Skip to main content

Haven’t I met you somewhere before?


Doctor Who
The Faceless Ones: Episode Three


 The second surviving episode is of noticeably inferior picture quality to part one. This is a curious story, filled with witty dialogue but with a curiously B-movie attitude to its science fiction content (down to referring to humans as Earthmen). It might almost be self-conscious about it, if the script was stronger and clearer. The Brit upper lip response to the aliens definitely comes across as knowing, though.


 The opening sequence is very well-staged and niftily performed by Troughton, as the Doctor blocks up the outlets chilling the room and drapes his coat over the video camera.


 When Spencer enters the Doctor freezes him with the pen he has and runs off. Action Trout! Take that, Pertwee!

Spencer: His intelligence is far above normal beings.
Blade: Above yours, perhaps.


 There’s a nice theme of Spencer as the hapless stooge developing, and Pickering plays up the superiority and disdain. Spencer must atone for his incompetence by killing the Doctor (needless to say, he fails).


 The Doctor at last finds someone willing to listen to him in Crossland, so I’m sure that with only three episodes to go the Inspector won’t be captured by the Chameleons. The Commandant is still banging on about the Doctor’s lack of identification, though.

The Doctor: Surely that’s unimportant.
Commandant: It is not unimportant to break the law.


 Is Crossland’s smoking throughout the episode the most extensive example in the series? He’s constantly puffing away.

The Doctor doesn’t hold back in his theories, telling the Commandant he believes it is a plot by people who are not of this planet to mass kidnap young people. Using ray guns. You can’t really blame the Commandant, and Gordon is excellent at delivering his overt skepticism.


Commandant: You don’t think this fellow’s a little unbalanced, do you?
Crossland: He may be a wee bit unorthodox, sir, but he’s given us the only lead we’ve got so far.

Demonstrating the aliens’ pen (it freezes and shatters a cup) at least provides some physical support to the Doctor’s story, and it also results in fake-Meadows running from the room. It’s a wonder that the air traffic controllers can concentrate with everything going on in there. The Doctor is a bit optimistic in hoping that the Chameleons don’t get wind of what he’s doing, since Meadows just ran off to tell them. I suppose he doesn’t know that the Doctor has been given a free hand to investigate matters for 12 hours.


The burgeoning affection between Jamie and Sam sees him tell her “You’re a brave wee lassie” while she gives him a cheek-to-cheek hug. All quite unrestrained given the companion dynamics of the series so far. Perhaps she’ll be trying it on with the Doctor by the end of the story.


 Spencer has a moment of fourth wall breaking as he instructs fake-Meadows to attach a device to the Doctor (it resembles a button). Spencer is a bit over-confident given his trouncing at the start of the episode.

Spencer: Even if he has discovered the secret of out mission here, they will never believe him. These Earth minds cannot stretch that far.

More quality banter between the Doctor and the Commandant.

Commandant: Aren’t you rather wasting your 12 hours, hanging around here, disturbing people?
The Doctor: I don’t think I’ve been wasting a minute, but I’ll go if you insist.

And the Doctor’s reaction to Meadows, who has just attached the button to him, is lovely.

The Doctor: Haven’t I met you somewhere before?
Meadows: I don’t think so.
The Doctor: You must have a double.


 The Doctor and Jamie return to the hangar, the Doctor intent on gaining access to the room he was locked in.

The Doctor: Have you ever known me to be mistaken?
Jamie: Aye.
The Doctor: Ay?

The template for their repartee really is complete by this point.


 With Captain Blade returned from Zurich, there’s a little more revelation in store as Crossland goes over to the plane to speak to him. The passenger cabin makes easyJet look like sheer opulence. All the money went towards the futuristic cockpit, which Crossland has been led to. He is informed that the Chameleons are not intent on murder, and that the death of Gascoigne was “an error”.

Blade: You Earthmen are more useful to us alive.


 I don’t know what the Chameleons see in Crossland (an indeterminate accent, perhaps? Smoking skills?) but he proves to be a hit.

Blade: This Earthman is a particularly fine specimen, don’t you think?
Ann Davidson: Perhaps the Director himself.
Blade: Exactly.
Crossland: Look, I don’t know what you are planning for me but I must warn you of the long arm of the British law.
Blade: I don’t think it will reach where you’re going!

The cliffhanger is another strong one, with Crossland asked to look at the monitor of the passenger cabin, which is suddenly empty.

Before that, we have the Doctor and Jamie investigating the hangar office. There are a number of neat touches here; the Doctor’s glee at the prospect of viewing the TV monitor, Jamie’s concern that they should clear up the mess. And a nice line of dialogue.

The Doctor: Jamie, we’re getting warmer. Which makes for a change from the last time I was here.


 The opportunity for a double-cliffhanger is not taken up, as Spencer activates the button and the Doctor cries out in pain. Jamie grabs the button, discards it and stamps on it.


Another watchable episode, but despite some amusing dialogue and individually strong scenes, this is failing to come together as anything special. And there’s a feeling of a story that is biding its time, aware that it has more episodes to fill than it has the plot for. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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 nourish, 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.

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

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 …

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

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…

Dude. You’re my hero and shit.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
(SPOILERS) I was going to say I’d really like to see what Vince Gilligan has up his sleeve besidesBreaking Bad spinoffs. But then I saw that he had a short-lived series on CBS a few years back (Battle Creek). I guess things Breaking Bad-related ensure an easy greenlight, particularly from Netflix, for whom the original show was bread and butter in its take up as a streaming platform. There’s something slightly dispiriting about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, though. Not that Gilligan felt the need to return to Jesse Pinkman – although the legitimacy of that motive is debatable – but the desire to re-enter and re-inhabit the period of the show itself, as if he’s unable to move on from a near-universally feted achievement and has to continually exhume it and pick it apart.

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013)
(SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.

Who would want to be stuck in a dream for ten years?

Top 10 Films 2010-19
Now, you may glance down the following and blanche at its apparent Yankophile and populist tendencies. I wouldn’t seek to claim, however, that my tastes are particularly prone to treading on the coat tails of the highbrow. And there’s always the cahiers du cinema list if you want an appreciation of that ilk. As such, near misses for the decade, a decade that didn’t feature all that many features I’d rank as unqualified classics, included Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Tron: Legacy, The Tree of Life, The Guard and Edge of Tomorrow.

Don’t make me… hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m… hungry.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
(SPOILERS) It’s fortunate the bookends of Marvel’s Phase One are so sturdy, as the intervening four movies simply aren’t that special. Mediocre might be too strong a word (although at least one qualifies for that status), but they amountto a series of at-best-serviceable vehicles for characters rendered on screen with varying degrees of nervousness and second guessing. They also underline that, through the choices of directors, no one was bigger than the franchise, and no one had more authority than supremo Kevin Feige. Which meant there was integrity of overall vision, but sometimes a paucity of it in cinematic terms. The Incredible Hulk arrived off the back of what many considered a creative failure and commercial disappointment from Ang Lee five years earlier yet managed on just about every level to prove itself Hulk’s inferior. A movie characterised by playing it safe, it’s now very much the unloved orphan of the MCU, with a lead actor recast and a main c…

The only things I care about in this goddamn life are me and my drums... and you.

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
(SPOILERS) The final entry in John Hughes’ teen cycle – after this he’d be away with the adults and moppets, and making an untold fortune from criminal slapstick – is also his most patently ridiculous, and I’m not forgetting Weird Science. Not because of its unconvincing class commentary, although that doesn’t help, but because only one of its teenage leads was under 25 when the movie came out, and none of them were Michael J Fox, 30-passing-for-15 types. That all counts towards its abundant charm, though; it’s almost as if Some Kind of Wonderful is intentionally coded towards the broader pool Hughes would subsequently plunge into (She’s Having a Baby was released the same year). Plus, its indie soundtrack is every bit as appealing as previous glories The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.

Mention of the latter highlights Some Kind of Wonderful’s greatest boast; it’s a gender swapped Pretty in Pink, only this time Hughes (and his directing surrogate Howard…