Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Rescue — Blogging Doctor Who

Will they be rescuing the
bug-faced guy from the
scary blonde woman?
It’s short and a piece of fluff, but it’s pretty good fluff. They could have called it “The Vicki Show,” since its whole purpose is to introduce the new companion (and Susan substitute) Vicki. Vicki gets a lot of screen time, but she’s engaging and less whiny than Susan.

The Doctor runs the gamut in this one. He’s napping at the beginning (perhaps the attempts of the Daleks to convert him into a Roboman took something out of him) and is asleep when they reach the planet, but then they actually used Hartnell in a fight scene, which is a big surprise as I know his health issues had an impact on the show from the beginning.

Something about a rock Ian hands to him lets him know that the planet is Dido, one that he had visited before (this is, I think, the first alien planet that had a prior visit; dialog in earlier episodes referred to various periods of Earth’s history). You would kinda expect that some random rock would be, well, rock, but okay.[1]

The bad guy looks like a man in a silly costume, but that’s okay this time. The “monster” looks wholly unconvincing, and though it roars a lot when the Doctor and Ian are trying to avoid it, it doesn’t actually move. I’ll drop the spoiler into a footnote.[2] The central mystery of the piece is nicely played, and it’s something that can be sustained over two episodes. Had this been even three episodes, it would have fallen apart. It’s not clear how long Bennett and Vicki had been there (not long, probably), but she should have realized that Bennett kept saying the same things through the locked door.[3]

The Doctor is uniformly nice throughout the whole story. No belittling the intelligence of his companions, or making unjust accusations, or anything like that. Vicki is invited to join the group on the Tardis, not abducted. Is this the sign of a kinder, gentler Doctor? Only time will tell. He does seem to decide that if he's going to travel with non-relatives, he might as well go big. The ill manners in this episode go to Vicki, who should be aware that you never, ever remind a woman she's well past five hundred fifty years old (though I must say, Barbara looks magnificent for a woman of more than five centuries; that helmet hair is probably capable of withstanding a millennium of use).

Eye Candy for Gay Time Lords
Bennett isn’t much, but the two surviving Didonians are easy on the eyes, if you like them tall, blond, silent, and dressed in funny clothing. Those pants do nothing for their butts though.

So, Is This a Must-See?
No, it’s a bit of fluff that won’t enhance your appreciation of Doctor Who. It’s not terrible, but it isn’t terribly compelling or memorable either. I don’t think this one is going to appear on anyone’s list of best or worst Doctor Who stories.

Next: The Doctor has a hot time in Rome, 64 AD.

  1. Years in the future of the series Earth would be imperiled when the bad guy decides to mine the planet for all of its quartz, which we’re told is rare in the rest of the universe. Since quartz is made out of silicon and oxygen (plus impurities), we’re going to have to assume that all those silicon-poor planets had some other material for use in everything from computer chips to windowpanes. My personal guess is that exogeology would be a much less interesting field that exobiology.  ↩
  2. Spoiler Alert: It’s not clear why the Didonians have a trap in which razor-sharp bars push you into a pit with a noisy herbivore. What’s it going to do? Of course, if they had fallen into the pit, they would have got to the spaceship much sooner, and probably saved Barbara the bother of killing the creature. On the other hand, nothing with teeth like that is an herbivore, so perhaps Vicki is just bad at biology. Maybe the sand beast doesn’t eat humans because their alien biology makes them smell unappetizing.  ↩
  3. And why would a man with (allegedly) injured legs and compromised mobility lock his door? Think, Vicki, think!  ↩

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