15 May 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 500: The Invasion of Time, Episode Six

Dear diary,

At the press launch for Doctor Who Series Seven last year, Steven Moffat said of this episode:

”I thought that day, ‘Some day! Somehow, I will do what I can to get into television and do that properly!’”

It’s not hard to see where he’s coming from, really. One of the things most people know about The Invasion of Time is that it features a sequence of Sontarans chasing the Doctor and his friends deep into the corridors of the TARDIS. Sadly, industrial action meant that it needed to be filmed out on location and… well… it doesn’t really work, does it? I think we’re back to that same argument I made about Gallifrey during 8The Deadly Assassin* - I want to see something grand! To some extent, I think I could forgive this sequence if it were filmed in a castle, or some swanky modern art gallery, but having it filmed in an abandoned hospital just robs it of… hm.

I think Emma summed it up nicely when she asked if this was supposed to be the inside of the TARDIS or if they’d landed somewhere and she’d missed it. Pressed for comment on the design, she was reluctant to give one. In theory, I love the idea of the TARDIS having a number of rooms which all look the same, and it’s quite a fun gag (the first time), but I just feel let down by the whole thing. We used to get brief glimpses into the rest of the Doctor’s ship right back in the early days - visions of strange uncomfortable beds and food machines - but this is the first time we’ve ever been this far beyond that regular console room, and it’s just an abandoned building! And not even a particularly interesting one!

The fact that so much of this episode is reduced to the chase (and I use even that term loosely - it’s more of a pacy stroll) simply leaves me uninterested by much of the proceedings. Things slightly liven up when one of the Doctor pursuers is trapped by a man-size plant… but then he’s released from the threat a few minutes later seemingly without any harm. It never feels like there’s all that much of a threat to either the Doctor or the Sontarans, and the weapon which saves the day - the De-Mat gun - is build mostly-off screen, and then rendered useless after a shot has been fired.

But, oh, let’s be honest, it’s not really the Sontranas or the TARDIS or the Great key that I’m supposed to focus on today, it’s the departure of my favourite Savage. I’ve really loved having Leela - and Louise Jameson - in the series over the last few stories, and I’m genuinely going to miss her. She’s been note-perfect since the moment she arrived in the story, right up to this final goodbye with her friend. Emma claims to have seen it coming a mile off - picking up on the subtext between the pair - which is more than I can claim to have done. Certainly, both Lousie and Christopher Tranchell (as Andred) have been slipping in little moments between the characters, but Em has been more adept at spotting them than I have.

It’s going to be a shame to carry on now, without Leela aboard the TARDIS, but it’s Doctor Who shifting into a new form once again, and there’s very few things as exciting as that…

And while I’m here… I try to avoid getting too sentimental or nostalgic in The 50 Year Diary, but… well… it’s Day 500! Five-Hundred! Five-zero-zero! I’m genuinely, completely, flabbergasted that I’ve made it this far. I’ve said it before, but I genuinely did think that I’d have grown bored of the whole experiment - be it the pace, or the stories, or… well… anything, really, by about the time The Sensorites came along. And now here we are! Almost eighteen months on from the start, and an episode of Doctor Who every day richer. How brilliant.

I’m closer to the end than I am to the start, now, but I’m still really loving it all. Doctor Who really is the most wonderful, barmy, bizarre programme in the world, and I’ve loved watching it evolve and change as I’ve made my way through. And here we are, about to embark on a whole new adventure again, with a new companion, and a new quest as Doctor Who enters its first ever conscious season-spanning arc. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what the next few hundred days hold in store for me!

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