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Mar 18, 2006

Mashed Weetabix Dreams

I can't help watching this episode without thinking how bittersweet it must have been for the 1973 version of the disenchanted fan.  A mere four years earlier he would have been cheerfully ensconced in front of The Krotons, happy in the knowledge that since Doctor Who was on virtually all year a better adventure would soon be along.  Life was good.  And then the bombshell, that bloke from The Navy Lark and Carry on Screaming is taking over, and it's only going to be on six months in every year!  I don't care who they have in the role, he thought, but why on earth don't they pick an actor rather than a comedian?  Bloody stunt casting. 

Episode two starts by banishing Pertwee and some girl to the gravel pit, thus leaving Troughton to assume his rightful place at the console.  And what a console room!  Our disgruntled fan has had to put up with various TARDIS indignities in the intervening years, not least that sodding scanner botched into the roundel via the Letts Patented CSO-Matic from Ronco.  Now there is a proper monitor, the weird transporter things are back, and Troughton is at the wheel again.  It's just like the old days.  Except hang on, the Brigadier has had a lobotomy, and for some reason cannot accept the obvious truth of the situation (despite two witnesses) and swiftly retreats into a fantasy world.  Would the sharply intelligent military man of late Troughton and season seven have behaved like this? 

And it's downhill all the way from there.  Pertwee is so unsympathetic it beggars belief - just listen to the way he hisses "Up! Up!" at the hapless Tyler after the world's most tedious escape attempt.  He sucks the joy out of a room more effectively than Maureen O'Brien.  It's hard to believe that this is the same story as the novelisation, and it's increasingly clear that the Target range existed solely so that Terrance Dicks could infect the brains of a generation by conning them into thinking that all Pertwee stories were made on a budget equivalent to Ben Hur or Cleopatra.  I applaud his actions in some ways, but he is entirely responsibe for that horrible feeling in my 13-year old belly when I realised that the Doctor's duel with Omega's dark side was not quite the same as the novelisation, i.e. rather than a massive arena with a scorching hot sun and a savage beast, there was a black BBC studio with an opponent that would not have been out of place on ITV with a Kent Walton commentary.  Shame on you Terrance.

Gell_1Those of us scarred by novelisations (and our numbers are legion) should perhaps avoid watching the programmes in future.  I'd like to propose that we form a Target Book Club with groups of four or five meeting once a month in nice city-centre restaurants.  There we can discuss the Terrance Dicks' deconstruction of syndicalism in Doctor Who and The Monster of Peladon, Malcolm Hulke's technological slant on Fanon's anti-colonialism in Doctor Who and The Doomsday Weapon, and finally come to terms with Ian Marter's random "bastard" in Doctor Who and the Enemy of the World.  Anything to avoid more stuff like Omega's palace.

In fact, I got much more pleasure from inserting this Gellguard into my Weetabix alien landscape than I ever did from watching the programme.  So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to dust off the box, pile up four Weetabix from the 1970s, and pour Day Nurse all over them.  Let the insertion commence, just as soon as I find my Wirrn.


Those spam-blockers are working a treat I see...

Little late on the draw, but I can't help but appreciate the irony there..

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