Friday, December 14, 2012
Doctor Who likes to pat itself on the back sometimes for predicting, or at least hypothesizing, that the Prime Minister of Great Britain would, in the near future, be a woman when the Brigadier addressed the female PM on the phone in Terror of the Zygons, a story that aired four years before Margaret Thatcher became the first woman PM. Amazingly, Doctor Who has a similar bout of prescience in Paradise Towers when The Doctor innocently watches a Paradise Towers sales video on what appears to be a DVD, almost ten years before such things went on sale to the general public. It might not quite be the iPads and mobile phones that various incarnations of the Star Trek franchise predicted, but as Doctor Who fans, we'll take what we can get.
This is, at times, a grim episode. Watching the cannibalistic Rezzies prepare to carve up Mel should be downright terrifying, but then such scenes are instantly juxtaposed with frivolous scenes with caretakers quoting rule books and Richard Briers beginning his rehearsals for his part as the villain in a 1987 Christmas pantomime production. The overall tone of things is exemplified my Mel's actions this episode. She's actually pretty good at asserting herself, instigating a plan to get to floor 304 where she previously arranged to meet The Doctor. She and Pex have issues with the elevators and with the cleaners, and they seem genuinely frightened by their ordeal. Yet when they finally do reach the top floor, all Mel can think about is going for a swim.
Keff McCulloch's score doesn't help matters much. I'm not here to dump on McCulloch's much-maligned musical machinations. His output was a product of the times, even though Keff's stuff is more akin to pop music than it is incidental music. He also had to write this score in the course of a week after the original score by David Snell was rejected, so I find it easier to excuse the fact that McCulloch's eventual score is little more than many variations of the Doctor Who theme (and quoting a programme's main theme was another thing in vogue in the mid-to-late-80s). However, McCulloch's predilection for orchestral hits and digital hand claps deflates any dramatic intent that he might have had. Thanks to the DVD release of this story, we can hear the original score that David Snell was fired for, and you know what? It is terrible. Monophonic and monotonous. Given the options, we got off easy with Keff. Count your blessings.
Posted by Steven at 2:34 PM