Thursday, September 15, 2005

'The Celestial Toymaker'

4 episodes: 1 surviving

Of all the Doctor Who stories lost in the mists of time, this is perhaps the one that I most regret not being able to see. The premise appeals to my twisted psyche, I guess: the TARDIS lands in a fantasy domain constructed by the evil, immortal being the Toymaker, and its crew have to play a series of deadly 'games' against him and his seemingly playful but fiendish underlings in order to try and secure their freedom. It is one of the most out-and-out 'fantasy' stories the series produced and I have heard many good things about it over the years - and, I have to confess, until I started this mission I had believed it entirely lost. It was therefore with great delight that I discovered the final episode still exists, although having read the plot details of the others I am even more intrigued as to what I missed... I'm sure my rating would have been even higher had the whole story survived. What remains is brilliant, a mix of cunning childishness and sugar-coated brutality in the games that is ingenious. The Toymaker remains one of the most fascinating and best-portrayed Who villains, with a classic, universally-acclaimed performance from Michael Gough. Besides the absence of three-quarters of this serial, the greater shame is that we have been doubly cheated - he was due to reprise the role in 'The Nightmare Fair', a story proposed to open the cancelled Season 23 that was jettisoned when the series took its one-year hiatus in the mid-'80s. At least we got to see him a bit later in the four Batman films...


Episodes watched: 78
Episodes still to watch: 644

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