It’s good that I can view these old storylines as pieces of history. It must have been terrible to live through a period where the most vulnerable members of society were brought to their knees by an economic policy that favours an elite few. I mean come on – the main baddy even looks like Iain Duncan Smith.
The satire on display here was even less toothy than that opening paragraph – it’s all done in very broad strokes, and really it amounts to little more than just naming things after other things, like a particularly dull Radio 4 sketch show. But sod it, I don’t care, because this story was just a big ball of fun. And after a few seasons of solid bleak and gloomy settings, it’s refreshing to change it up a bit, despite how obviously brilliant the majority of it has been.
Leela was back on form, with her tribal instincts and warrior-like ways taking centre stage as she stands up to her many captors and begins the rebellion. The Doctor is also particularly Doctory – forever tinkering and sabotaging, talking his way out of his problems and thoroughly charming just about everyone in the process. But best of all, we got the K-9 integration we were so cruelly denied last time.
He’s still far from a protagonist, and there are always going to be stretches where he’s arbitrarily kept away from the main action, just to minimise the time he’s on-screen causing production headaches. At this stage, he amounts to little more than an over-sized stun gun, but an over-sized stun gun that comes out with adorable and amusing little quips every now and then. It’s always a highlight when he’s in a scene, and The Doctor gradually warming to him is simply lovely too.
It was another strong guest cast, with Henry Woolf’s Collector a particular highlight. A bit 70s to cast a Jewish actor in this role? Possibly, but the campness took it away from dodgy territory and into pure entertainment. Hammier still was The Gatherer, and the interaction between the two was a hoot. I did feel slightly bad for him when he was joyfully thrown off a tall building. Power to the people and all that, but did they have to be so amused by their cold blooded murder?
I’m still trying to figure out what Graham Williams’s vision is, and to be honest, I’m probably overthinking it. I barely used to notice when producers or script editors changed during the 60s portion of the marathon, and it was only when the show was completely reformatted for the UNIT years that I started to look out for era-defining trends and objectives. I know this is all very meta, but I’m beginning to think that the existence of this blog is beginning to affect how I’m experiencing the episodes, as I’m looking for things to write about, rather than just enjoying the show.
But enjoying it I am, to the extent that I barely made any notes during those four episodes. I’m taking that as a good sign, and from now on I’ll try to drag this blog back to its original purpose – a tale of my journey through this marathon, and a log of my personal reactions, rather than any sort of insightful analysis of the stories themselves.
To that end, and for the record, my notes were:
- Is that your man from Heartbeat? Yes, it is.
- The Doctor has forgotten what a jelly baby is.
- They straight up murdered The Gatherer.