Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It's not often that Doctor Who predicts the future, either by accident or design, when it comes to the technological world. The notion of a world wide web of computers connected to one another and communicating with each other was first raised in Doctor Who in 1966's The War Machines, and revisited in 1973 in The Green Death - both stories decades before the Internet that we know and love became commonplace. However, it is more common to have Doctor Who be in step with current technology, perhaps even a couple months ahead. It is then when it looks slightly silly in retrospect.
Bubble wrap had just entered the market in the mid-70s when the special effects designers on The Ark in Space decided to make each of the progressive stages of the Wirrn out of the packing material. The current ubiquity of bubble wrap thus causes many a smirk and a guffaw from viewers who are watching the story today. When the props buyer for Remembrance of the Daleks was nosing about looking for a futuristic looking device to use for the Renegade Daleks' time controller, he settled on an otherworldly device that was just beginning to show up on store shelves - a plasma globe. Of course, once the story aired in the autumn of 1988, plasma globes were everywhere, which had the knock-on effect of allowing kids everywhere to be able to buy (at a premium, at the time) a Dalek time controller of their very own. (I'd laugh at this today if I still didn't want one of these lamps in the worst way.)
There's quite a bit of exposition in this episode where we see various factions talk amongst themselves about what they'll be doing in future, more exciting episode to come. The Doctor even sits Ace down to explain his plan while soldiers rush about at Coal Hill School, setting up a defence for an impending Dalek attack. (A troubling aside: The Doctor explains to Ace that he's using the military merely as a distraction to keep the Renegade Daleks busy, but several soldiers are killed in the ensuing battle for this "distraction".) The episode ends, though, with an impressive, live action effects sequence featuring a rare, full-sized model of an Imperial Dalek shuttlecraft landing in the middle of a playground. You really get the impression that everyone is giving it their all to make a big, expensive looking story, and they're just about succeeding.
Posted by Steven at 12:10 PM