Monday, July 27, 2009
The seed for the next five years of Doctor Who are firmly planted in this episode with the introduction of UNIT, the Brigadier, lots of military equipment, and extensive location filming. It all looks and feels very familiar now, looking back on it, so much so that seeing Patrick Troughton's Doctor in the middle of all of this seems almost out of place. Troughton's Doctor is a deceptive little cosmic hobo whose image is almost overwhelmed by the scale of the operation around him. The only thing more strong and defiant than UNIT in these early stages is the strong and defiant image (and ego) of Jon Pertwee's Doctor. Pertwee's Doctor was made for UNIT. Troughton seems like more of a place holder in this, keeping Pertwee's seat warm for a few more months.
It's nice to see Zoe have a female friend to chum around with in Isobel Watkins. It's also, admittedly, nice to see them chum around in skirts so short that if one was to sew both skirts together, they still wouldn't go down past the knee. I'm not sure I, for one second, believe that Isobel actually knows what she's doing when it comes to photography, but her and Zoe make a good team. Their destruction of the reception computer at International Electromatix is fun, but not half as fun as Vaughn's reaction to it.
I may as well start the Tobias Vaughn love-in now. Obviously, Kevin Stoney is fantastic as the IE chairman, and the real villain of this story, no matter what the Cybermen have to say about things. Just as he made the first half of The Daleks Master Plan three years earlier, Stoney steals not only every scene in this episode, but he steals every scene he's not in because Vaughn is so enthralling that it's easy to spend the time while watching non-Vaughn scenes waiting with anticipation for the next Vaughn scene to come up. Stoney portrays Vaughn with such a defiant coolness that it comes close to being the definitive portrait of a villain in Doctor Who. You are never in doubt that Vaughn is always (repeat, always) in complete control of the situation at this stage of the story. Even though he seems to be taking commands from the strange machine (who I'll call the Cyber Coordinator for now) behind his office wall, you know that Vaughn looks at the arrangement like a partnership, with him as the primary partner. Just as when Stoney's Mavic Chen batted aside a Dalek eyestalk in The Daleks' Master Plan, I love it when Vaughn angrily closes the door on the Cyber Coordinator while the machine is in mid-sentence.
I also can't go on anymore without mentioning what might be my favourite music score to date by Don Harper. His theme for UNIT might be a little busy for my liking, but the rest of his music sets the tone for this entire story that it is impossible for me to not think of the score whenever this story is mentioned. From the moody music often used to accompany The Doctor and Jamie skulking about the IE grounds, to the groovy lounge music used in scenes set in Vaughn's office, Harper's work on this story deserves all the accolades it has received over the years.
Posted by Steven at 10:56 AM