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Aug 10

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #1 THE HORROR OF FANG ROCK

FT2 comments • 315 views

or “leela i have made a terrible mistake

being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community and from now on also crossposted at FT.

In a bid to recoup many unused months of lovefilm subs, i have back-ordered a squillion random old DW eps — the first to arrive being THE HORROR OF FANG ROCK, in which a LONELY VICTORIAN LIGHTHOUSE is menaced by an HUNDRED YEAR OLD EGG which can CLIMB WALLS but is POOR ON STAIRS

Initial disclaimer: as is known I am not really a fan of 4, so this is watched through that lens — of reassessing my massive teenage prejudice (i was 17 when this first aired; i certainly watched the eps where leela first became a companion, but cannot recall if i ever saw this before)

i: OK, start with a sinister thing i only realised some time after i finished watching — partly bcz i was so busily congratulating myself on known the 1900 IRL background inspiration… DW closes the ep by quoting Wilfred Wilson Gibson‘s poem about same (which I was set an essay about, at school, aged abt 10). Anyway wtf ftb DW already knows what is going to happen — the lighthouse keepers all vanish — and apparently makes sure this is exactly what transpires, when he could totally have saved some lives with a less daft “plan”…
ii: bcz never in the history of lurking horror has a strategy involved so much “let’s split up! you go to the isolated coalcellar/lamproom where NONE CAN HEAR THEE SCREAM!”-style fannydangle…
iii: with the result that EVERYONE EXCEPT DW and LEELA end up dead! Dear me, yes, the doctor is NEVER NOT poor on strategy, is he? he relies on his tactical finesse with alien-race knowledge, manipulative mindfuck and obv technological knowhow
iv: i enjoyed the story-arc interplay between leela-the-savage and DW-the-higher-being, her mix of bafflement, worship exasperation and bloodthirsty gung-ho girl-with-a-big-knife lets’-get-at-em attitude (“Has she never seen death before?”), tho it was (to say the least) rather underwritten (courtesy terrance dicks)… Louise Jameson obviously enjoyed it too; at one point she totally corpses on-screen, after an admittedly quite wittily perverse linereading on mr baker’s part, so that her next lines have to be edited in over the top
v: the Other Characters were mostly a bit perfunctory (the 3 lighthousekeepers at the start more or less a two ronnies sketch feat.yokels) (tho the oldest did a terrific SINISTER ZOMBIE GRIN at one point); the stranded posh (and villainous) yachtspeople were watchable enough, in a backstory-by-the-numbers way
vi: there’s some witty little set-design and script details: the jars of prunes and cherries on the kitchen shelves — ok i get prunes but why and how cherries? — or the briefly glimpsed dirty postcards DW finds on a lighthousekeeper’s bunk; mention of BONAR LAW — slightly anachronistcally, as he only entered poltics at all in 1897, but never not funny — and Wells on aliens (War of the Worlds published 1898; not sure that “aliens” was used in this sense then…)
vii: plus some really WEIRD little stuff, which sounds like an on-set injoke (leela early on says “teshnician” inastead of “technician”, and DW picks this up; later he says “shameleon” instead of “chameleon” (“the shameleon factor — sometimes called lycanthropy”; 4 is such a TITANIC BULLSHITTER and general sociopathic wind-up artist); and then there’s a little curlicue of a gag i couldn’t make out — the last surviving villanous yachtsperson is helping make an ad hoc mortar; he points to some weapon we don’t really see, and DW (apparently) nixes it, describing it as something like an “early schmearly” (??)

So hurrah. I am slightly won over to DW4 in a generally well-liked ep. I enjoyed this ep a LOT, even though it is quite slow for the first three eps, the SFX were kidstuff AT BEST, the alien was sillier than usual physically as well as culturally, and there was something a bit unsettling about the “job well done” air the duo had at the end, given that EVERYONE ELSE WAS DEAD.

Comments

  1. 1
    admin on 8 Oct 2010 #

    Tesh-nician is a call back to Leela’s first story. Istr the tribes had devolved ‘survey team’ to sevateem and the technicians had become the Tesh. One group capered about with a totemic radiation/spacesuit glove on their heads as a crown

  2. 2
    Heaven on 7 Aug 2011 #

    I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it udensrtandable.

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