FRONTIER IN SPACE
Never seen this until last night, and pretty much loved it. Had always thought it would be dull-as-toast captured/escape nonsense - but it's really good, in that it's actually *about* being locked up with no idea of what's going on, rather than "Take them away!" plot filler.
It even looks lovely - Paul Bernard does a great job as director - there's even composition. He's trying trying sooooo hard. Even the President of Earth comes across as a character (love her conducting intergalactic war while having her hair done and glugging through a bottle of wine).
It's all so cool. Pertwee is really entertaining throughout, with genuinely witty asides ("How embarrasing," he sighs when caught escaping for the first time). He sails through the Mind Probe scene. It makes a nice change to have such casual torture, with the Doctor sat back chuckling as the state torturer (in a silver ball gown!) "takes the power up to twelve".
Huge respect too for Jo. She makes a great companion for the Doctor, and an even better one for the Master. Delgado is obviously great, but it's Jo who wins when he swoops down on her booming "You will obey me! You will obey me!" and she gives a little girly shake of the head.
Unfortunately, the wheels come off in episode four. There's an epic sense of conspiracy created, and we're aware of the Earth Government coming to war with Draconia and itself. There's a sinister outside force manipulating the two empires, and a moon full of political prisoners just waiting to be freed.... And then, well, characters just start being tidied up. Poor old Professor Dale is marched off into a year's solitary confinement without chocolate ... and never heard of again.
Major Williams, a really interesting character, who, we're always being told "started a war with the Draconians", suddenly talks this through with the Draconian Prince and discovers its all been a misunderstanding about opening gun ports as a matter of respect. Eh? Did no one even think to talk this through before Dr Who turned up in his unusual velvet/corduroy suit? Did Babylon 5 steal this whole plot?
By episode six, it's all a mess. How did this happen? It was all going so well, and then the Master's plot/counter-plot unravels. He makes Jo dig her way out of prison with a spoon, luring her to the control room, just so that he can switch on a homing beacon to alert the Doctor to his whereabouts. The Master then orders the Ogrons to hide themselves in the base. Then changes his mind, and has them patrol the planet's surface. The Doctor immediately knows it's a trap - Jo has enough trouble with UNIT's Top Secret filing. How could she (bless her) set up a homing beacon?
Then there's the completely pointless Ogron God Bouncy Castle. And, uh, the Daleks....
GOLD DALEK'S DIARY:
Today we left our Secret Army Base on the planet of Spiridon. (Whoopsie, must stop blurting that out!) We then crossed the void beyond the mind to the Planet of the Ogrons. Then we gloated. Then we traversed the empty circle outside time and were back at our Secret Army Base on the planet of Spiridon in time for tea.
Unimportant soldiers exterminated: 3 (vg)
Important enemies (who could really wreck our plans if they discovered the location of our Secret Army Base) exterminated: 0 (vb)
PS: May have told Dr Who location of our Secret Army Base. Can't remember.
PPS: Dalek Supreme has taken the last of my Deadly Sins Magnums from the freezer. Hate him.
It all ends in the least comprehensible way possible. Were there serious issues in the edit suite? One minute the Doctor and Jo are alone in the control room. The next they're surrounded by Ogrons and the Master. They rassle. A gun goes off. The Doctor falls to the ground. The Doctor and Jo are *immeditately* alone in the control room again. What happened there? Where did the Master go?
I just don't understand - it was very nearly Adult Drama with Interesting Situations and Characters. It ended up with a bunch of Ogrons in alarming Black-And-White-Minstrel make-up running around squawking "Lawks a mercy!". How? It's like a mid-air collision between Curse of Fenric and the Happiness Patrol.