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27 February 2013
 Day Fifty-Eight: The Powerful Enemy (The Rescue, Episode One)

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

Day Fifty-Eight: The Powerful Enemy (The Rescue, Episode One)

Dear diary,

Oh, this feels strange and new and exciting! It's possible that it's because I've just come from six days of the decade-old Dalek Invasion of Earth DVD, and it's great to be back to a vidFIREd episode. Things look so crisp!

After the huge scale of the last story, this feels like things are swinging in the complete opposite direction. We're entirely studio-bound again, with a tiny cast and a minimal number of sets. That's not a criticism, though: it all works quite well for the most part, and in some ways it's nice to have a story like this again.

The biggest issue that I have with it is that I've been a Doctor Who fan for about ten years, now, so I know how this story ends. I know the secrets about Koquillion (which I'll come to tomorrow), so it's hard to watch this story without having that in mind. For now though, it's worth pointing out that the Koquillion design is actually really good.

I mean, yes, it's a bit bizarre, but that's the kind of thing that Doctor Who is very very good at. That first shot of him, in close-up outside the TARDIS is really very striking, and it's no wonder Barbara is scared away from him. I'm less keen on the jewelled spanner he's using as a weapon, though. That's a bit naff.

One of the things that's impressed me the most about the story so far, though, is the continuity with the end of the last serial. The departure of Susan is a big moment in the history of the show, and it's really nice to see it being talked about rather than just moving on. Barbara tells Ian that it's not the kind of thing that the Doctor will just move on from - which is exactly the way he deals with a fair few companion departures later in the show's run.

Something else that works well in this regard is that the Doctor has yet to meet Vicki. Barbara has encountered her, and that's allowed us into her world and to fill in her backstory, but for the Doctor, there's no one in sight to replace Susan. As the programme goes on, it almost feels like a revolving door, with one companion leaving in story A and the next arriving in story B. Here is feels real and continues to sell the idea of the show as a continuing serial.

Also, is this the first story since An Unearthly Child that doesn't feature a scene inside the TARDIS before we catch up with the TARDIS crew? The Dalek Invasion of Earth had the Roboman walking into the river, but I think we usually get a chat with the crew before we meet any actual guest cast, don't we?

There's little else to add for this one (though I'm tempted to highlight the Doctor's sense of humour in this episode. His exchange with Barbara - 'Doctor! The trembling's stopped!' / 'Oh, my dear, I'm so glad you're feeling better!' - as being a particular highlight!), save to say that it's an interesting introduction to Vicki as a character, and a good starting performance from Maureen O'Brien. I look forward to seeing more!

Next Episode: Desperate Measures

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