(with GERRY DAVIS & DONALD TOSH, UNCREDITED)
THE TOYMAKER &
THE TRILOGIC GAME
'LOST IN TIME' DVD BOX SET (BBCDVD1353)
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER 2004;
AND 'THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER' AUDIO CD (ISBN 0-563-47855-3) RELEASED IN APRIL 2001.
Somewhere outside space and time waits the Celestial Toymaker, an enigmatic being who ensnares unwary travellers into his domain to play out his dark and deadly games. If they lose, they ARE CONDEMNED TO BECOME the Toymaker'S PLAYTHINGS FOR ALL eternity. For in the malevoLENT WONDERLAND THAT IS HIS Toyroom, nothing is just for fun...
THREE OF THE FOUR EPISODES ARE MISSING - ONLY "THE FINAL TEST" SURVIVES.
The Celestial Toymaker
2ND APRIL 1966 - 23RD APRIL 1966
1. THE CELESTIAL TOYROOM 2. THE HALL OF DOLLS
3. THE DANCING FLOOR 4. THE FINAL TEST
The Celestial Toymaker is one of the first Doctor’s most recognised stories; a curious feat considering that William Hartnell is hardly in it and that only one out of its four episodes survives today. Perhaps this serial is so well-remembered because it is well and truly out there; a highly experimental ‘sideways’ story which seems to have hit the mark.
Michael Gough has to be given a tremendous amount of credit for his beguiling performance as the Toymaker. He spends half the story playing a game against a silent, disembodied hand and yet he still manages to impress. The resolution of the story is executed particularly brilliantly by Gough, who unwittingly foreshadows Rassilon’s riddle in The Five Doctors – “To win is to lose, and he who wins shall lose.” The sequel that never materialised on television is also delectably set up, and I can’t help but lament the fact that we never got to see Michael Gough versus Colin Baker as planned.
“…then your battle will never end?”
However, despite the imagination of the story and the brilliance of the Toymaker, I’m not convinced that this serial deserves its lofty reputation. The Trilogic Game which so much of the story revolves around completely lacks suspense as the audience is left ignorant as to its rules. The only real tension comes from how few moves are left, meaning that Steven and Dodo’s race against time to win the Toymaker’s games (and thus get the TARDIS back) has to really hold the audience’s attention, and in my case it didn’t. Whilst Peter Purves’s Steven does his strong right arm routine with perhaps a little bit more panache than usual and Peter Stephen is grotesquely superb as ‘schoolboy’ Cyril, Jackie Lane’s Dodo incessantly falls for each and every one of the Toymaker’s transparent tricks, even befriending his obvious stooges. Such stupidity doesn’t evoke sympathy in me, but spite.
The Celestial Toymaker was nonetheless way ahead of its time and, even as three audio soundtracks and one orphaned episode, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment. More involvement from Hartnell (who goes missing part-way through the first episode and doesn’t show up again until six minutes into “The Final Test”) could have injected the early episodes with that little bit of steel that I find they lack. Indeed, had the Doctor’s sparring with the Toymaker in the final episode been sustained across the whole serial it could have potentially been a bona fide classic.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design
and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
‘Doctor Who’ is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.