Monday, March 25, 2013

Little Problems

Planet of Giants

First Doctor  - 9th Serial

3 Episodes, Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan

Summary: Re-calibrating the TARDIS's frequency, the TARDIS has another mechanical problem - the doors fly open during materialization and the monitor that shows you where you've landed blows up.  The readouts all show that everything is normal outside, so they proceed to explore, and discover that they have all shrunk to be just one inch tall.  They soon discover the sinister plot of an insecticide chemist and salesman who intend to force through their super-deadly toxin through to market, despite the fact that it kills everything on contact. The only person, other than our heroes, that oppose the plan ends up dead, and now the inch high heroes must bring the murderers to justice while escaping the deadly house cat...

The Doctor: He's managed not to take a backseat again, although this Serial splits its time well between Ian and the Doctor.  No significant changes in character or tone now, and I feet like the writers now understand his role in the story.  

Companions: Barbara becomes poisoned by the toxin, and hides this fact from Ian, to keep him from worrying.  She spends a lot of this Serial focused inward, which is understandable, given that she spends half of it about to die.  Ian and the Doctor do most of the saving and solving, but Susan manages to get a good role in just the same.  I felt like she played too young for what she's been through, constantly asking the Doctor to explain the situation, why they couldn't be heard, etc, but she managed to not be as frustrating as half of last season.  

Continuity: I love these mechanical malfunctions.  Later era Doctor's control rooms get more and more elaborate and complex (albeit by degrees until the McGann 'era', which wildly swings towards the cinematic view we'll see in the New Series), and I love to justify that by saying that every time one doohickey breaks, the TARDIS's controls have to grow bypass levers and switches and bulbs, until the quite sedate control scheme the Doctor uses now has become the frantic running from lever to lever that the later Doctors will use.

Rating: Enjoy it.  It has a fun little story, pretty darn good shrink effects for the pre-CGI era, and a nice environmental message about responsible pesticide use.  In the modern era of Organic produce and non-GMO foodstuffs, It remains a message we can get behind.