Tuesday, May 19, 2009

S3 - A Battle of Wits

A few of Douglas Camfield's episodes have gone by without me singling him out for specific praise. His work in The Time Meddler stands out as his best work to date (possibly because Richard Martin's direction in the preceding story, The Chase, seems so clunky by comparison). The camera close-ups are nice and tight, the action moves along from scene to scene at a healthy clip, and there's a series of nice dissolves between certain scenes over the course of the story. Sometimes, they're to show the effect of the deserted and ethereal monastery, but other times, they are an artistic way of covering up the difficult edits made during recording breaks (back in the day when editing videotape actually meant cutting and sticking bits of videotape together).

And then there' s Peter Butterworth as the Meddling Monk (one of the sillier names in Doctor Who lore. Although, as we will see in The Daleks' Master Plan, he's still dressed like a monk then, as well. Does he only create mischief in times and places that afford him to be a monk in disguise?). Butterworth is one of, if not the only, great successes in casting comedy actors in "dramatic" roles in the show's history. Of course, calling the Monk a dramatic character isn't at all accurate. If The Master ever had a Patrick Troughton-type incarnation, it would have looked very similar to the Monk. The Monk isn't necessarily evil, just mischievous, which makes him all the more believable as a character.

Hartnell returns in this episode and shares some lovely scenes with Butterworth. Their chemistry together is what really drives this episode. This is Doctor Who doing comedy right - a serious story with hints of comedy here in there, but with the funny stuff never taking precedence over the story as a whole.

And one couldn't possibly comment on this episode without mentioning the last scene where Vicki and Steven discover the Monk's TARDIS, but more on that in the next entry...


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