28 February 2013
 Day Fifty-Nine: Desperate Measures (The Rescue, Episode Two)

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

Day Fifty-Nine: Desperate Measures (The Rescue, Episode Two)

Dear diary,

I wonder if I'd have seen the twist with Bennett coming if I didn't already know that he was Koquillion? I'm tempted to say that I probably wouldn't… because it kind of comes from nowhere.

The problem with a two-part story is that there's no time for this plot to be built up and resolved in time, while still aiming for the mid-way cliffhanger. While the last episode was fairly well done in terms of the pacing, this one feels almost as though they've realised that the rest of the story needs to be done and dusted pretty quick, so that they can ask Vicki to join them in the TARDIS and be on their way.

To be quite truthful, I'm not even 100% sure what happened at the end there. Were they ghosts of the Dido people? Had some survived? The Doctor seems to imply that they can now take their world back… where have they been hiding for the last year or so? So many questions, so little time!

All that said, though, there's still plenty to like in this episode. Chiefly among them, the Doctor's confrontation with Koquillion. We've never really had a scene quite like this before, where the Doctor stands face-to-face with the story's 'bad guy' and has a cool, calm discussion with him, during which he basically tells them to stop what they're doing. This is a scene in the same key as the Tenth Doctor's poolside chat with Mr Finch in School Reunion, or the Eleventh Doctor's face-off with Madame Kovarian during A Good Man Goes to War.

What's nice about it is that I've never known it was here! Buried away towards the end of s strange little two-parter from Season Two. Hartnell plays it with perfection. The way he turns to face Koquillion, having already revealed him as Bennett and remaining fairly dignified throughout is fantastic, as is their entire discussion, ending with a fight. It's just a shame that the fight is ended by the appearance of the ghosts. Or survivors. Or… well, whatever they are.

Also good fun is the amount of humour still in the series. It's been having a larger impact on the stories as we move along (and it'll somewhat explode everywhere in the next story), but here it's Ian and Barbara having most of the laughs. I love the way they react when Vicki announces that they must be about 550 - both reactions are priceless and entirely in character.

Less 'in character', though, is Barbara's reaction to seeing Sandy for the first time. Yes, yes, I'm willing to accept that she was looking out for Vicki's safety and trying to make sure that the creature didn't attack. Yes, I'm willing to admit that the creature could look rather terrifying from a distance (In the long-shots early on, even I was prepared to admit it looked quite good. In close up… not so much), but still, it's not the kind of thing I'd expect from Barbara to grab a (flare) gun and shoot the creature dead!

Perhaps the most obvious thing to say about this story is that it really feels like a fresh start. Susan has gone, so now we've got these two episodes to introduce the new companion and to set out the scope of the series once more. Ian and Barbara explain that they got 'mixed up' with the Doctor in 1963, and that they now travel anywhere in time and space - 'Anywhere and everywhere in that old box', as the Doctor puts it. We even get to see Vicki doing the whole 'Bigger on the inside' thing (though not with those exact words). In many ways, this really does feel like the programme brushing itself down after the big Dalek epic, and getting ready to move on again, refreshed and renewed.

And what better way to do that than with a great cliffhanger of the TARDIS falling off a cliff?!

Next Episode: The Slave Traders

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