Friday, May 15, 2009

R3 - Flight Through Eternity

"Flight Through Eternity" - these episode titles are getting more and more descriptive of my experience while watching them....

At the beginning of this episode, the TARDIS is 12 minutes ahead of the Dalek time machine in their chase (which is actually referred to by The Doctor, by name, in this episode). By the end, they're only 8 minutes ahead. In a 24-minute episode that felt like 48 minutes while watching it, only four minutes of actual plot time have elapsed during the whole thing. And I use that term "plot time" very loosely. To quote King Peladon in an upcoming story The Curse of Peladon, "I keep telling you! There is no plot!"

This episode consists entirely two truly dreadful set pieces - the TARDIS/Daleks landing on the Empire State Building (sorry, the "Empoyah State Bildin", as spoken by the authentic New York tour guide), and then visiting the Mary Celeste. In New York, we get to meet the yokel Morton Dill and see his comedic antics with the Daleks, who fall even further down the credibility scale in this episode. No longer the soulless killers they once were (and would become again, thankfully), they're repeatedly made the subject of mockery by all who are around them. The Daleks that would climb 498 stories through space to exterminate Lynda-with-a-Y are different creatures altogether. Here, Dill fiddles with the Dalek's gun and yells into its plunger (because it even seems more like a plunger in this episode) with more contempt than Tom Baker could have possibly mustered in all of Season 17.

The TARDIS crew don't seem that concerned about this endless pursuit, either. Despite what should be a life and death situation, Barbara has time to get all giddy and explore the Mary Celeste as if she's on her very own sea cruise while the TARDIS stops for break. But then, why should she be scared of being chased by Daleks? No one else in this story is, except for the jittery crew members of the Mary Celeste. The Daleks were bad enough in New York, but they're simply terrible in the boat sequence. One Dalek seems suicidal and takes a header off the deck into the water. Was this the same Dalek that earlier stammered and stuttered before giving a simple reply to his superior? Was he feeling that promotion just wasn't going to happen and so had to take his future into his own, for lack of a better term, hands?

This is Doctor Who at its most smug. You almost get the impression that this story was planned out at the same time as the programme was getting boffo ratings around the time of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and the production team thought that they could get away with anything and people would still watch. They shouldn't be so cocky. Parts of this story are horrible edited. I've counted four times where the last line of a scene is cut off by the first shot of the next sequence. This is symptomatic of what can be perceived as a general laziness about the whole production. Was the creative team on Doctor Who already running out of steam towards the end of just their second season?


Keir said...

I thought the tour guide's performance was strange, even more than Abraham Lincoln's yesterday, possibly, but that was nothing compared to what was to come. It had its benefits - the Mary Celeste sequence, which looked very stupid from what I remember (mainly the 'hit over the head' acting), passed in a blur for me, thankfully. I was still shell-shocked by Peter Purves' performance. I think it might be the most painful viewing I've ever been subjected to by Who. If there have been more excruciating performances in Who I bet they didn't last anywhere near as long.

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