Sunday, February 16, 2014

Smuggle Struggle.

The Smugglers

First Doctor  - 28th Serial

4 Episodes, Companions: Ben, Polly

Summary: Ben and Polly follow the Doctor inside the TARDIS, closing the door behind them just as it whirs off to who-knows-where without Dodo Chaplet.  After initially telling them he would not take them back and mocking their doubt of the time travelling nature of the TARDIS, he follows them anyway to make sure they don't get into trouble. Of course, they do, because they're companions.  It is 1700's England, and just as they start to understand what's going on, they get involved with an ex-smuggler/pirate, a conspiracy to murder over hidden treasure, and a tax agent who's just trying to get to the bottom of things.

The Doctor: Initially grumpy, and actually excited about being alone "again".  I'm not sure he's been alone at all since meeting Ian and Barbara, so I'm not sure what "again" references, unless he means before he took Susan in the TARDIS.  I simply cannot think of any other times we saw him without at least one companion.
 The glee with which he joins the escapades of the sailors, though turning the tables on them in the end is typical of his attitude.  

Companions: Polly's visible precious little here, but Ben does a great job as a man falsely accused of murder turning the tables on his accusers.  Polly does figure out how to use the prejudices of the era to escape from prison, but Ben steals that scene.  Likewise, Polly wants to solve the mystery of who killed the churchwarden, rather than simply escape to the TARDIS and flee.  She shows integrity, and I like that.  Ben wants to report back to his ship, but that's not so much integrity to me as duty.

The TARDIS Crew, now.
Continuity: We're in Reconstructionland again, and sadly we're going to be here for a lot in the near future.  This one's by Loose Cannon, which I think I generally prefer over Butterfly Effect. Still, there wasn't much to work with, and I think this show suffers for it. We see the same pictures over and over, but the audio quality is very good.  But this isn't about the quality of the recon, although I say it to point out how the recon affects the watchability.  Beyond that, storywise, The Doctor reaffirms that he has no control over where or when he lands - we know this to be mostly but not precisely true.  The Doctor can sometimes control the TARDIS quite well, and other times, not so much. The first Doctor, at least, hasn't had much luck in choosing landing points, so at least from his perspective the statement was accurate. For now, what we can be sure of is that the Doctor really isn't trying to steer much, if at all.  This Ben and Polly's first real adventure - their introduction was, after all, their own time.

Rating: Bear it.  It's difficult to watch, but that's not really the fault of the story.  This is another nice break in that the problems we're faced with in this serial aren't world-affecting, just the problems of a small group in a small town (and ship).