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21 January 2013

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

Day Twenty-One - The Sea of Death (The Keys of Marinus, Episode One)

Dear diary,

The start of a new story is always a bit exciting. Three weeks into this marathon, and I'm starting to appreciate how much that's true. When you watch Doctor Who as a set of DVDs, where you can watch a story in full from any era of the programme at any time, you start to forget the excitement of getting onto a new one.

When I first got into Doctor Who in 2003, I used to relish the chance, every other week or so, to visit the BBC shop in Norwich, where I was living at the time. There weren't nearly as many DVDs on the shelf then as there are now, but I used to enjoy choosing one at random (or, sometimes, based purely on how much I liked the cover art. I didn't pick up a copy of The Leisure Hive for several years, 'cos I thought the art was awful) and then excitedly getting home to watch it.

These days, I own a copy of every story in some form or another; DVD, VHS, audio… it takes some of the magic away from it all. I've really enjoyed Marco Polo, and as I said yesterday, I'd not have been opposed to another episode to allow events to berate a bit at the end, but all the same - it's great to be arriving somewhere new.

The first season of Doctor Who has a simple format, but it works really well. For the most part, it's Historical/Space Story/Historical/Space Story, with the exception of The Edge of Destruction, which is something of an oddity, anyway. It means you get to have a nice deal of variety to the stories, and as much as I love the historical settings, with rich dialogue and fantastic characterisation, it's lovely to be turning up on a world with acid seas and glass beaches.

Sure, this one may not be as polished as the story I've been watching for the last week (and while it's nice to be back to moving episodes again, it's a shame this one has more than a couple of production faults. Two stagehands are very noticeable, as is a boom shadow hovering over Barbara's head for some time while they hunt for the missing Susan), but it's good fun.

We open with a shot of the island itself, which looks rather good - especially when we pan in on the beach, and a tiny model TARDIS arrives. This is the first time we've seen the ship arrive in this way, and it works really well. While on the subject of the models, I'm going to have to mention the washing-up bottle submarines. They get a bad rep, perhaps rightly so, but in general it works quite well.

It also means, since I've got a few bottles of washing-up liquid released for the Jubilee last year, in the shape of these 'classic' versions, I'm going to playing 'Attack of the Voord' when I do the washing up in a bit.

I mentioned a few days ago, during a fight scene in Marco Polo that it was a shame not to actually be able to see it. It was represented in the recon by a series of blurry images and a lot of scuffling noise; not painting a great image! I also mused that it was perhaps for the best, as I could imagine the scene in my head to be better than it perhaps was.

I think this might well have been justified by the scene in this episode, in which a Voord attacks Arbitan and Ian intervenes. The fight is very stagey, and that somewhat let the scene down. It's lovely to have some movement on the screen again, but perhaps reckons are sometimes a good answer…!

Next Episode: The Velvet Web

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