Tuesday, May 5, 2009

N1 - The Web Planet

Right from the start, it seems that there are at least two things in common with The Web Planet and Episode One of The Mind Robber :

1) In both episodes, the TARDIS console is seen to spin, for some reason, and;
2) Both episodes are really, really weird

First off, it looks as if the TARDIS scenes are being shot backwards. The TARDIS doors, for the first (and only?) time appear on screen right, there's not a roundel in sight on the walls, there's a lot of discarded scenery in one of the corners of the console room, and, to top it off, the power cable connected to the console, usually hidden by the normal camera angles employed in the series, is clearly visible throughout the first episode. Richard Martin, who had a few episodes under his belt by this time, directed this episode. Did he forget everything he learned?

The weirdness doesn't end there. The TARDIS is pulled to the planet by a mysterious force that also appears to sap all the power from the time machine. Soon afterwards, we get a brief glimpse into what might have caused this - ants. Giant ants. And a strange gliding armadillo. And all of them speak in some strange language called Radiophonics.

The Doctor and Ian, wearing space anoraks, leave the ship to investigate the planet. And what a planet it is. Say what you will about the various aspects of this six-part serial (don't worry, we'll touch on all of them over the course of these next few posts), the portrayal of Vortis is one of the more original stabs at showing a truly alien environment the programme has ever attempted. The echo on the soundtrack creates a sense of space and desolation, a feeling aided by the, quite frankly, superb sets and backdrops. The Vaseline smeared filtered lens effect is downright creepy, too. It really feels like an alien planet, and it's a sign of the unfettered ambition that is to come over the course of the story.

As for what's happening in the story, who knows? Barbara gets hypnotized, thanks to the bracelet she's wearing, and wanders out of the TARDIS. Ian gets trapped in some sort of web, and, most oddly, the TARDIS sounds as if it is dematerializing at story's end, leaving The Doctor bewildered as to where it has gone.

This has been unlike anything I've ever seen on Doctor Who before, and that much, at least, intrigues me enough to want to keep watching with intense interest.


Post a Comment