hot magma to create a pressure cooker that will blow the planet earth up.  He’s not doing this for revenge or any other moderately sensible reason.  You know why he’s doing it?    “The achievement, my dear Doctor. The destruction of the world. The scientists’ dream of supreme power!”  I had no idea that was what motivated scientists!  I’ll never look at Al Einstein the same way again.  Good Time Lord, I’ll have to reevaluate everything Hawking said about black holes now too!  Supreme power to a Dalek may be blowing up a world, although it gives a scary insight into politics on Skaro (and in some cases, perhaps the United States) but I can’t get behind such actions.  I suppose I’ll have to vote for Davros; at least when reality goes out, I expect it will all just stop rather than the terror of blowing up.  Although, maybe I’ll be shot to another planet, just like…

#1)  The winner for the most idiotic plan goes to…:   Mestor, the long eared donkey… no, sorry, not Nestor… Mestor, (also a donkey but under another name) has a plan in The Twin Dilemma.  He’s going to seed the galaxy with his eggs by blowing up Jaconda and letting the eggs float out and land wherever they can. His slug-children will grow up to be well adjusted, I’m sure.  Let’s hope they land on planets where they can breathe, or move assuming gravity works in their favor.  Will “Mess-tor” be there to find out if those eggs didn’t just coast into the sun?  Who knows?  I think it’s a great idea!  Farmers should try this: put all your eggs in one basket, put a grenade next to the basket and watch the eggs go land all over the country where they will undoubtedly grow into healthy chickens.  That’ll work.  Or not…  First off, you need some damned strong eggshells.  Based on how temperamental Mestor was, I’d say his were pretty thin or people wouldn’t have been so afraid of walking on them.  Second, really?!  Look, we know Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen tried a similar tactic, but she must have heard about this idea from someone who knew Mestor.  That or she watched John Carpenter’s Dark Star and probably had the song Benson Arizona queued up on her iPod because her idea was to blow up the earth and surf home on the crest of the explosive wave in Boom Town.  That’s a thing?  Sure is!  Mestor was blowing up his children, at least she has a surfboard.  This is like blowing up a marina in New York to coast to Ireland.  It’s a great idea, if I can avoid flying, but that would be one hell of a surfboard.  Anyway, while they may technically both tie for the most horrible idea, Mestor got there first so he takes the #1 position in my book!

There are so many fun plans we can look at in Doctor Who.  I had a number of strong contenders for this list, but in the end, I think these are some of the most idiotic we’ve seen to date.  But hey, the universe is a big place and it takes all sorts!  Now and then, there might even be a good plan out there…  ML

This entry was posted in Doctor Who, Random Chatter, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top 10: The Worst Laid Plans…

  1. Mike Basil says:

    When I adapted the Terrible Zodin for my Continuum City, her megalomaniacal plan for universal domination via the usurping of her city’s gravity technology felt down-to-basics enough. Maybe it could have my own hopes of dispensing with something that would’ve inevitably been unrealistic.

    Thanks for this specific review. I think megalomaniacal threats in the Whoniverse can quite often be questionable, even if they make the villains as villainous characters real enough.


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