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7 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 219: The Dominators, Episode Three

Dear diary,

As The Dominators goes on, I'm finding myself more and more detached from it. Things started fairly well a few days ago, but I'm just bored now. After a while of staring at Episode Three, not really taking anything in, I actually returned to the menu screen of the DVD and switched on the Production Subtitles. I don't normally bother with this particular special feature, because - fascinating as they can be - I find it near impossible to keep up with them while also watching the episode. Thankfully, there's so little of interest happening in the episode today that I didn't mind missing long stretches of it.

Truth be told, I was hoping that the subtitles might give me something that I could talk about in today's entry, but even that seems to have fallen a little flat. It seems like a real shame that we've finally returned to a long stretch of the series being held in the BBC Archives, and this is the first example that we get! At least on audio, there's a chance that I could imagine the story being better than it really is. Can we give this one back and swap it for a few episodes from Season Five, instead?

On the plus side, the more the story goes by, the more I realise how much I love the Quarks. No, believe me, I didn't expect to be saying that, either. Even when this story started, I thought that they were silly and a bit naff as a Doctor Who monster (and try as I might, I can't look at one without picturing the skiing fridge from a Wallace and Gromit film), but I'm finding them more and more fun as time goes by.

There's a lovely shot in this episode where one of the Quarks is blown up (in another great explosion - the story is getting those right, at least), and its remains are scattered around the landscape. As the camera comes to rest on the remaining pieces of the creature, the head starts to wiggle slightly in the sand, independent of the body. It's actually quite effective! The one thing I did take from the Production Subtitles was a detailed description of the budgets allocated to Doctor Who, and specifically to the Quarks themselves: BBC Enterprises (the corporation's merchandising arm) was so sure that the Quarks would be the next big Dalek-like success that they actually contributed to the costs of the outfits.

While I love these little creatures, I can't say I'm all that sure about them being the 'next big thing'. They're plenty fine for here and now, but I can't imagine them coming back every few seasons to menace the TARDIS crew and posing any real kind of threat. They're the one thing that's keeping me interested in this story at the moment, though, so I'll thank them for that!

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