RRR 38 Doctor Who: The Sensorites, Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

By Roy Mathur, on 2014-04-27, at 20:44:38 to 21:10:00 BST, for Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

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Doctor Who: The Sensorites

Broadcast: 20 June - 1 August 1964
Writer: Peter R. Newman
Director: Mervyn Pinfield (1-4), Frank Cox (5-6)
Producer: Verity Lambert
Cast: William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton (companions).

Synopsis: they land inside a spaceship from the future with an, apparently, dead human crew. When the crew are revived it turns out that they are in an ongoing conflict with some aliens called the Sensorites from a nearby planet called the Sense Sphere. There is a conflict over a valuable mineral (molybdenum) that the aliens' planet is rich with.

The Doctor later visits the Sense Sphere and, while helping reverse a mystery illness, discovers that the cause is an earlier human survey team a fighting a dirty chemical war with the aliens.

My view: as the Daleks seem to resemble the Nazis, in this adventure the humans seem to represent a western colonial power ripping off a less powerful country. Interesting that Doctor Who seems to be talking about quite grown-up and important questions within the format of what is ostensibly SciFi escapism. Interesting also that this British drama seems highly critical of the, only recently deceased, British Empire itself. I think the most telling easter egg/hint is that the aliens have a caste system, not unlike India. Not good thing, of course, but a strong and very obvious shove to tell the audience that this story is really about the evils of colonialism.

Good story, good sets, and proper sci-fi! Nice one!

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

Broadcast: 8 August to 12 September 1964
Writer: Dennis Spooner
Director: Henric Hirsch
Producer: Verity Lambert
Cast: William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton (companions).

Synopsis: the Doctor, unpredictable as always, says that he is finallly fed up of Ian and Barbara, wants rid of them, and returns them home to Earth.

Not entirely confident of the Doctor's abilities they ask him to accompany them outside, to check that they are really back in their own time and location. Of course, they are not! Turns out that they are in the Doctor's favourite period of Earth's history; the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution!

After the group, not including the Doctor who is believed dead, are captured, imprisoned, and threatened with Madam Guillotine, it is up to the Doctor to rescue them. Through a series of adventures through revolutionary France, which includes meeting many well known figures from history, such as Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre and a young Napoléon Bonaparte, he eventually manages to do this and they all continue together in the TARDIS.

My view: this final drama of series one is another historical drama and pretty good, as Doctor Who costume dramas go, particularly because we see the Doctor coping quite well for a supposedly doddering old man. In fact, there is one scene in which the Doctor clocks a chain gang boss right over the head with a hoe. He doesn't hold back on the swing either, he really let's the bloke have it good and proper!

A good end to the first series.

I'm also starting to think that Carole Ann Ford, who plays Barbara, must have friends in the Beeb's costume department because her outfits always look great. Or, at least, have done so since The Aztecs story that we talked about last week.

Veronica Mars (2014)

This came out on limited release last month after a successful Kickstarter by fans to bring out a movie of the show; a teen detective, highschool drama.

Veronica, now almost a hotshot city lawyer, returns to the small, corrupt town of Neptune to help a friend accused of murder. And we're back into reunion territory here, with many of the old characters popping up and Veronica getting sucked back into the town she'd left so long ago.

There are funny moments with nods to shows of similar audience demographic, like Buffy, when a character says that the town really is built on a hell mouth, as well as a nice little self-parodying segment with James Franco playing himself.

But all-in-all very standard fare strongly reminiscent of the old show's soap. I read online that the movie suffered from "design-by-committee" (that is, fans), rather than finding it's own voice, which is unfortunate because I think there was a good movie in there; somewhere.

Personally, I think the photography and editing could have been a little more imaginative with some Michael Mann-like glitz and Nolanesque Memento-like flash-back editing. I'm reminded of the X-Files movie, which also seemed just like extended episode of the TV series.

It also ends a bit depressingly too! Oh, but ending on a positive note, We Used To Be Friends by The Dandy Warhols is the featured in the end credits.

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