Monday, December 21, 2009

5G2 - The Creature From The Pit 2

After five minutes of this episode, you begin to notice that there's no videotape sequences at all during this time. It's all on film, including some superb looking shots of The Doctor in the pit - first hanging from the tiniest tendrils of his scarf, then later as he's exploring the cavern by the light of a single match. You can almost be led to believe that The Creature From The Pit is a fantastic looking story, perhaps even the best looking story to date.

Then a giant, green garbage bag comes around the corner in BBC Studio 7 waving what looks to be its semi-flaccid reproductive organ, intent on either devouring or defiling The Doctor, and all hope for this serial is lost. The notion of a giant blob creature really should have been rejected from the very outset, if only for reasons of budget. But the creature is merely a testament to one of the great failings of the Graham Williams era - the inverse ratio between the size of the budget and the size of the imagination.

I'm not going to call the Philip Hinchcliffe era unimaginative, but it's scope was certainly more provincial, and certainly much less fantastical, than the era that succeeded it. However, the money stretched a lot further in the mid Seventies than it did in the later part of the decade. If life was fair, the two eras would have flip flopped, and Williams would have had ample money to bring his giant creatures and alien planets to life, while Hinchcliffe, whose better quality stories thrived on minimalism and could have probably made do with a slightly smaller budget.

But it wasn't to be, and after the unquestionable triumph of City of Death, the jewel of the Graham Williams era, each successive story for the remainder of Season 17 had problems with it, some of them larger than others. Figuratively and literally, the monster from Creature was the biggest of them all.


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