9 January 2013

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

Day Nine - The Expedition (The Daleks, Episode Five)

Dear diary,

The bubble had to burst some time, didn't it? I'm not sure what it was, but tonight's episode just didn't really grab me in the same way that the first four instalments of The Daleks did. Perhaps my elation at enjoying the story for the first time yesterday was premature?

I think it lost me towards the beginning, during long discussions about the morality of asking the Thals to fight the Daleks, simply to get back the Fluid Link. It's an argument we had yesterday (not quite, but along the same lines), but there it was much more succinct. Here it just seems to drone on, between Ian and Barbara, then Ian and the Doctor, then Ian and the Thals, then the Thals themselves…

By the time things really got moving, I'd already let my attention slide. It's not all doom and gloom, though, but I do have one more little niggle before I talk about the good stuff.

The cardboard cut-outs of the Daleks are quite effective the first time they appear on screen. No, really, they are! When they're all pointing toward the camera, you could actually mistake them for other Dalek props. Well, if you squint.

What you have to remember, though, is that I'm watching this episode on a 21" iMac, in a darkened room, and using a print that the Restoration Team have spruced up for DVD release. Watched on a grainy 1960s black-and-white TV (and trust me, I know, we used to have one in our apart room while I was growing up), it would have been quite effective.

It's later, though, when you see them from an angle and realise just how thin they are, that the effect if ruined. There's even one shot where there's two practically leant against a wall! A shame, as there's some shots of the city in close-up during this episode, which just help to reaffirm my comments yesterday about the success of the effects in the tale.

Anyway; time for some better stuff. Ian tempting the Thals into battle is well handled, and it gives Williams Russell an chance to really shine. I'm on Ian's side of the argument, though. Much as the travellers need the TARDIS to leave the planet, it is more than a little selfish to ask the Thals to risk their lives to help them.

The swap setting is rather well done; it really is tricky to tell that this series is made in a studio as small as it was. There's another chance to get some good effects in, as they gaze across the lake to the Dalek's water pipes, and the use of dripping water in places really helps to sell the effect.

One other thing to note - the Doctor muses that his 'little trick [with the Fluid Link] has really rebounded on me'. Not half! It it wasn't for his curiosity in the first episode, he'd possibly not have met the Daleks for a long time!

Ho hum, hoping tomorrow returns some enjoyment to the story for me…

Next Episode - The Ordeal

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