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

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You're not only wrong. You're wrong at the top of your voice.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
I’ve seen comments suggesting that John Sturges’ thriller hasn’t aged well, which I find rather mystifying. Sure, some of the characterisations border on the cardboard, but the director imbues the story with a taut, economical backbone. 

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

It looks like we’ve got another schizoid embolism!

Total Recall (1990)
(SPOILERS) Paul Verhoeven offered his post-mortem on the failures of the remakes of Total Recall (2012) and Robocop (2013) when he suggested “They take these absurd stories and make them too serious”. There may be something in this, but I suspect the kernel of their issues is simply filmmakers without either the smarts or vision, or both, to make something distinctive from the material. No one would have suggested the problem with David Cronenberg’s prospective Total Recall was over-seriousness, yet his version would have been far from a quip-heavy Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars (as he attributes screenwriter Ron Shusset’s take on the material). Indeed, I’d go as far as saying not only the star, but also the director of Total Recall (1990) were miscast, making it something of a miracle it works to the extent it does.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

I am you, and you are me, and we are here. I am the dreamer. You are the dream.

Communion (1989)
(SPOILERS) Whitley Strieber’s Communion: A True Story was published in 1987, at which point the author (who would also pen Communion’s screenplay) had seen two of his novels adapted for the cinema (Wolfen and The Hunger), so he could hardly claim ignorance of the way Hollywood – or filmmaking generally – worked. So why then, did he entrust the translation of a highly personal work, an admission of/ confrontation with hidden demons/ experiences, to the auteur who unleashed Howling II and The Marsupials: Howling III upon an undeserving world? The answer seems to be that Strieber already knew director Philippe Mora, and the latter was genuinely interested in the authors’ uncanny encounters. Which is well and good and honourable, but the film entirely fails to deliver the stuff of cinematic legend. Except maybe in a negative sense.

Strieber professes dismay at the results, citing improvised scenes and additional themes, and Walken’s rendition of Whitley Strieber, protagonist…

I’m not the Jedi I should be.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
(SPOILERS) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the only series entry (thus far) I haven’t seen at the cinema. After the first two prequels I felt no great urgency, and it isn’t an omission I’d be hugely disposed to redress for (say) a 12-hour movie marathon, were such a thing held in my vicinity. In the bare bones of Revenge of the Sith, however,George Lucas has probably the strongest, most confident of all Star Wars plots to date.

This is, after all, the reason we have the prequels in the first place; the genesis of Darth Vader, and the confrontation between Anakin and Obi Wan. That it ends up as a no more than middling movie is mostly due to Lucas’ gluttonous appetite for CGI (continuing reference to its corruptive influence is, alas, unavoidable here). But Episode III is also Exhibit A in a fundamental failure of casting and character work; this was the last chance to give Anakin Skywalker substance, to reveal his potential …

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …

So you made contact with the French operative?

Atomic Blonde (2017)
(SPOILERS) Well, I can certainly see why Focus Features opted to change the title from The Coldest City (the name of the graphic novel from which this is adapted). The Coldest City evokes a noirish, dour, subdued tone, a movie of slow-burn intrigue in the vein of John Le Carré. Atomic Blonde, to paraphrase its introductory text, is not that movie. As such, there’s something of a mismatch here, of the kind of Cold War tale it has its roots in and the furious, pop-soaked action spectacle director David Leitch is intent on turning it into. In the main, his choices succeed, but the result isn’t quite the clean getaway of his earlier (co-directed) John Wick.

Maybe the dingo ate your baby.

Seinfeld 2.9: The Stranded
The Premise
George and Elaine are stranded at a party in Long Island, with a disgruntled hostess.