Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7F1 - Delta and the Bannermen 1

After a couple tenuous steps into the new era, Delta and the Bannermen finally starts to feel like the new production team, and its Doctor, is finding its feet. The overt goofiness of the previous stories is gone, replaced with a more harmless sense of whimsy and weirdness. The idea of a bus full of giant alien starfish disguised as tourists from the 1950s just seems to work in this new format. Everyone just seems to be having fun here, both onscreen and off.

Well, not everyone, actually. The jovial atmosphere of 1950s Wales is offset by the grim, quarry bound shootout in the episode's opening minutes, in which we're introduced to about the only two serious (and dull) characters in the whole story - Gavrok and the eponymous Delta. But these characters are necessary to keep the story from flying off into pantomime, something the episode succeeds in avoiding, despite the efforts of Ken Dodd.

I have no problem with Ken Dodd. If I won a contest at some dodgy, isolated intergalactic spaceport, I would hope to be greeted by a showman of his sort as opposed to an emotionless automaton spitting out a congratulatory message on ticker tape. Dodd, and other outlandish characters like his toll keeper, also have the add on effect of allowing Sylvester McCoy to play the straight man, and it's during moments like these that develop his character so much more than when he's clowning around.

Speaking of that toll gate sequence, it actual signals a massive change in the way that Doctor Who will be produced in the future. Like all of Delta and the Bannermen (apart from, one assumes, the brief sequences in the Bannermen spaceships), the scene was shot on location. But unlike almost all other location shoots in the show's history up to this point, a standard brick building is used, with the aid of set dressing and night photography, to represent a space port. When Doctor Who returned to TV in 2005, using existing building interiors and exteriors to stand in for otherworldly settings was commonplace. Here's to the future, indeed...


TansyRR said...

It's nice to see you back! Glad to see that the Wife in Space have spurred you into that final run towards the finish line...

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