Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Serial 56: The Mind of Evil

Doctor: Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor)
Companion: Jo, Benton, Mike Yates, The Brigadier

Written by: Don Houghton
Directed by: Timothy Combe

Background & Significance: After the rousing success of "Inferno", the Doctor Who production team of Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts asked that story's writer, Don Houghton, to return for the subsequent season to contribute another story to the show. To direct, they brought in Timothy Combe, who had successfully directed "The Silurians" in the previous season.

So really, they were just setting themselves up to win.

This result was "The Mind of Evil", the second story of Pertwee's second season. For those keeping score at home, yes, that means we have some Master here. But more interestingly/importantly, it also means we're in the middle of the UNIT heyday. The Doctor is still confined to Earth and, aside from a small stint in low orbit in the previous season and a quick pop over to a parallel Earth (also last season but I hardly think these count), he hasn't even left it in quite a while. It wouldn't be till the next story that he gets limited control of his TARDIS back and the story after that, he's suddenly able to jump off world for the occasional adventure abroad, which wouldn't subside ever, effectively killing the UNIT era, or at least dooming it to a slow and painful death.

But this story at least allows some form of status quo, and a proper Master story the likes of which we haven't seen before. Last time we had to introduce him. This time we get to see what he can do. And we get to see UNIT deal with it.

If there's one sadness about this story, it's that it only exists in black and white. Then again, I can't complain too much because that gives it the look of a badass, dashing 60s spy movie. Unlike "Ambassadors of Death" (where the black and white is nowhere near as effective), this comes off closer to the first episode of "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", where the black and white creates far more ambiance and soul to the show than anything in colour could have. But it's a nice last hurrah for Houghton and Combe, both of whom never return to the program (the former because he got a better gig working for Hammer films, the latter because he couldn't keep this story to budget in any meaningful way) and one of the first last hurrahs of the UNIT era.

So let's get to it!


Part 1:

Right up front, the thing I like most about this episode is the way it presents two completely unrelated stories and ties them together neatly at the end. Well… almost neatly anyways.

I’ll also admit, right up front, that I found the thing rather boring. When I first watched this story (not this time) I was trying to watch it on my iPod and it was sunny out and the conditions were (needless to say) less than ideal. I responded by watching the first part a second time, trying to figure out what it was I didn’t possibly get the first time around. The answer, as it turns out, was not very much. It’s a very slow first part with lots of pieces to set up and organize before the story can move forward. Based on “Inferno”, this is something Houghton likes to do and it makes Doctor Who much more novelistic in the way something like Luck is novelistic (truth be told, Luck is my current obsession, so…). He makes you wait for all the good stuff, but you have to have faith that the good stuff will be worth it.

“So far”, the jury’s out on whether or not it is.

Houghton does do a good job with giving us two different storylines to chew on in the meantime. This is a step up from “Inferno”, which initially only presents us with a single storyline, saving the second storyline for the middle four episodes. What almost saves it (I’ll admit it is tedious and dull) is the fair amount of intrigue you get in both storylines. The Keller Machine is at the very least a promising prospect even if it doesn’t do much in this story so far. The idea of “making people better by using shortcuts” is a story device I’m always intrigued by despite the fact that it’s inherently one-sided (hint: it’s the side The Doctor’s on. Always). And the idea of people getting killed by their fear is also intriguing and makes me think “oh man this machine is EVIL!” Which is the point.

And it does give us the nice cliffhanger of “THE DOCTOR IS GETTING BURNED” and some lovely cliffhanger face, so it’s not all bad.

Moving away from the less-than-living-up-to-its-promise-so-far Keller Machine, we have what’s going on with The Brigadier and UNIT (and an even third storyline that’s buried amidst everything else, which is a nice setup on Houghton’s part) as they deal with a peace conference and the bizarre and strange actions of a young female Chinese lieutenant named Chin Lee, who is quick to point fingers when nothing seems to go her way. It’s a little silly (it’s got the Brigadier, it has to be a little silly) how The Brigadier gets the best of her by using something so simple as besting her in a “who knew what time it was” trick, but it is intriguing and interesting. Granted, I don’t give a damn about the Chinese OR this peace conference (my interests are elsewhere and it’s simply introduced as base intrigue: these are my excuses), so it’s a bit lost on me.

But it also gives the feeling that nothing much happens in this episode. And really, nothing does. It’s a whole hell of a lot of setup for not a lot of payoff. The only that thing that ties these two together is the notion that the Chin Lee has something of a connection to the Keller Machine, although what that is, we don’t quite know yet. It’s these things that are interesting this early on, but for twenty five minutes it doesn’t quite accomplish a whole hell of a lot. It’s like the first three chapters of your average novel. You gotta get about fifty pages in before the major cool awesome things start happening.

I’ll also mention very briefly that Jon Pertwee is a delight in this. I love him doing everything from waving at the camera on his way in to him sass talking during the demonstration or even the part where he’s SO insulted at everyone else for thinking that he is NOT a scientist. It’s lovely, and you can tell that Pertwee’s having a hell of a good time. That’s always nice to see, isn’t it? It’s just a lovely time and a good, enjoyable outing for him early on. There’s nothing like Pertwee running around having a good time, which means… well… I guess it means we’re off to a great start then, aren’t we?

Part 2:

One of the things I love about a slow burn story (and that’s what we’re in given the methodical nothing of the first episode) is that once all the pieces are in place, the story is suddenly able to rocket along and pay off all the things it’s been setting up in the moments leading up to the breaking point.

And the thing I like about this episode is that all of a sudden it feels like tons and tons of things are happening when, in fact these things aren’t quite happening at all. The end of this episode ends on a massive riot/takeover of a prison (which is a good, awesome thing; love a good prison drama) and an attack on the American delegate that gives us the nice punctuation of an “oh sh*t” moment as the “Chinese Girl” we’ve been seeing so far (Chin Lee) proves herself to be far more than just a puppet. She’s got the power to be a vicious killer.

Now, I’ll admit that it is problematic. It’s no secret that Doctor Who in the Classic Era was never the most racially progressive of shows, and the fact that the “oh sh*t” moment of the story so far when it comes to the delegate/peace conference storyline is based on the American dude rather than the Chinese dude is something of a slap in the face. The American dude is there to give the story scope and stakes; the Chinese dude is there to lie dead on the ground. Likewise, Chin Lee turns into a dragon and is there to be evil (and not much else). So although Houghton’s intentions were strong to begin with (he wrote the part with his wife in mind because there weren’t many parts back then for Chinese actors, much less female ones), I think if he looked back on it nowadays he'd see that it probably didn't come off nearly as well as he probably wanted it to.

But it does work. Kinda. The only reason it really works as well as it does is because The Doctor links the storylines together with one line of dialogue.

That’s a cheat though, isn’t it? And a cheap cheat at that. The only reason The Doctor is capable of deducing that the Chin Lee is the same one who helped install the Keller Machine at the prison is because both characters happen to be Chinese.  It’s not quite the most enlightened of moments. I mean, there are bound to be tons of Chinese people in London alone, let alone in all of England or the rest of the world. That these two are connected is next to pure coincidence. I mean, it’s not even like the Chinese delegate was “scared” to death or whatever. No. He was murdered. And now The Doctor’s looking for Chin Lee because she’s Chinese? Ehhhhhh…. Doctor… Come on.

Granted, the audience doesn’t question this because we want both of these stories to collide AND because we’re privy to the fact that Chin Lee is working with The Master.

Yes, The Master is in this. Right here in episode two. The Master shows up. I think what makes it most interesting is the way Houghton portrays the Master’s reveal and his subsequent actions. By giving him a completely silent sequence and allowing him access to the narrative for several minutes of complete silence, we’re enthralled. We want to hear Delgado’s voice, we want to see him do something crazy. And the second we want something from a character, that gives them power. Suddenly Delgado has a commanding presence and complete control over the audience and the fact that he doesn’t talk and he doesn’t say anything more than is absolutely necessary makes it one of the most effective Master introductions I think I’ve ever seen.

So the stories crossover, and it’s interesting how they do. Suddenly a different story thrusts its way to the forefront: that of Yates transporting the missile, and the only reason this story becomes as important as it is is because The Master spends a good portion of his time in this episode tracking down this missile and where it’s going to be and such. That he engages with it is enough, and that he manages to do it through nothing but dramatic irony (we know about it but The Doctor and UNIT do not) gives it even more drama and tension. Hell, The Brigadier, The Doctor, and Jo are nowhere near this storyline and already it’s the one that we’re most focused in. How crazy is that?

And it’s the fact that Houghton manages to juggle all these balls in the air at the same time that makes this story work as well as it does. It’s already filled with intrigue and excitement. There’s a lot to go on, a lot to keep track of, and it never feels overwhelming. You have to pay attention, sure, but it’s a testament to the strength of the storytelling that the Keller Machine is barely even in this episode at all. I mean, it’s there at the beginning and then The Doctor shuts the room down and the Keller Machine is effectively benched for the rest of the episode. Sure, Chin Lee harnesses its power to get rid of Benton and she later uses it to attack the American Senator dude, but beyond that…

Bet you didn’t notice that, did you? That’s the strength. There’s so much else good going on that you don’t even realize that one of the vital components of this story has gone missing.

Part 3:

Remember that part where I said that if you just stick with a Houghton story, it’ll pay off and then some?

Yeah. So that happened.

The thing that makes this story work and work so well is the way Houghton crosses between the three different storylines and manages to weave them all together so expertly that… you really don’t realize it’s happening until you’re right in the thick of it. The key linchpin of this is The Master, who spends about an episode and a half sitting in his car not really doing much of anything. But once he properly enters the narrative, going in and getting his hands dirty, the narrative kicks into high gear and doesn’t really let up at all.

Of course, the only reason The Master enters the narrative (indeed, is forced to) is because Chin Lee is removed from the storyline. As she was The Master’s avatar in this story, the second she’s removed from the board, The Master is forced to step in.

And suddenly everything is going crazy. It’s clear from the previous episode that the Master was invested in the transportation of the nuclear missile nerve gas missile thing that Yates is transporting across the country or what have you, but then he subverts all our expectations by demanding to drive all the way over to Stangmore Prison. But why Stangmore Prison? Doesn’t that not really make much sense? What does the prison have to do with the missile transportation? Hell, what does the Keller Machine have to do with the missile transportation? It doesn’t make any sense.

Once The Master gets to the prison, it gets even battier. He helps to re-instigate the prison riot, making it a rousing success. But why? It becomes clear in this episode he has an interest in the Keller Machine (he created it, after all) and The Doctor does deduce that The Master is Keller (although the leap in logic is a bit leapy. It’s not as leapy as, say, The Doctor deducing that the two Chinese girls are the same person because that was… well… way leapy whereas this is just a bit of a leap) and thusly races off to the prison to go rescue Jo or something. Not sure. All I know is when The Doctor arrives at the prison, he arrives and the prisoners take him captive almost instantly and bring him before The Master, who explains his grand master plan to steal the missile and fire it at the peace conference, using it to destroy peace and Mwahahaha evil evil plot plot evil!

So basically The Master becomes a total James Bond villain.

And really, the whole sequence between The Doctor and The Master is all just that. And it’s awesome. And it’s pure. More than anything, the second half of this episode does Pertwee era Doctor/Master relationship better than just about any single story I can think of. It’s clearly in the two actors’ wheelhouses and it fits so perfectly tonally in with the story and the era that it’s almost dumb that it’s never done quite this good for the rest of the series. But it’s… I mean, it’s true that it can’t quite work in other stories. See, every other story is aspiring to be out there and sci-fi, or at least every other Master story in the Pertwee era.

This one works because it’s basically just James Bond.

And I know that that’s not even a stretch, but it… it just works. Pertwee is hands-down the closest The Doctor ever got to James Bond across all of his various incarnations and turning The Master into the ultimate James Bond villain just makes the most sense of all the senses. Sure, it’s done better, but this episode literally ends with a sendup to Goldfinger with The Master strapping The Doctor to a chair, flipping a switch on the evil villain device, saying “deal with it” and then walking out. Like… Come on. That’s so good. And watching The Master spin around in that chair? And the suit and tie? And the fact that he’s running around doing all this shit by himself?

Come on. This is just gold.

Tack on the fact that all of these things are happening at once and this episode pretty much has everything you could possibly want out of Pertwee era Doctor Who. The Doctor running around like a mad man, dodging bullets and gun fire. Tons of action. Tons of drama. A myriad of stories going on… It’s just elegant. And that’s all possible because of the novelized structure Houghton works with throughout the story. Without those first twoish episodes of buildup, this fantastic episode three isn’t possible. It just isn’t. But by holding back just a little, he manages to make the rest of this story work.

God damn. Just god damn.

Part 4:

One of the tricks to writing a six part story is the careful information drip the writer of the story needs to employ. The balance is somewhere between not enough (in which your audience gets bored) and too much (such that you show all your cards too early).

From that perspective, episode four does some exceptional work, specifically at the end (which I’ll get to in a minute). Of course, Houghton makes you wait before you get there, and buries the reveal amongst so much other stuff that you probably aren’t even expecting it. I mean, this episode is basically all about the missile convoy and the prisoner seizure thereof. And what a set piece it is. Actions, explosions, UNIT goodness, and Mike Yates being a badass. What more could you want?

It’s a great choice, and I’m not sure if this was Houghton or Dicks, but the fact that Yates is given the big action role part in this starting in this episode is a choice for the best if you ask me. Yates was only introduced in the last story and he wasn’t given a whole hell of a lot to do, but seeing him here kicking ass and taking names is something of a revelation.

More than that there isn’t much to say about it. Yates is captured and The Brigadier is on the case (always awesome) to save the day. All of this brings the story around full circle as we’re brought back to Stangmore Prison, where this whole state of affairs began. It’s thrilling to watch, and obvious if for no other reason than because Doctor Who can’t afford that many sets. It’s why in "The War Games" The Doctor and everyone keeps reconvening in the Chateau and the Barn: they can’t afford the other sets.

Houghton’s abilities to subvert that and make it convincing strengthens it. It’s almost like hanging a lantern on it, in a way. By tying everything back to Stangmore, the story continues to revolve around the real reason we spend so much time there:

The Keller Machine. And that’s the piece that’s most important out of this whole episode. See, The Keller Machine hasn’t done much of anything in this story. It really hasn’t. It’s just sat there, and ever since The Doctor locked it in that room in episode two it’s been almost completely useless. If the Keller Machine wants to get involved in the action, too frakkin bad. People have to be brought to it. That, of course, doesn’t stop the story from using it. Three of the past four cliffhangers have been exactly the same, with the Keller Machine attacking the mind of The Doctor (in this case, also Jo) and the other cliffhanger was Keller-based in that Chin Lee harnessed the machine to carry out her nefarious plan. And if I can be honest, it’s rather weak sauce because it just feels like we’re running in circles and every single time someone’s been put up against the machine they’ve gotten out of it. Sorta. Main characters mostly. We’re not talking NPCs.

But then in this episode, out of NOWHERE, the Keller Machine suddenly starts transporting itself all over. Why? Because it can.

And honestly, it’s terrifying. Somehow, this little two foot “creature” is turned into a terrifying “oh shit” machine. How that even works is beyond me because if I saw this thing I would be like “whatever”. But the fact that it comes here after four episodes gives it an amazing level of gravitas because we realize that for the first four episodes it’s been biding its time. I mean, look at it, there’s no reason that image right there should be as scary as it is, but Doctor Who pulls it off because it’s Doctor Who. Actually, that’s a lie. It works because it’s with this episode that we learn that the Machine isn’t just a Machine. There’s a psychic parasite encased in the machine that feeds on human emotions.

We’re never shown this parasite, but can’t you just imagine it kicking and screaming in that little machine? That angry little bastard just fighting to get out? It’s Doctor Who playing on your imagination in the best of ways.

Now, all that massive paragraph aside, I’m not loving this. I mean, yeah it’s good. Quite good. It’s a fun watch. But The Doctor is completely removed from the narrative in this episode. He literally doesn’t do anything but sit around in a jail cell while he recovers from the Machine attacking him. And then he escapes from the cell into The Master’s office and sits there waiting for the story to come back to him (which it does when The Keller Machine starts wreaking havoc).

And yeah, technically this episode doesn’t really need him. The entire narrative is carried along by the prisoners and Mike Yates, but I still find myself less than interested, or perhaps unimpressed. I quite enjoyed this story the first time I saw it and it’s definitely well done, but I wonder if it just isn’t up to repeat viewings? Maybe it’s my mood. Or maybe it just played better in my head. It's probably most likely that I just don't really have a lot to say about it other than "it's good, yeah." Regardless, I do find it somewhat of a slog at this point and while I’m not sure why now, I do hope I find out why by the end of the story. Anyways. Pushing onward….

Part 5:

Yeah, I’m starting to feel it.

It’s not that this story is bad, it’s just slow. It really is. This episode features two major things: The Doctor and The Master “collaring” The Keller Machine (which is really just a stopgap because we can’t defeat it until the next/final episode) and the UNIT takeover of the prison. And it’s not that either of these are bad (no, the UNIT takeover I’ll need to discuss in a minute) it’s just that the story is unfolding as it does and it doesn’t do anything in particular that strikes me as amazing. The Doctor and Jo are still under capture for this whole episode and the only thing The Doctor does is help put the collar on the Keller Machine.

‘s kinda dull.

I do love the UNIT stuff, though. This is probably my favorite big UNIT action setpiece outside of “Ambassadors of Death” and it’s of particular note because it allows The Brigadier to shine in a way he (to be honest) so rarely does. It’s hard to admit, I think, but I love the Brigadier so much that it’s hard for me to point out truly great “him” moments. Just seeing him on screen is typically enough for me to get all giddy and happy (he’s one of my favorite Companions after all), and so seeing him in rough and tumble action will always get me some double points.

And this story has one of his finest moments.

From the second The Brigadier realizes The Doctor’s being held captive at Stangmore prison, he makes it a priority to get The Doctor back. Sure, he also wants the missile brought back to UNIT control, but when he finally manages to take over the prison, the first thing he shouts is “I have to find The Doctor!” and that speaks volumes about their relationship. But even beyond that delightful character moment we get the fantastic Brigadier-impersonates-a-delivery guy bit (awesome) and the delightful shot of him gunning down some dude on a rooftop. To make things even more hilarious, no sooner have UNIT forces started to open fire than The Brigadier’s already on a megaphone, shouting that the fortress is under UNIT control. Seriously? You just got there! YOU JUST GOT THERE!

While this is going on, at the end of the episode evil prison dude Mailer takes charge of the situation and holds Jo and The Doctor hostage in an effort to escape using them as human shields.

It gives us the cliffhanger of the episode, as Jo attempts to fight back to give The Doctor the opportunity to save the day and take out Mailer, Mailer is too fast for them and takes Jo by the neck and threatens to shoot The Doctor. Nay, he already warned he would shoot and he proceeds to pull the trigger. We then get a closeup of “the” gun and see it fire out a shot. The implication is that it’s Mailer, and that gives the cliffhanger strength. Watching a “they point guns at The Doctor” is not a good cliffhanger because there’s still time to see how The Doctor and his companion get out of the situation. But the fact that a trigger is pulled is a sudden infusion of stakes into everything.

Essentially: someone’s getting shot.

And yet, I find myself having not much else to say about this story and I find that mostly unfortunate. And sad. Ah well. There’s just some stories that don’t generate a whole hell of a lot of conversation.

Part 6:

One of the things that Houghton proves himself in this final part is his ability to wrap everything up effectively. And yes, if I make that sound bland, that’s because… it kinda is.

See, it’s all about Barnham. Lemme back up.

Back all the way in episode one, Houghton sets up the character of Barnham in episode one as this character that overloads the Keller Machine and finally after five episodes of seeing him wander around fairly ineffectively, he gets brought before the Keller Machine and proves to be the only effective weapon everyone has to shut it down, at least temporarily. It’s also convenient that The Machine can only be destroyed by a nuclearish weapon which is a good sort of plotting by Houghton in that the two major draws of this episode (the missile and the machine) both offer each other a solution.

And I’ll even go one further and say that The Doctor offering his dematerialization circuit to get The Doctor and The Master together is a nice bit of stakes…

But the issue is that while the ending is ultimately fairly satisfying and interesting, I can’t say that I find it overly engaging or compelling. Barham is not a character who I was paying a whole lot of attention to, and the fact that he dies at the end (in the most unceremonious Master-drives-him-over-with-a-truck moment I think I’ve ever seen in the history of Doctor Who) is there purely to provide a sense of cost to this whole thing really does end up feeling like them trying to tug on my heartstrings just a little too much.

That’s the feeling I’m left having at the end of this. Houghton is a good writer. I saw "Inferno", he clearly is, and for reasons that are more than merely “oh Inferno is a cool concept” because it’s more than just concept or what have you. But now that I’m here at the end of this episode, it really feels like Houghton phoned this one in. Everything that happens in the end game are all things that were methodically put into place but without the heart and soul and investment of care in the story. There’s no passion like there was in “Inferno”, which was a story about the possibility of choice and built around that theme. This story doesn’t really have a theme or discussion. It’s just throwing things at the wall and being purely, basely entertaining.

And yes, that’s fun. Yes, that’s entertaining. Yes, that’s fluid, yes, but the fluidity feels lifeless and everything that needed to be done was essentially check marked as the story came in for a landing.

The Doctor and The Master square off: check. UNIT has a badass action sequence: check. Benton, Yates, Jo, and The Brigadier all need moments: check. There needs to be a solution to the Keller machine: check. The missile storyline and the Machine storyline should coalesce into one awesome finale: check. There needs to be a cost to everything that’s happened: check. The Master needs to get the last laugh despite the fact that The Doctor beat him because he’ll be back again next week: check. And all of these things are well done. It’s lovely to see Benton take over the prison and Yates under capture is lovely and Jo’s compassion for Barham is likewise lovely (although she only cares about him because Houghton’s going to kill him).

But it lacks that je ne sais quoi that makes the Pertwee era sing. There’s no umph or soul beyond the initial premise, and that means that all the pieces that come together in this final part are just pieces of a puzzle that looks exactly like the box said it did.

Only the puzzle was made by someone else and the way that we marvel at it is by appreciating the skill and precision with which it was put together without the pride of “man that was fun.” 

Final Thoughts?: This story is essentially Pertwee's "Visitation."

"The Visitation" is a reference point. It's a story I point to as a perfectly average story that is indicative of the larger era as a whole. It is by no means a high point but it is also not the worst of the era, not by a long shot.

That's really what I'm left with at the end of this story, despite having liked it previously. I think part of the problem is that by now I've seen all the Pertwee stories and know the best of the bunch. You can't beat the quality of season seven nor can you reach the awesomeness the Pertwee era does when it tries for something a little bit different (like "The Curse of Peladon" or "The Time Warrior"). There's also the stories that are pure UNIT awesome (like "The Green Death", "The Daemons", or "Invasion of the Dinosaurs) and this is right there with being a strong UNIT story in the ranks of them, the last UNIT story before The Doctor regains limited control of his TARDIS and starts the slow killing of the UNIT era. As such, it's a perfectly fine outing to show off UNIT and what it can do...

And yes, the performances are all solid and Timothy Combe's direction is fairly solid and Houghton's writing is perfectly adequate...

But it's problematic, isn't it? This is the second story to feature The Master, and even though he just showed up, I can already feel the diminishing returns springing up all over his reappearance and lamenting how much better it would be if he only just showed up a bit later. If only they had just sprinkled his appearances throughout Pertwee's run on Doctor Who... if only The Master getting his dematerialization circuit back felt like a bigger deal and his bidding farewell to The Doctor at the end of this didn't have the hindsight to realize that he would just be back on Earth in seven days time, only working with the Axons... Maybe this would feel more important/gravitased...

So the feeling I'm left with at the end of this story is that it's a "Visitation". It's perfectly adequate. It's perfectly average. It's a wonderful story that you can point everyone to to say, "Hey, if you like this story, you're going to like the vast majority of this era." And it's a great opportunity for you to demonstrate The Master on his own terms, where he isn't trying to manipulate Autons into working for him or trying to overthrow the Axons or whatever the fuck it was he was trying to do in that story or bringing up the "Sea Devils" so they can do something something something or working for The Daleks... It's good for all those reasons...

And yet, it's not got the charm, which is something Doctor Who really needs to make it truly memorable. "Peladon" with its court politics and cage matches and "Dinosaurs" with its dinosaurs and Mike Yates are perfect examples of that. It's just sad the the best episode of this story and the one thing that makes it special and memorable (the James Bond of it all) is relegated to the second half of episode three and then a little bit at the ending where The Doctor and The Master are squaring off. The Master's plan is totally James Bond, but then again, so were the plans of Professor Zaroff and Count Scarlioni, but those didn't have the added benefit of James Bond running around in the middle.

And then fact that James Bond spends two and a half episodes of this six part story in captivity and the two episodes before that not even in the story yet, we're left at something of a letdown. A fun, entertaining letdown, but a letdown nonetheless.

Next Time!: 2nd Doctor! The London Underground! A Murder Mystery! YETI! And the introduction to The Brigadier! Next month is the blog's two year anniversary and we're kicking off the festivities with the wonderful base-under-siege "The Web of Fear"! Coming Next Tuesday!


  1. For perhaps only the second time I don't agree with you---I liked Death to the Daleks a lot as well. This story is fun, entertaining, well scripted and well-acted and for me the central performances do have the je ne sais quoi that you were looking for. I suspect it's the slowness of the story that prohibits you from enjoying it as much on second watch. Even as a huge Doctor Who fan I find much of classic Doctor Who hard to rewatch on account of its slowness. Having said that I'd watch any Pertwee 6 parter again over ' The Wedding of River Song'.

  2. I think I just came across sounding overly harsh in the review. I did quite like it, I just didn't like it as much as I did the first time. There's are tons of Pertwee stories I like more but also plenty that I like less ("Axos" and "Colony In Space" come to mind)... It just didn't really lend itself to discussion nearly as much as I would have liked.

    And yeah. "Wedding of River Song" is pretty rubbish and one of my least favorite stories ever.

  3. Barnham, to me, felt like a trial run (in retrospect) for Tommy in Planet of the Spiders. Same character type, but much better executed the second time with the benefit of experience- and seeing in Tommy what they were TRYING to do here gives the character a bit more poigniance, if only imagined.