Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Doctor Who stories are always made better by Cyril Shaps, who excels at playing The Most Worried Man in the World. Together with John Abineri, William Dysart, and Ronald Allen, this story has seen some marvelous performances. And, yeah, how about Ronald Allen as Ralph Cornish? Tall, handsome, wearing a well cut suit and one Magnum revolver and a sour temperament away from being a poor man's Clint Eastwood.
Liz Shaw is one of the strongest female characters in the programme's history, but I'm surprised to see that, since her kidnap at the beginning of this episode, she remains imprisoned (barring one brief escape attempt) for the almost the rest of the story. The difference between locking up Liz and locking up, say, Polly, is that Liz is kidnapped partially to force The Doctor not to get involved, but also because Liz can serve a purpose for Reegan thanks to her scientific background. Polly wouldn't be useful in this situation until it came time to make the tea. Since Liz can serve a purpose as a character while being held captive, the plot thread of her and her fellow captives (the titular ambassadors) carries some weight. Imagine that - a female character in Doctor Who who can think and act for herself.
The fate of Bruno Taltalian is quite shocking, tragic, and gruesome, and all thanks to actor Robert Cawdron, Dudley Simpson's music, and director Michael Ferguson's handling of his death scene. There are three different perspectives happening in this scene. There's that of The Doctor, who knows nothing of what's about to occur. Taltalian knows that he has a bomb in the briefcase, and that he is to kill The Doctor with it by setting the 15-minute countdown on it, but doesn't know that the bomb is actually set to go off immediately. The third perspective is that of the viewer, who knows all of these things. Simpson's score builds up the suspense throughout the scene superbly, Ferguson's use of quick cuts is excellent, particularly the extremely quick edit once the bomb goes off. And Cawdron plays the part very nervously, but it's his horrific death scream that is the most gut-wrenching of all because there isn't an ounce of hammy stage acting in it at all. This is pure, adult-oriented entertainment unlike anything in Doctor Who's history.
Posted by Steven at 9:06 AM