Saturday, September 17, 2005

'The Faceless Ones'

6 episodes: 2 surviving

I really enjoyed what there was of this - shame it isn't very much, with only episodes 1 and 3 surviving out of six. That's two more than the previous story 'The Macra Terror' has remaining, which means I'll never get to see more of the giant crabs than was present in a brief 'Lost In Time' DVD clip, more's the pity. No, really. 'The Faceless Ones' has an intriguing Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style premise and some neat use of contemporary locations, only the seond time (after 'The War Machines') that the series had returned to the then present day since 'An Unearthly Child'. Of course, with many later stories set in contemporary times the impact of this is dulled now, but at the time I guess it must have seemed quite radical.

In fact, the day is meant to be exactly the same as that on which 'The War Machines' takes place, which implies that the Second Doctor was running around at Gatwick while the First was in central London... and still neither one thought to look in on Ian and Barbara... And hence, Ben and Polly decide to head off back to their own lives at the end, I gather. In the immortal words of Victor Meldrew, I don't believe it - it felt like I'd barely seen these two, yet that's two more companions gone. Looking at the listings, there's a good reason: after their debut serial, only eight episodes survive from the pair's joint tenure, which isn't exactly a good way to get used to them. These two episodes are good ones; I liked the airport setting and the way the mystery was unfolding, but it's just that it's a little hard to follow the continuity when they're spread out like this. But I wanted to see the others, which is surely a good sign - unlike 'The Underwater Menace', say. Good performance from Troughton, too, with the new Doctor beginning to feel like the definite article rather than a substitute. This is incidentally strengthened by an innovation that would come to be a hallmark of the programme - we get to see the incumbent Doctor's face floating amidst a redesigned opening title sequence, which had debuted in the previous story but can ironically in 'The Faceless Ones' be seen for the first time!


Episodes watched: 94
Episodes still to watch: 628

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