Thursday, March 25, 2010
Episode Two is very similar to Episode One in that there are several tremendously long scenes. There were two scenes in Episode One that were each over six minutes long and featured just The Doctor and Peri. A similar scene happens in this episode, but it's even longer, when The Doctor postulates his theory about the universe collapsing, then Peri leaves to check on Jamie, then The Doctor discovers the "torture booth" optical illusion, then Peri and Jamie come back in, then The Doctor decides to try and contact his other self via mind link (deep breath), and so on.
It almost feels like we're watching a filmed stage play at times. There's another almost criminally long scene in the cellar that changes locations slightly, but the recording never breaks from a scene with Dastari and Chessene, to one with Dastari and Stike, to one with Stike and The Doctor. This story is almost a throwback to the Second Doctor era in more ways than one, as huge scenes without recording breaks was the style of production back in the 1960s. It's a technique that jars when seen in a 1980s context, but results in a story that is at least breathable.
Speaking of breathable, it's good to see Colin Baker ditch his coat for the scenes set in Spain, just as his predecessor did for his hot weather filming stint in Planet of Fire. Bizarrely, though, Frazer Hines is encumbered with Jamie's most thorough costume ever in the series. He wasn't this well dressed in the ice tombs of Telos or the Himalayas, but poor Hines must have baked underneath his costume in the southern Spain sun even more than the two actors playing Sontarans did.
Oh, and speaking of the Sontarans, one wonders why they have been made taller than their previous incarnations (but not equally tall, as Clinton Greyn still towers over Tim Raynham). I've always assumed that these Sontarans were rare special ops troops, cloned to be taller to be able to reach tree branches and the top shelves of bookcases. Plus, to my young eyes when I first saw this story, Sontarans were always tall because this was the first time I had seen them and remembered their stature. So, to me, I looked back at earlier stories and wondered why all the Sontarans we so small...
While it can be argued that the Sontarans are less effective in this story than in previous appearances, at least their theme music, as composed by Peter Howell, makes up for it. Howell's final score for the classic series is his best. He contrasts the heavy, drum laden backing track for the Sontarans with some gorgeous Spanish guitar music for scenes set around the hacienda. It's one of my favourite scores to this day, and it, as well as the beauty of the location footage shot in and around Seville, almost solely inspired my love of Spanish guitar music and prompts me still to want to visit the olive groves of Andalusia. Ah, Doctor Who - is there anything you can't inspire me to do?
Posted by Steven at 12:22 PM