Aug 10

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #6 CITY OF DEATH

FT2 comments • 390 views

or “most important punch in HISTORY!

… 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.

taking us back to the first worst baker — lovefilm takes its approach to time from the TARDIS hurrah — we now arrive in the 4-ep CITY OF DEATH, so-called bcz er er i’ll come back to that. The most irritating timelord is touristing with schoolgirl-fetish the Future Mrs Professor D4wkins in Paris in 1979 of all years. Where squigglyfaced aristocratic Elder-God art thieves quaff creme de menthe and plot the unbirth of all life on earth, via experiments with CHICKENS. K9 has been left in the TARDIS, hopefully in the hot sun with the window rolled shut — now read on…

i: just as the art villain is based on that timeless green elder ugly CHTHULHU, the art detective DW4 and FMPD team up with is based on eternally youthful blond fist-happy belgian scribe TINTIN
ii: the fellow playin the Russian professor — named KERENSKY for those who appreciate haha RED herring links with the Revolution, tho actually the Aristos in Exile atmos is quite relevant — manages to surpass his oscar-nomnomham spasm as a RUSSIAN with a prizewinning GOLDEN PIGSBUM for being murderously fast-aged…
iii: … which scene i believe features in the terrors of certain small DW watchers? Reduced to skeleton-dust is today a bit pro forma — Hammer having gorily invented it with Dracula, Buffy has efficiently routinised it, and this kind of FX was already pretty standard uk kids-TV horror… i recall something very similar in TIMESLIP in 1970 when i was small myself…
iv: THE EEEVIL PLAN is — of course — crap, but at the least last living Jagaroth has the excuse of being traumatised psychologically — ftb last living ect — and physically, having been splintered into 12 psychic parts scattered across time: and it has nice make-do touches, given that he is an super-advanced being trapped alongside the bloody pharaohs among others, and it must have been MADDENING tryin to get them to hurry up and discover INTERSTITIAL TRANSMAT STABILISATION and etc… certainly he is very mad
v: minor lovable details: that Squigglyface Scarroth favours chartreuse green and looks HOTT in an expensive loungesuit; that the giveaway to his best art-thief girly that she has uh oh ew noez noez been SHAGGIN A SHOGGOROTH is a Tintinesque Egyptian scroll feat., alongside dogheaded Anubis and etc, a BRIGHT GREEN TENDRIL-HEADED ELDER GOD; the way the Jagaroth ship tidily folds its legs up just before it explodes; all the other Jagaroths basically shouting at Scarroth from the back of the bus pre-explosiion, so it’s no surprise he gets flustered and cross and presses the deadly button; when Romana is guilelessly building some shortcut tec for the monster we see her unscrewing a standard three-pin plug from same ftb FRANCE!
vi: hee tiny unexpected easter egg cameo, as art connoisseurs admiring an YBA-esque installation at the Louvre, viz an blue police box, by long-since past sell-by J.Cleese and NEVER NOT AWESOME Eleanor Bron, who murmurs “exquisite!” as it dematerialises. I could write a million words on why the joke is actually on anyone who considers her character in any sense mistaken in her judgment — she should TOTES POST TO diggerdydum
vii: so why the “CITY OF DEATH” — well in my opinion, this is the state induced in the viewer by the vast amount of content-free wandertime doc and comp have in the boulevards and parks and iconic metal towers of dreary parEEEEE, presumably to prove the licence fee well spent on DW’s first-ever foreign location. Without outside shoots this would have been no worse, and just two eps long. Apparently it was rewritten and heavily edited by a largely pseudonymous D’Ugg L’ass O’Dumms, b4 he ripped off his plasticated face to reveal the writhing tendrils of ETERNALLY BORING NON-AMUSING LAMENESS…

Actually I’m being mean: there’s a bit too much Tom Quirk, and half the dialogue seems to have been improvised on the spot bcz they forgot the actual line, but TB is actually NOT the worst ham, see ii, and LallaW not the worst actor, which is the Tintin man. This story was enormously entertaining and demonstrably unwreckable even by stuff I am usually a bit allergic to; it has several silly-fun elements, including the fact that the alien’s lair is full of loads more GENUINE mona lisas, the whole jaunt into da vinci’s studio, inc.hilarous jobsworth minion action, the “felt tip” joke… and of course the utter end of a whole alien race, though it was largely their own fault


  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 9 Oct 2010 #

    i. Kerensky aged to death indeed terrifying nightmare for 7 year-old Billy, but Julian Glover locks door, rips off face to reveal horrible green roots-and-worms face presented AIEEE-elemental fears. These days, what interests me about the scene is the element of privacy and discretion – Scarlioni carefully locks the door in order that his secret deviant monster self won’t be discovered by his wife.

    ii. The massive amount of charming Paris scenes is because they only had a weekend’s guerrilla filming to work with and everything that they shot worked so well. Tom and Lalla had become a couple by this point, as I think the viewer can tell. Romana often acts more like an additional, female, Doctor than any sort of assistant in this period, one of the reasons why I like it so much.

    iii. The script was written pseudonymously by script editor Douglas Adams in a weekend when an earlier version by David Fisher had fallen through, hence the delightfully playful tone.

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 2 Mar 2011 #

    My attempt to find a literary antecedent for every Doctor Who story has now reached the Tom Baker era, the longest-running and perhaps the most literate period of the unfolding text of Doctor Who;


    The eighties is proving slightly more difficult to bibliographise… Can anybody think of any type of literary antecedent or parallel text for the two stories where I draw an absolute blank ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ (for which ‘Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide’ can only suggest “War movies, Alien, Star Wars’) or ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ (I’d accept any form of proto-Martina Cole eighties British gangster crime)? Eric Saward was no Terence Dicks or Douglas Adams, that’s for sure.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page