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23 April 2013

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

Day 113: The Steel Sky (The Ark, Episode One)

Dear diary,

It still feels weird to do an episode that's not been narrated by Peter Purves. I'm almost wondering if I can hire him so sit next to me on the couch and narrate the existing episodes while I watch them. I might look into that.

That said, it's nice to be back to a visual episode for today (and, indeed, for the rest of this story). Even better, it's a very visual episode! It's gorgeous! Right from the very start, as we see a lizard, followed by a bird and then a shot of a Moniod… That's striking. It's almost as if they knew this episode would survive, and decided to make full use of the fact that you can see it by really putting the effort in.

The direction continues to be of a consistent standard throughout the episode - from the tracking shot which stops just as the TARDIS materialises, to a range of high-angled shots. Director Michael Imison even manages to make the Moniods look good when the Doctor and friends come out of the caves and find themselves surrounded.

Ah, yes. The Doctor's 'friends'. I know it's early days yet, but I don't really know what to make of Dodo. On the plus side, she brings out the best in Steven - I'm greatly enjoying his exasperation with her, for example - but on the other… I've spent a lot of time so far in this marathon praising the way that companions are treated on the whole. The introductions of the last two 'major' companions (Vicki and Steven) have both been chances to reestablish the programme, and bring new viewers up to speed before we launch off on another adventure.

Dodo, though, right from her slightly odd arrival in yesterday's episode just seems to be thrust into things a bit too fast. It's almost as though they don't want to waste time in setting up this new character, so they're just getting all the early character beats out of the way as quickly as they can, before they move on with the story. Yesterday, we had the very quick introduction to her ('Hello! I'm Dodo! My full name is Dorethea, I'm an orphan, I live with my aunt, but she hates me, so I won't be missed. I might be from Manchester, but I've yet to decide on that…'), and an attempt to try and set up the show again ('this is a time machine. We can go anywhere in space, too. Don't know how to steer it though, so you may never get home. Off we go!). Today, she's already rooting through the TARDIS wardrobe and keen to explore. It's all just a bit too quick for me.

I'm hoping that it'll eventually settle down (The War Machines is the only Dodo story I've seen in full, and it was so long ago that I can't remember much about it…), but for now… no. Not sitting right with me at all. Still, that said, I do love the idea of her emerging from the TARDIS with a cold. It's a different idea, and it's lovely to see how it impacts on the plot. I wonder if these days they'd describe the TARDIS as having some kind of 'cure-all' filter inside it, to stop you from bringing back all manner of diseases from your travels through history? I know enough about The Ark to know where it's going in this story, but it's by far the best thing about Dodo so far.

I'm hoping that the direction continues to be of this standard moving forward, because it's the best thing about the story so far. I'm just enjoying the novel feeling of moving onto another moving episode! It's not something I've been able to do for a while, now…

Next Episode: The Plague

Next Episode: The Plague 
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