Monday, 22 July 2013

The Highlanders (Episode 4)

Originally Broadcast 7th January 1967

Written by: Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis

In a nutshell: After Ben escapes from the Redcoats, he reunites with the Doctor and Polly to help save the Laird.

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: I’ve lost count of the disguises the Doctor has used since he regenerated but I must admit it’s getting a bit tiresome. I want to see who this Doctor is not see him pretending to be a host of different people. I like the new Doctor to have quirks to be introduced at first and slowly phased out, but it distracts from who this Doctor is.

Finally our heroes are all reunited and the Doctor gets to put his old clothes back on. It’s been so long since he’s been himself even Polly has to comment on it, which works very nicely for the audio aspect of this episode. The Doc also gets to repeat his want for “a hat like that”. I’m glad these bits get phased out in the same manner as the McCoy Doctor’s misuse of popular sayings did with speed. They work to introduce the character but afterward become an annoyance.

Another disguise for the Doctor.
I commented on how great the last episode is but I think it was just a miraculous jump in quality for the one episode as this time we’re back to padding out and wasting time, getting all our characters to the same place to have a showdown. Sadly this takes over half the episode to get there and once we get to the fight the lack of visuals lessens the impact of what happens and becomes fairly confusing. I do feel like this would be a strong and effective scene to actually watch, making it even more of a shame we don’t have it. There are very few action sequences in 1960s Doctor Who and, sadly, I think most of these appear in missing episodes. We have this one, some more in ‘The Smugglers’ (some of which is visible in the surviving footage) and another in ‘Marco Polo’ between the title character and Tegana that spring to mind instantly.

Frazer Hines as Jamie doesn’t strike an impression with me in this serial, which is why I haven’t spoken about him yet. He goes on to become my favourite companion of all and his relationship with the Doctor is just perfect, but in this episode he doesn’t do anything. He just feels like another character who doesn’t get anything to do or say, which, I suppose, he is. I’m not sure what made the production team pull him out from the crowd and keep him for the next few episodes but I’m certainly glad they did!

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