Monday, February 02, 2015

After A New Doctor, We Have A New Companion – The Rescue

For me this is the week after “Death in Heaven” and I can finally get to go back to Hartnell, something I've wanted to do before Capaldi debuted.

We have our first companion change. Even today that sounds quite noteworthy, but this one is possibly one of the biggest things to happen to Who. This is the point where the producers decided that the show was bigger than the actors. If one of the travelling companions wants to leave, well off you pop. We'll just replace you. That thinking even stretches to the Doctor in a few years when Hartnell's illness got to the stage where he really couldn't play him anymore.

With Susan staying on Earth with her new love, we have the first replacement and out of the gate we're already in the far future as Vicki hails from the 25th Century, Zoe's 21st century pales in comparison – and doesn't feel as silly either. Vicki's set-up as a lone survivor of a spaceship crashlanding, leaving her an orphan with nowhere to go is obvious in it's stance that the BBC were being careful that The Doctor wasn't taking away anyone from their home. The show makes it quite clear that she has nothing left any more, and Ian, Barbara and the Doctor are doing her a favour by taking her on-board.

As a result of them making this clear, we get what is perhaps the most in-depth character piece the show has had yet. We got introduced to the original four all at once. Barbara and Ian are modern day teachers, Susan's an 'Unearthly Child' and her grumpy grandad. Everything else slowly eked out of the show. Vicki comes with a lot of the minor details filled in. However, she certainly seems to be cut from the same cloth as Susan, all young, vulnerable and naïve.

That said she seems like she might be a better fit for the crew, and I can't wait to see if the removal of the one defining factor of Susan – his granddaughter – removes the main issue of Susan. We're not off to a good start though, as the Doctor's dialogue with her has him treating Vicki like a five year old child. If this keeps up I'm not sure how long I will last in this era.

The twist is pretty obvious, but pretty unique for back then, especially in Doctor Who that has always pulled the Monster card quite readily. The fact 'the monster' spoke at all amazed me, though in retrospect it was human, so maybe not. The idea of Vicki being kept alive by the psychopath just to corroborate his story is a bit of sick one, and I was disappointed at the reveal the alien race wasn't completely dead, mainly because it was totally out of left field. They were also just out and out human, with similar funky dress sense to the Thals for “The Daleks”.

But the Doctor recognising the ceremonial wear and never once letting Ian and Barbara in on it is sign of things to come. The Doctor Lies, even all the way back in the original season 2. As soon as Ian described that, the Doctor was on to the trickery, and his outright curiosity when searching Bennett's room was great. Especially in contrast to the start of the episode that has him all out of sorts and almost not interested in flying. It puts even more emphasis on that it's the introduction of Barbara and Ian, and the disappearance of Susan that turns the Doctor into 'The Doctor'.

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