Thursday, April 9, 2009

E1 - The Sea of Death

The first episode of The Keys of Marinus, The Sea of Death doesn't start well. There's some stilted looking scenes early in the TARDIS, William Hartnell fluffs most of his lines, and there's some cheap looking sets, including some painted landscape backdrops that never convince the viewer that the studio wall isn't five feet away from the actors.

Add to that a poor effects shot of a paper gingerbread man Voord being dropped into some water, and a studio floor director walking into shot, and you have an inauspicious beginning to one of Doctor Who's most ambitious efforts for some time to come. There's also a remarkably poor performance from George Coulouris, who had been good in everything else he's ever been in. Including Citizen Kane, for crying out loud! All of sudden, all the magic and wonder of Marco Polo has disappeared in a puff of unconvincing smoke.

Most first episodes of early 60's stories feature, almost exclusively, The Doctor and his companions exploring their new surroundings, with little or no interaction with any of the natives. I have to think there's a reason for that. The production crew, perhaps, have spent all that week's resources on the new sets, costumes, etc., that, in order to save money, the scripts are structured as such to minimize the need to hire any additional actors. I could just be making that up, but it does seem to make a lick of sense.

Anyway, the basic story is set up in The Sea of Death, which basically consists of The Doctor and crew having to run around Marinus, find some keys, and bring them back to the guardian of Marinus so he can reset the balance of good and evil on the planet. Or something like that. Whatever. I'm sure they'll never use that idea again on Doctor Who, anyway.


James said...

Apart from the model work at the beginning I actually quite liked this episode. There is a clear move away from the historical and back to the Sci-fi elements established in the Daleks. The first episode is clearly all set up, establishing the reason for their search, seperating the crew from the ship etc and as such worked quite well. If anything it reminded me of T-Bag a show I watched as a child. I always loved the first episode more than the rest of the show where they would establish the object of power and make it seem like a mythical journey before it all degenerated into running around in paper forests. It may be my found memories of T-Bag but I actually liked this one.

Rog said...

I haven't seen this one in a while, but I was impressed with the uniqueness of this episode after the previous stories. It's pure pulp, sure, but that's exactly why I like it. In the early days of Doctor Who you just never had a clue where it was going to go next or how the style of the show would change with each story.

Keir said...

When Ian say it must be Southend and they all laugh, that's a Hitchiker reference. Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.

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