Monday, 15 July 2013

The Highlanders (Episode 2)

Originally Broadcast 24th December 1966

Written by: Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis

In a nutshell: The Doctor tries to escape from the dungeons.

NB. As this episode is missing from the BBC archives, this review is based upon the surviving audio book narrated by Frazer Hines and the photo-novels from DWM’s recent Missing Episodes special.

Review: Oh look, I was right! It was Kirsty who found Polly at the end of episode one and therefore no need for a cliffhanger. Sadly the episode isn’t doing them any favours as it opens to Kirsty falling into the hole to try and save Polly. It all feels a bit ‘kids cartoon’ due to this until the Redcoats appear. Even Polly asks whether the women of this period do anything but cry, even she’s feeling the disappointment! This scene is a bit misleading, I thought the Lieutenant stopped and ordered his horse because he’d found the two girls, not by pure chance. How on Earth did he manage to stop right where the girls were? It’s another silly coincidence for this serial, like Ben firing the gun by mistake in the previous episode.

Troughton’s on form in this episode as he’s imprisoned. I hate when the Doctor gets captured for an episode in the classic era but here he’s got an audience and makes the most of the moment, giving some fun for the audience. I really feel from this story that Troughton’s new Doctor is definitely aimed more at the kids than the adults as he seemingly doesn’t take a lot of things seriously. I don’t really think much of Ben though, he’s just a bit irritating in this episode and is left with all the crap dialogue that doesn’t really need to be heard. I feel for Michael Craze because I love him and what he did with the part but there’s just nothing to help him in this episode.

The scene between the Doctor and Grey is so easy to listen to, it’s without a doubt the best scene from the story so far. It just flows well, with both actors doing a fine job before Troughton has another chance to be let loose on the script and attacks Grey before having a bit of fun with Perkins’ eyesight. I love the slapstick comedy element he introduces, asking Perkins if he suffers from headaches before thumping him on the head to ensure he does now.

I’m starting to think both companions are underused in this episode. Polly doesn’t really do much yet manages to escape from the hole she fell into. Bar that, there isn’t really any development going on for her and, like I said earlier, Ben just doesn’t have any material beyond standing up for the Doctor once in a while when the writer feels he needs to say something. Nevertheless this episode is so much stronger than the first instalment and gives the Doctor more fun activities to do to amuse the audience although it's not exactly Christmas Eve material I think...

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