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5 April 2013

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

Day Ninety-Five: Death of a Spy (The Myth Makers, Episode Three)

Dear diary,

Something that I've found a little odd so far is the way the Doctor has reacted to being forced to make plans for getting the Grecian army into Troy. Yesterday, Steven suggested the obvious one - let's build a great, big, wooden horse. You know, like it says in all the legends of this war. The Doctor's dead set against the idea, because it was all made up and probably never even happened… and then he goes an suggests that they build gliders and flying machines to sail over the walls of the city!

Still, it's really only an excuse to give the Doctor something to play around with for an episode or so, until they're ready for him to announce his plan to use the wooden horse after all part-way into today's instalment. This way, everything is in place ready for the final episode. I can't complain, though, as we do get some rather nice comedy as the suggestion is made that the Doctor be the first man to fly into Troy, and he swiftly tries to back-track!

The comedy is a bit toned down for this episode compared to the last, although there's still plenty of it in evidence. There's a lovely discussion between Vicki and Steven as they find themselves locked away in the dungeon, where he protests that he's dressed as a Greek to come and rescue Vicki, and she droles 'You've done a beautiful job'. It's nice to see the pair getting some time together again here - I'm really going to miss the pairing of Steven and Vicki.

It's a period in the companionship of the programme that I've never really considered before. In my mind, the Hartnell era is usually Ian/Barbara/Susan - Ian/Barbara/Vicki - Steven/Dodo - Ben/Polly, and then onto the Second Doctor. I wonder if it's because this is such a short pairing together (only 13 episodes, if we count the end of The Chase)? A real shame, though. I even spent some time wondering if I could slip in a Big Finish adventure for the pair before embarking on this story, but it didn't seem right to have a more contemporary tale thrown in. It's definitely going to the top of my list for the future, though!

One of the most interesting aspects of this episode is sadly overlooked rather early on. While the Doctor is being given just one more day to devise a plan to invade Troy, Vicki is tasked to coms up with a way to stop a potential Grecian invasion, and to bring a swift end to the war. Steven sums it up best, when he says that it's Vicki against the Doctor, and knowing the Doctor, he's probably already got a good plan.

There's something quite intriguing about having the Doctor and his companions on opposite sides of a battlefield, each working against the other without truly realising it (come to think of it, isn't there a book along those lines? Though with a different incarnation of the Doctor on each side? Or did I imagine that? If there isn't then there should be!). It's a shame, then, that this is swept under the rug so quickly, when the Doctor's actions see Vicki released from prison and praised for winning the war, without ever lifting a finger.

Before she's released, though, we get a lovely scene between her and Trolius. I commented when Ian and Barbara left that the programme at this stage was still very good at setting up a companion's departure, and it's been really well handled again, here. Little hints yesterday that the pair may be falling for each other are enough to start the ball rolling, but it's really brought to the fore here, as they talk together - ignoring Steven for the most part - and Vicki sighs that she thinks she'd be very happy here, in time. I really can't fault the work being put into this area here, and special praise must be reserved for Maureen O'Brien, who turns in one of her very best performances in the programme for the scene.

Next Episode: Horse of Destruction

Next Episode: Horse of Destruction 
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