Season24@30. People often refer to episode 1’s notorious cliffhanger but rarely the way its resolved which must surely rank as one of the most awkward. Somehow Glitz gets down to a ledge that was not there previously when we saw the Doctor’s feet dangling above a precipice. If Glitz managed to do that, why didn’t the Doctor use the easier route? Then the Doctor has to clamber down his mate in the most ungainly fashion. Combined with the clearly plastic `ice` that surrounds them it’s hard to imagine that even back in 1987 anyone was impressed.
Season24@30. Its very easy with thirty years hindsight to be picky about old Doctor Who but you do wonder exactly why this episode already has a great cliffhanger yet chooses to follow it with an incomprehensible one. Was this not obvious back then? Ace and Mel’s shadowy encounter with the monster is classic Who stuff and would have made for a perfect conclusion to matters. Instead the image of the Doctor dangling from his umbrella is left in the minds of the public for a week. These two opposing scenarios do sum up the episode rather well though. While there are a lot of interesting ideas drawing on all fantasy genres the staging is not the best and after the gusto of `Delta and the Bannermen` this seems like a step backwards though at the time longer term fans preferred it; I should know, I was one of them!
Some of the best bits of CT were the copies of press clippings and this issue features one about Verity Lambert taking over as Chairman of the BFI Production Board. Meanwhile Gary Russell is not pleased with the scheduling of repeats which are to be shown at 5.40 against the news and we can apparently all breathe a sigh of relief at the news that John Nathan Turner is staying on for the twentieth season.
Season24@30. We wouldn’t perhaps readily associate Sylvester McCoy as being the rebel Doctor but just look at what he gets up to in this episode. Tearing about the countryside on a motorcycle without a helmet, worrying cows, tying a ribbon on a goat and then being responsible for wrecking poor old Goronwy’s lovingly assembled collection of home made honey which he’s already mentioned goes back decades. Not that Goronwy seems to mind; in fact he makes a point of giving the Doctor a jar of the golden stuff at the end. Nothing much seems to phase him mind- the last shot of the story is of him seeing the Tardis dematerialise and looking as if he’s just seen the local bus go past. It is in this spirit that we too are invited to enjoy the final episode of a story that has managed to have a fairly high slaughter rate as Doctor Who goes yet still keep its shape as a rock and roll shindig of an adventure.
Gordon is gone! As might have been suspected Mr Blows does not retake the hot seat this month and Co-ordinator David Saunders explains he had returned to the publishing world and “therefore felt he did not wish to devote his Doctor Who time to doing that as well.” Nothing to do with his version of CT being unpopular with members and also upsetting the producer then? In case you think I’m being unduly harsh on Gordon, I should say his prior period editing the DWAS fanzine `Tardis` produced some brilliant material. Anyhow after proving more than capable last issue Gary Russell becomes the actual editor this time.
Season24@30. There’s a fab little moment which personifies this most unusual story. The Doctor lifts a wooden gate for Ray to drive her bike through and then goes back to close it (countryside code of course) but does so leaving himself still on the outside. There’s a look, a sort of half shrug and then he just ducks underneath. It’s a tiny bit of comic timing that shows both that this adventure will not be hemmed in by what we might expect from Doctor Who and also that it is a very playful story indeed. At times it is more like a moving postcard than an episode. This attitude is there all the way through starting with the resolution of the cliffhanger which is both clever and then later a bit silly. Gavrok prefers to send a signal to blow up his informant and all that is left afterwards is his pair of smoking blue suede shoes. Its an album cover at least! Yet later Gavrok can’t find Delta because he made the mistake of vapourising his informer.
|Gavrok on the lookout for space buns and tea!|
Dudley Simpson, who has died aged 95, clanged and chimed the soundtrack to my childhood and had a musical accompaniment for every new twist that Doctor Who took in the Seventies yet how much did I know about Dudley Simpson? Very little except he was Australian. I wonder what he thought sometimes when presented with the footage of some of those stories and how he managed to think of something to match them. There is no other composer whose incidental music I know so well- in fact there are very few I could even name!
Season15@40. Though in many respects a conventional mid - 1970s story, `Image of the Fendahl` is home to some experimentation. Robert Holmes’ final work as script editor suggests a path the series might take which as it turned out didn’t happen. Instead the story stands in splendid isolation at the end of the so called `gothic` era of the show and it’s production values- in the very capable hands of George Spenton-Foster shine along with Chris Boucher’s intriguing storyful of high concepts. There are enough brain popping ideas in here for several stories and Boucher pulls them together for what was also his final contribution to a show whose appeal he seemed to implicitly understand.
Season24@30. A smorgasboard of ideas tapping into an iconic era this episode packs as much into 25 minutes as some stories do into 90. It is buzzing with concepts aplenty from an escaped alien Queen, time travelling holidays, a machine that changes various species into whatever form they need to be in for the holiday and a coach that is actually a spaceship. It’s the sort of mix we might expect in a modern story but for it to turn up in 1987 in the original series is surprising. It seems clear we can trace a line through this season from `Time and the Rani’s` final backwards look to Doctor Who as it had been in recent memory through `Paradise Towers` sometimes frustrating mix of old and new to this shiny example of Doctor Who as it could be. It is a hugely enjoyable visual feast and do you know what the weird thing is? When it was shown thirty years ago I didn’t like it!