Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Rescue

The Rescue:So far, this is the perfect warm down story to follow DIOE. We've had the expansive epic, so it's only right that it's followed with the quiet, claustrophobic piece. The first, and obvious contrast is the number of characters - DIOE had more in every episode than the five we've got here. And the concerns are so slight now - just one rather nasty alien as opposed to the hundreds of Daleks, and a quiet little mystery. That's not meant as a criticism. The joy of the show is its ability to swing from the epic to the intimate, to deal with planetary disaster one week and one crashed spaceship the next.If anything, this story is not helped by hindsight. We know it's only two episodes long, so it has to be a fairly slight tale. We know (and I suppose I should add spoilers here, because it's the stories twist...)SPOILERwe know that Bennet is the baddie, so we under-rate that aspect of the plot. Everyone says that it's an obvious whodunnit, with only one suspect. It's not really correct, in context. The quiet opening episode is not far different from those that open the Daleks and the Sensorites - not much happening apart from a slow build up of mysteries. There's no real reason to assume that there IS anything funny about Koquillion. If you know it's a whodunnit, it does seem obvious, yes. But the trick of the story is that is misleads you into thinking it isn't a mystery - or at least, the mystery isn't the one you think it is. When there could be four or six episodes to the story, and given the script's definite sense of room for expansion, it could still go anywhere. In deed, in a nice bit of writing, Bennet is immediately grumpy and not obviously likeable - and in a sort of reverse psychology, this makes his villainy less obvious (we tend to dismiss obvious villains as red herrings - notice, say in the Usual Suspects - spoiler warning again folks - that Keaton, the red herring Soze, is much more amiable than Verbal, the actual Soze, who has a tendency to being abrupt and a little rude in the interrogation scenes: an immediate device to make him less suspicious).Vicki is immediately appealing, ballsy and less hysterical than Susan. She describes the mass murder with admirable restraint (as I was saying in the last episode - restraint is so much more believable and affecting than hysterics and unfocused emotion).Likewise restrained is the dealing with Susan's departure. It's acknowledged, but gently, and without being overblown. It's treated as bittersweet, which is bang on. The travellers are still clearly affected by it, but they know that she will be happy.And the repartee and wit is in force in this episode too. The Doctor is now much more kindly and loveable than ever, veering between doddering to sharp, suddenly making sardonic asides (his quip about his being unable to press his back any further when they're shifting along the ledge has no purpose but to amuse, for example). You really get the sense that he cares for his companions now, and that they do likewise. It's a family proper now.Looking forward to episode two now. Its a lovely story, very well made. It's lack of import or worthiness means its never going to win any polls but its an excellent and superior piece of Who.

The Rescue 2:The Doctor's gone all cuddly and sweet now - a much more fun, less serious figure. You can see why people keep travelling with him, and why Vicki eventually decides to go. Every inch the loveable grandfather - his chats with Vicki, her leading him by the hand. You could say that this is hard to reconcile with the initial figure we meet in the show, but it seems such a natural progression that it doesn't. It appears that Ian and Barbara have mellowed him.The death of Sandy is a little tacked on, but it does add some character death, and shows that Vicki has a lot more depth than Susan. Susan would have shrieked or cried, whereas Vicki stomps around in a huff which is far more entertaining.It seems that after the first season villains being, generally, misguided or at least morally complex and rarely entirely evil, season two is about utter bastards. The Daleks have been murdering randomly, with little provocation. Forrester kills a man for his own monetary gain, Bennett commits mass murder and genocide to avoid justice. They are the definition of psychopaths - unable to think or even care that other people have feelings. They are there to be disposed of at a whim. The pettiness of the motives rings true each time - what's that they say about the banality of evil? Say what you like about the later series villains, all your mad power hungry tyrants etc. etc, Forester and especially Bennet are underrated villains for the show. The sheer callousness. The Master kills in order to take over the universe or some such. When the stakes are that big, it seems apt. Wheareas to kill so many for so little is the act of the truly evil.The climax, with the Dr confronting Bennet is great. I'll say it again, this is the Dr as the hero proper, the lead proper. This could just as easily have been Ian's job, to fight down the villain. But the Dr goes it alone. Facing him off with naught but his wits. In deed, Babs and Ian do very little in the entire story, one dead Sand monster notwithstanding. The Doctor has become the lead now, and is given the stories best, dramatic scene.A lot of criticism is made of the slightly deus ex machina ending where a couple of fortunately unkilled Didoans turn up out of nowhere in the temple. I'm not sure it's justified. It's never properly established who they actually are - whilst there's some dialogue at the end that indicates they are some Didoans who survived, this is really just speculation of Ian and the Drs part. I prefer to view them as spirits (and interestingly, spirits is practically the first word Hartnell uses to describe them). Their first appearance is sudden, and jolting as if they appear out of thin air, and it's on top of an altar in the temple. Bennet's attempt at murder on their sacred ground, added to his previous genocide, brings forth spirits of Nemesis. Hence their ethereal quality, their silence, and their white outfits. If they are proper Didoans where have they been all this time? I think its best not to think this is some kind of weak ending pulled out of the hat, but rather more complex than it is given credit - heck, I may be giving them the benefit of the doubt, but it gives me a fab Shakespearian ending.A nice little story. Slight, but elegant in its simplicity. Good to see that as of Dalek Invasion 6 the TARDIS noise for materialisation and dematerialisation has standardised. Shame the cliffhanger's missing on the BBC video...

Doc Watcher
Hi Dorney,Just reading some of your reviews and there are excellent! You have prompt me to watch the Daleks again, for which I haven't seen in 5yrs or so. I wish I had the time to watch more, but sometimes working 12 hr days can really be tiresome! Best of luck to you, and look forward to your other reviews.

Thanks for that - mad as it may seem, I think that when I finally finish this (in about two years time), I may go back and do most of season one again. I slightly regret the fact that the reviews of them are lacking in detail. Took me some time to get into the swing of things.

Ultimate Foe
I hate that on The Rescue/The Romans video... the cutting out of the cliffhanger at the end of The Rescue. It's a great little shot, and was probably quite jolting at the time...hopefully it'll be reinserted for the DVD.Having inspired me to start DIOE (Part 4 now...on an episode per night basis, due to the fact last time I watched it in one go I hated it)...I may very well move onto The Rescue next!It's one of my favourites... a great little tale of good against real evil (how else to describe Bennet). It introduces one of my all time favourite companions- Vicky, and is just full of delightful things (I think the ending is superb).Wonder what you'll make of The Romans...after the caught/escapes feel you found The Reign Of Terror to have!

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