Monday, May 04, 2015

Back to Three - Carnival of Monsters

Yes, we are back with Pertwee. As much as I’m enjoying Baker and Leela, and had intended to stick with her for her entire run, I hit a bit of a hitch. See I’m way ahead on my audio listening. I’ve actually nearly finished Charley’s time with Six, nevermind Eight, and one of the last audios in that series has connections to “Frontier in Space”.

So in order to keep Charley on track, I’m derailing Leela. Besides Weng Chiang was not only the end of that particular season, but the end of Hinchcliffe’s time as Producer. I’d already earmarked it as point of a potential Doctor switch before I settled on my schedule. With the added audio wrinkle, well, on with Pertwee!

Carnival of Monsters is notable for the reason that it’s the very next serial after The Three Doctors. In other words, the Doctor has full control of the TARDIS again. Well, at least as much as he ever does. It’s a return to the tried and tested formula of the Doctor and companions travelling the universe and stumbling into problems they then help resolve.

Carnival addresses that full force with the Doctor believing they’ve arrived in some distant corner of the galaxy, only for Jo to point out that they’re still on Earth, or at least that they appear to be. I love the way Pertwee just outright refuses to believe he could have got it that wrong, and it’s with good reason too. They aren’t on Earth, just a ship stolen from there. They are in the another part of the universe, and trapped in a shrunken cage as part of the titular carnival.

But this is also Jo becoming a regular companion sitting on the TARDIS instead of operating out of UNIT base, and perhaps the most obvious thing here is that this doesn’t even address that. It’s almost business as normal here. I know it’s not her first trip off world, or even to the strangeness of the Doctor’s world, but I’d have thought that she’s now onboard permanently would at least draw at least one comment.

Other than that, I’m not sure I have a whole lot to add about Carnival. For some reason it’s generally regarded as one of the best Pertwee stories ever. I have no idea how it ended up on this list. I went and had a quick read as to why it has this moniker. From what I can gather, it does things that are a bit unusual for the Pertwee era, but are staples of Doctor Who as a whole. It certainly does. I wouldn’t expect to see Vorg in any other serial of his.

However, I think my jumping around has neutered that effect, and instead it’s a pretty standard serial that for me doesn’t manage anything really new. Though the solution of the timeloop cliche is fantastic. Rather than try and knock the time loop out, the Doctor wanders off and just ignores it as he works on resolving the problem, or Jo’s outright mocking of it.

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