Monday, May 4, 2009
With episode 2 of The Romans, things actually start getting funny and entertaining. The most amusing aspect of the episode (and, indeed, of the whole story) is how The Doctor and Barbara keep missing each other when each person is wandering around Nero's palace. It was an idea redone with great success in the opening half of the new series episode Partners in Crime, too.
Thanks to the comedic aspect of this story, established history is played with pretty fast and loose. Nero is not the younger man that he was in reality in 64 A.D., but a middle aged crank straight out of a Carry On film. And I'm okay with that. Most of what bothered me about The Reign of Terror was how frustratingly proper it was. This is Doctor Who having fun for the first time in its existence, and it makes it worth watching.
The only people who aren't having fun in this episode are Ian and his new friend Delos, who play the straight men throughout the story and don't have so much as a funny line between the two of them. They also endure the most amount strife, being kidnapped, forced to row on a Roman galley (which subsequently breaks apart and sinks), kidnapped again and thrown in a dungeon to be fed to the lions in the Coliseum. And that's just in this episode!
There's also an embarrassingly bad effects sequence that needs mentioning, which takes place during the afore-mentioned sinking of the galley. The final shot of the sequence looks as if two stagehands off set each threw a small bucket of water onto the actors (which is what actually happened) while another stagehand dropped a balsa wood plank on them (which is what actually happened). To top it off, the crane camera covering these events looks like it hits the lighting grid while doing a camera move! Not the best five seconds in Doctor Who's history, to be sure...
Posted by Steven at 8:54 AM