* The absolute first thing that I noted from this is what I suspected re: Sontaran clones. Firstly, at no point does either the Doctor or Linx refer to the Sontarans as 'clones'. Linx refers to the lack of a bi-gender reproductive system and notes that [insert big number of hatchlings] are ready by the parade - but I'm biased towards Brave New World rather than Dolly the Sheep in my reading of this, especially given that it fits in well with continuity given the Sontarans later appearances. And... there is absolutely no reference to Sontarans being identical. Even though this is taken by people as being a cornerstone of the Sontaran's being. I admit it would have been difficult to fit in, but it still makes me wonder where the idea that all of them need to be identical comes from. Afterall, Linx doesn't boast that they are all 'replicas of our greatest General' or something similar, as they would need to be to be the indetical clones that fandom likes to paint them as.
I suspect that the idea comes from The Sontaran Experiment wherein Kevin Lindsay plays both Styre and The Marshall. This is, of course, the biggest budget saving device for years.
* The second thing I noticed was - Kevin Lindsay isn't that short. Okay, unlike the actors who play the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors, the Yeti, the Autons, the Draconians et al he is not TALL, but it's quite a long way from the army of midgets that Tennant came up against. Notably, Irongron and Bloodaxe stand at about the same height as Linx, and the Doctor, from memory, is the only character to make reference to Linx's height. Once again, Two Doctors can be vindicated... for one of its many, many faults at least.
As has interestingly been pointed out to me by both my Dad AND Ewen, people were much shorter on average in the Middle Ages. As though this is part of the grand scheme Bob Holmes was working on. Does this mean that in the 51st Century (or whenever The Sontaran Experiment is set, I can't be arsed to check) the average height has degraded back to Medieval levels?
* To demonstrate what a killjoy I can be, the third thing I noticed is that this story ROCKS. Like most of the best Doctor Who stories, and certainly the best of Bob Holmes, the drama is driven by characters. The selfishness of Irongron and the boredom and resentment of Linx drive the entire plot, and it is little wonder that they are the most famous and beloved of all Who double acts. It's also worth noting that the Doctor only appears in about five minutes of the first episode, and what he IS in isn't that amazing. Irongron and Linx take over the story utterly, and it lasts until the final episode when, tragically, they buy it. Technically, they ARE the villains of the piece, but they are incredibly loveable characters and I'm sad to see them go.
At least Bloodaxe gets out in one piece..
* Another thing I noticed was that the direction was slightly stagier than usual, and very simply cut. It was very funny to learn in the behind-the-scenes material just how much this pissed Barry Letts off, as he was trying to make the show look as good as possible. The director was apparently a bloke named Alan Bromley, who was an old-hand from the 50s. So he did every scene in sequence, one take, and gave barely anyone any direction. Lis Sladen recounts a furious Jon Pertwee storming off to see Letts after she innocently pointed out that they had finished the days filming 2 hours early.
Terrance Dicks also had to cut down the number of special effects in the story before Bromley was even comfortable accepting the project, and because of this caution Barry Letts offered to handle the special effects - specifically using model work for the Sontaran ship landing and Irongron's castle exploding. Bromley refused on both counts, saying that he knew something 'much better'. As Barry Letts recounts, quite hilariously grumpily, the spaceship was achieved by dangling a tennis ball from a piece of string and over-exposing the film, and the castle exploding was nothing but a jump-cut to stock-footage of a quarry wall being detonated. So in this case 'much better' means 'really really cheap'.
The irony approaches near overload levels because of the fact that the quarry-shot, which Letts derides several times as 'cheap and nasty', is actually a very good effect. Bromley matches the shot up very well with the castle walls in the shot he chooses to use, which he arrives at via a lengthy zoom that synchs with the sound of the engines overloading. It's a very classy shot. But what makes this so ironic is the fact that the disc has those fancy-pants CGI effects... and they make the castle exploding look WORSE. The simple fact is, for a shot of a wall exploding they couldn't do any better than what Bromley cooked up, so they had to go for a different approach. So... after ten seconds of buildup for the wall blowing up, it cuts to the FRONT of the castle, where he see really obviously CGI fires and stones falling. It is quite laughably unimpressive.
For the record, though, the CGI effect of the spaceship landing does look much better. And, no, that doesn't mean 'cheaper' in this context
* My great disappointment with the DVD extras was that there was a complete dissing of poor old Professor Ruebish. Tel and Bazza both do a lot of moaning about how the character irritates them by never really getting involved in the plot, simply skulking about in the basement and never even meeting Irongron. Well, are you going to sit around 'ere, crying into your milk-and-cocoas, or are ya going to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
Bah, what am I saying, it's not like Terrance was in charge of the final drafts of all scripts and- HEY, WAIT A MINUTE! But then he was apparently dismissive of the show throughout the entire season, busy as he was working on a show named Moonbase 3. How did that work out, Tel? I'll have to have a look on Wikipedia...
Moonbase 3 is a British science fiction television programme that ran for six episodes in 1973. ... As was normal procedure at the BBC at the time, the original PAL master tapes of the series were wiped some time after broadcast and, for many years, Moonbase 3 was believed to be lost forever. However, in 1993, NTSC copies of all six episodes were found in co-producer Fox's archives and returned to the BBC. ... Dicks has claimed in interviews that his reaction to the recovery of the formerly-missing episodes was "Oh f*ck!"
Seriously, in all honesty I think that Professor Ruebish would have made a good companion and I thought it was a great character and performance on first viewing and that opinion hasn't been altered yet. They even have Donal Pelmear, the old boy who played him all those years ago, on the making of, BUT THEY BARELY INTERVIEWED HIM! He should have been on the commentary! It's not as if Lis Sladen had anything to say.
* A great bit on the commentary was Terrance recounting the writing of the Target version... having gotten on two Bob Holmes twice about it... the two times being six months apart. And receiving two pages in the mail with a note saying "Finish it".
THAT is brilliant.
He went on to say that the two pages were better than anything he had ever written, but he decided that being able to write that well would not be would not really be good if he could only write one page every six months.
* The commentary was also great in revealing that Bob, most famed for Talons of Weng-Chiang, probably the best pseudo-historical ever made and often cited as the best DW full-stop, was so pissed off at being instructed to write a pseudo-historical that he deliberately wrote the script to be unworkable - most notably describing a gigantic battlescene featuring hundreds of soldiers in place of the dozen extras with rather short scaling ladders that there are in the final version.
* Also fascinating was Terrance Dicks revealing that he's reached the age where tact is meaningless, as he was quite happily talking about irrationally disliking the SJS character simply because 'women belong in the kitchen as far as I'm concerned', and when Letts is rather politely talking about Terry Walsh's work aping Pertwee's 'unusual' run, Tel chips in to tell us 'Yeah, he's like a big girl!'
No complaints for me as Barry and Tel really have formed quite a Holmesian double act.
* And while I can't stop going on about Terrance Dicks, I salute him for going on boldly in the face of an awful speech impediment. Many men would deliberately avoid using 'r's when possible or speak slower and enunciate more at the sacrifice of spontaniety. But good old Terry is perfectly happy to tell us about his work "Developing the Wutans in the Howwow of Fang Wock"
Keeper of Traken
* Ah, Matthew Waterhouse. I can see some people find him irritating, but I really like him. Sometimes his enthusiasm gets him carried away and he talks over the others, but that isn't much of a problem on this commentary. Sarah Sutton takes a back seat as she generally does (not to the extent of Michael Keating, of course, who seems to take a back seat in an entirely different room) but coming in with nice little asides, Johnny Byrne is an assertive enough figure to push Waterhouse away from the mic when he wants to speak, and Anthony Ainley feels like a traveller who's returned home - he sounds perfectly happy to come in with a quip here and there, and a couple of baffling anagrams that he seems to be writing on a handkerchief throughout the story.
I think I quite like Waterhouse because, to me, he feels like one of us. He looks at the show from a fan perspective, and while he certainly talks a lot, it isn't often centered on his own involvement - often it's questions about the scripts, his opinion of the episode, asking others what THEY thought.. in fact, it comes across as wanting to keep the commentary bubbling along because he's the kind of guy who listens to commentaries.
And his moment of poking fun at Space: 1999, possibly to wind up Byrne is priceless - "Oh, yes Catherine Schell. The alien shape-shifter from a COMPLETELY different Universe, who's never been to Earth, and, strangely enough, every time she changes shape she turns into something you can film in a zoo!"
* I was also surprised at hearing how seriously Johnny Byrne took it all. For some reason I thought that Johnny Byrne was a little bit like the Dave Martin / Bob Baker of the 80s... you know, just screaming "I've got an idea!" bashing on the typewriter for 50 minutes and then leaving it to the script editor to cut out the sentient orange afros and spaceships crashing into Hyde Park. I guess it's to do with the fact that all of his stories were fairly compromised..
After all, from what I've heard The Time of Neman was to be something of a multi-Doctor story, featuring an evil version of Davison's Doctor ruling an apocalyptic future version of Amsterdam. Obviously THAT needs to go through a lot of re-writes to become the four-episode corridor chasing paddingananza that is Arc of Infinity and resulted in such evils as Tegan returning Omega getting a commission.
And Warriors of the Deep... you know what I'm talking about. Ingrid Pitt karate kicking the deadly pantomime horse that electrocutes people on touch, the Silurian's second-in-command who seems bewildered by everything but is always cheerful, and that bit where Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson are slamming back vodka shots and mumbling incoherently, before turning to camera and screaming "WHAT? THAT WAS A TAKE?"
And Traken... well Traken is a story I really do like. But even then, from the DVD I learn that it was originally to feature a completely different villain and was to take place on a planet based on Feudal Japan. Johnny Byrne casually explains to us, as so often happens, that his original idea was much cooler. Well, or sounds cooler to me at least - and the thing is that Byrne was on holiday when JNT bounced into Bidmead's office and said "We're bringing the Master back", so he didn't have any hand in the re-writers at all. Damn.
It's one thing to re-write a story... and quite another to have it re-written. But Byrne was still quite pleased by the results going by the commentary.
* On the subject of cool ideas re-written it got me thinking about the near mind-explosion when I read Nev Fountain (calm down!) talking about The Kingmaker originally being a serious story about Time Lord suicide bombers assuming the identity of key historical figures if manipulation caused them to die and thus threatened the Web of Time.
Okay, wanky, but I think that idea is REALLY COOL.
The difference being of course that it wasn't the producer who said "No, a story about Shakespeare being an insane time-traveller who shoots everybody and trades places with Richard III would be better" but the writer.
Let us move on.
* Not many details from the commentary stick in my mind, aside from Sarah Sutton mentioning that the wind machine managed to blow her skirt above her head (WHERE'S THE OUT-TAKE?) which gave Tom Baker quite a big grin. Also, Anthony Ainley jollily pointing out the notorious bit where Tom Baker has a gargantuan strain of snot dangling from his nose - something I missed completely with our terrible TV reception back in the analogue days. So... what happened with that take? Did Tom just not notice it?
Oh, wait, just remembered one... Anthony Ainley enthusing ove how beautiful Sarah Sutton looks in her first close up. Because his voice is so similar to that of the Master, and the fact that she is playing his daughter, it comes across as quite creepy.
* Making of in this one was sparse compared to most other discs, but still a couple of things of interest. Found it fun to learn that Geoffrey Beevers was a fan of the series beforehand, and Bidmead's recounting of the unpredicatble nature of working under JNT, and Sarah Sutton's little remembrances... not much that stuck in the mind, though.
* The story is lovely, though, isn't it? It isn't the most eventful or exciting episode of the show, given that it has quite a stately pace, but there's something faintly magical about the entire fairy-tale nature of Traken and the plot, and the design is right up there with the very best of the series, helped massively by 18's generous budget.
* What really struck me, as it has with many stories I've got on DVD that I've had just a vague memory of - is that the ending is rather a rushed mess. The Master tortures the Doctor for a little bit, kills some people very evilly (including the great bit where Tremas is forced to kill Proctor Neman) but then... the plan that the Doctor gave Adric near the start of the episode works perfectly, causing the Source to malfunction, the Master to scream his lungs out and lots of shit to blow up. Interestingly, the Doctor manages to escape from an indestructible TARDIS by jumping through the wall.
Once Gnome-Face takes over the Keeper-ship, the Doctor just can't get out of their early enough. As with a few stories it feels like an ultra-quick wrap-up after a very lengthy slow-burn...
But then the story is really just a big lead up to THAT cliffhanger, isn't it?
* Haha, yes, the Master has finally returned! He unveils himself mightily by ... joyriding in his TARDIS aimlessly while giggling like a schoolgirl, briefly emerging on occassion to shoot some randoms for no apparent reason and pissing off again.
I can't say I'm entirely certain as to how this behaviour is meant to trick the Doctor into taking the Master to Logopolis, but it's probably in there somewhere, considering that the first episode is essentially one gigantic expositional exchange between The Doctor and Adric. A whole episode, people. That's amazing. It's arguable whether Logopolis has the most padding ever as a result, or if it's all important to the episode - after all, the story doesn't really revolve much around plot, per se, due to the plot itself being so monstrously simple. The story's main weapon, really, is emotion and gut feeling - it's thematic rather than story-driven. This is why it opens in such an odd way, with the Doctor meditating alone in the Cloister Room, and when Adric finds him the only explanation he offers is a brief, nihilistic essay on the Laws of Thermodynamics... he may as well have "DYING" tattooed on his forehead.
Of course, Bidmead could be conscious of the fact that two new companions are going to be added over the course of the story and wants to give Adric and the Doctor plenty of time in one another's company exploring their rather loveable dynamic, seeing as they've only really had one story together prior to this. (Interestingly on the Keeper of Traken commentary Johnny Byrne laments the way that the character of Adric got treated by the writers subsequently, as he felt the character had a lot of potential...) As one of Adric's loyal supporters, I really do like the first episode...
* As one of Tegan's many detractors I guess it's also irritating in another way. But then... I dunno, somehow she doesn't seem too annoying in this one. Maybe it's the way that there's actually credible reasons for her being extremely pissed off and whiny than it being a force of habit, she doesn't have the supernatural powers of whatever the script writers think it would be neat for her to be able to do at that exact moment (expert fashion drawings, dancing up a storm, speaking incredibly ancient long-dead unrecorded Aboriginal dialects fluently...) and the story has a clear focus that is a long way from her.
It's rather interesting that the Doctor doesn't take a liking to her - or possibly a dislike. The look on his face when she barges into the console room is priceless, he doesn't mention that he found her Aunt dead in her car until the last possible moment (and makes a rather sick joke about it before that) and generally ignores her when she's decided to stick with him in the face of the Universe collapsing. (Albeit for selfish reasons)
Janet Fielding asks Bidmead on the commentary, a bit slyly, whether he'd done any research into the way Australians speak. I can only assume this is in response to Tegan's cries of "Hell's teeth!" and similar bouts.
* I was quite interested in seeing this story because I had mentally made it the basis of another fanfic like that one I won't stop going on about (Champions' End) wherein a whole story is made out of one small, rather odd scene. Rather than expanding the prologue of the TVM into a complicated double-bluff wherein the Time Lords are trading weapons to the Time Lords to deploy against The Enemy to gain an advantage for the upcoming Time War they intend to declare prior to the New Series (deep breath) this one was to explain away a Detective-Inspector not questioning the fact that two doll-like figures on a car seat are not simply sick pranks but are a pair of shrunken cadavers by revealing that he was a TORCHWOOD AGENT.
Yeah, I know, it's a problematic idea to begin with but then I actually watched it, and the entire idea is destroyed by the fact that Tom Georgeson plays the ultimate gormless Detective role prior to Ray Carling from Life on Mars. So then it all relies on the Torchwood Agent being impossibly good at pretending to be an idiot Detective who just happens to correctly deduce that two people have been shrunk to death, who knows other police officers by name, doesn't know anything about the TARDIS, is concerned for the safety of shrieking youngsters near bikes and doesn't feel the need to restrain somebody who, on the balance of probability, is the Doctor.
So that's one less fic to write, I guess.
On the commentary Bidmead mentions that he 'shared a girlfriend' with Tom Georgeson in university. Fielding immediately asks him what he means by that and Bidmead says "Not at the same time.." Now I'm curious about whether it's the idea of Bidmead having threesomes that horrified her or simply talking about them on a family DVD.
Maybe she hasn't seen Captain Jack in action yet...
* And on the commentary Bidmead explains the entire "land the TARDIS under water... and OPEN THE DOORS!" scene... or at least tries to. It's essentially a stumbling "Well, all the water comes in and... makes it all rather difficult for the Master... it seemed like a good idea at the time, basically"
When I stopped to think about it I realised that it did actually make a kind of sense - the TARDIS is always shown to respond with the characteristics of the object the Chameleon Circuit is assuming. Thus - the TARDIS weighs the same amount as a Police Public Call Box and can be moved around just as easily. The interior is also consistently shown to respond to the movements of the exterior with some degree of immediacy - from The Romans up to and definitely including this very story.
So - the jet of water hits the Master's TARDIS. It gets knocked down, the Master gets knocked down. He mightn't be sure what's happening so he might make an emergency dematerialisation - that kicks him out of the TARDIS. He might not know what's going on, but the HADS might kick in - and that kicks him out of TARDIS. The water might sluice out of the TARDIS - and that kicks him out of the TARDIS.
See, the plan does make a kind of sense... you just have to ignore the immediate and certain deaths of both the Doctor and Adric if they carried it out.
* So... does that bracelet that the Master gives Nyssa to control her arm also give her super-human strength? Because I would have thought that thinking you could conquer a planet using one hand of a short and scrawny (though hot) teenaged girl would be beyond optimistic.
* Oh, and I thought it best to say that I finally got the ending! The CVE is opened by Pharos, and it's energies manipulated by the Logopolitan program and the Universe is stabilised. The Doctor doesn't really get the entire process (neither does the Master) so isn't sure how long the CVE needs to be kept open. But the Master DOES know how to send a recursive signal through that will close the CVE and prevent it from ever being opened again - and that WILL stuff up the Universe. So when he pulls out the Dictaphone it isn't just an idle threat - although it is a trap above everything else. As his expression tells us, when he sees the Doctor plummet to his death, he didn't really care about 'conquering the Universe', rather with killing the Doctor.
(He did want the secret of Logopolis, of course... before he discovered that the secret wasn't really of much use to him...)
Talk about 'all or nothing', though. What a fruitbat. It's also interesting to note that in Castrovalva he is immediately working at killing the Doctor again, so he's made the eradication of his old enemy absolutely top priority.
I also like to think that once the Universe was stabilised Logopolis, or something very much like it, would have re-formed. Part optimistic outlook, but also partly to do with the Monitor alluding to the Logopolitans as a Universal balancing force.
* The commentary for this one grabbed my interest as soon as I saw who was on it - Janet Fielding, Christopher H. Bidmead and Tom Baker. Hoo boy. Going off of their unflattering internet archetypes assigned to them (shrill harpy, camp testube-fondler and comb-wiedling maniac to be precise) I was expecting the most openly hostile commentary since the one sparked in my imagination by Bernie Fishnote's DVD cover of The Lord of Reedy River promising Catherine Tate, Lucy Griffiths, Kate Ryan and Sparacus together. Seriously, I thought this was going to be so full of punches and breaking glass that you could mistake it for Kaldor City if Paul Darrow happened to walk past the studio and asked somebody what THEY thought.
And... it turns out to be very civil. Bidmead himself turns out to be very concerned over whether any of the script at all makes sense and very polite, even joking along with Tom as if on a mission especially to prove that he DOES have a sense of humour; Fielding is full of fond recollections and jibes at herself regarding her sometimes amateurish performance (and hair, natch); and Tom Baker does make the expected oddball comment on occassion and has trouble following (or bothering to follow) the story, but is surprisingly candid at moments, especially when he apologises to Janet Fielding for his terribly conduct in his final season, explaining that he had a lot of conflicting emotions at that time.
Moments that stick in my mind are Baker demanding to know "Who are these murmering idiots?!" when we first see the Logopolitans, a similar comment of "A lot of people didn't like that boy" when Adric first appears, Bidmead asking Tom "what was all that about?!" with regards to his marriage to Lalla Ward prompting Tom Baker to say they had "many wonderful weeks together", and, in particular, Bidmead innocently asking Janet about the significance of quite a prolonged shot of Matthew Waterhouse's rear-end when it has already been mentioned that Peter Grimwade was gay.
* I guess I should comment on the regeneration itself, as it is the cornerstone of the whole story and really the reason why everybody remembers it.
It is... great. Although Caves of Androzani and The War Games are definitely better stories (They ARE, Silentlurker!) their actual regeneration moments are not as moving as this one. Or rather the explicit regen scene. Caves is so forceful and volcanic it hits you in the face and the viewer is quite taken aback, and War Games.. well, a lot of people go so far as to say that seeing Troughton spinning off into infinity shrieking "Oh, you're making me giddy!" over-rides all of the emotion built up over the preceding 25 minutes. (You are incorrect. But it doesn't help procedures...)
But I find the regen in Logopolis strangely moving. There's something momentous about it, what with it being the end of such a lengthy era, and I adore the way that the production team has hit just the right balance. JNT was fond of clipshow stuff, no argument possible, but here it's done RIGHT. The array of the Doctor's enemies urging him to his death, and then his companions trying to coax him back to life (well, as one way to interpret it) is beautiful symmetry and carries a nice sentiment. Unlike, say, having every single one of the Doctor's companions flash up on a screen when he gets mind-probed, for no real apparent reason at all..
Watching the transformation side-by-side with the frigging insanely primitive methods that they were using to make it happen is a real eye-opener, and makes you appreciate how good the finished effect looks. Okay, there's obviously a link missing with Tom Baker not wearing the .... (don't say 'bukkake', don't say 'bukkake'...) white... chrysalis sort of makeup that the Watcher has, but there's probably a few reasons for that, like the fact that they ran over by several hours just shooting Tom's scenes and that Tom was apparently completely unworkable in that season. I was very impressed after learning that Adrian Gibbs was in an entirely different studio, particularly.
This is a DVD with a great making of - though it's the sort of stuff that might rape childhood memories, assuming that you have neither read Lawrence Miles' blog ever nor listened to any Kaldor City. There's a lot of very frank talk about Tom Baker's humungous swelling ego, including some footage in the vein of that ditched Symphony Furniture radio ad that we all love. (Well, I LOVE it anyway. "Symphony. Even for monkey shaggers"...) A chat show where he goes head-to-head with the host about his TV persona being even less real than 'the Doctor' (Mary Tamm looks very awkward beside him) and a take from Shada where Tom shouts "Oh, it's just a fucking teapot!" seconds before delivering the opening lines of the scene. The poor girl playing Claire Keightley looked quite distressed.
So, some of it makes uncomfortable viewing but it's all interesting. Bidmead recounting how there was a tradition of Tom 'quitting' every year, and the only difference was that this time JNT agreed; Matthew Waterhouse talking about how he thought Tom Baker was behaving in a normal way for a lead actor and so unconsciously followed the example; and more juicy details that fandom shall devour like the emotion-fuelled hyenae we be..
* Castrovalva is a story I find to be wholly remarkable, as it is Christopher H. Bidmead's second story, and comes directly after his first (An odd distinction that, if I'm not mistaken, is unique to himself, Chris Boucher and Russell T. Davies) and... seems nearly identical.
Well, not quite, but you know what I mean...
1 - Both stories are named after a city
2 - Both cities are on unnamed planets and represent a scientific principle
3 - Said scientific principle is flagged up as a theme from the first episode
4 - Both stories have their first two episodes take place mostly inside the TARDIS itself with minimum guest cast
5 - Both stories feature part of the TARDIS being jettisoned
6 - Both stories feature the Master as the central villain
7 - Both stories prominently feature Block Transfer Computation as a plot device
It is UNCANNY. And, what's more... this somehow doesn't feel that glaring. I think it has to be a deliberate act on Bidmead's part to mirror Logopolis in the beginning of a new era... whether it works is a different manner. Whereas Logopolis can justify its slow pace due to the 'slow burn' form of drama being used and its very deliberate funereal overtones... traditionally the new Doctor's debut is meant to be upbeat, quick, bouncy, dramatic. Look at them - Power of the Daleks, Spearhead in Space, Robot, Twin Dilemma, Time and the Rani... say what you want about the actual STORIES, it's hard to accuse any of them for being slow..
Of course, it could be a matter of when Bidmead got the idea for the city of Castrovalva itself, because the plot has to do a big 180 in Episode 2 to get itself to that city. It's interesting because not many stories go from "The Doctor is being hunted down ruthlessly by his arch nemesis!" to "The Doctor has decided to have a nice, relaxing holiday..." Though I'm sure Ewen can bring up some obscure TVComic examples for me...
At any rate, I think Bidmead really had to do Frontios. Simply to prove that he could actually write something else.
* Just thinking, it's a bit of a shame that Nyssa wasn't the one kidnapped - not that I don't like her but her cool-headedness does stunt the drama a little bit.
Or, at least, more should have been done with the BTC-Adric illusion. You know, something evil apart from the setting of the course. Then you could have had some real tension rather than finding out in Episode 1 that the Master has the real Adric captive. One of the problems with classic Who is that the cards are often on the table too early - imagine how much stronger that first cliffhanger could have been if Adric had come into the console room when they realise that they're headed towards Event One, Nyssa sees him "Adric, the controls, you have to do something!", Adric gives the Master's little giggle, and all of a sudden a gun appears in his hand...
Would that not be awesome?
* The Event One thing confused me on a re-watch as well... they keep using the phrase "galaxy". That's a bit parochial isn't it? Surely it's the Big Bang they're going back to, what with Nyssa's cry of "We're going back.. to the biggest explosion in history!!"
Nice that this time they didn't make it "The biggest bang in history!" Giving those programme guides a little less to play with..
* Oh, and seeing it again I noticed which impressions Davison was doing. The first time Hartnell and Troughton were the only ones that I noticed, as they're definitely the clearest - indeed, Hartnell is the only one where his voice genuinely sounds like him, and Troughton is a straight play on the mannerisms. It's a nice bit of diversion but it's easy to see why no other Doctors ever did it.
On the commentary Janet mistakedly guesses that his Hartnell is Troughton, causing Davison to grumble "Shows you how good it was, doesn't it?"
His Pertwee performance deserves to immortalised for all time, for actually making mine look decent. I can only say one line of his - "..with YOU, Brigadier!!!!" (Mind of Evil)
* It has to be said, though, that this story is a brilliant looking production. The location work is stunning, and not for the first time left me amazed at what glorious locales they have burrowed away in the dreary old mother country - it's just an obscure little forest, and yet the oversized Aztec hunting outfits worn by the Castrovalvans look entirely in context. The rocks also link up seamlessly with the video footage in the studios, and the Castrovalva set itself is nothing short of a masterpiece. Commendation needs to go to Bidmead for creating a story which really does make one set representing an entire city credible.
It makes me think that maybe Bidmead took a look at the finished product with Logopolis, noticed that the finale involved Tom Baker mock-crawling along a narrow gantry while the camera rotates, a very obvious cardboard cut-out of Anthony Ainley looking on, and culminates with a toy dropping off a miniature satellite dish and thought "Hmm, that did actually push the budget a bit"...
* At the same time, though, Castrovalva is quite an excellent piece of world building in its simplicity. We do, of course, only meet the three Castrovalvans - Rukil, Margreave and Shardovan. Oh, and the little girl, I guess. But the magic is that you don't even notice how narrow a view you're getting, because of the broad archetypes presented. It's made clear that Rukil is the typical Castrovalvan citizen, by the way that the short-tempered and fastidious Margreave does his best to emulate his behaviour, and the way that Shardovan is quite openly teased as an eccentric by the other two. From this we know the dynamic of the city-state as a whole, and don't really need any more characters, apart from the very genial 'Portreeve' at a pinch.
It's quite excellent, in fact, the way that the Portreeve and Shardovan are handled. An excellent act of misleading the audience - the twist certainly does not come out of nowhere, but is still shocking. Firstly Shardovan looks like the Master, and dresses all in black. He is also withdrawn and secretive, and doesn't take a liking to the Doctor. Because of this the audience will mistrust him. Yet, at the same time, Shardovan never does anything evil - the worst he does is block the Doctor's path when they're trying to escape near the close of Episode 3 but, of course, he doesn't trust the Doctor at all and you have to admit the blighter's acting quite suspicious. The audience may also be duped into believing that Shardovan stole the Zero Cabinet - but there's nothing to say that he did. Adric is the more likely candidate..
The Portreeve, on the other hand, could not look more harmless or behave nicer if he tried. BUT this is all superficial - when he meets the Doctor he is the only person in the city who knows who he is (the Doctor himself included) The audience may see this as an act of supernatural insight on his part, but of course it's actually foreknowledge. It is also worth noting that the inhabitants of Castrovalva don't seem to know his habits particularly well - they are surprised to see him out and about at night time and have trouble finding his house.
Seeing it again I spent quite a bit of time scrutinising the performance and make-up of Anthony Ainley in the role to see whether it was convincing. I eventually decided that it wasn't, really, as the eyes gave it away and they needed a bit more prosphetic work not to be identifiable as his own in closeup. But then... when the Master unveiled himself, my mum was in complete shock. She never suspected for a second.
So... I guess it was quite effective.
* I was also quite pleased to find that the DVD release does NOT feature, in anyway, a little tidbit apparently added to the VHS release of the story (according to an article I read) of a brief shot of a white pailing fence from behind the TARDIS dematerialising, accompanied by Ainley's perpetual malicious giggle.
Seriously, what a terrible idea.
Do we need an explanation for HOW the Master escapes this shit? No. We really don't. Then imagine how little we need a scene that shows the Master escaping, but explains nothing at all about how he came to be there. Why spoil the lingering and disturbing image of the Master screaming out for mercy in a dark tunnel as the angry mob strips away his robes? A brilliant little parallel to Dante that is very effective and, we all know, what the Master truly deserves.
I quite like the Mark of the Rani approach myself:
THE DOCTOR: You had your head cut off, was doused in petrol, and were thrown into a pit of burning pigs!
THE MASTER: A scratch! Nothing more!
Interesting to note at the close of the 'Master' trilogy, a slight parallel to the last series. In one story we meet the man who will become the Master as an old, kindly scientist who the Doctor accepts with great fondness, before he is possessed by the Master while the Doctor is offscreen. In the next he assumes power over a city that the Doctor is destined to visit, prepares it for merciless otherworldly forces, and effectively kills the Doctor. In the final he seems to have every means possible of certain success, especially after taking a companion captive, and is going out of his way to torment the Doctor and his friends.. until the Doctor's companions' belief in him allows him to fight back, and the Master is apparently dead at the very close.
Yes, Russell T. Davies' trilogy is completely different in terms of substance. But in terms of structure the comparison is interesting..
I really can't remember much from the DVD commentary from this one, but then that may be the destructive presence of both Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, who have a great talent for robbing things of all credibility. They are counter-measured quite well by the good ol' H. of Bidmead and Fiona Cumming, both of whom are quite proud of their work and deservedly so. For the most part there aren't any big surprises - Peter hates his costume, Janet hates her hair, Fiona hated having to shoot around three TARDIS sets for the first episode, and so on. In fact, the only thing that's stuck in my mind is Janet Fielding insisting she was in serious danger of breaking her neck in the rock-climbing scene over Fiona Cumming flatly saying they weren't even six feet off ground; and Janet and Peter being unable to watch a single scene to feature Shardovan without pissing themselves laughing because the guy was apparently a massive prankster.
I guess I should mention that Waterhouse in the Traken commentary asserted that Anthony Ainley was bald in real life, wearing a wig constantly and, if he is to be believed, wore a wig OVER his wig for the Portreeve scenes. Heh.
So that's it for me from the moment. I'll be back with something far less mature and shorter at a future date.