Friday, July 10, 2009

SS1 - The Wheel in Space 1

Episode One is a bold experiment in minimalism, hearkening back to the early years of the show when The Doctor and his companions would wander around, exploring their new surroundings, while completely alone. Only at the end of the first episode would another character, shadow, trap, or sink plunger be revealed. What's risky in The Wheel in Space is that instead of the larger entourages of William Hartnell's era, there's just The Doctor and Jamie, and one Servo Robot who sounds like a relative of a Chumblie but looks more like he's giving the viewer a preview of the mind-blowing awesomeness that are the Quarks.

The fact that The Doctor knocks his head and slowly descends into unconsciousness during the last half of the episode makes the narrative even more challenging to portray. But the toughest part of The Wheel in Space for me? Not the writing, not the acting, not the robot. This is easily the worst quality reconstruction that I have for any story (ironic, as it is one of the last missing stories that I have to contend with during this marathon). My copy is probably a seventh-generation Betacam copy of the original recon, which may or may not be from Loose Cannon, but clearly predates the advent of onscreen subtitles to describe scenes with little dialogue. Scenes with little dialogue? Did I mention the Servo Robot doesn't speak, yet is in about half the scenes? Tough work, but all for you, dear reader. All for you.

Also, is it a prerequisite of 1960s Cybermen stories to not feature Cybermen? I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one...


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