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15 January 2013

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

Day Fifteen - The Singing Sands (Marco Polo, Episode Two)

Dear diary,

One of the benefits of the missing episodes is that they give you the chance to let your mind fill in the gaps. Today's episode features a sequence in which Susan and Ping-Cho are caught outside during a sand storm. Now, on screen, this may (or may not…) have looked great, but in my head, it can look as great as I'd like.

In my head, it can be suitably epic and dramatic, the soundtrack certainly helps with that, and it's actually quite a brilliant scene. It injects a nice level of drama to the story, which helps to carry this episode. It doesn't hurt that for this installment, I've used a proper recon of soundtrack and tele snaps, mixed with some other photos taken on the set. There comes a point when you almost forget that things are supposed to be moving - just like yesterday, I'm caught up in the story.

An Unearthly Child doesn't really fit the format of the historical adventures (it set more in a fantasy 'stone age' than any easily definable period of history), which makes Marco Polo the first story that can be really pinned down. I can go and look him up and read about his travels to the East along the old silk trails, and see how this story might fit in.

It's a format that really works for the show, and it's a shame we've not had any of these 'proper' historical adventures in the revived series. While The Daleks was made interesting by the first appearance of the Doctor's greatest enemy, this story is given it's boost by interesting characters.

It's telling that I didn't really feel the absence of the Doctor during this installment; especially considering they go to great lengths to remind us that he's just off to one side, either sulking or sleeping. He turns up at the end, of course, but it really is little more than a cameo.

I'm too busy enjoying the story of Ian, Barbara, Susan, Ping-Cho, Marco and Tegana. The cast gel really nicely (though, really, Tegana is just a pantomime villain. I half expect Marco to turn up during the cliff hanger, as Tegana pours the water away, just so we can shout 'behind you!' at him…).

Something that I didn't tough on yesterday, but will here (and no doubt again at some point) is just how good the incidental music to this story is. You could quite happily give me a soundtrack of it to listen to as I drift off to sleep - it's some really nicely composed stuff.

I'm hoping that the story keeps up its current high quality as we continue on, though I worry that the further into it I go, the more it will need to resort to finding padding for the journey. It feels a little like each episode may just be there to fill time before Tegana can commit something evil…

Next Episode: Five Hundred Eyes 
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