Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

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Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:30 am

Yes, my fellow Wrinklies, I have resumed the Valley back on DWF. Today, you can read the review for
Planet Of Giants

Enjoy! Smile
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:32 am

<RTD>HOORAY!</RTD> Smile
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:56 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:<RTD>HOORAY!</RTD> Smile

<JULIE GARDNER>How marvellous</JULIE GARDNER>

Glad your pleased, Sidney. Gearing up to do Dalek Invasion Of Earth next, which means a DVD viewing this weekend. Woo-hoo!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:00 am

Frank wrote:Glad your pleased, Sidney. Gearing up to do Dalek Invasion Of Earth next, which means a DVD viewing this weekend. Woo-hoo!

<Phil Collinson>....</Phil Collinson>*

DIoE! Excellent! A genuine childhood favourite - and yet another excuse to rewatch it.

Frank, you're my hero! Smile

* don't actually know what Uncle Phil would exclaim*
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:05 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:

Frank, you're my hero! Smile

Steady now!

Sidney...not quite sure what you think but do I just use this thread to post links to the Valley on DWF or would it be better to post the review in both fora? What do you think? I'd like to encourage readers over to the DWF thread which is why I only posted a link here today.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:12 am

Frank wrote:Steady now!

Sidney...not quite sure what you think but do I just use this thread to post links to the Valley on DWF or would it be better to post the review in both fora? What do you think? I'd like to encourage readers over to the DWF thread which is why I only posted a link here today.
I think it's probably better to post the review in both fora, old man. Your reviews deserve to be available to the widest possible audience - therefore, taking into account that not every member here might be capable of - or care to - visit OG/DWF on a regular basis they'll still be able to enjoy your work here.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:25 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:
I think it's probably better to post the review in both fora, old man. Your reviews deserve to be available to the widest possible audience - therefore, taking into account that not every member here might be capable of - or care to - visit OG/DWF on a regular basis they'll still be able to enjoy your work here.

Given that, should I port over all the previous reviews? Or do I just post the latest ones? I really don't know how many on OW have actually seen or read everything that's on the DWF thread.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:33 am

Frank wrote:Given that, should I port over all the previous reviews? Or do I just post the latest ones? I really don't know how many on OW have actually seen or read everything that's on the DWF thread.
I'd port them all over. It's convenient - and also makes referring back to past reviews a doddle. Smile
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:36 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:
Frank wrote:Given that, should I port over all the previous reviews? Or do I just post the latest ones? I really don't know how many on OW have actually seen or read everything that's on the DWF thread.
I'd port them all over. It's convenient - and also makes referring back to past reviews a doddle. Smile

Now, how the heck do I do this? One at a time, once a week. The whole lot in one go? Season by season? As a list of links or reposting the whole reviews?
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:42 am

Frank wrote:Now, how the heck do I do this? One at a time, once a week. The whole lot in one go? Season by season? As a list of links or reposting the whole reviews?
Bring them over as many or as slow as you feel fit - in whatever format you feel works best, old chap. As for the links, I'd suggest providing each review ported over with its own link back to it's original on OG/DWF


Last edited by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:44 am

Frank, strange as it may seem I agree with Sid. Bring 'em all over, but obviously at your leisure. Smile

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:50 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:Frank, strange as it may seem I agree with Sid. Bring 'em all over, but obviously at your leisure. Smile
We agree???!!! affraid What a Face

*universe implodes*
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:15 am

OK, fellas.

I think, it'll be quicker to do them as Seasons. Looking back at the list on DWF I've reviewed everything from 'The Brain Of Morbius' onwards, except for where others have contributed and I choose not to review it myself (City Of Death, for instance!) so like the original Valley thread it'll start in an odd place cos I'm currently reviewing everything from Season 1 thru to Morbius. With starting at Morbius, it was a Who marathon Geoff and I were doing at the time and I started at that point. So Seasons 14 to 26, plus the TV movie and the K9 spin off are more or less done.

Season 14 then? I'll twiddle around with bits of it too, adding in any new thoughts.
As I pop in each Season review, I'll also add in the latest reviews too. Not too confusing, do you think?
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:21 am

Frank wrote:Season 14 then? I'll twiddle around with bits of it too, adding in any new thoughts.
As I pop in each Season review, I'll also add in the latest reviews too. Not too confusing, do you think?
Sounds like a plan to me, me old duck!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:29 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:
Frank wrote:Season 14 then? I'll twiddle around with bits of it too, adding in any new thoughts.
As I pop in each Season review, I'll also add in the latest reviews too. Not too confusing, do you think?
Sounds like a plan to me, me old duck!

Have we wandered into an Outpost Wrinkly as produced, entirely using CSO, by Barry Letts? My eyes, my eyes...either that or someone's spiked me coffee!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:49 am

Frank wrote:Have we wandered into an Outpost Wrinkly as produced, entirely using CSO, by Barry Letts? My eyes, my eyes...either that or someone's spiked me coffee!
The wobbly CSO is merely a passing tribute to the Letts era. Stabilised service will be resuming shortly...
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Colin Hicks on Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:46 am

Frank, as certain senior staff here are still in voluntary exile from OG/DWF, it would be greatly appreciated if you could post your reviews here.

Know what I'm sayin'?

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:55 am

Doc Filth wrote:Frank, as certain senior staff here are still in voluntary exile from OG/DWF, it would be greatly appreciated if you could post your reviews here.

Know what I'm sayin'?
It's already as good as done and dusted, Doccy.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Zoltar on Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:51 pm

Frank wrote:Yes, my fellow Wrinklies, I have resumed the Valley back on DWF. Today, you can read the review for
Planet Of Giants

Enjoy! Smile
Sweet. Very Happy I look forward to reading it when I swing by the DWF.

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Season 14 - Part 1: The Masque Of Mandragora, The Hand Of Fear & The Deadly Assasin

Post by Frank on Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:21 pm

From the Valley, three blasts from the past. Enjoy. And feel free to comment....



THE MASQUE OF MANDRAGORA - September 1976

‘They say there are places where the bat droppings are as high as a man’

That'll be San Martino, then.

It’s the opening story of Season 14 and, my, the times, they are a‘changing. Holmes and Hinchcliffe really set out their store from this point on. The title sequences get a new font (no more early 70s big blocky lettering) and they go for a romantic looking serif. And we get a mini-tour of the TARDIS in the opening episode that eventually leads us to the secondary control room. This is an emphatic statement by the production team that they are intent on moving the show firmly into Byronic gothic romance mode and the wood panelled room, with its totems of the past that include Pertwee’s dusty shirt and Troughton’s recorder, is their framing structure for the season as a whole. It’s a campaign that climaxes in the Holmes/Hinchcliffe story par excellence ‘Talons Of Weng-Chiang’.

Masque has a lot going for it. It looks sumptuous with really ambitious costuming and sets and the script is literary and intelligent. But somehow it all seems a bit flat. The opening episode doesn’t really get going until the TARDIS arrives in San Martino and the Helix energy escapes into the countryside (some smashing location filming at Portmeirion). The sequences showing the Helix attacking various peasants and soldiers are very well done, particularly in the shot of the Helix cresting across a pond there is a well handled mix of location film and in-laid video effects.

The Brotherhood of Demnos are well realised with their golden masks and cowls and the scenes in the temple are very moody and effective. The lighting on the entire serial is superb, mainly dark areas penetrated with slivers of light and some very Giorgio De Chirico like archways with light streaming out of them fit very well with the Mediterranean feel of the story.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this was the very tangible sense of time passing. It’s very clear that the Doctor and Sarah spend several days in San Martino, daylight is seen to give way to darkness rather than it seeming to be a vague place where time does not seem to affect the proceedings. It gives the story a real sense of time and place as do the number of scenes where characters are attending to their daily rituals – the Doctor and Sarah having breakfast, Count Federico being shaved by his servant. It’s a heightened reality that makes sense within the elaborate costumes and sets. Again, you could put that down to the BBC’s skill at handling period dramas and that certainly shows here.

The performances are almost suffocated by the surroundings. This may be why it feels flat. Tom and Lis are great but I did sense that even despite their best efforts their impression on the story was less effective than usual. Lis is very much the focus of the two, again playing a little too much of the ‘victim’ but also holding her own and particularly delightful in the masque sequence.

Norman Jones as Hieronymous and Jon Laurimore as Count Federico were both having a contest as to who could chew through the scenery fast enough judging by Jones almost….Shatner….like…pauses and Laurimore’s rolling ‘rs’. However, a production like this needed bigger performances to bring it all off and they are all variable at best here.

Overall though, the story is more about a triumph of the themes it discusses than the trappings and the manner in which it is played. The story is as much about the juxtaposition of science and magic, rationalism and superstition as it is about what Doctor Who itself should be about. It’s very much about a humanist central character adrift in a society that is not of his making where the very ideas that he represents are under threat by the forces at large within that society. The fact that he actually heightens that threat by bringing an alien energy being along for the ride is not as important as the real historical debate that’s going on.

The Helix is astral energy and very much fits into Hieronymous’ world view and he doesn’t use his astrology as magical mumbo-jumbo, he uses it as a psychological profiling tool, a typology of human nature as a basic understanding to the political machinations going on at Court. When he’s possessed by the Helix he obviously sees this small scale battle between science and superstition and the dominance of ideas on a universal scale. He can see how the Helix will help him selfishly stifle mankind’s capacity to make conceptual leaps and use imagination as a tool.

In the end, the story is about how imagination can be snuffed out at the local and universal levels by those who wish to keep it in check for their own purposes. With it unchecked, human beings are more than capable of understanding the magic/science connection and this is signified by the final masque where the dance symbolises a humanitarian and creative solution to bringing together the rather chaotic threads of the Dark Ages and to order them on a cosmic as well as personal level. If Juliano hadn’t managed to get his guests to San Martino and dancing at the court then the Helix and Hieronymous would certainly have won on an intellectual level.

Oh, and one last thing. Mandragora is the Greek name for the mandrake root. It has a soporific effect rather like an anaesthetic. So you see, the Mandragora Helix energy was, by its very nature, all about putting out that spark of creativity on a cosmic scale.

THE MASQUE OF MANDRAGORA BBC Video VHS (BBCV 4642 Cert U -deleted)
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Season 14 - Part 1: The Masque Of Mandragora, The Hand Of Fear & The Deadly Assasin

Post by Frank on Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:21 pm



THE HAND OF FEAR - October 1976

‘Till we meet again, Sarah…’

Sarah’s possessed by a hand. It pops into the local power station to undergo a rebirth and before you know it a Kastrian egomaniac is on the rampage.

The departure of Sarah is the shadow that falls over this story. Everything else is leading up to that final scene and as a result it’s come across as a weak story in the past, only worth bothering with because of that scene. From the 2009 perspective, that’s nonsense. What we have here is actually pretty darned good. It only falls to pieces in the fourth episode for reasons I shall go into later. But up until then you’ve got a neat tale of alien possession and nuclear terrorism wherein director Lennie Mayne really shines. He pulls the stops out with interesting angles, good visual composition (lots of close ups in studio and smashing wide shots on location), dissolves! (yes, that rare phenomenon) and pacy editing. He’s really thought about what to do here and makes it very engaging and interesting visually.

The story itself is a partly enjoyable mish-mash of the possession theme, nascent sexual politics (does Sarah become the ultimate feminist alien?), and partly very bad nuclear science (let’s all crouch behind this land rover whilst the power plant is bombed to bits a mile or so away) and unconvincing Kastrian walkabouts.

If you look at the idea of possession in the story, you’re dealing with symbols of masculinity (Eldrad’s hand and Eldrad Mark 2) and femininity (Sarah and Eldrad Mark 1). This is as much about the ‘battle of the sexes’ as it is about deposed kings and the masculine ego. The opposites briefly merge when Eldrad possesses Sarah and Eldrad ‘s first regeneration is imprinted from Sarah. It’s about the uniting of conscious and unconscious – without, let’s say, Sarah’s female intuition and guile, Eldrad would probably never have convinced the Doctor to return to Kastria and of course, she/he cleverly conceals the reason for this return. The second regeneration of Eldrad is a symbolically deposed King and is the conscious male ego fully in command. Kings, however, lose their emotional base (Kastria and castration aren't that far apart phonetically) and it could be argued that if Eldrad had remained in possession of Sarah, she/he may have realised that Rokon had anticipated every move which then led to genocide. Instead, he throws his toys out of the pram and trips over the Doctor’s scarf. Look before you leap, Eldrad.

The hand is a visible symbol of the possession theme. It is grasping and unsparing. It’s also representative of Eldrad’s state of mind when trying to depose Rokon and take over Kastria. He is, quite literally, a disintegrating and disintegrated personality. His is so egotistical, so fascistic in his ideals, he literally implodes – absorbs the energy of the reactor and the missiles, survives the obliteration module –and on observing the reality of his situation we see in him this dysfunction, leading to madness, schizophrenia and the ‘Napoleon’ syndrome.

Performances are very good, particularly Lis when she’s all coy and girly in her possessed state going around zapping security guards. Tom is super in his exchanges with Lis, but also there’s a real chemistry between him and Judith Paris and Glyn Houston. Paris is rather stunning in this, adding a very alien quality to her performance and using her amazing eyes and cheekbones to good effect. She does a great line in using her feminine wiles to con the Doctor into going back to Kastria. Houston’s stand out scene is the now legendary ‘phone home’ bit from the nuclear power station and it really injects some humanity into the plot which is sometimes rare in ‘classic’ Who. It’s nice to have time to get that moment in there.

In terms of production, visual effects are also very good again. The miniatures for windswept Kastria are moody and effective but the standout has to be, for its time, one of the best ever crawling hand effects to grace the screen. The Tupperware box sequences are just right and are still very effective today. The CSO crawling bits are looking a bit rough now but there are worse bits of CSO in the series so this stands out as a better example of the process. The location filming adds a further dimension to the story, especially the power station, and Mayne is obviously in his element here and it shows. Studio sets are perhaps a slight letdown - the power station is fine - but especially the Kastrian underworld.

It all comes a cropper though in the final episode. It’s let down by those unconvincing sets for the Kastrian scenes which is a shame as the design for Eldrad (particularly the Paris version) is actually good. It’s all a bit too polystyrene and sprayed plastic mouldings.

It’s understandable why Russell T. Davies was concerned about depicting alien worlds for the new series when the standard was so variable in the old. Classic Who could get away with it if the conviction was there in the script and performances – see 'Brain Of Morbius' – but the final episode is hamstrung by the ‘Brian Blessed Of The Month’ performance from Stephen Thorne. He’s just doing his Azal/Omega thing all over again and his version of Eldrad lacks any of the beautiful subtlety of Paris’ performance. The best bit is when Rokon pulls the rug out from under him, declaring ‘Hail Eldrad, King Of Nothing!’ There’s an ego boost for your friendly neighbourhood despotic silicon lifeform.

And that last scene, where Sarah ends up in Hillview Road, er...Aberdeen, I suspect is etched on every thirty and forty-something’s memory. It’s such a bittersweet moment and is played very well by the two leads. Certainly, it holds its reputation as one of the best companion departures in the series. And it was unfinished business brought majestically to a conclusion of sorts in ‘School Reunion’.

Rounding off this review, the DVD itself is served with some very good special features. The documentary ‘Changing Time’ is a lovely summing up of the Tom and Lis partnership and you do get the feeling that they very much enjoyed each other’s company whilst making the series. The commentary is good and Tom is very much on form here. It’s a breezy affair and very entertaining with warm banter between Tom and Lis. Tom’s pithy retort to Lis’ comments about HRT in episode two is priceless.

Picture quality and sound are as ever top notch from those ‘labour of love’ boys at the RT. We are spoilt rotten when you think about it.

THE HAND OF FEAR BBC DVD (BBCDVD1833 Cert PG)


Last edited by Frank on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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Season 14 - Part 1: The Masque Of Mandragora, The Hand Of Fear & The Deadly Assasin

Post by Frank on Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:22 pm



THE DEADLY ASSASSIN - November 1976

‘We must adjust the truth’

Indeed, Borusa, I think you’ve got a point there.

On original transmission, 'The Deadly Assassin' upset an awful lot of people. The BBC tut-tutted about Hinchcliffe’s free-wheeling attitude towards the show and its production, Mary Whitehouse slagged off David Maloney for his editorial choice of freeze-framing the Doctor’s apparent drowning and the ‘fan’ opinion was split down the middle. The Holmes/Hinchcliffe supposed debunking of the Time Lords didn’t go down well at all. The story is a huge turning point for the series both in terms of the central character and his background as well as for the way the series will be perceived from hereon in. Over time the story has been revisited and opinion has been revised to regard ‘Assassin’ as something of a classic, I understand.

Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t quite the 'classic' we think it is. I think the naysayers of the time did have a point and one could argue that the new series attitude towards the Time Lords has been influenced by what ‘Assassin’ did to the original format and its subsequent effect on the series. More of that in a moment, friends.

OK. The Doctor gets the call from Gallifrey, has a vision of the President’s assassination and ends up back on his home planet embroiled in a plot by the Master to (tick boxes now) humiliate the Doctor, destroy Gallifrey, the Time Lords and a hundred other odd planets AND get his regeneration mojo back. That’s a tall order for four episodes and much as it tries, it really overreaches and falls flat.

Holmes’ script has often been seen as the series version of 'The Manchurian Candidate' – which it is to an extent – but it’s also interesting to note that it also re-enacts the Kennedy assassination and takes a number of pot-shots at the departing Harold Wilson and his own infamous honours list. The retiring President even holds aloft his resignation honours list and quips ‘They won’t like some of the names in here’. Right on, Harold. Ostensibly, as a version of the Kennedy assassination, the Doctor is the patsy in the story – the Lee Harvey Oswald to the Master’s Jack Ruby. There is also a strange visual and narrative nod to 'The Wizard Of Oz' here too – but a sort of anti-Oz where the Emerald City is a decaying mess, not a beacon of hope, run by dusty old men who are interested only in keeping a version of history alive that suits them and the extent of their vision of the world. No room for parlour games, sleight of hand or the merest hint of change and no Dorothy to muck things up. It’s the donnish, cloistered world of old universities versus the exploding world of the mid-70s where Punk challenged the fixed bastions of post war Englishness – in the monarchy (the Queen and the Jubilee), the media and the government.

Did Punk and its own inspiration, the Situationist movement, ever influence Doctor Who? With ‘Assassin’ I think Holmes was trying to open the door slightly on what he perceived was going on in 1976. The story could stand as a complete encapsulation for the way the programme was challenging viewers’ assumptions, annoying society’s self-appointed moral protectors and the massive cultural shift beyond the BBC’s borders in which it was made. Is the Panopticon the White City headquarters of the BBC? Are the Doctor and the Master ‘punk’ revolutionaries storming the barricades of Gallifrey – one standing for humanistic evolution and the other for anarchistic chaos, both aware of the Time Lords/BBC’s ritualistic, self-deception about themselves in the same way that the Punks of ‘76 were aware that British society was pretty much in the same state? The trouble is that despite the Doctor’s heroic triumph and the Master’s destructive interference, nothing on Gallifrey actually changes. It remains in stasis, with these incidents brushed under the carpet where the truth has been adjusted. It all happens in a bubble. And Punk itself was made acceptable and swallowed by the capitalist machine. The BBC capitulated to Whitehouse, shifted Hinchcliffe sideways, and emasculated the series from that moment on.

And that in itself is the problem with ‘Assassin’. It exposes the Time Lords as a bunch of daft old men clinging onto their power with their dressing up and their anachronistic rituals (bit like the State Opening of Parliament) and it leaves them there at the end of the story just as they were. However, the format rule book has been re-written, whether that was the intention or not, and our vision of Gallifrey and the Time Lords will ultimately be tainted by further return visits that chip away at the essential ‘magic’ of the format. You reduce the mystery of the character’s origins and you also reduce the mystery of the character himself. I doubt Holmes ever foresaw the soap antics of ‘Gallifrey Street’ that peppered 'The Invasion Of Time', 'The Five Doctors' and 'Arc Of Infinity'. He took the idea as far as it could go at the time and I assume it was always intended as a one off. Little did he realise that he’d basically given ‘fans’ a self-perpetuating, continuity riddled back story of Gallifrey with diminishing returns. Tick the boxes as you go – Rassilon gets his first mention, the Panopticon, the Matrix, Chancellors, Castellans…blah…blah…blah. From this point on, the mill of the Doctor’s origins and continuity will get heavier and heavier as the series progresses. And any attempt at risk taking with the series starts to evaporate too. No wonder Russell T. Davies got rid. Could you image trying to reintroduce a back story as dead-weight and cumbersome as this back into the new series? Don’t go there Russell.

It’s actually not that well directed/made either which is disappointing seeing as David Maloney was up in the gallery. The story progresses on some bizarre turns of logic, lurches from coincidence to coincidence and Maloney tries to keep it all on an even keel but it feels like a jigsaw puzzle where someone has desperately tried to bang the wrong pieces into the wrong holes on occasion just because they sort of fit. Compare this to how Maloney handles ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’ and you’ll notice the difference. There is a lot of Time Lord technobabble that is simply made up on the spot to handily get the Doctor out of trouble. And the climax, with the fight between the Doctor and the Master should feel completely mythic but doesn’t, either through the ill thought out way of showing the Eye of Harmony opening (compare with the TV movie. They didn’t quite get it right either but it at least felt powerful) with its wobbly cameras and polystyrene wreckage. It feels like the drama is draining away before our eyes and after a bit of wrestling, the Master falls down a crevice in the floor and that’s your lot. It never really gets going in order to conclude the epic struggle the story is trying to tell. A shame as the script is witty and literate.

Visually, I like the sense of a mouldy, crumbling Panopticon with Roger Murray Leach’s glittering green walls and the dark, dank catacombs of the Master’s lair. And if we’re talking visual tour de force then episodes two and three and the battle in the Matrix really do stand out. I’m still not sure what those episodes actually mean. They are chock full of symbols. Obviously, we’re talking about perceived realities and fictions here and it seems to be an attempt to put the companion-less Doctor through a thoroughly violent and disturbing catharsis to determine his moral fibre and exorcise a number of demons. The Matrix sequence is also perhaps Holmes’ very perverse way of summing up the Doctor’s role in the format per se. It’s an hallucinatory series of escapes and cliffhangers (some virtually are) that reiterate the show’s perception of the heroic with knobs on. It’s littered with images of conflict (men in gas masks again), a nod to Hitchcock’s 'North By Northwest' bi-plane attack, owes a huge debt to John Boorman’s 'Hell In The Pacific' for the jungle combat scenes and plugs into 1976’s re-evaluation of the war and its symbolic meaning (Punk’s useage of the swastika is part of that). It’s the Doctor as sole audience identification figure - could you image a companion in the middle of any of this? – and in that measure it begins the slow slide into the parodic ‘Tom addresses the camera’ type performance too. Baker is very good and even when he’s being flung into this hyper-heroic context his performance suggests a hero who has an internal struggle to be THIS heroic. It’s as much about what the Doctor is and isn’t as a hero. He visibly bleeds, gets injured, tired and wet. Our normal perception of him is the opposite – an intellectual moral compass who doesn’t use violence for its own sake.

I like the story because it does attempt to be mythic and grand, it has some very wonderful lines and the performances are generally pretty good. However, Peter Pratt as the Master was basically fighting a losing battle. He has none of the charm of Delgado and I think this just makes him ‘villain of the week’ rather than the true symbol of evil that the story screams out for and Maloney should be delivering. Overall, it fails because it makes the mythic and epic seem terribly perfunctory and matter of fact and its narrative effects dissipate and vanish at the end of four episodes. A satirical political Gothic folly of a story that’s nice to watch but it doesn’t do the show any favours as such. Changing and stretching the format for four episodes is one thing, but didn’t they realise that the nature of the series itself was also changed and the Doctor’s inherent mystery reduced? No, they were too busy signing Louise Jameson and making ‘The Face Of Evil’ to understand the real consequences. It all comes back to haunt us and them later.

THE DEADLY ASSASSIN BBC Video VHS (BBCV 4645 Cert PG - deleted - DVD due in 2009)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by stanmore on Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:11 am

A question I was meant to ask you when I first read your Assassin review a couple of years ago - do you think it could all have been bettered by avoiding Gallifrey?
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by stanmore on Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:12 am

Oh, and praise the lord this is here. I get tempted to start big lists on DWF. (Wot? Like a Music Library, Stanmore? Like a Music Library?)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:59 am

stanmore wrote:A question I was meant to ask you when I first read your Assassin review a couple of years ago - do you think it could all have been bettered by avoiding Gallifrey?

Hello, Tom

Personally, I think so. As soon as the series revealed the Doctor's origins back in 'The War Games' a little bit of the mystique about the character of the Doctor evaporated. I think perhaps 'The Deadly Assassin' should have been the full stop on Gallifrey. It's as much about what happened after that makes me regret what they did in Assassin. It devalues the idea of the Time Lords until, by 'Arc Of Infinity', they're a bit toothless and swanning around lke pantomime dames. If there is one thing that RTD might be tempted to do then it's the restoration of the Time Lords. And I mean restoration of them to their exalted status. In a way, by removing Gallifrey from the picture RTD has to some extent achieved some of this by making the Time Lords mysterious and powerful again. My worry is that he'll bring them back in one or more of the specials and if he's not careful he'll end up in the same trap that Robert Holmes inadvertently set up in the 'classic' series.
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