Thursday 4 November 2010

Planet Of Fire

The Doctor and Turlough meet a cute American girl in Lanzarote and the Master has yet another cunning plan (this time subject to the law of diminishing returns).

The best word to describe this story is glossy. Its definitely on the better end of the Davison era, but I can't help thinking that it is more about style than substance, that common failing of the JNT era.

The most notable element of this story is the introduction of Peri. The idea of Peri was that she would appeal to American viewers by having an American accent (which unfortunately Nicola Bryant was unable to portray in any convincing form) and male viewers everywhere by wearing less than modest outfits. In her first story, Peri is actually quite good and lacks the annoying qualities she later developes. Its easy to dislike Peri, but she can be appreciated if you give her the chance. Characters like hers are actually more interesting than companions who adore the Doctor, like Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith.

This story has two settings, Lanzarote and the planet Sarn. The former features some great location shooting and allows the viewer the opportunity to see Peri in a bikini. Other than introducing Peri, the Lanzarote setting does not actually play much of a role in developing the plot. The volcanic, desert planet of Sarn also features some nice camerawork, even if its society is not very well sketched. Superstitious people who want to sacrifice people to their god are not exactly original in Dr Who.

The resolution of the Turlough subplot is a bit anti-climatic. Turlough gets to be the great leader he was always destined to be; but he was probably more interesting when he was cowardly and sinister.

Master stories are so tedious. We are treated to yet another dastardly scheme. At least he looks good in the suit he wears, rather better than the Ainsley Master's usual Shakespearean outfit. It probably would have been better for all of us if he really had been killed at the end.

Kamelion was one of the more unfortunate ideas of the series, in that the production team were unable to operate him after the death of his creator. In this story they resort to turning him into a silver humanoid bloke, which is less than convincing. Kamelion's death does not inspire much feeling from the viewer because we have seen so little of him.

The most fun part of the story is when Peri discovers the shrunken Master and chases him with her shoe. Very camp. They probably should have made that scene last a bit longer than it did.

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