Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Very rarely in Doctor Who up until now has The Doctor been seen to even hold a gun, let alone fire it. This episode breaks a barrier often thought unbreakable within the show's format when The Doctor vapourizes an Ogron using one of the rebels' disintegrator guns. The fact that he picks it up in the first place is possibly understandable. He's just been in a fight with an Ogron, and doesn't want the Ogron to pick the gun up himself. The fact that The Doctor backs out of the room without firing the gun is testament to that.
Once The Doctor runs outside though and turns the corner, he comes face to face with a further pair of Ogrons, and shoots one of them dead before the just arrived Brigadier takes care of the other. Careful editing may have saved face for The Doctor's character here. As seen on screen, the long shot of two slowly advancing Ogrons doesn't seem as menacing, nor is it immediately apparent that either of them are aiming their guns at The Doctor. Had a brief close-up of an Ogron raising his gun been inserted, perhaps, it may have given The Doctor just visual cause to fire. Yes, it's a little bit "Greedo shoots first", but The Doctor isn't Han Solo, nor should he ever be.
Directing this serial is Paul Bernard, making his first appearance in the director's chair on Doctor Who. That such a character flaw was allowed to slip through the cracks might be placed on Bernard's lap, as a result. He's certainly unfamiliar with other aspects of the production: note how he retained the "sting" of the end credit music at the end of Episodes 1 and 2 in the reprise for Episodes 2 and 3, respectively. Bernard does, though, bring a distinct visual flair to this story. He often uses dissolves to transition from scene to scene (a technique seldom seen up to this point in Doctor Who). There are some scenes with intense close-up shots, as well as some (such as Benton's and Yates's in this episode) that are shot entirely in long shot and off centre. Bernard does his best to make up for the absence of Douglas Camfield in Doctor Who, although the action scenes, Camfield's specialty, seem somewhat lacking in flow.
Posted by Steven at 2:57 PM