Found a thing I wrote the last time I worked my way through Doctor Who from the start (yes, the last time – it’s a thing that happens distressingly often). I’d stuck it up on Facebook then, so excuse the excitement regarding the Omnirumour. Obviously I’d just heard about Enemy and Web coming back. I’m quite taken with this – as a snap response to a story I thought held no more surprises for me, it’s rather telling. How could I have missed how fantastic Victor Maddern was? I’ll give an honourable mention to Clifford Rose in Warrior’s Gate here – I’d managed to completely forget him when I put this together first time around. Special NoPrize if you can guess which guest performance I’m referring to.
Image is of course, c. BBC.
Listening to Fury From The Deep this morning I was struck by several things, some more interesting than others (and possibly not interesting at all to anyone else, but they caught my attention) – for a start, Victor Maddern is incredible. It’d never really struck me before but Robson’s loss of control is more unnerving than anything else in the whole story. Parasitic monsters descending upon humanity are all very well, but one man’s inability to deal with a developing crisis situation and slipping into screaming, ranting fury is so much more frightening. Out of all of the beleagured authority figures in this season (Parry, Padmasambhva, Clent, Robson, Bennett) he’s the one who appears dangerously unhinged. Makes the gentler but still stern figure who pops up in the closing minutes of episode 6 even more impressive. You can see why people would have followed him in the first place. It’s a shame you don’t see him like that before he starts spiralling out of control – we drop into the story at a point where he’s already pretty far gone – but it doesn’t detract from Maddern’s achievement. The Children’s Own Programme That Adults Enjoy is packed full of ranting cartoon maniacs, but you don’t get too many shiver-up-the-spine performances like this one. You won’t get another until Simon Rouse fifteen or so years later (although my all time favourite Doctor Who performance isn’t too far round the corner – 6 serials after this one, in fact).
There’s another lovely little heart-to-heart between the Doctor and Victoria lurking in episode 4, mirroring the one in Tomb but one that shows that the frightened little girl comforted at the start of the season is now even more frightened despite all the Doctor’s reassurances. I’m finding all sorts of lovely little coincidences and moments as I work through 60s Who, and this one’s very striking. That there’s a little pause for a comfort conversation at the start of Victoria’s travels, and then one at the end – well, it’s very satisfying. As Victoria reels off the list of all the things they’ve encountered that have terrified the shit out of her (Daleks, Cybermen…) the Doctor interjects with one she’s missed – “Yeti”. I predict that should Fury ever reappear Troughton will have a look of joy on his face, rather than sympathy. The Second Doctor wouldn’t be able to help himself. He loves all this scampering about, dealing with the bad stuff. It’s one of the many things that makes him fantastic.
And finally – thanks to the drip-feed of returns since the early eighties… more of season 5 now exists than doesn’t. 22 episodes in visual form, soundtracks for the other 18. If you’d told me that back when I was 13, looking despairingly at that list in the back of Haining’s “Celebration” book, I’d have squeaked with excitement and fainted. Probably. Should anything further develop from the Omnirumour (and I’m hoping fervently it does, but counting my blessings for what we currently have) I’ll probably squeak with excitement and faints again. At least I’m consistent.