Thursday, August 20, 2009
As good as Dudley Simpson's music scores during the past couple seasons of Doctor Who have been, I can't help but thank the serendipity of Simpson's supposed tiff with director Douglas Camfield in 1965 that resulted in Camfield never using Simpson again for the rest of his directorial career (a decision that even extended to the Blake's 7 episode Duel). This story was no difference, but works because of the absence of Simpson's music.
Barring the odd bit of stock music (which is used for the last time in the series' history here), the soundtrack for the entire story is both the sounds of constant drilling and, after the events of Penetration Zero, those of distant (and not so distant) explosions. Such a soundtrack is perfect. The state of the Earth is never far from the mind of the viewer or the participants onscreen, thanks to the unending sounds of their impending doom. The world is ending, something seldom (and, if you take Galaxy Four out of the picture, never) portrayed on screen before this. Coming up with music to accompany such an event would be difficult, indeed.
Once again, there are some tough and brutal scenes in this episode, as there have been on a few other occasions during Season Seven. Platoon Under Leader Benton, whose sole function at this point is to maintain order amongst the technicians and, once they've fled, to maintain order amongst his own men, has displayed no redeeming features in this story. Yet it is very difficult to watch him being dragged to his horrible fate - that of becoming a Primord. Part of it is because he looks like the same Benton we were sharing a laugh with in Episode One, but, for me, it's mostly because of the Brigade Leader's futile warning of "Benton! Get out!" before the Primords get to him. Nicholas Courtney delivers the line with such conviction and believability that is so far removed from the children's show mentality that the show had possibly fostered in the public eye over the preceding six years. The destruction of the Earth is worth an ultra-serious take on things, and, thanks to the efforts of all involved, that is just what we're getting.
This is fundamentally brilliant television.
Posted by Steven at 1:06 PM