|Originally Broadcast 29th October 1977|
Written by: Chris Boucher
This episode broadcasts a nice change of pace in contrast to most serials as the Doctor and Leela don’t really play an important part nor do they appear in the story much. Personally, I usually like this when it turns up once in a while for a change, but here, it does work for a while but not for the majority of the episode. They should’ve begun playing more of a significant role around fifteen minutes rather than stretching it for the full first episode.
That said, we’re introduced to some decent characters in this episode, they’re pretty easy to spot character traits for, yet the settings are all the same, providing a bit of a dull direction after a while. The main problem with this episode lies in the lack of locations and the directing. I think (director) George Spenton-Foster is wonderfully experimental with his opening shot and lying one image on top of another, yet it doesn’t really pan out on the low-level television budget. It is clear to tell what he wants, however, and if you imagine that the directing is great, he’s got a real mind for what to do. Sadly, due to the restraints at the time it doesn’t really pan out, with a lot of the camera choices looking still and a bit boring to the casual viewer. I’d argue that based on this episode alone, Spenton-Foster is ahead of his time in the television field.
The Doctor and Leela get some nice interaction sequences when they’re used, there’s a fun scene in the TARDIS with a broken down K-9 and a slightly wonky TARDIS console, providing a few laughs for the younger audience, as does Leela’s motive later on in the episode with the running theme of attacking people, as is her custom.
The fact most of this episode’s key scenes take place at night makes for some amazing atmospheric shots both on the interior and exterior of the building. Little fact, the house used was owned by Mick Jagger and is the same location used for filming some exterior shots from The Pyramids Of Mars two years previous. The fog light mixes really well with the lighting and that is what succeeds in this episode. We have a somewhat good director, a pretty ok script with a decent set of characters, but it’s the atmosphere of the piece that really makes this episode it’s own, standing it above others. It’s not hard to believe this is the series that gave us Horror Of Fang Rock, another fantastically atmospheric piece.
As I’m about to enter part two, hopefully the problems will be ironed out, with a bit more depth to the plot, some more scenes of Tom and Louise doing what they do best and that wonderful tone kept up.