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23 April 2014

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

Day 478: Horror of Fang Rock, Episode Four

Dear diary,

There’s something really quite unsettling about just how carefree the Doctor and Leela appear as they make their way back to the TARDIS here. Considering that they’ve just finished an adventure in which everyone else in the story dies. That’s not me being over dramatic, either, everyone dies. All the guest cast. The alien. Even other members of the alien’s race - who only turn up in the last half of this final episode - all get slaughtered. It’s a very bloodthirsty story… and it really works all the better for it. In many ways, this is a hugely brave choice for an opening serial: not just because it’s a fairly downbeat way of introducing the new run, but because we’re supposed to be at the dawn of a new era for Doctor Who, with a new producer who has been specifically asked to tone down the violence. Oh.

All of this is just my way of darting around simply saying again how much I’ve enjoyed this story. It’s not perfect, though I’d struggle to pick out any specific things that I’ve failed to enjoy, and I dare say that one of the biggest strengths and the biggest weaknesses of the tale is just how much it feels like something from the last season. It’s everything that Season Fourteen did well, being done very well, but I’ve come to expect that from the programme now. I want to see something new, and watch the TARDIS start to venture out and tread new ground in the universe.

Mostly, I think I’m just pleased to see that my opinion on the story as a whole has changed since the last time I watched it. That’s one of the funny things that I find with Doctor Who (and I’m hoping other people get this too, and it’s not just be being a little odd!) - there’s so much of it, I sort of lose track sometimes about which ones I like and which ones I don’t. Just recently, I was talking to a friend about one of the Hartnell stories and telling them how I had a strange urge to watch it again because I’d enjoyed it so much the first time around. He then proceeded to point out that - actually - I’d rated that one fairly low, and hadn’t found all that much to love in there.

It’s one of the best things about Doctor Who, too. I genuinely think that I could pop in An Unearthly Child the day after I finish this marathon and do it all again: one episode a day, every singe day, writing down my thoughts and scoring out of ten every time… and you’d end up with different ratings to what I’ve given it in this run though. Part of that will be because I know what to expect, so maybe I’ll be rating fairly (or, conversely, I could be rating harsher!), but some will simply be down to the way I feel on the day and seeing the story with a different frame of mind.

I think that may be why Doctor Who never seems to get old for me. 

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