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3 November 2013

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

Day 307: The Dæmons, Episode Two

Dear diary,

This is very suited to being the last story of the season, because it feels like the final day of school for the year where, instead of boring old lessons, the teachers stick on a film (When I left school, Pirates of the Caribbean had just been released on DVD and video, so it was always the film we saw. Problem was that each lesson was only an hour long, so I’ve seen the first half of that film more times that I care to count), and you get to spend the day out of uniform.

The Doctor and Jo have gone off on their own mission (as with the opening to The Mind of Evil, it’s lovely to see them pairing off without UNIT in tow to begin with, as it really helps their friendship seem more genuine than Jo simply being assigned to pass the Doctor test tubes), Benton and Yates have gone for a ride in the Brigadier’s helicopter and they’re both out of uniform, and the Brig himself has taken the night off and spent part of today’s episode tucked up in bed.

I think this is the kind of ‘UNIT era’ that I’ve always had in mind when picturing ‘the Pertwee Years’. Way back under The Invasion, when I complained that the UNIT of the 1970s was never as vast or well funded as it had been when fighting the Cybermen, this is what I was thinking of. Season Seven surprised me, but now we're firmly into the era of the 'cosy' UNIT, where a select few members of staff become our reliable buddies. I shouldn't really complain, because I do like Benton, Yates et al, but it just feels a bit more 'safe' than I'd like.

We're not all that far removed from Season Seven in some ways, though, because we seem to be in for a remake of Quatermass again (this time it's more Quatermass and the Pit that I'm thinking of). The final scenes in the mound where the Doctor and Jo discover a space ship buried where no one expects it started setting alarm bells off in my head, but I don't think that's a bad thing. For a start, I rather like Quatermass and the Pit (which is more than I can say for this story…)

Oh, no, that's not really fair. The Dæmons is just another one of those stories where there's nothing wrong with it, but I can't seem to understand why it's got such a massive reputation to it. There’s plenty of threat going on, with giant footprints stretching out across the landscape (and they look brilliant when viewed from the air!), vans (and sticks) bursting into flame as they try to approach the village, and the Doctor being out cold (ho ho!) for much of the episode, but it's just kind of happening. I'm not excited by any of it.

Still, it's early days, and perhaps watching a very autumnal episode with the sun blazing through the window from an unseasonably nice day isn't the best setting for the story. Perhaps tomorrow I'll wait until dark before tuning in…

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