Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Leisure Hive (Part One)

Originally Broadcast 30th August 1980
Written by: David Fisher

From Brighton Beach to the planet Argolis, this episode is brimming with unusual direction choices from newcomer Lovett Bickford. It’s nice to see some new styles making their way into the show as, after all, it relies on change, but sadly, most of Bickford’s choices don’t really work here. We open with a 90-second pan across Brighton Beach, which is just wrong, as it ends up being far too long. There’s a long zoom out as we leave the beach as well that’s held for a ridiculous time. I’m not sure who the blame falls on, either Bickford isn’t great or his editor is completely useless.

Moving onto the script provided by Fisher and it’s a complete mess. There can’t have been much importance to the script otherwise we couldn’t afford to watch a 90 second pan shot and if we ignore this shot, you can play a game of ‘count the clich├ęs’. We get characters talking into their radio-rings (came up with the name myself) with lines such as “Character X, you are needed in command bay” with a repeat of it and a “Understood, I’m on my way” as well as spoon feeding some awful lines of dialogue such as “But you’re the chairman”, which is followed by “Yes and she will be the next one when I die”.

The Doctor and Romana get a bit sidelined in the episode as well, which isn’t always a bad thing (it works well in Full Circle later this year), but here it isn’t good, mainly because when they don’t get sidelined they don’t actually do anything bar stand about listening to a lecture about some scientific thing the audience don’t have any knowledge or interest in. They finally get to have some fun around the twenty-minute mark, letting Tom off the reins for a minute or two, but that’s all. It’s surprising to see how toned down the new production team have made Baker and I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for a viewer to settle into this episode having come straight out of works like Nightmare On Eden and The Creature From The Pit where Tom is barking mad.

Looking for a good story? On Brighton Beach

Combining all the problems of this episode together (directing, writing, editing), I think it’s safe to skip the first five or six minutes of this episode and still find it as useful as the overall twenty-three. Nothing really happens for a while, the first scene on Brighton is meant as a fun little way of finding the series after it’s summer break. It works as far as the first shot of the Doctor, lifting his hat up, but other than that it’s a clear ‘murder’ scene only written in to ditch the ever-unreliable K-9. I’m not sure it was actually worth John Leeson coming back after a year’s absence for that scene?

The last small comment I’ll make before moving onto the second of four episodes, is the cast, for the most part, are pretty spectacular and probably the most entertaining thing about the episode, even more so if you put the dvd on ‘mute’ to cut out the dialogue. Just make up your own, it might be more interesting!

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