Friday, October 29, 2010
Some of the flaws of this segment of Trial start to manifest in this episode. The characters are very broadly drawn out in this story, and we get to know one of them, Professor Lasky, a great deal more than we wanted to. Lasky is brash, but no one is that brash. It's like writers Pip and Jane Baker have gone well out of their way to show how rude and belligerent she is. It's an approach the writers take to most of the characters, setting them so far apart from each other on the basis of their motives that everyone's bound to not get along on the voyage. It seems contrived.
The Bakers (all three of them including Colin) are also quite smug about a pointless sequence where The Doctor deciphers that one of the Mogarians isn't a Mogarian at all. It takes several minutes for The Doctor to get to the point, after which he almost seems to rest his defence on his brilliant skills of detection. I'm with the Valeyard on this one, who's unimpressed expression matched my own after witnessing these events go by. Twice. The Doctor's been much more clever in the past, and with much more expedition and subtlety.
Most of all, this is probably the tackiest looking four episodes of Doctor Who in the series' long history. And, yes, that includes The Claws of Axos. Everything has a thick coat of 80s gloss applied to it, from the fashions to the sets to the music. Especially the music. Malcolm Clarke opened the book on full Radiophonic Workshop scores in 1972 with some bold and experimental work for The Sea Devils, and closes that book with the Workshop's last ever score here. This is undoubtedly Clarke's worst score of his career. In fact, for years, I was almost under the assumption that it was supposed to be bad, but I just wasn't clever enough to work out the irony. Some of Clarke's work in the Peter Davison era was some of the most iconic music heard in Doctor Who (his Cybermen theme is still the benchmark for such character themes to be measured by), and it's sad to see him go out like this.
But, then, as I've said before, it was 1986, a year when the decade long civil war between art and good taste was at an all time low...
Posted by Steven at 11:12 AM