Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Doctor Who: The Rescue
The Powerful Enemy
Doctor: William Hartnell
Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell), Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), Vicki Pallister (Maureen O'brien) - Joins at end.
On a crashed Earth spaceship in the year 2493, two survivors, bedridden Bennett and youthful Vicki, are terrorized by Koquillion, a native of the planet Dido (NFS: There will be no white flag above it's door because it's a planet in love and it always will be...probably nobody else who reads this will get that but oh well...I stayed true to myself. :-D ) on which they are stranded, a supposed 'friend' who intimidates them into submission and has the ability to destroy them on a whim. (NFS: Never trust a friend who says they are a 'friend'...the quote-marks is the warning you see.)
The TARDIS, it's crew still keenly feeling the absence of the just-departed Susan, also lands on Dido, in a cavern- as Ian and Barbara move to investigate, the encounter Koquillion, and, in an altercation with a powerful sonic device, Barbara falls of a small bluff while Ian and the Doctor are sealed into the cave.
Barbara is found by Vicki and taken to the crashed ship, despite the fact that if Koquillion finds her, he'll most likely kill them both. The gruff Bennett resents her hidden presence there, warning her not to interfere or ferment trouble- a rescue ship is due within three days, and if it can be kept secret from Koquillion, he and Vicki can escape- and after Barbara kills Vicki's pet (a ferocious looking alien herbivore that Barbara thought was attacking her) with the duo's flare gun and last flare, she is none-too-popular with Vicki, either. (NFS: That was totally depressing!!! It was like "SCARY THING! KILL IT!" without thinking!!! Barbara is like those girls who think that every dude is checking them out-she thinks that every scary looking thing wants to attack her and eat her...it's just...so self-absorbed! :)
Ian and the Doctor make it through an ancient trap and to the ship, where the Doctor discovers Bennett's room to be empty. The Doctor then goes to the ancient meeting place of the natives of Dido, whom he knew to be few in number and peace-loving from a previous visit, and when Koquillion arrives, the Doctor confronts him in a highly atmospheric finale in which it is revealed that Bennett murdered a fellow crew-member on board his ship, which was damaged in an explosion and crashed before his crime could be radioed to Earth. Bennett killed the rest of the crew- and the natives- in an explosion with the sonic device, and, with child-Vicki unaware of these goings-on aboard the ship at the time, upon rescue would have been a free man since all witnesses to his crime were dead. The Koquillion ruse was merely a tool to keep Vicki from exploring and discovering the remains of the crew, and thereby the truth.
Bennett and the Doctor battle, struggling over the sonic device... when two of the native appear. They are human in appearance, and the fearsome alienesque garments of Koquillion were only worn by the natives during special rituals- the clue which revealed Bennett's alter-ego. Haunted by the seeming ghosts of his past atrocities, Bennett retreats- and the two of the slaughtered race force him over a ledge to his death.
With Vicki all alone and reminding the Doctor very strongly of a recently departed relative (NFS: Just because she's a girl and breathes doesn't mean she's like Susan for crying out loud.), she is welcomed aboard the TARDIS as a new companion, as the two Didonians, possibly the last two of their race, smash up the communications equipment the rescue ship was homing in on- eager for no further violent visitors from the stars. (NFS: What's with all this Xenophobic species the Doctor keeps running into?....I ask as I realize that pretty much every time Xeno's come to another planet in Doctor Who...death and mayhem usually ensue. I change my answer: why is it that ALL the planets in the galaxy aren't Xenophobic?:))
After a year-long-ish break, we returned to Old Who with The Rescue. Here at last, the humor finally comes to full fruition! This episode shone, I feel, with the humor. From the very start ("The tremblings stopped!" "Oh, my dear, I'm so glad that you're feeling better!") the script was witty and well written (at least, when focusing on the Doctor.) The story was relatively simple, but any flaws were easily breezed over by the brevity of the story. This episode served mainly as an introduction for Vicki, and as that, it worked well. I had been looking forward to seeing the 3-companion dynamic, which was extremely short-lived, but that is okay.
I especially was floored by the confrontation between the Doctor and Koquillion; the moody, atmospheric approach with the Doctor, his back turned to his enemy, in a position of superiority, the confrontation, the surprisingly physical fight in an epic (for the time) location- a chamber exploding all around them... it was masterful, and felt like the very first true Doctor/monster confrontation (and Koquillion was that, to be sure!), a precursor to the now-familiar every-episode showdowns we have today.
The appearance of the aliens- completely human looking- was a little confusing; watching it, I had no idea what was going on, but all was explained before the credits rolled. All in all, a very satisfying episode that, like Marco Polo, Keys of Marinus, and the Aztecs, actually kept us watching with a compelling story, excellent writing, and good humor- rather than just a loyalty to Who and a desire to be completists.
That atmospheric ending confrontation... everything else is blown away by it.
Crowning moment of hilarity:
Ian's oh-so-real reaction to Barbara's irritated dismay at Vicki thinking that she's over 500, based on her date of birth.
I'd give this a resounding 5 out of 5 shrunken TARDISes!