Mainly this is an excuse to squee (in an entirely non-shippy way, thank you very much) over Seven and Ace and their awesomeness in particular, and the fantabulousness of the Cartmel era in general, so do not expect reasoned critique. I'm also going to keep a tally of points where this story is better or worse than the latest two-parter, so beware of spoilers.
The big portentous opening scene with the Earth's radio emissions being picked up by ZOMG aliens. To be honest, it goes on slightly too long and then just finishes.
Ah, the joys of Mode 7 Double Height! CHR$(141) FTW!
No seriously, as any geek of a certain age can tell you, the credits (not the rest of the title sequence) were done with the Teletext mode of a BBC micro. Which meant that when I was ickle and writing fanfic-that-I-didn't-know-was-fanfic, I could get my computer to show me what the credit would look like when it inevitably got made.
Even apart from that huge nostalgia factor, the new series titles should be a bajillion times better given almost twenty years of graphics technology, but the logo looks like a taxi and the vortex isn't that exciting. First point to Remembrance.
I do wonder if they wanted us to think for a second that Rachel was the mighty Babs, recast, given that we've just been shown the school sign at this point, and they don't look completely dissimilar.
Seven and Ace, bringing the Doctor-Companion awesome from their very first ep.
He has a lovely "she's the awesomest companion of all apart from all the others" smile here. Compare with treating Martha like dirt. Point to Remembrance.
Did they have "School" signs like that in the '60s?
Starting a long tradition: Ace's boyfriend of the week. (La la la la la I can't hear you Paul Cornell Glitz was NOT the first.) Unfortunately, he's a Nazi and as we all know Nazis are Bad, mkay? And if you didn't know that, this story is going to point it out to you by grinding the Daleks = Nazis metaphor into the ground.
Tch, the money of the past, it so weird! Ace is new to this time travel business.
I love Rachel. She's so gloriously snarky to everyone, including the Doctor. It doesn't hurt that she sounds just a little big like Diana Rigg.
"Are you from somewhere else?" he asks, as they walk past the TARDIS. A big theme of the Ace years is of the TARDIS as home (that's not a wild extrapolation from that one bit at the end of Survival, honest). Immediately after this, some music kicks in to make us think something important's happening. There is a lot less music on this story than you'd get in the Murray Gold era, and the lack of it does make some scenes fall flat, particularly where the acting slips a bit. Have to give this one to the new series. Point for Evolution.
Group Captain Chunky Gilmore is Concerned.
So, basically, this whole story takes place in the two locations used in "An Unearthly Child". But they can't even be bothered to spell "Foreman" right. Thankfully, 16 years later Lloyd Rose comes along and retcons it so we need no longer worry. Evolution, on the other hand, did seem to be making an effort with the details. Point for Evolution.
Eyepiece-vision, yay! Tie with the new series.
"Listen to me, Brigadier!" Ben Aaronovitch had such a hard-on for UNIT.
Ace likes explosions.
"It isn't even remotely human.
And we finally actually see a Dalek. Since this isn't written by Terry Nation, we don't have to wait 'til the end of the episode for this amazing shocking revelation. But OK, the bling Daleks do look more menacing and generally capable of fucking your shit up than this guy. Point for Evolution.
The Doctor fighting off Ace's attempts to clean him off. I am not shipping them. Especially not from that similar bit in Fenric.
This is Group Captain Chunky Gilmore after he has just seen inside a Dalek casing for the first time. All right, I'm going to stop this now. Simon Williams is actually very good. It's just that he's got one of those sorts of faces.
Mike likes Ace's van stealing. He is secretly turned on by her transgressing 1960s gender roles. (I can't work out whether he wants her to top him or whether he wants to be the one who breaks her rebellious spirit. Probably both.)
"How did I get this brolly?" This seat-swapping business is just a small part of the cleverness with which the big exposition scene is rendered watchable. It's funny, and the fact that they're going somewhere in the van also gives it a sense of urgency.
"Who is this man?" "He's my Nazi friend, sir." "Oh, OK then."
Rachel and Alison = the '60s Liz and Jo. They fight crime! In knitwear!
This is Alison's reaction to Rachel's suggestion that maybe she can get answers out of the Doctor with her powers of flirting. Maybe if it was Ten, hon. Point for Evolution.
Scary Battle Computer girl. Separated at birth from the Scary Test Card girl from Life on Mars.
It's that guy, from that show! (No points awarded because of Casualty dude as Solomon.)
The Doctor and Ace discuss how no one remembers any alien invasions. At least Ace doesn't just say that she was <Fast Show>very very drunk at the time</Fast Show>. Thus Ace > Donna, but I have restricted myself to the Dalek 2-parter so I'm not counting this for Remembrance.
Ooh, says the audience, is it Davros? (Look, it worked on me. I was ten and my image of Davros came almost entirely from Target cover illos.)
"Will this one be friendly?" she asks, hefting her baseball bat.
"Elevate!" The series's first ever flying Dalek (shh, Davros in Revelation doesn't count) and it's actually pretty damn good.
Those lights are on because he's saying "Exterminate!" I think someone once did a thing about the ratio of "exterminate!"s shouted to actual shots fired, sort of the Dalek equivalent of bullet-deadliness-quotient, and Remembrance came out very badly. Here there are at least six. We probably ought to give this to the new series. Point for Evolution.
This extra is the worst actor in the whole story. He is wooden like whoa.
Ace remembered what he said last week about aiming for the eyepiece. Awesomeness.
Mike and Ace bond over blowing things up.
But look! Handporn! Mike has competition.
In fact, at this point Mike has just told Ace he wants her to meet his mum, which seems to be moving a bit fast, but she seems more interested in flirting with Rachel and Alison. This is her "I'm a mysterious time traveller, wouldn't you like to get to know me better?" face.
It's Geoffrey from Fresh Prince!
I really love this scene - it's the one about sugar, where the Doctor angsts about the consequences of changing history. I adore it. It's distilled essence of Cartmel era. Eccleston's "I can feel the Earth turning" bit - big whoop. This guy can stop the turn of the Earth if he feels like it, he just knows he shouldn't. I should point out before we go furthher that I am completely sold on the idea of Sylvester McCoy as a scary alien god.
"I thought you said he was an old geezer with white hair." This whole story is full of continuity porn, but it's continuity porn done well. This is of course the guy who's just had the "if you need me I'll be in the next room" line that Gatiss decided to echo in Unquiet Dead.
"Now that we've shagged [oh, they so have!], I'd like to take you to meet my Nazi friends."
Oh hai I upgraded ur baseball bat. (I'm sure someone's already macroed that over at ihasatardis, haven't they?)
Mi casket is pastede on yay. There is a lot of good effects work in Remembrance, but not here. In fairness this has to be a point for Evolution.
Mike shows his sexist colours by telling Ace to get dinner ready for when he comes home, which warrants an instant "toerag". Oh, you, Ace, with your slang, so completely written by middle class white boys twice your (supposed) age for pre-Watershed consumpion.
"Who else is gonna guard your back?" More Doctor/Companion awesome. Ace's Leela-ish-ness coming to the fore.
And then she smiles. Stop it! I am not shipping them! Not even a tiny bit.
"This country fought for the wrong cause in the last war." This story is not remotely subtle. But it is great.
Here is Ace thwacking the telly 'cos it doesn't come on instantly. I am so cheap for all the "Ace is a bit at sea in the '60s" stuff.
White kids firebombed her friend's flat you know.
Ah, the sweet sweet taste of metafiction!
And now we have all four Dalek props in one place at one time. Thanks to a high Dalek casualty rate, this story does actually give a convincing sense of big Dalek armies by the cunning deployment of the same set of operators. New series on the other hand makes a virtue of "there are only four and that's still scary as fuck", so we'll call this another tie.
The Doctor lashes up something from odds and ends. Not nearly enough of that in the new series, BUT he did do it with the DNA analyser in Manhattan so I will not count it as a point against.
Daleks really don't like music, do they?
"Who are you calling small?" Have I mentioned that I LOVE ACE? (Let's just pretend I've bothered with the obligatory story about how Sophie Aldred thought it was the stunt Dalek when it wasn't.)
And here they're all saying "Exterminate!" over and over. I think the novelisation retcons it as they wanted Ace alive but scared. Or something. But this scene is pretty much the nadir of Dalek scariness. Point to Evolution.
Aw, bless, he's so pleased that his little gadget works.
Alison really goes to town on it with the bat. I might be shipping Alison/Ace now.
"Ace, you're hurt." And it's Alison who goes to Ace first when she points out that she's still alive, actually, thx. That's it, I'm shipping them. She has the great benefit over Mike of NOT BEING A NAZI.
The Seven-n-Ace awesome continues. "I came to get my tape deck." "Where is it?" "In little bits."
I've always really liked the Imperial Dalek mothership's bridge. It seems properly alien. (The transition's actually really clever; the Doctor's just used the Daleks' restraint in using the power of their spaceship because of the possible effect on history as an example of why Ace's tape deck is bad, and then we go there. And the Doctor points up as well, and we pan up to see the bridge. I don't normally notice visual storytelling stuff so I like to gush over it when I do.)
"You look hungry, how about lunch?" Hee!
The Hand of Omega is completely safe here. Except from people who know the Greek alphabet.
Earlier, when I promised to stop mocking Simon Williams? I lied. Here is Group Captain Chunky Gilmore doing Flirting. Actually, he is Being Annoyed at the Doctor coming in and taking over, but based entirely on this scene I am shipping these two too. It's Liz/Brigadier only with more chemistry.
"Time Lords have an infinite capacity for pretension." "Noticed that." Yay! Martha is the new Ace, in case anyone hasn't realised yet.
"I was the Other once, you know." I love this stairway scene. I will happily pay the price of Looms for it.
The big it's-not-Davros reveal. She is very good at being creepy, almost all the time, but the idea that Ratcliffe doesn't realise it's her earlier on given that he's not got the same camera angles as we do is silly.
The Renegade Daleks' time controller. Cartmel moans on and on about this in Through Time as being insufficiently weird, given that it was available in the Innovations catalogue or whatever. But I really like that about it. I used to spend hours playing with the one at the Exploratory in Bristol pretending.
This is the Doctor's calling card. Note how it is completely lacking in thetas and sigmas (well, all right, fourth from the left on the top has the bottom half of a sigma), because they don't want to encourage the fanfic writers to keep using that as though everyone in the universe calls him it (*ahem* sorry, pet peeve), but does have a giant question mark, because this is the JNT era.
Mike stops in their flight from the deadly alien menace to ask Ace out. a) Bad timing, Mike. b) No Ace! Go with Alison! Alison!
Even if we accept that being an evil Nazi bastard means you must be thick, Mike gives himself away far too easily here.
The eggbox of the Daleks comes down to Earth. When it takes off again next episode, they just roll the film backwards. It's great.
"I think I might have miscalculated." I actually love the plotting of this story, the way the Doctor has his clever scheme but everything goes wrong and he only just about wins through.
Now, OK, just look at this. They anagrammised Terry Molloy's name because they didn't want everyone to figure out it was Davros inside the Emperor casing (though admittedly the anagram thing was a known stunt at this point so the hard core fans probably did). Compare and contrast with PUTTING THE HUMAN DALEK ON THE COVER OF THE FUCKING RADIO TIMES SO THAT EVERY TIME YOU GO INTO A SHOP IT'S STARING AT YOU WITH ITS GIANT DALEK EYE. TWO points to Remembrance.
Last episode, time for some Dalek Civil War. I'm not going to bother capping all the Daleks blowing each other up, but I do want to show you:
The Abomination. I <3 the Abomination so much. He's the Dalek who's so mad even the other Daleks shun him. (This is all in the book. On the telly he's just called the Special Weapons Dalek. He is still awesome even without the backstory.)
"You are the Doctor." "Yes." "You are the enemy of the Daleks." "Correct!" Definitely wins over all that "Go on then, just kill me!" misplaced Nine-stuff. Point to Remembrance.
"TARDIS plumbing, we're here to fix your drains. And your genocidal warmongering." Actually, I like the design work that gives the Daleks things they can operate with their suckers, but the new series has that too, so another tie.
"Kneeeeel." Black Dalek is a kinky git.
"Imperial Daleks are bionic blobs with bits on." I love this scene for the Doctor getting Ace to explain it all. They are such an awesome Doctor/companion combo. I may have mentioned that already.
"It's easy, when you have nine hundred years' experience." Everything that happens between here and Aliens of London is clearly some sort of complicated hallucination, then.
"No heroics." Awwwwww.
Rachel expressing her love of surprises. Her snark is mighty.
He's really bringing the scary alien god bit here, if you ask me. The reactions of the guest cast help sell it too.
OMFG WTF it's Davros!
They proceed to have a flame war. No, really, the Doctor is basically trying to troll Davros into baleeting his
"T1me L0rds suck! Teh Daleks will 0wnz0rz j00!"
"Yeeees, but what are your thoughts on yaoi?"
"Yaoi is gross! ... Daleks are only into hentai."
Remember kids, tricking your enemy into blowing up their home planet will merely cause an escalation of hostilities that will eventually force you to do the same to your own planet. Incidentally, the astrophysics of the supernova (as reported by the Daleks during the Hand's operation) are pretty accurate. Compare with lightning from a "gamma strike" from a solar flare IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FRICKING NIGHT. Point to Remembrance.
Davros's escape pod fleeing the destruction of the mothership. I have drawn a handy sports-commentary style diagram in case you are for some unimaginable reason having trouble identifying four slightly less-black pixels amongst the sparks. Pre-prepared excuses for inevitable villain return (that never happened on screen in this case thanks to the cancellation): tie.
Seven tells the last Dalek how it's alone and its existence is pointless and it spins itself into multicoloured death. Ten does the same thing and it just presses its Deus Ex Machina button. Point to Remembrance.
Time will tell, it always does. I love Seven because he is an Alien God who is trying his best and his best still isn't very good. The popular idea that he was an all-powerful master manipulator is just wrong, he's always having to rescue his plans at the last minute.
So, the final scores are:
Remembrance 7 - 7 Evolution
A not at all rigged tie! In conclusion: all of Doctor Who is great. But particularly the bits with Seven and Ace in.