Friday, 12 August 2011

The Powerful Enemy

Originally Broadcast 2nd January 1965
Episode One of: The Rescue

Written by: David Whitaker

This episode is where the series is ‘shaken up’ a bit, as we’re still reeling from the loss of the first TARDIS companion, Susan, in the previous episode.
Because of this we get a true sense of continuity between stories, which is a fantastic change for the script.
The episode itself is great for a number of little reasons and one major reason, that being William Hartnell who gives a grand performance. You can really see his grief over the departure of Susan, it’s not something he can get over. Despite some poor moments of dialogue from Whitaker, such as the Doctor about to talk to an absent granddaughter, Hartnell performs it with ease, he’s believable and that’s what makes his Doctor so perfect.

It’s easy to site Ray Cusick as one of the greatest set designers of the show, as he arguably the most famous, but these sets are pretty nicely designed. You can see this is more the ‘cheap filler’ story, but Cusick has taken time over certain sets. Some look worse than others, it’s obvious there’s a backdrop behind Vicki’s spaceship and the prop of the oiled handle doesn’t really pull off too well, and the same can be said for the ‘spikes’ that are pushing Ian toward the ledge at the finale, but overall the sets are nice, well done and you can tell, despite it being clearly on a budget, that Cusick is an expert in his field.

One of the better aspects of this episode is Ian and the Doctor. This was at a time when it was more a ‘group of heroes’ rather than ‘The Doctor and stereotype companion’, as here Ian and the Doctor almost seem like a double act, injecting a lot of comedy into the script but also not sending the show up, giving nice little touches that shows a real bond between the group since their first adventure all that time ago.

Koquillion isn’t the best-designed costume in the world but it isn’t a total disaster. The problem with him is, is that you can see it’s a man in a rubber mask. If either the mouth moved when he spoke, they’d called in a specialist to provide the villainous voice and didn’t have him look so humanoid with the effortless ‘chuck a black robe on’ to finish the costume he would seem more powerful.

Personally, despite this being a story to ‘bridge the gap’ and provide a new companion between The Dalek Invasion Of Earth and The Romans on a tight budget, it’s very simple, effective and nicely done by all parts of the production team. A great first episode.

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