Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #176)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the third season’s seventh story…

The Celestial Toymaker

The regular cast remains the same as last time (having achieved relative stability for a little while)… William Hartnell as the Doctor, Peter Purves as Steven Taylor and Jackie Lane as Dodo Chaplet.

The serial is written by Brian Hayles, and directed by Bill Sellars.

Individual episodes are called The Celestial Toyroom, The Hall of Dolls, The Dancing Floor, and The Final Test.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

This is the first time Doctor Who features a legitimate “cosmic entity” as the Doctor’s adversary, anticipating later creations like the Gods of Ragnarok or the Guardians. It precedes by more than half a year the character Trelane on Star Trek, who was a bit similar, and of course comes decades before Q from the same franchise. With this and the accompanying surreal set pieces and plot points, it expands the scope of the sort of stories Doctor Who could tell.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

The script reduces the Doctor’s presence in much of the adventure to a disembodied hand playing a tri-logic game. Watching the last episode (the only one still in the archives) reveals it to be tedious and dull, partly in consequence of this.

Catch you next time!

5 thoughts on “Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker

  1. Disagree with you on the dull of that last episode. Of course, they didn’t have much choice, Hartnell being either sick or on vacation (I forget which). Gough as a Chinese mandarin hasn’t aged well but I’d still love to see the whole thing.

  2. I don’t think I even realized that he was supposed to be Chinese. Yeah, that is a bit awkward, and also pretty unnecessary. Even if I found that last episode dull, I wholeheartedly agree with you that I’d love to see the whole thing (even if there are other stories I’d pick to rematerialize first).

  3. Although he’s not in yellowface (thank goodness) that’s definitely a Chinese mandarin style outfit, and “celestial” was an old term for a Chinese person.

  4. With Michael Gough’s distinction in the role, I for one don’t think about how he was intentionally dressed for it. Because he was a splendid actor who could make a role memorable for the character with the wardrobe blending in well enough. I think that I appreciated that most for his portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth for four Batman films.

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