Monday, September 5, 2011

TV Series Review: Doctor Who (Remembrance of the Daleks)

The final Classic Doctor Who serial I was able to get through this summer, this time featuring the Seventh Doctor and fan favorite companion Ace (for reasons that become clear in this episode, it involves daleks and baseball bats). This is one of the later serials in the shows initial run (1988, the show was "put on hiatus" in 89) and the last time the daleks would appear until the 2005 episode Dalek (funny enough, the daleks in this episode can already float to get up stairs, I thought that had been an invention of NuWho) and it's a good episode for their last appearance, especially when I started reading about some of the other, not so great dalek episodes.

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

Summary: Set soon after the First Doctor left Earth in An Unearthly Child, the Doctor and Ace go to Earth where they become entangled in a dalek civil war who are fighting over a Time Lord weapon that the Doctor left on Earth when he was first there. 

The Good: Even thought Ace comes across as a bit of a dated character she's yet another cool and proactive companion who certainly keeps the story interesting when the Doctor is planning something in the background. Speaking of planning in the background, this serial was the first hint that the Seventh Doctor was a bit darker, more of a schemer, than his previous incarnations and it's a nice twist on the Doctor's previous character*, instead of just getting caught up in the action he now actively tries to manipulate it from the start. Finally, one nice detail about this story was how the dalek's civil war (which revolved around how one group was a tiny bit genetically different than the other) was also reflected in the 1960s setting with a "No Coloureds" sign in a window and a black man in a cafe musing with the Doctor that, if it wasn't for sugar cane, he wouldn't even be in Britain. It was a nice detail to throw in especially since it is un-politically correct history and I'm happy that the show was true to it's setting^.  

The Bad: At times it's a little hard to keep track of what the side characters are doing (there seems to have been a Nazi sympathizer plotline that I completely missed) and they are fairly important to the story. Another complaint I had was, as interesting as it is to see a darker Doctor, why is it that he didn't tell anyone about his plans until they were well under way? I would hope that he trusts Ace enough at this point and normally it's easier to have a plan work correctly if other people don't screw it up (because they understand the plan and know what to do/not to do).

The Audio: The theme music has changed slightly once again and, like the logo, manages to sound more dated than any of the other changes so far. Some of the sound effects also sound dated but that would be the case for any sci-fi show produced in the late 80s, especially one with a lower budget. So what was there worked, sorta, but is going to date the series for modern viewers. 

The Visuals: The logo for Doctor Who has changed some over the years but the logo for this time period looks especially strange (and screams "hey guys, we can do some computer art now!"), some parts of the show look really dated. Wasn't able to tell how period accurate the costumes were but the daleks all looked fine and like, well, daleks. There were a few special effects that looked like early CGI in the episode but nothing really special happened visually.

Sorry for the delay here, I had almost all of that written up last night but I have a head cold which is making me feel out of it. Review should go up tomorrow but I'm not sure when, I have double club meetings and a bit of homework that I didn't get to this weekend because of said cold (and you know, school in general). Later in the school year I might get around to seeing more Classic Doctor Who since it turns out that one of my friends has a lot of the DVDs but currently I don't have any plans to, there are more than enough movie showings at the school to keep me entertained for the moment.

*especially since some people have pointed out that the current Doctor is starting to act more and more like a schemer who keeps others in the dark about his plans until they actually go off (although I'd argue that Seven seems much better at planning things that work than Eleven, Eleven makes his a bit too over the top which is a genuine character weakness). I always find this kind of continuity between Doctors cool and also feel like it makes the story stronger, even though I'm sure some people don't like it.
^also since the serial after this one is the infamous, critical of Margaret Thatcher (the then-current PM of Great Britian) serial which, having seen Nash's review of it, was pretty bad, makes me appreciate how this one was done even more. 

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