Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Seventy-Eight: The Executioners (The Chase, Episode One)
I've been dreading this story. But I've been really looking forward to this story. But, then again, I've been dreading it. But really looking forward to it. Dizzy yet? Yeah, me too.
Here's the thing: as you may have guessed from the last month or so, I've not been enjoying Season Two as much as I enjoyed Season One. Once I'd gotten The (surprisingly great) Dalek Invasion of Earth out of the way, everything's been a bit… meh. And then there's The Chase.
This is another one of those stories that's always just sort of been there. I've never loved it, but I've never disliked it. It just sort of exists, keeping the second season going for six weeks. I remember it being quite fun, so I was looking forward to watching that. And then I watched The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and it was epic, and gorgeous, and brilliant. I really loved it, and I'd loved the fact that it brought the Daleks down to real locations and made them gritty.
Suddenly, the thought of a six-week 'romp' through time and space seemed far less appealing. And thus, for a few weeks, I rather put The Chase out of my mind, figuring that I'd just deal with it when I got there and then move on. So, I made my way through The Romans and The Web Planet, and The Crusades , not really looking forward to this comedy Dalek adventure. But then I reached Episode One of The Space Museum.
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki turn a corner and come face-to-face with… a Dalek. And you know what? I was excited. For - I think - the first time since their appearance in Bad Wolf, I was excited by the prospect of the Daleks coming back. Then I had to sit through the three remaining episodes of The Space Museum, before I got a glimpse of a Dalek in front of a rather cheap looking wall. Ooh, thrilling.
Suffice to say, when I got up this morning, I wasn't relishing the prospect of today's episode. Having enjoyed their Earth-bound exploits so much, I was about to find myself subjected to a cheap Dalek story that wouldn't be very good. Bowl of cereal at the ready, I loaded the DVD into the Mac and grudgingly chose the first episode.
And then, I spent twenty-five of the most enjoyable minutes I've ever had watching Doctor Who. I'm not being funny, but this episode is brilliant. I tried to take Rob Shearman's advice yesterday and look for the humour in The Space Museum. There's no looking for humour here - it's holding up great big signs right in front of you!
The Doctor fixes his machine and gets irritated at Vicki's whistling, while Ian reads a book about 'Monsters From Outer-Space', which he declares “a bit far fetched”. I was laughing, out loud, to myself as I watched. That doesn't happen all that often. It's so rare to see the TARDIS crew just kicking back and enjoying themselves.
They go on to watch a bit of the Time Telly, before heading out onto a desert planet, which they treat as the equivalent of a day trip to Brighton. It's all really great fun - it's almost a shame that the Daleks have to turn up and spoil it for them.
Even then, there's plenty of drama, as Ian and Vicki find themselves cornered by a monster in a secret chamber, while the Doctor and Barbara get caught out in a sand storm, losing the TARDIS under the sand itself. The cliffhanger of the Dalek rising from the sand is't as effective as the similar one from earlier in the season, where the creature glides out of the Thames, but it's still rather good - and I love the sound of it struggling to get out of the ground!
The Daleks themselves look as impressive as ever when they're stood around in their control room, and they looks genuinely scary as they pour into their time machine. It's a shame that they didn't have the timings a little more spot-on, to avoid the occasional pauses between creatures making their way inside.
Frankly, I loved it all.
Mind you, I wondered about Ian and Barbara being a couple during The Romans, but he and Vicki here are like a pair of teenagers on a first date to the beach! In some ways, it's quite endearing!
Next Episode: The Death of Time