The Celestial Toymaker

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bobmcpherson
 
 
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Watched ep 4 last night.

Random thoughts.

Much has been written about the serial. Either it is a lost masterwork of rare genius or(if you are Philip Sandifer) it is a racist disaster that should be burned and the ground sewn with salt.

My position. There is only one surviving episode so therefore it is impossible to make an fair and balanced evaluation. Period.

From ep 4 it looks like it was well mounted with a good cast---with Steven and Dodo carrying the story while Hartnel was on holiday. This appears to have been the first of the WHO surreal stories that we would get from time to time and is a recurrent theme in much Sci Fic TV...see THE AVENGERS, various Star Trek eps, BABLYON 5. The Brits DO seem to have had terrifying childhoods. Guess it comes from growing up under all those Labour govts?? ;)

Michael Gough as the Celestial Toymaker is DEFINATELY not supposed to have been oriental. He is basically playing a calmer version of Michael Gough. He was a major movie star at the time so getting him must have been a coup. Was he the first MAJOR Brit actor to appear in WHO?? How did they ever manage it?? It is hard to judge his performance since we are missing three fourths of it but he seems fine to me.

Big fan of Gough so his presence here is a good thing.

Hartnel's third seasons seems---for obvious reasons---the most neglected in fandom and that is a pity because it appears to have been the most important after the First and until Troughton's third/Pertwee's first. There is so much going on in this season regarding companions, story directions, the Doctor's origins, the establishment of a galactic empire that Pertwee would later run with etc etc AND one of the more interesting is the concerted attempt to create another major villain for the Doctor after the Daleks. The end result would be the Cybermen but with the Monk and the Toymaker, we have the first attempts to create the Doctor's Moriarty figure that would eventually become the Master..........AND I suspect the Toymaker had a direct influence on the Black Guardian in some way.

I think the best way to view this serial is as a set up story. The whole thing seems intended to introduce and establish the Toymaker AS the Doctor's main villain who would be a returning character. That it never happened leaves the serial sort of hanging in the air. What ever happened to the Toymaker??? Whatever happened to the Monk?

Ep 4 seems a solid one to me....as much as one can tell. I very much like how the Toymaker appears to get one last shot at the Doctor with Cyril's candy and how the final shot is of the candy lying on the Tardis floor? Poison? No but still...........
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bobmcpherson wrote:Watched ep 4 last night.

Random thoughts.

Much has been written about the serial. Either it is a lost masterwork of rare genius or(if you are Philip Sandifer) it is a racist disaster that should be burned and the ground sewn with salt.

My position. There is only one surviving episode so therefore it is impossible to make an fair and balanced evaluation. Period.

From ep 4 it looks like it was well mounted with a good cast---with Steven and Dodo carrying the story while Hartnel was on holiday. This appears to have been the first of the WHO surreal stories that we would get from time to time and is a recurrent theme in much Sci Fic TV...see THE AVENGERS, various Star Trek eps, BABLYON 5. The Brits DO seem to have had terrifying childhoods. Guess it comes from growing up under all those Labour govts?? ;)

Michael Gough as the Celestial Toymaker is DEFINATELY not supposed to have been oriental. He is basically playing a calmer version of Michael Gough. He was a major movie star at the time so getting him must have been a coup. Was he the first MAJOR Brit actor to appear in WHO?? How did they ever manage it?? It is hard to judge his performance since we are missing three fourths of it but he seems fine to me.

Big fan of Gough so his presence here is a good thing.

Hartnel's third seasons seems---for obvious reasons---the most neglected in fandom and that is a pity because it appears to have been the most important after the First and until Troughton's third/Pertwee's first. There is so much going on in this season regarding companions, story directions, the Doctor's origins, the establishment of a galactic empire that Pertwee would later run with etc etc AND one of the more interesting is the concerted attempt to create another major villain for the Doctor after the Daleks. The end result would be the Cybermen but with the Monk and the Toymaker, we have the first attempts to create the Doctor's Moriarty figure that would eventually become the Master..........AND I suspect the Toymaker had a direct influence on the Black Guardian in some way.

I think the best way to view this serial is as a set up story. The whole thing seems intended to introduce and establish the Toymaker AS the Doctor's main villain who would be a returning character. That it never happened leaves the serial sort of hanging in the air. What ever happened to the Toymaker??? Whatever happened to the Monk?

Ep 4 seems a solid one to me....as much as one can tell. I very much like how the Toymaker appears to get one last shot at the Doctor with Cyril's candy and how the final shot is of the candy lying on the Tardis floor? Poison? No but still...........
The first major British actor to appear in Who was Hartnell, not Gough.
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Some people think/thought this is/was a racist serial? Man, you have to try to be offended to believe that. Oyyy!
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it's the use of the nigger version of eeny meeny miny moe and the wearing of a Chinese mandarin costume by a non-Asian actor.
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SMurphy296 wrote:it's the use of the nigger version of eeny meeny miny moe
You mean the one and only correct version.
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SMurphy296 wrote:it's the use of the nigger version of eeny meeny miny moe and the wearing of a Chinese mandarin costume by a non-Asian actor.

Sigh yes. Leaving the first alone, the idea that it is "racist" for a non-oriental to wear Chinese garb is like saying if I wear a bowler and carry an umbrella it is racist against Brits.

I wonder if I will live to see the final rejection of the PC thought commissars? They are lethal enemies of human freedom, thought and western civilization. They are the modern book burners.

THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER is fine..............as far as I can tell.

And one of Britain's greatest heroes during WW 2 had a dog named Nigger. Are we going to write him out of the history books too? Besides apparentlty the word is Latin for Black. So I blame this all on the English public school system and that damned obsession with Latin.

Can't just call the dog Rover or Winston. No WE have to speak latin!!!
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Regarding Hartnell as a major British actor. He really was not known in the United States. He certainly appeared in films that played here. MOUSE THAT ROARED, THE WAY AHEAD(under the title immortal battalion I think) THE YANGTSE INCIDENT(under the title BATTLE HELL) are probably his biggest "hits."

But he was no where near the level of Michael Gough.....HORROR OF DRACULA, HORROR OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT, RICHARD lll, BLANCHE FURY, KONGA...........Gough was just below Cushing and Lee in the horror eschelon. There was a reason he was cast in the Batman films because he was a star.

Hartnell never really became "big" here until the 1980s when PBS began running the pre Tom Baker seasons. Ditto Pertwee but NOT Troughton who was known again due to his genre work with Hammer, Harryhausen and THE OMEN.

Conversely Jean Marsh and Julian Glover became big later but were they by the time of THE CRUSADES??

So I meant getting Gough to guest star in the show must have been a coup at the time........

No insult intended to Hartnell.
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dizee27 wrote:Some people think/thought this is/was a racist serial? Man, you have to try to be offended to believe that. Oyyy!
THE ARK is apparently racist and must be burned too.

It never ends with these people.

Sooner or later they will decide that Daleks are discriminatory against handicapped people in wheel chairs and call for them to be banned.
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absolute bollocks to call The Celestial Toymaker 'racist'.
You might as well say it's racist to call it "black and white television", it should be "african american and causasian" :lol:
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feline1 wrote:absolute bollocks to call The Celestial Toymaker 'racist'.
You might as well say it's racist to call it "black and white television", it should be "african american and causasian" :lol:
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bobmcpherson wrote:Watched ep 4 last night.

Random thoughts.

Much has been written about the serial. Either it is a lost masterwork of rare genius or(if you are Philip Sandifer) it is a racist disaster that should be burned and the ground sewn with salt.

My position. There is only one surviving episode so therefore it is impossible to make an fair and balanced evaluation. Period.

From ep 4 it looks like it was well mounted with a good cast---with Steven and Dodo carrying the story while Hartnel was on holiday. This appears to have been the first of the WHO surreal stories that we would get from time to time and is a recurrent theme in much Sci Fic TV...see THE AVENGERS, various Star Trek eps, BABLYON 5. The Brits DO seem to have had terrifying childhoods. Guess it comes from growing up under all those Labour govts?? ;)

Michael Gough as the Celestial Toymaker is DEFINATELY not supposed to have been oriental. He is basically playing a calmer version of Michael Gough. He was a major movie star at the time so getting him must have been a coup. Was he the first MAJOR Brit actor to appear in WHO?? How did they ever manage it?? It is hard to judge his performance since we are missing three fourths of it but he seems fine to me.

Big fan of Gough so his presence here is a good thing.

Hartnel's third seasons seems---for obvious reasons---the most neglected in fandom and that is a pity because it appears to have been the most important after the First and until Troughton's third/Pertwee's first. There is so much going on in this season regarding companions, story directions, the Doctor's origins, the establishment of a galactic empire that Pertwee would later run with etc etc AND one of the more interesting is the concerted attempt to create another major villain for the Doctor after the Daleks. The end result would be the Cybermen but with the Monk and the Toymaker, we have the first attempts to create the Doctor's Moriarty figure that would eventually become the Master..........AND I suspect the Toymaker had a direct influence on the Black Guardian in some way.

I think the best way to view this serial is as a set up story. The whole thing seems intended to introduce and establish the Toymaker AS the Doctor's main villain who would be a returning character. That it never happened leaves the serial sort of hanging in the air. What ever happened to the Toymaker??? Whatever happened to the Monk?

Ep 4 seems a solid one to me....as much as one can tell. I very much like how the Toymaker appears to get one last shot at the Doctor with Cyril's candy and how the final shot is of the candy lying on the Tardis floor? Poison? No but still...........
This is going to sound as though I agree more with Philip Sandifer than I actually do- personally I don't think he takes enough account of the context of the time. Still, he may exaggerate how racist this is, but racist it certainly is. That isn't to say that the production team were card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan, of course. Most racism is casual, and there was a lot more of it about in 1966.

There's a tendency among far too many people to see racism in terms of (ahem) black and white, as though everything and everyone is either "racist" or "not racist". Most of us live in a grey area I between; it's a bit of an extreme statement to deny that you're racist at all. I certainly don't.

I don't always agree with Philip Sandifer, but he brings an intelligent and fresh critical perspective not unlike that of the excellent About Time books- if you don't like his review of The Celestial Toymaker, try his reviews of The Tenth Planet and The Mind Robber. And Bob, I don't think you've addressed his points- you say that Michael Gough's performance wasn't intended to suggest a Chinaman, which is true. But that's not the point- Sandifer doesn't criticise his performance, but the costume and the slight "yellowface" make-up. And he's right about that. He's also right that "celestial" is an old-fashioned racist term for the Chinese.

I don't want to exaggerate- as I say, I think Sandifer takes too little note of the context. Also, there are degrees of racism, and this is quite mild and passive as these things go. But you can't seriously deny that racism is there.

Oh, and you might want to try the Loose Cannon recon of the first thre episodes. This is one of the worst episodes ever of Doctor Who for me, not because of the racism but because it's incredibly repetitive and boring.

Still, I agree with you about Season Three. It's exciting. It's varied. It's the last time you could honestly say that Doctor Who had no house style before Innes Lloyd came along and made it all formulaic. But that's a whole other thread!!!
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I am not going to argue since we are obviously diametrically opposed on the WHO IS A RACIST/WHAT IS RACISM question.

However HISTORICALLY speaking the word celestial in regards to the Chinese was hardly a racist one as the Chinese themselves considered China to be the Celestial Kingdom and the center of the known universe. And the Chinese then....no idea about now........were arrogant beyond belief.......which is why the country had such problems. Since they were supreme beings with a celestial empire therefore there was no room for improvement least of all from the ideas of Foreign devils.......their phrase not mine. It was actually the Chinese who, by today's terms certainly......were the racist ones.

So to call a Chinese a celestial was simply to call them by what they called themselves...........though I am certain foreign devils used it with a certain degree of irony.

Like referring to Islam as "the religion of peace."

But hardly racist.

Is Gough wearing yellow face? I did not notice. In fact I did not notice any make up at all............

The Toymaker is a celestial being who currently is on a Victorian era toy kick. His wearing a mandarin outfit would be period specific to the time period of the toys and games shown in the program. That celestial was another name for Chinese during the Victorian period was probably considered a bonus in the cleverness department.

There is real racism and then there is desired racism. I considered calling the CT that to be the later.

Sometimes a space alien is just a space alien.

In my opinion.
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bobmcpherson wrote:I am not going to argue since we are obviously diametrically opposed on the WHO IS A RACIST/WHAT IS RACISM question.

However HISTORICALLY speaking the word celestial in regards to the Chinese was hardly a racist one as the Chinese themselves considered China to be the Celestial Kingdom and the center of the known universe. And the Chinese then....no idea about now........were arrogant beyond belief.......which is why the country had such problems. Since they were supreme beings with a celestial empire therefore there was no room for improvement least of all from the ideas of Foreign devils.......their phrase not mine. It was actually the Chinese who, by today's terms certainly......were the racist ones.

So to call a Chinese a celestial was simply to call them by what they called themselves...........though I am certain foreign devils used it with a certain degree of irony.

Like referring to Islam as "the religion of peace."

But hardly racist.

Is Gough wearing yellow face? I did not notice. In fact I did not notice any make up at all............

The Toymaker is a celestial being who currently is on a Victorian era toy kick. His wearing a mandarin outfit would be period specific to the time period of the toys and games shown in the program. That celestial was another name for Chinese during the Victorian period was probably considered a bonus in the cleverness department.

There is real racism and then there is desired racism. I considered calling the CT that to be the later.

Sometimes a space alien is just a space alien.

In my opinion.
Isn't that a little black and white, though? There's too much of a tendency to label things as either "racist" or "not racist". The truth is usually both more nuanced and more interesting- and actually your own example of the history of the word "celestial" is a pretty good case of how.

Still, I'm afraid I just find the story dull- four episodes of repetitive silly games!
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Wearing a chinese costume isn't "racist" ffs.

Racism means prejudice against a race of people, saying they're all the same, all share the same negative characteristics.

This episode isn't saying Gough is Chinese (it's not even saying he's human, ffs!) and it's not saying Chinese people have any negative characteristics either.
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feline1 wrote:Wearing a chinese costume isn't "racist" ffs.

Racism means prejudice against a race of people, saying they're all the same, all share the same negative characteristics.

This episode isn't saying Gough is Chinese (it's not even saying he's human, ffs!) and it's not saying Chinese people have any negative characteristics either.

Yeah Racism....as currently defined........is usually meant as providing a series of negative pretexts by which a group can be discriminated against, persecuted, killed etc etc.

Though attributing positive aspects to a specific race.......say the French make the best cooks......is usually not something people get upset about so there are contradictions here which are exploited by various and sundry for political gain or even to simply win---by silencing one's opponent---a debate.

I have seen genuine examples of racism in movies.....THE BIRTH OF A NATION, THE ETERNAL JEW, most Blaxploitation films made in the 70s.......hell even Jackie Chan's LEGEND OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER but........at least in the ep available.......I just do not see it in CT. Heck. I do not even see the subject of race even come up AT ALL.

I am far more concerned with the way the Doctor speaks to the black priest in A TOWN CALLED MERCY(I winced) than I am with Michael Gough dressed as a Mandarin.

They should bring the Toymaker back for one ep and have him dressed like a barrister or Charles II or something just to put an end to this............

As for serial being boring? Cannot tell based on one ep. Audios...even animated reconstructions can NEVER recreate the actual experience.

We simply can not....nor ever will be able to evaluate THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER properly.
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That's a rather narrow decfinition of racism, and certainly isn't the one I'm using. Definitions vary depending on context, but the racism I see in The Celestial Toymaker is, essentially, stereotyping which reinforces certain attitudes and beliefs, probably quite casually held. We're not taking Birth of a Nation here. This is invariably what people mean when they speak about "racism" in old telly or film. There are degrees of racism, and thus milder form if it s everywhere, including (I have no doubt) my own head. I think there's enough there in the Toymaker's appearance and the word "celestial" to justify talking about racism. None of that means I go quite as fa as Philip Sandifer does (I think the context of time and lace is relevant), but we have to be able to talk about this sort of thing.

Bob, I see your point about being unable to judge the story in the absence of three of its episodes, but I'd argue that they do not, as far as we know, exist. All we can judge the story on is what remains, because one full episode and three re netted episodes is The Celestial Toymaker right now.
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I still don't see why it is "racist" to have some Chinese stylings in the baddie's "look".
It would be racist if it implied "this baddie is a Chinese. Chinese people are all like this. They're bad!"
It doesn't do that at all, as you well know. In fact, it is explicit that the baddie *isn't* Chinese. He's some kind of supernatural being with immense mental powers who just creates stuff by the force of his will (who on a whim has thought Chinese clothes would look cool). The story isn't set in China or even on Earth!
Doctor Who had different baddies every week from all manner of planets and times, with all manner of design choices. They designers and costume people decided to go for a Chinese look for that serial, probably as much for variety as anything else.
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I am wondering if the serial might not have been inspired by the George Pal TOM THUMB. There is scene in that where a Chinese toy brings all the other toys to life.

Even so you have to reach pretty far to decide that Gough is a negative stereotype of a Chinese character. It really is just Gough being nasty as usual while dressed as a Mandarin.


I am very capable of knowing REAL racism/bigotry when I see it and I just don't see it.

And I would point out that we can only judge the serial by its relics........which means we cannot really judge it at all.

It will be eternally inscrutable.

Any chance of a copy being out there somewhere.........anywhere???
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well you can read the novelisation and watch the re-con on YouTube, you get most of it!
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By the way one of....several reasons....IRON MAN 3 stank to high heaven was the absolute refusal of portray Iron Man's arch villain the Mandarin as being a Chinese wanting to bring back the Monarchy(with himself as Emperor) instead making him a boring blond WHITE businessman.

Now the idea that a Chinese can NEVER be portrayed as being a villain but only White men can be evil is about as genuinely racist as it is possible to be............

There were other reasons the movie stank but that is on the top of the list.
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