Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: The Savages

Part One

"You don't have to do everything he tells you. You're a grown man. Or are you?"

For the first time the TARDISeers land somewhere the Doctor's known- he's famous! In fact, the city dwellers seem to be card-carrying Doctor Who fans and, initially, they seem very nice. But of course, there are sinister, authoritarian undercurrents from the moment the Doctor first meets the two guards- he "must" follow them to the city. We know they're the baddies pretty much from the start, that's not where the mystery lies- the very existence of "savages" excluded from their society reflects badly on them from the beginning. The question is how they are exploiting the "savages".

The central idea behind this story is an extremely powerful sci-fi concept, very reminiscent of Brave New World, and the development of this central idea throughout the story is very effective. There's a real sense of underplayed totalitarian horror throughout the story.

The bickering between the scientist and the security chief is a nice touch in a story which generally succeeds in fleshing out the guest characters. These people are quite normal, not evil- they've simply dehumanised the savages because they're the "other".

This is an excellent recon (I'm watching the new one, hence the delay in my watching this!), but unfortunately much of the story is very visual- there was a long stretch of this episode towards the end where I had to concentrate very hard on the text descriptions. But although visual this story is quite talky and light on action- I'm enjoying it but I suspect it wouldn't have much appeal to kids,

Part Two

"Oppose you? Indeed I'm going to oppose you! Just in the same way as I oppose the Daleks, or any other menace to common humanity."

This is actually a good story for Dodo, who does a lot of investigating early on. And the reactions of the city dwellers to their disappearance are quietly effective; the fate of the couple responsible for losing her is all the more horrible for being understated. This is no paradise even for the city dwellers, and the Doctor's eventual fate shows this society's stance towards dissent.

The Doctor's argument with Jano is a wonderful moment, one of the highlights of the crusading nature of Hartnell's Doctor in his later stories.

Part Three

"I'm afraid I'm- I'm not quite myself."

We get a brief moment of footage this episode, but it would have been nice to see what the cave looked like. The guest characters continue to be well-sketched- Nanina's kindness to Exorse is a nice touch.

One worry is that, although Hartnell seems to be on screen, he doesn't get much to do- is this another sign of Hartnell's failing health affecting things on screen?

Part Four

"I don't intend to leave these people in this oppressed state."

Lots of short, tantalising bits of off-air footage in this episode. It's a real shame this story is missing- more than any missing story so far I've been missing the visuals.

Once again the guest characters are well-written- Tor provides balance by showing the savages can be unsympathetic too. It's also nice that the baddies get a chance to redeem themselves; Jano's attack of conscience may be due to the Doctor's influence but Exorse changes his mind on his own.

Steven gets an excellent leaving scene, which fits his character very well, in a story which has shown him at his best. it's a shame that he never really caught fire as a companion after a promising start, but at least he ends well.

Overall, excellent; well structured in terms of plot, character and themes, and arguably rather more adult than any previous sci-fi story, which may well not have worked in its favour with younger viewers, a definite flaw, but I enjoyed this story hugely- 5/5.

No comments:

Post a Comment