Tuesday, May 26, 2009
(I so wanted to name this post "V2 Schneider", but I figured only the die hard David Bowie/Kraftwerk fans would get the joke)
As cool as this episode is (and it is), the best thing about it, really, is the novelty of actually being able to see it. Returned to the BBC archives as recently as this century (golly, there's hope the other 108 episodes, isn't there), it was an unparalleled thrill to watch this for the first time on the Lost in Time boxed set when it came out a couple years back. Seeing the mythical conference of all the alien delegates, a scene about which we had only heard for years, is the height of strangeness. All the delegates walk funny, or have spikes on their teeth, or bumps all over their body. They all even bang the table in applause in a funny way! They're all remarkably alien, but not in a stupid, annoying way like the aliens in The Web Planet.
I'm sure I'll talk of Mavic Chen again over the next few entries, but Kevin Stoney's villain is as smooth as they come, and is, by far, the strongest antagonist character the programme has seen by this point (and there would be a scant few that would be this strong afterwards, either). His scenes with Zephon are so smarmy, with Chen casually clinging to some upright bars as if he was in his own voluntary prison cell (perhaps a metaphor to his alliance with the Daleks and the other members of the outer galaxies).
And I definitely know I'll talk about Douglas Camfield again, but seeing as we only get to see three episodes of this 12-parter, and then we won't hear from him again until Season 5's The Web of Fear, I'll heap praise on him once again. The whole episode just seems so tight in its pacing, and, occurring in the days before editing was commonplace activity for videotaped television programmes, credit has to be given solely to Camfield's direction. Some other directors of the era would have simply pointed the camera at the actors and let the scene play itself out. It's apparent that the actors have meticulously rehearsed their performance under Camfield's militaristic eye, and it shows.
The real cheat of watching "orphaned" episodes like this is that they end, and promise of something even more exciting to come, but those are episodes that we will probably never be able to see and appreciate ever again...
Posted by Steven at 9:02 AM