Monday, March 21, 2011
There's a clear parallel between a scene here in Episode Three and a very similar one in Vengeance on Varos from Season 22. Ikona prevents The Doctor from stepping into a land mine at the last second. Then, a Tetrap looms menacingly upon The Doctor before being blasted by Ikona and his glitter gun. Discombobulated, the Tetrap is then pushed by The Doctor into land mine, after which the four-eyed unfortunate is spun off to explode into a nearby rock. It's eerily similar to the infamous acid bath scene from Varos, but the key difference is in the reaction of The Doctor. In Varos, The Doctor, who actually never lays hands on the guard who gets dragged to his acidic death, responds with a throwaway quip, and is lambasted by fan and critic alike.
The fact that The Seventh Doctor, who is perhaps the least prone to violence out of all the Doctors, actually shoves the Tetrap directly into the land mine is almost downright shocking. I had to rewind it to ensure that what I saw was correct. But it's what The Doctor does and how he reacts immediately afterward that spares him from criticism, and it's all down to Sylvester McCoy's performance. Right after he shoves the Tetrap, McCoy dusts his hands as if he's just absent-mindedly pushed the Tetrap to his death. It's an accident, and McCoy plays it as such. Once the trap is sprung, McCoy has a look of shock and horror on his face that his miles away from the smug smile Colin Baker affected after his escape from the acid bath. And while the posthumous salute isn't played quite as seriously as it could have been, the intent is there.
This is a different Doctor we are being treated to here. Whereas in past, The Doctor was ready to only admit that he was abhorrent to violence except in self defence, McCoy's Doctor isn't even willing to go that far. He's a negotiator and a strategist, and, even when these tactics fail as they do when he's duped by a hologram of Mel in a hostage negotiation, he still stands by his new approach. I'm not a fan of comparing one actor's performance of The Doctor to another, but it's difficult to not notice the similarities between McCoy's Doctor and Patrick Troughton's at this early stage. As we had lost Troughton to a heart attack in the days leading up to the production of Time and the Rani, perhaps that comparison is a fitting one.
Posted by Steven at 1:00 PM