Part three in the Key to Time series of stories.
It begins with a spinning Tardis, a model suspended with fishing wire. In another scene the two segments of the key already acquired clack like blocks of perspex when brought together. Then the key detector rod is slot into the Tardis’s bank, clearly it’s a perspex rod being slid down into a wooden hole. Then, inside the stone circle, the Druidic worshippers come together and as they withdraw, one of them accidentally bumps into one of the main stones and does a double take to ensure that the prop is not about to fall over. And again, a little later we see K-9 struggle to move along the tall grass (and we thought British Rail was the only one with problems).
Yes unashamedly I’m watching classic Doctor Who from 1978 on dvd and I’m literally having the time of my life (pun accidental). The story is in four parts, the dialogue is funny, the acting a bit stilted but please believe me when I say that despite these flaws I’m thoroughly enjoying sci-fi history. Doctor Who is the bees-knees of British television, a true gift from the BBC. I’m aware that it was originally made on a budget that would just about mend a broken shoe but it had everything good drama should contain to keep the viewer glued to the set.
Good stories require time to develop character and plot, and space to allow the mystery to unfold. We rarely see this in Doctor Who today, episodes are rushed into an hour because there’s an unfounded belief that viewers are incapable of watching a story of three episodes or more. I clearly disagree with this as viewers go to cinema to watch films of two hours plus. Ironically, soap operas, which get criticised for being crap quality television are great examples of plots slowly unfolding and how characters gradually come to life (do you not wonder why Coronation Street and Eastenders win awards each year? There is definitely some great writing going on there).
Now I’m off on one
Despite the continued tradition of including beautiful actors and dramatic music, Doctor Who today relies more on end-of-the-world scenarios to keep an audience drawn in and I’m surprised that we’re still being exposed to the Doctor’s back story of being the sole surviving Gallifreyan, to endless glam assistants who fall in love with him (quick pass me the bucket!) or that he’s about to die…zzzzzz. I think some people have forgotten that his previous incarnations have included eccentricity/madness in the form of Patrick Troughton or a rather cold Doctor in the form of the glamourous Colin Baker. So now the producers feel that the Doctor should have some romance in his life (one of the reasons why I also didn’t enjoy Torchwood with its sex/kissing etc – I get enough of this in my real life why whould I want to see it depcted on a sci-fi show? – sorry for that final bit). Well perhaps they should actually consider a gay Doctor or even a female Doctor (my favourite and why not who say we can’t have one?)!
I also feel that the people behind the modern Doctor Who need to find a balance between having beautiful people and telling strong stories. It needs to take a good look at its audience and realise that the programme’s viewers includes people my age (that’s a little over 40) and I won’t apologise for saying that. From my personal point of view, I have found many modern DW stories poor/dull, certainly lacking in mystery, especially fear (although Blink was an exception and a joy to watch the monster’s scare factor was completely spoiled when we encountered them second time around as we could see them move).
Even the new Daleks look like they’ve been produced by Renault and the Cybermen sound a little like the depressed robot from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. And what’s this about the sonic screwdriver being all whizzy and fixing things it normally wouldn’t touch?…Surely this gadbet has become a plot device to open a door when perhaps the person behind it…should just die?
Now this wasn’t meant to be a rant about a show I love (‘cos that’s so easy to do) but I do believe that one should do something positive to counter the negative if one has something on their mind, so I did. Last year I wrote a letter of complaint to the Beeb (never done that before or since) about the show divulging my angst about the lack of mystery, incessant kissing/lovey-dovey nonsense and single episode stories. I then wrote the first part of my own Doctor Who story and synopsis (on the off-chance that someone might be interested in seeing this please drop me a line). It made me feel better doing these things because I know full well that there are many good writers out there who can contribute to the show and related merchandise but don’t have the means of reaching the producers of the show as unsolicited material to the Beeb isn’t welcome. End of rant.
Back to where I started
The Stones of Blood highlights for me the wonders of story telling, bits of the puzzle are shown gradually until you fianlly understand what’s going on and one sees a successful resolution. Some of the scenes that depict the outdoors are clearly done on set but that doesn’t matter because it conveys an eerie studio silence that incredibly adds to the atmosphere. I know that big granite boulders look funny moving around on their own and then knocking through polystyrene walls but that’s the fun of the show…
…rant – today’s show can’t get away with that sort of thing but I do feel that its makers have sacrificed really solid storylines for romances and soppiness. You know, it would be great if the producers could extend the stories over three or four episodes to show just how good their team of writers are, you would earn my respect for doing that. End of rant.
Tom Baker and Mary Tamm, with no flourishing romance between their characters, are about to solve the puzzle in the final (fourth) episode and I can’t wait. Perhaps then I’ll go and watch The Armaggedon Factor (no relation of course to the ITV series of talentless muckwits).