Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

WHO do you think you are??

4. The Nucleus of the Swarm

Hey y'all!

Okay, yet another highly original title for my latest post (NOT! Well, whatever...) Apologies for not writing sooner. I was intending on writing more frequently than this but keep getting side-tracked by things like job applications and interviews (yeah yeah, excuses excuses). Yesterday I had an interview for an internal position within my workplace, a managerial post. Not only was I subjected to the scrutiny of the interview itself, I also had to do a presentation. I spent ages preparing for the latter bit (all bloody weekend in fact) providing lots of ideas and information and a flash PowerPoint demo to accompany it. That part went well I think. It's interviews themselves that I hate and that bit seemed to go less well, I came out of it on something of a downer. No matter how much preparation I do I always seem to get caught out by questions I wasn't expecting and forget to say obvious things! So unfair when you know you are certifiable genius and could do the job standing on your head. Why can't they assess your skills and knowledge through some kind of sophisticated brain-scanning technique instead? I'm sure scientists could invent some kind of wonderful machine, the kind of thing you might see in .... Doctor Who for instance.

My, wasn't that a subtle segue?

Yes, once again I am returning to the oft-discussed topic of fave Dr Who things. And this will be the last for some time as I am becoming paranoid that I am boring the pants off people. Judging by the lack of response to this blog that may well be the case!! Only my friend Stephen has bothered to post comments in response to my posts, huh! Or maybe this blog just isn't getting enough publicity...well hopefully there's quite a lot of you out there reading this even if you're not responding, always a possibility...

Anyway, fave thing number 4 is none other than a lovely Dr Who monster who goes by the name of the Nucleus. Of the Swarm, no less. That's "him" above. Lovely-looking creature isn't he? The Nucleus, or Nukey as I prefer to refer to him (perhaps I should say "it", I'm not sure) isn't the most obvious of choices in a favourite list. In fact, he has to rank as one of the crappiest, most hilarious monsters ever to appear in Dr Who, outstripping even the Ergon and the Candy Man, to name a couple of other disastrous looking aliens from the show. But that's one of the reasons why I love him so much.

As mentioned in my "K9" post, the Nukey appeared in "The Invisible Enemy", a Tom Baker story of already dubious quality. In the aforementioned tale, the Dr's mind is taken over by a mysterious alien virus and he lapses into a coma (after attempting to shoot his companion Leela). In fact several other people succumb to this strange contagious illness. In typically tacky '70s fashion, the "infected" characters go around "converting" other people with what can only be described as crayoned-over-the-picture rays of light that pass from them to their victims. The newly infected characters then annouce that "Contact has been made". Scarey stuff.

Loyal companion Leela takes the Doc to the Bi-Al foundation, a hospital situated in the asteroid belt, to try and find a cure for the virus. The good Professor Marius comes up with an ingenious solution to the problem, which is to send a minaturised version of the Doc and Leela into the Dr's brain, where the virus is located and needs to be neutralised (not an entirely original idea though, for anyone who's seen the classic 1960s movie "Fantastic Voyage"!) The Dr clone tracks down the source of the virus - the Nucleus! - lurking in a dark part of the Dr's consciousness. Up until this point we'd only actually heard the voice of the Nukey, saying "shocking" things like "I am the Nucleus of the Swarrrrrrrrmmmm" and "The host must be protected!" in rasping, throaty tones. Ooooh! But finally we get to see the monster that has taken over Dr's mind!! And...well...

...erm...to put it bluntly, the Nukey resembles a black sack , with one pincer claw sticking out and waving around a bit, whilst screeching "I am the virus". Not terribly impressive and personally, I've never been able to look at a bin liner in the same way since. Hats off to Tom Baker though, who manages to act opposite a black plastic bag with remarkable composure. Then! Hey presto! Just as you are marvelling at the total abysmalness of the budget, the Doc shoots the Nukey, leaving a pile of smoking rubble! Hoorah! Has the black sack been vanquished?

NO!! Because this devious alien manages to escape from the Dr's brain to the real outside world, suddenly materialising inside the Professor's laboratory and growing to large proportions! And...the giant-sized realisation of the Nukey looks even crappier!! Those seeking proof need look no further than the photo above. Many critics have referred to the Nukey as an over-sized prawn, which sums him up pretty accurately. With a scaly body, giant green eyes and several pincers, as well as an array of quivering whiskers, one would be forgiven for thinking this creature had escaped from a seafood restaurant in Blackpool whilst becoming grossly enlarged in the process. Dear oh dear. The "cliffhanger" at the close of Episode 3 is one of the funniest ever, with Nukey Version 2 waving his pincers / claws around in disco-dancing fashion, like some kind of John Travolta-prawn hybrid. Poor old Nukey also seems to have some problems with mobility, having to get some of his minions to wheel him along on what appears to be a trolley under his "legs". Quite how we're meant to think this creature can threaten the entire universe when he can't even get from A to B is beyond me. When the Dr himself refers to the Nukey as a "pathetic crustation" one can't help feeling his words are all too true. But wait!! No!! We must not mock the virus! For as the converted Professor Marius says: "You are speaking of the Nucleus!! The Nucleus of the swarm!!"

However like most Dr Who baddies, old shrimp-features eventually gets his comeuppance. Toward the end of Episode 4, the Nukey has made himself nice and comfy in an incubation chamber on one of Titan's moons, and several hundred baby Nucleuses (Nuclei??) are about to hatch from some slimey looking eggs, ready to swarm across the cosmos. Aaaaaah!!! But once again the Dr saves the day, cunningly locking the Nukey inside the chamber with a piece of wire (??) and suffocating him (at least that's what it looks like). In his final scenes, we see the Nukey frantically trying to break open the incubation door, failing miserably (well, wire is VERY strong isn't it) and choking on clouds of smoke. Even if he had managed to get out it wouldn't have done much good, as the planet then blows up. Adios La Nukey!!

For me the Nucleus will always be one of the baddest (and I don't mean bad in the Michael Jackson sense) monsters from old school Dr Who. But I love him all the more for it. And whenever I eat a king-prawn curry, a feeling of nostalgia positively overwhelms me.

What's your crappiest Dr Who monster / alien? Send me your comments, purlease...

And beware, for "the age of the virus has begun" !!


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