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20 December 2013
Day 354: Carnival of Monsters, Episode Two

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

Day 354: Carnival of Monsters, Episode Two

Dear diary,

I can remember when I first bought Carnival of Monsters on DVD. When I first started collecting the range, instead of picking up the most recent release to keep up-to-date, I’d venture into the BBC Shop and choose one at random from the shelf, based mainly on how good the cover looked. This story was – I think – the only time that I’d ever gone out with a story specifically in mind to buy. I knew from an advert in the back of a Doctor Who Magazine that it was available, and pictures of Vorg and a Drashig in a book (Possibly ‘The Legend’?) looked very much appealing.

Since then, I’ve seen the story a few times – probably more than any other Pertwee adventure – and yet I can’t remember what happens. I was watching Episode One yesterday remembering that they end up wandering around inside the Min-Scope (more on that in a minute) and then were attacked by Drashigs but that’s about as far as my memory goes. I’m pretty sure that the creatures end up breaking out of the machine and going on a bit of a rampage around the main square of this alien planet, but I’m a bit worried that it won’t fill two whole episodes! It’s strange that even stories I really enjoy from this era and I know I’ve seen more than once can still end up being black spots in my Doctor Who knowledge.

There’s no wonder that I’ve seen it so many times, though, because there’s a lot to love in here, isn’t there? Yesterday, I praised the setting of the ship and just how well the Third Doctor fits into it. Today I’m captivated by the insides of the Mini-Scope. I can remember the design of this set being something of a fascination for me when I first saw the story, and it’s easy to see why. The whole thing has a scale that really impresses and the style of it is quite unlike anything else that the programme ever gives us. There’s part of me that wants to say it looks a bit like the kind of set I could imagine the 1960s giving us… but I’m not sure that’s really true. The same can be said for the latter half of the 1970s – it wouldn’t fit there, either.

And it’s strange how well this incarnation of the Doctor fits in here, too. It sounds silly, but I think it’s simply because he’s wearing a colourful jacket and it blends him in nicely with the surroundings. I’ve spent so long thinking of the Third Doctor as so Earth-based and establishment, it’s nice to see him somewhere a little out of his comfort zone… but where he still feels very much at home. By that same token, I’m interested to see him squaring up to the aliens later in the story (I’ve another half-memory of the Doctor breaking out of the scope and growing to normal size, complete with trademark ‘Jon Pertwee Knee Bend’), because I’m imagining a dynamic similar to the one he has with the superiors at UNIT.

But it’s not the sets that are impressing me the most with this one – it’s the monsters. A few years ago, when Character Options released a three-pack of Third Doctor monsters, one of the creatures included was a plastic Drashig. Not only that, it served as a glove puppet. I always thought it was a slightly odd choice of toy for them to produce, because I’d never thought of the Drashigs as being a particularly well-known or well-loved monster. Actually, they’re brilliant! They look fantastic when they’re bursting up out of the marshes, and the ‘roar’ is genuinely scary. I’m hoping that the effect holds out through the rest of the story, because I’m really impressed!

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