Sunday, 7 June 2009

Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones

Part One

"It's a flying beastie!"

Once again, I'm really appreciating the luxury of actual footage, and DVD quality no less. And one of the first things we see is a 60s copper with one of those old comedy chinstraps! It's little things like this that make me miss footage so much. A good start from this Malcolm Hulke chap- I wonder if we'll ever hear from him again?

Our heroes get separated within seconds- is this a record? I notice that it's Jamie the Doctor finds first, and he's only mildly concerned about finding the others- favouritism? As many said in the Macra Terror thread, Jamie has now become his fully-fledged permanent self, and the on-screen rapport between Troughton and Hines is now at full strength fabness.

This is very well-directed, which along with the script makes it all seem very reminiscent of The Avengers, not a type of story I remember seeing before- this is most pleasing as recent stories, though good, have not been as innovative as they used to be.

The Doctor and Jamie don't seem all that enthusiastic to help Polly find Ben, and they seem to lose Polly rather easily! And Ben doesn't seem to be in this episode much at all, especially towards the end. A very unusual episode- the only real sci-fi element until the cliffhanger arrives is the ray gun.

Part Two

"We have ways of dealing with such people!"

Back to the recon, then, which is good for one thing at least- the captions along the bottom ain't half good at getting you to learn the names of all the guest characters! Things slow down an awful lot with this episode- the eye chart stuff is blatant filler, and you begin to notice how little is happening. It's not too much of a problem, at least not yet, as you're still curious about what's going on. But things need to start happening soon. And this may be competently written but after The Macra Terror it all looks a bit formulaic.

It's Pauline Collins! Er, that's an interesting Liverpool accent. Very Z-Cars... Of course, I barely recognised her as the photo's very fuzzy. These old Loose Cannon recons are noticeably much less good than the recent ones, although the fact that mine is a 50,000th generation copy probably isn't helping!

Ah, Ben finds Polly and looks around for a phone. Not the kind of scene you see much of in drama today...

Part Three

"All right, stay here. After all, they can only murder me. Ta ra!"

The Doctor's being menaced by a sinister surveillance camera. Makes you think, that- back in 1967 surveillance cameras were the stuff of Orwellian nightmares!

I'm loving the relationship between Jamie and the clearly-intended-as-a-possible-companion Samantha. And Jamie gets pulled up on why he always does what the Doctor says, which seems to be a developing theme.

Er, where have Ben and Polly gone?

Part Four

"It'll cost you 28 quid. Pounds, to you."

"Ach, but that's a fortune! I've never seen that much money in my life!"

I've only just noticed, eight episodes into the new title sequence, that the music has changed as well! Duh. It's also becoming very noticeable that this is a very old recon- perhaps there's a more recent one? The photos are not clear at all and there's no footage from the surviving episodes used for recaps, the first time I've seen this.

The deathtrap set here for the Doctor, Jamie and Samantha is in no way evocative of a certain 60s film, and I have no doubt that no one above me in this thread can possibly have quoted the line "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!"

Ooh, a mention for Ben and Polly!

Once again we get some obvious padding out of the episode to fill up the time as Meadows is found not to be on duty. The episode ends intriguingly though- it's a crying shame we can't see Jamie's 18th century reaction to being on a plane!

Part Five

"Polly, then Ben, now Jamie..."

A swanky space station in Earth orbit may not be particularly futuristic now but, of course, in 1967, six years before Skylab, this stuff was all in the zeitgeist. Plus we get miniaturised people! In filing cabinets!

At last, the all important exposition scene... what? An explosion, er, destroys the identities of the Chameleons? oh dear. Still, nicely surprising when the Inspector turns out to be a duplicate- and the Director, no less!

Good old Doctor- cheerfully going on to the chameleon plane without any sort of plan! Nurse Pinto's really quite incredibly brave too. They completely fluff their bluffing, mind- Pinto still refers to the "chameleon" who's ostensibly switched bodies from Meadows to the Doctor as "Meadows" and we're to expect Blade won't smell a rat!

Oh, and it's just dawned on me- the Inspector / Director is none other than good old Bernard Kay!

Part Six

"We are the most intelligent race in the universe!"

Interesting line spoken by Blade about both Pinto and the Doctor: "I checked at the medical centre. You're both human!" So, it's not as though the Doctor has, say, an alien physiology or anything! Still, he does have tendencies towards vandalism, which he demonstrates rather splendidly with the Chameleons' machine. I love the Trout!

Samantha leaves rather abruptly after all the proto-companioneering, but at least she and Jamie get to snog each other, according to my recon at least. And we actually get to see Ben and Polly again. Yay! I was genuinely fearing they were about to be Dodo'd. It's a bit of a coincidence that this is the exact date they left, of course, but we get a wonderfully evocative pair of lines between Polly and the Doctor that should be much better known: "The thing is, Doctor... it's my world." "Yes, yes, you're very lucky... I never got back to mine."

Well... I didn't think much of that really. It was competently structured, perhaps, and what we could see of it looked good, but things just happened so bloody slowly. This is the first time in the marathon I have to trot out the old cliché about a six parter being two episodes too long. But it's not just that- it all just felt so formulaic, and felt oddly humourless. Where was the sparkle in the dialogue? Still, I liked Samantha, and the Doctor / Jamie double act (and, I'm sure, shipping!) properly starts here. 2/5

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