Season 2 – Episode 5 – (1965)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Here we go! Well many people turn around and start spinning some nonsense about classic Doctor Who being unwatchable. It has nothing to do with character, stories or writing usually but boils down to bad special effects. This is… undeniable here in this story but I have a small counter argument…
If you can watch the original Terminator movie that features stop motion about as realistic as that seen in the original King Kong you can bloody well deal with a man dressed in spandex and fur, with plastic wings pretending to be a butterfly-person! Just ignore the obvious wires, when they fly!
Yes alright its flawed by today’s standards but the imagination behind the writing was pretty boundless. Why not try for this sort of story! It’s a six-parter and I’m already on record as saying that tends to present a pacing problem. This isn’t always true but this boils down to how much content is in the episode and this is a rather slow paced civil war between species with a malicious leader…
Let’s do a run-down. The group are pulled down to the planet Vortis – In a very abridged manner, the following happens: They find a large structure and then a pool near a rock; being 60’s Who that means it’s clearly acid and this is proved by melting Ian’s tie. Oh and his gold pen vanishes too… in a move I’m going to call Chekhov’s Nuke (a writing device that states that if a gun is introduced in the first act it must be fired in the third, while being massively telegraphed as to happening).
To be fair the gold idea also means that Barbara, wearing her bracelet made of gold, becomes possessed. What follows is the group meeting the native intellegent species, the Menoptra, a race of butterfly people who have lost the planet to the Zarbi, a race of ant people (complete with two human legs sticking out of an ant costume. The Zarbi are native too but not capable of thinking any more than a basic animal, and yet they seem to have been elevated, driving the Menoptra away from their home world.
The Doctor is, of course, a person of intrigue to the force that is elevating the Zarbi, a creature known as the Animus, and he keeps it on its toes for as long as he can. Six episodes later finally they mount an attack on the controlling force, which, surprise surprise, shows that the Animus is using gold to control things. A bomb is used to destroy the Animus and all things revert to normal.
My thoughts? Oh this episode is pure pantomime but a solid enough story. Its ambitions out way its production but that should not be a negative. Without that thinking we wouldn’t have the Daleks… I can’t decide what to rate this episode, because there are so many conflicting thoughts. The story is solid but slow. The effects are laughable but ambitious. I think actually you should all know what I will rate this, because it’s damn obvious now I think about it.
Nothing really… I like:
- The Doctor: My ship. My TARDIS.
Next time: O…K… It’s one of my least liked stories – It’s just a boring playaround in the past. It’s an episode called “The crusades” and I’ve only ever been able to get through it as a story on in the background… Maybe it’s me but hell… one more go…