Thursday, October 15, 2009

4E2 - Genesis of the Daleks 2

As if the slow motion shootout at the beginning of Episode One wasn't enough to convince viewers that Doctor Who was no longer just a children's program, along comes the rocket silo escape sequence at the end of Episode Two.

The crazy vertical escape has been another Terry Nation staple (witness the elevator and venting shaft chases in The Daleks and Planet of the Daleks, respectively), and we get another one in this episode when Sarah, Sevrin, and the rest of the prisoners attempt an impossible by climbing the scaffolding beside a rocket and slip out the top of the dome several hundred feet up. But David Maloney turns this scene into a vicious (and completely gripping) sequence that is as intense and violent as anything in Doctor Who seen to that date.

The sequence is played out with hardly any incidental music as only soundtrack is provided by the sounds of gunfire and the screams of the dying escapees falling to their grisly deaths. When a Kaled soldier attempts to help Sarah reach the nearest rung of scaffolding, but gets shot in the process, he doesn't just die - he dies HORRIBLY. Sarah's panicked screams as the poor man falls to his death, screaming the whole way, say it all - this is something that she, nor we, the viewers, have seen before on Doctor Who.

The freeze frame ending of Sarah apparently falling to her own death is also devastatingly effective as it elongates the moment of tension to its maximum. One of my favourite sounds in Doctor Who is the sting that leads into the credit music as used from The Ambassadors of Death on until the end of the 1970s. However, the sting is about 3-4 seconds long, which is fine for long, lingering camera shots during some cliffhangers, but for moments like Sarah falling, the sting would either have to be faded in towards the end, thus losing its dramatic impact, or the credits would have to come in early. The freeze frame is perfect - it allows the sting to play out in full, thus heightening the tension as much as possible, and the image of Sarah Jane, hanging in mid-air, is given more opportunity to embed itself in the mind of the viewer while he/she patiently waits for one long week to watch the next episode to see how the cliffhanger is resolved. Brilliant work by David Maloney in what has been a brilliant story thus far.


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