Sunday, May 3, 2009

L2 - Desperate Measures



The new series of Doctor Who has done a good job, I think, of showing the effects a companion's departure has on her family. The old series seemed content on finding orphans to travel with The Doctor, or, if they couldn't find an orphan, they made damn sure that she was made an orphan by the time came for her to decide to come aboard the TARDIS.

Case in point : Vicki. Her mother has already been killed before we meet her. She was on her way to meet up with her father, but we find out that Bennett has killed him, too. Bennett, the only other person Vicki has known since her spaceship crashed on Dido, is killed after falling off a cliff. The rescue ship, whose arrival Vicki has placed so much hope in for so long, never arrives. Even Sandy, the friendly monster who has been the only real chum Vicki has had on this planet, is horribly slaughtered by a trigger happy Barbara. One by one, Vicki's options have diminished completely, but The Doctor has the audacity at the end of the story to let Vicki think about what she wants to do - wait on a planet with no food and no one to take care of her for a rescue ship that will never come, or take the only sure ride out of town in the TARDIS.

Well, duh. This isn't the last time a potential companion has had no family, friends, or reason to stay behind when travel in the TARDIS beckons, but few companion introduction pieces have been as blatant as this story. However, it's a reasonably diverting pair of episodes. The Doctor's role in being the main protagonist in a show about The Doctor has (finally) started to take hold. He discovers the trap door to the great Dido hall, confronts Bennett, and engages in a rare fight sequence. But my favourite bit of this whole episode? After The Doctor uses a small girder as a battering ram to get into Bennett's room, Hartnell chucks the girder onto the bed, and you can instantly see that this was no prop - it WAS a girder, and probably weighed about 30-40 pounds, judging by the way it bounced on the bed. After a few episodes of polystyrene "stone" doors, its nice to see a bit of realism creeping into the show. And I bet you Hartnell bitched about it non-stop to the director at the time. If so, well done, Christopher Barry, for putting the hammer down.

Al in all, Vicki seems to be a good fit for the TARDIS crew - innocent enough to be worried about by her fellow travelers, but independent enough to not have to be doted on by anyone, especially The Doctor. After a year an a bit, The Doctor can finally interact with the stories proper without having to be a responsible grandparent, which used to take him out of the action far to often when Susan was on the show. The programme is all the better for it.

2 comments:

verlaine said...

"This isn't the first time a potential companion has had no family, friends, or reason to stay behind when travel in the TARDIS beckons"

Er, who was there before Vicki? Ping-Cho? Second Elder Sensorite? I'm drawing a blank...

Steven said...

Whoops. That should have read "last time". That'll learn me to write these things at 3:00 AM.

It's changed now.

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