Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Sixty-Six: Escape to Danger (The Web Planet, Episode Three)
They've gone a bit overboard with the vaseline on this episode, haven't they? There's a couple of shots of Ian and his Menoptera friend that are more blur than they are anything else!
On the whole, as much as it gets laughed about in fandom, I quite like the idea of them smearing vaseline on the camera lenses. Sure, when it's done like this then it seems a bit bizarre, but in the first couple of episodes it really did create an unusual and quite effective look.
You certainly can't claim that this story isn't trying to be unique. It's a bold choice to try and do an entire story with only our regulars as recognisably human, and at least so far it's not doing too badly. What is unusual is that it's only really here that we start to see an ally for the TARDIS crew - the Menoptera are played in Episode Two as kind, but still possibly a threat.
It's nice to see - well, what you can see, through the vaseline - the make-up a bit more here. It's an odd design, but it's another one of those things that I think actually works quite well. It looks pretty cuddly, too, for that matter. It has to be said that I thought the flying effect was quite well done. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting it, so didn't have time to study it all that much?
Something I was expecting, but I didn't know exactly when it was coming; the infamous shot of the Zarbi running into a camera. Confession time - I've been a Doctor Who fan for a decade, but I've never seen that shot before. I know! I've even watched The Web Planet twice before (which means, I believe, that upon completion of this viewing, I get some kind of medal? Yes? Who do I write to for that?), but I always seem to have missed it!
Somewhat telling is that in my head, the Zarbi runs into a camera outside the TARDIS, and it isn't with as much of a bump as we actually get. I don't really know where my memory of that comes from. Must have made it up after years of hearing about the Zarbi and the camera.
Incidentally, I understand that they've recreated bits of The Web Planet for this year's An Adventure in Space and Time. If they don't include a shot of a Zarbi hitting a camera, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Also, hopefully it'll show just how gorgeous this set can look. You know, without the stuff smeared all over the camera.
I didn't mention it during yesterday's episode, but how creepy is the voice in the tube? Yes, yes, I know it's the Animus, but at this stage I'm not supposed to. It's a whopping good cliffhanger, as the tube lowers and a mysterious voice speaks out to the Doctor, and it doesn't lose any of it's inherent spookiness here. It's a little undermined by having to use those tones to negotiate with the Doctor (at one stage, it basically boils down to 'I will kill you!' / 'Ok. But then this information dies with me!' / 'Fine! …What do you mean 'information'…?')
Next Episode: The Crater of Needles
(EDITED TO ADD: Oh! There you go! I've spent so long throughout this blog monitoring how well they handle the regular cast going on holiday - but it wasn't until almost an hour after writing today's post that I suddenly realised Barbara wasn't in this episode!)