January 28th, 2007

tardis

Doctor Who: Season 26

Regular readers will be aware that I have been feasting my eyes on much of the early Doctor Who which was broadcast before I was born, or old enough to really take it in, and very much enjoying it. In the spirit of experiment, therefore, I have also started watching the classic Who stories broadcast after I had stopped watching - spurred to do this partly because of fannish muttering about how the final season was really much better than what had gone before, and such a shame the Beeb decided to cancel the series then.

The four stories of Season 26 were broadcast in late 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell and revolution swept Eastern Europe. Times were changing, and Doctor Who feels now like part of the old regime struggling to adapt to new demands for a new era. The programme's makers made a better fist of it than any of the Communist leaderships of Eastern Europe, but it was not enough.

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tardis

Give or Take a Million

I said to F this afternoon that I would watch his choice of episode from classic Thunderbirds, and he picked one called Give or Take a Million. It turns out to be a Christmas episode (1966), with most of the story related by the International Rescue team to their guest, a child who has won the random draw for Christmas dinner at Tracy Island. The plot, such as it is, revolves around two bank robbers trying to exploit a rocket delivery of Christmas presents for their own sinister purposes.

It is great. There are some masterly bits of Thunderbirds filming, with many scenes cutting seamlessly between someone's hand picking something up, and then the puppet character holding it; and there's a brilliant moment when one of the robbers slides through the hole they have cut in the wall on an overhead cable. (I was straining to see - did they lock the puppet in place, and shove him through? Or was the hole in the wall actually open at the top to allow for the strings?)

I couldn't help but compare and contrast with the most recent episode of Doctor Who, shown exactly 40 years later, which also had a Christmassy theme. And to my delight, right at the very end, Brains pulls the same trick as the Doctor does at the end of The Runaway Bride - he makes it snow!

Checking up on the net to finish this post, I discovered that this was actually the last ever episode broadcast of the original Thunderbirds series. Well, unlike some, they went out on a high.