Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker
(4 episodes, s03e30-e33, 1966)
As I watched The Celestial Toymaker, I realized that this serial was probably better when it was originally aired. It seems to depend on visuals to carry the narrative as the companions work through puzzle after puzzle to escape from the Toymaker’s trap, and I tried to consider that as I watched the reconstructions.
The trap is pretty simple, as it is a series of challenges that test the heroes in wit and intelligence. If they win, they can leave, but if they lose, they stay with the Toymaker forever. In the end, even if the Toymaker didn’t cheat at every turn, he would have won if not for the Doctor’s cunning, and that leads me to an overarching question: “Why bother?”
In reality, this serial had no point except to show the sadism of the Toymaker, and that could have been condensed into two episodes at most. Sadly, this odd little story was rather tedious and boring.
This marks another serial that is less powerful due to the lack of the Doctor, who is conveniently struck both incorporeal and struck mute in an effort to send William Hartnell on vacation. Unfortunately, this leaves Steven and Dodo to carry the serial. Fortunately, Steven isn’t as annoying in this one, and Dodo is still adorable. These two just aren’t enough to propel a story, particularly when it isn’t especially strong to begin with.
Of note, it was fascinating to place this serial in its time with the racial slur buried in the “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” nursery rhyme.
I tried to remain positive about this tale, but in the end, I’d rather never see it again.
Rating: 1/5 – “EXTERMINATE!”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Gunfighters
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.