Skip to main content

Sawbones! For that ye’ll die! I’m coming for ye!


Doctor Who
The Smugglers: Episode Four


This episode probably suffers the most from being audio/reconstruction-only, as it’s much more action-orientated. It’s also more orientated towards the supporting cast than the crew; Ben and Polly mess about in and out of tunnels while the Doctor stands firm as he faces up to Cherub then Pike.


The Squire is curiously rehabilitated. He claims he “was a fool and ill-led” after being shot by Cherub, and comments later that the Doctor has showed him the error of his ways. The Doctor insists on remaining to help the injured Squire rather than heading off to the TARDIS. Is forgiveness in the eyes of the Doctor absolution enough? There’s no suggestion that Blake intends to seek justice against him (“Thank you, Squire. The Day is ours”). Yet it was a direct consequence of his actions that Ben and Polly languished in jail awaiting execution for Holy Joe’s murder. The story seems to consider it enough that he “never spent blood” in his villainy; indeed there’s a bit of a discussion over degrees of roguishness between Pike and the Squire.


Blake takes a good while mustering the militia before arriving with them on the beach in time to aid Polly and Ben (one of the pirates felled is the Spaniard, played by Derek Ware). Ben’s again identified as a bit of a bruiser, this time keen to get back to the action in the crypt with Blake. He also gets to deliver the groaner “Polly, put the kettle on” which elicits a sound from Polly that should probably have been expressed as “Fuck right off”.


The pirates spend a fair amount of time knocking back the grog in the churchyard rather than obeying their Captain. Whose confrontation with the now out-for-himself Cherub is probably one of the highlights of the episode. If we could see it. I thought Julia Smith’s direction in The Underwater Menace Episode Three was pretty decent, at any rate.


Pike: I never did trust that tongue of yours, Cherub. It was a mite too like the archangels’.

As before, the Doctor is resolutely non-plussed with Pike. He looks to change the terms of their bargain, requesting that he leaves the village be in return for Avery’s gold. And by the time he’s deduced the location of the booty, resulting in Pike scrabbling around in a hole (he finds some pearls, at any rate), Blake has turned up. And shoots him before Pike can carry out his threat.

Pike: Sawbones! For that ye’ll die! I’m coming for ye!


About Timesuggests that the Doctor may succumb to the curse of Avery’s gold in the following story. He does comment that he is “exhausted, but otherwise all right” when he is back at the TARDIS. I like his expansive comment to Polly in this regard.


The Doctor: Yes, superstition is a strange thing, my dear. But sometimes it tells the truth.


And again, we have it impressed on the new companions that the Doctor has no control of the TARDIS. Ben thinks that wherever they end up it can’t be as bad as there. The Doctor replies that it could be a great deal worse. And obviously something’s on the blink, as the inside of the TARDIS is susceptible to the cold of the South Pole.  I’d assumed that next story lead-ins were mostly a thing of the past by this point, but only three in the season don’t end on some form of cliffhanger (The Highlanders, The Macra Terror and The Evil of the Daleks).



Overall Story:


Is this the best penultimate story for a Doctor?  They’re a bit of a rum (ARRRRRR!) bunch, but I reckon so. It’s a bonus that there’s no intimation (other than his closing scene, perhaps) that the Doctor is on his last legs and, unlike the next story (where Hartnell was apparently employed as a guest artist), he’s not being sidelined by a pensive production team. I’m sure the story would have played even broader had it been a Troughton tale, but it ranks as a neglected gem for me. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I don’t need to be held together, I’m fine just floating through space like Andy.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Or, to give it its full subtitle, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – The Story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. Carrey’s in a contradictory place just now, on the one hand espousing his commitment to a spiritual path and enlightened/ing state, on the other being sued in respect of his ex-girlfriend’s suicide and accompanying allegations regarding his behaviour. That behaviour – in a professional context – and his place of consciousness are the focus of Jim & Andy, and an oft-repeated mantra (great for motivational speeches) that “I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you may as well do what you love. There’s really no choice to be made”. The results are consequently necessarily contradictory, but always fascinating.

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Exit bear, pursued by an actor.

Paddington 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Paddington 2 is every bit as upbeat and well-meaning as its predecessor. It also has more money thrown at it, a much better villain (an infinitely better villain) and, in terms of plotting, is more developed, offering greater variety and a more satisfying structure. Additionally, crucially, it succeeds in offering continued emotional heft and heart to the Peruvian bear’s further adventures. It isn’t, however, quite as funny.

Even suggesting such a thing sounds curmudgeonly, given the universal applause greeting the movie, but I say that having revisited the original a couple of days prior and found myself enjoying it even more than on first viewing. Writer-director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby introduce a highly impressive array of set-ups with huge potential to milk their absurdity to comic ends, but don’t so much squander as frequently leave them undertapped.

Paddington’s succession of odd jobs don’t quite escalate as uproariously as they migh…

No, by the sky demon! I say no!

Doctor Who The Pirate Planet
I doubt Pennant Roberts, popular as he undoubtedly was with the cast, was anyone’s idea of a great Doctor Who director. Introduced to the show by Philip Hinchliffe – a rare less-than-sterling move – he made a classic story on paper (The Face of Evil) just pretty good, and proceeded to translate Robert Holmes’ satirical The Sun Makers merely functionally. When he returned to the show during the ‘80s, he was responsible for two entirely notorious productions, in qualitative terms. But The Pirate Planet is the story where his slipshod, rickety, make-do approach actually works… most of the time (look at the surviving footage of Shada, where there are long passages of straight narrative, and it’s evident Roberts wasn’t such a good fit). Douglas Adams script is so packed, both with plot and humour, that its energy is inbuilt; there’s no need to rely on a craftsman to imbue tension or pace. There is a caveat, of course: if your idea of Doctor Who requires a straig…

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …

This place sure isn’t like that one in Austria.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Brawl in Cell Block 99 is most definitely cut from the same cloth as writer-director-co-composer Craig S Zahler’s previous flick Bone Tomahawk: an inexorable, slow-burn suspenser that works equally well as a character drama. That is, when it isn’t revelling in sporadic bursts of ultraviolence, including a finale in a close-quartered pit of hell. If there’s nothing quite as repellent as that scene in Bone Tomahawk, it’s never less than evident that this self-professedchild of Fangoria” loves his grue. He also appears to have a predilection for, to use his own phraseology, less politically correct content.

We’re not in a prophecy… We’re in a stolen Toyota Corolla.

Bright (2017)
(SPOILERS) Is Bright shite? The lion’s share of the critics would have you believe so, including a quick-on-the-trigger Variety, which gave it one of the few good reviews but then pronounced it DOA in order to announce their intention for Will Smith to run for the Oval Office (I’m sure he’ll take it under advisement). I don’t really see how the movie can’t end up as a “success”; most people who have Netflix will at least be curious about an all-new $90m movie with a (waning, but only because he’s keeps making bad choices) major box office star. As to whether it’s any good, Bright’s about on a level with most of director David Ayer’s movies, in that it’s fast, flashy and fitfully entertaining, but also very muddled, mixed-up and, no matter how much cash is thrown at it, still resembles the kind of thing that usually ends up straight to video (making Netflix his ideal home).

This is how we do action in Uganda.

Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
Uganda’s first action movie”, Who Killed Captain Alex? is a cheerfully ultra-low budget, wholly amateur picture made by Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey. It’s the kind of thing you and your mates would make and (rightly) expect no one else to ever watch (aside from a few hundred hits on YouTube). But stick a frequently hilarious running commentary over the top from VJ (video joker) Emme, and it this home-ish move takes on something approaching the spoofy quality of What’s Up Tiger Lilly?

Nothing in the world can stop me now!

This is not going to go the way you think!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
(SPOILERS) The most interesting aspect of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, particularly given the iron fist Lucasfilm has wielded over the spinoffs, is how long a leash Rian Johnson has been granted to tear apart the phonier, Original Trilogy-lite aspects of The Force Awakens. The resulting problem is that the areas where he’s evidently inspired are very good (almost anything Force related, basically), but there are consequently substantial subplots that simply don’t work, required as they are to pay lip service to characters or elements he feels have nowhere to go. The positives undoubtedly tip the balance significantly in The Last Jedi’s favour, but they also mean it hasn’t a hope of attaining the all-round status of IV and V (still the out-of-reach grail for the franchise, quality-wise). Which is a shame, as thematically, this has far more going on, handled with far greater acumen, than anything in the interim.