Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 148: The Highlanders, Episode One
I’ve been looking forward to this one. It’s always fascinated me that the Second Doctor picks up Jamie in his second-ever story, and then he stays as a companion right to the end of the era. That’s dedication! As the theme music died down and Fraser Hines’ voice introduced the story, it felt perfectly fitting.
And then Jamie’s hardly in this episode! Hah! It’s brilliantly low-key, and there’s no way you’d guess that he’ll be joining the TARDIS before the story is out if you didn’t already know. I do wonder if that means it could feel a little sudden at the end, but I’m hoping that we’ll see his role growing as the episodes go by. What we do hear of him is good so far - it’s unusual to have a companion’s first appearance accompanied by a description of his pointing a gun at the chest of a current crew member!
If anything, it seems more likely that Kirsty would join as a regular: she’s certainly given more to do here than Jamie is. I’m enjoying her pairing with Polly, and the way that the relationship is being played. Polly talking about modern things and Kirsty just not getting it is fantastic, and not something that we often see in the historical stories. I’m particularly keen on Kirsty’s assertion that ‘they don’t make biscuits for dogs!’ (I imagine Polly has a small dog at home. Wonder who’s looking after it?), and Polly catching the confused reaction to ‘fillings’ and simply substituting it for ‘teeth’.
Otherwise, I have to admit that I’m just not all that caught up in events. It’s been a long time since I really found myself swept up by one of the historical episodes, and sadly this one isn’t really doing it for me either. As I always seem to say in these stories, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not for me. Once again, it’s one of those historical settings that I don’t really know all that much about, but there’s enough information given in the narration and via the Doctor for me to make sense of it, so I at least vaguely know what’s going on. I’m crossing my fingers that things will fall into place for me as the story goes by.
I do need to mention the latest step in my argument that our lead character’s name (at least at this stage of the programme) is ‘Doctor Who’. Here, he introduces himself as ‘Doctor Von Wer’ (which translates from German, roughly, as ‘Doctor Who’), and when one of the soldiers questions him ‘Doctor Who?’ he replies ‘that’s what I said’. Frankly, his name is ‘Doctor Who’. It is! For now, it is!
As a character, I’m still enjoying the Second Doctor, and he’s still very unlike his predecessor. Pretending to be a German Doctor in an attempt to talk people out of killing him is fun, but it’s certainly not something I can imagine William Hartnell doing. The First Doctor would have simply raised his voice, promised the soldier a ‘jolly good smacked bottom’ and gotten indignant if they tried to hang him anyway. We’ve got another mention of the Doctor wanting ‘a hat like that’ (I’m hoping we get at least one in each story, though I know it’s faded away by later in Troughton’s run) and his playful, child-like side is coming out more, too.
Here’s hoping that the second episode will give Jamie more to do, and capture my imagination a bit more…