Sunday, 26 January 2014

What to Watch Next: Father's Day & Day of the Daleks

Time travel shenanigans being the connecting thread this week, at least in terms of the story connections. The actual videos are slightly more eclectic.

Aside from "Father's Day" being haunted by the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (since it didn't exist, Louis Marks had to invent it) and indeed the two-versions-of-our-heroes-in-one-scene (discussed in the photo captions), there's again an obvious undertone of the safely familiar being juxtaposed with the dangerous. [This is going to keep cropping up whenever a Pertwee story meshes with a BBC Wales one, for the simple reason that they're so much more Earth-centric than any other periods in the programme's history.] In the one era we're just coming off the height of the UNIT family, with all our irregulars accounted for and the Doctor contentedly muddling with his laboratory, and it's only slowly made clear to us that this seeming situation has anything especially wrong with it at all. An entire night goes by with Jo asleep in the supposedly haunted house and nothing happens.

Whereas in the other there's no time to delve into this questions with any leisure, but it's still a surprisingly long time before Cornell brings the full "whoops, we've blown up the planet" aspect of the situation to bear. Rose is fervently attempting to manufacture that sort of cosy family dynamic for herself (as she'll later succeed in doing, after all), and the climax of the episode is essentially just both her and her father coming to terms with the fact that that's just not going to happen. To make the parallels closer we'd have to have a future version of Benton or the Brigadier coming back to say he was responsible for destroying the world...but then there'd really be no need for episode three and the trike chase, and who would want a version of "Day of the Daleks" without the trikes? They're more fun than Pete's car, anyway.

(So what seems more innocent, a story where the whole of civilisation is destroyed by an all-too-realistic threat but in such a way as to not personally threaten any of Our Heroes, or one where the whole of civilisation is destroyed rather more nebulously but with a definite, concrete death sentence in store for Our Hero? The Doctor doesn't count because he gets put through the wringer in both.)

"Father's Day"  

A small but interesting point - the effects used to portray multiple companions and Doctors...
"Children's Ward"
One of Paul Cornell's earlier ventures into television (nowhere near the first, but no visual record of "Kingdom Come" is to be found on the Internet). Paul Abbott created the show with Kay Mellor, RTD helped produce and wrote lots of episodes, Matt Jones had a hand in it...not a few of the actors had been in/would be in Doctor Who as well. It's that sort of nexus point where a lot of people who are about to be quite something congregate (see also: "Hell Drivers").

The following episode is also by Cornell and gets the rather more exciting plot wrap-ups if you'd rather just jump in there (the climax is a juxtaposition so daft it's great, but there's no reason to spoil it here). The gas canister business was an ongoing storyline, but it's still amusing seeing another radio that's putting out data it manifestly shouldn't. Speaking of which...

"Bee Gees - You Win Again"
The production team thought to include two songs from the era along with an extra (Rickroll, cover, anachronism respectively), but this is what was number one the 7th of November, 1987. Yeah. Eighties music for you.

Then again, George Harrison would have been entirely inappropriate for Rose's tragic reconciliation moment.

"Dead and Buried"
Big Finish's 2010 animation (done by Alex Mallinson), because there's exactly one video clip out there starring Bernice Summerfield and this is it. Who doesn't, strictly speaking, have anything to do with this story, but she's arguably Cornell's biggest accomplishment in the DW novels and that's worth a note here ("Human Nature" adaptation aside, no one else managed to launch a character who'd end up with her own independent series that's lasted through to this day). Like a good many Big Finish products, it's shiny, continuity-happy and has some killer sound effects.

If Planet 55 needed something else to do after their big "Prisoner Zero" show with Gary Russell wraps up, they might pull off marvels with a webseries. This does rather feel like a test demo.

"Only Fools and Horses"
As Rose notes, Pete is basically Del Boy, so you want the original for comparison purposes.  Else I could have saved it for "Rise of the Cybermen" to register how odd the Doctor facing off against Trigger was.

There are no owls in "Father's Day", or "Human Nature", or "Family of Blood", or even Cornell's text for "The Journal of Impossible Things". So he's deliberately eased off on that running gag (they were all over the place in his New Adventures).

Still, you've now learned something about the habits and dangers of barn owls in the UK, so at least it's educational. 

"Day of the Daleks"

...look better in "Father's Day" only on screen, as it just looks like the digital jiggery-pokery it is in screencaps. Which is why the above one looks so comparatively rubbish compared to '70s CSO. We're seeing the difference between what everyone involved knew they could get away with v. everyone trying new concepts to see what they're like.

"Gibbs Toothpaste Commercial"
Recognise the speaker? It's Alex MacIntosh, the BBC announcer in the final episode who's telling us all how doomed we are if Styles doesn't make the press conference work. He had a lot of fun doing projects like these. Sorry to mention the Goodies again, but - actually, not remotely sorry. Here's the episode they wrote to annoy Mary Waterhouse (he's playing the BBC announcer again, of course). Rather prescient in several respects.

"Finale with added Daleks"
Cos if you're going to revamp the effects, you might as well go whole-hog and throw in lots more Daleks while you're at it.

(Ahem. Special edition clip here, original here for comparison purposes. You can see that they're rather different and one of them had got Nick Briggs trotting out his ring modulator.)

"The Outer Limits documentary"
You can find his episode "Soldier" for yourselves, but there's a short clip in an otherwise very silly documentary of Harlan Ellison chatting about his solider-going-back-in-time premise. If you take out the Doctor, it's quite the same sort of plot...oh, and one of John Barrowman's fanbase features in this clip as well.

"Willy Wonka"
 Aubrey Woods when he's not sniveling. Although there's certain similarities with his trying to win over Jo's heart and soul by stuffing her silly.

(Yours truly has never been fond of Mike Yates, due in large part to his completely pointless cheese-stealing shenanigans here. It's like they wanted us to guess he might turn evil later on and decided to leave an obvious hint only to forget all about it for two seasons.)

"The Incredible Robert Baldick"
Peter Davison's older brother stars in Terry Nation's exercise in steampunk. Aired later that same year, once Nation had finished doing episodes of "The Persuaders" for Roger Moore (he was far too busy to tackle a Doctor Who episode himself, which is why another writer got to do the Daleks' return. Rather a pain for the rewrites, though). If you can stand Nation's generic scripts at all then his bog-standard country yokels n' evil storyline will be mostly tolerable, and there's some amusingly wacky ideas to spice it up (our hero has a personal steam train that can run on any railroad gauge, which is inexpressibly exciting if you know anything about Victorian train problems...doesn't thrill your blood? Well, it was also built for a Russian tsar and has an exciting science-y laboratory. At the very least it's a hoot looking at the countryside supposedly flashing past when the train's moving.) The line about "yfel" in Middle English is quite right, too. Besides all which, there's a perfectly random easter egg about eight minutes in.

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