Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Liveblog: The Leisure Hive episode 1

Credits: Bloody hell, that's a change from the old diamond-shaped logo!  At least, it would have been in 1980 when JNT commissioned Sid Sutton to create them.  Sutton then went on to create the similar (but more lurid) 6th Doctor title credits.

By: David Fisher, an underappreciated Doctor Who scriptwriter.  He doesn't rank in the top 5 (for mine, Holmes, Houghton, Hulke, Whitaker and *squints a bit* oh, let's go for John Lucarotti), but his work during a difficult era for Who is still under-regarded.  He had to write for an arrogant, narcissistic leading man who thought himself better at comedy that he was, a producer on a shoestring and three separate script editors who each wanted him completely different script styles from him.  That he did so well with stories like The Androids of Tara and the Stones of Blood is commendable ... if you thought the Hinchcliffe/Williams transition was jarring, try going from for-better-or-worse comic (Adams) to science-at-all-costs (Bidmead).

(Come to think of it, Fisher probably doesn't make the top 10 - I haven't mentioned Dicks, Sherwin, Haisman/Lincoln, Wyatt, Spooner or Cotton, yet).

0.54: Magnificent first shot, this.  A long, slow pan across a deserted Brighton beach ... the stuff Lovett Bickford, the director, made himself famous for in this, his only Who.  Not sure about the slightly intrusive high-pitched muzak ... JN-T will live to regret that.

2:16: Our first glimpse of the Doctor.  That establishing shot took a full minute and a half.

2:30: Romana, in one of the costumes that made her famous.  Bit of a thick moment for K-9 though, as he toddles off into the water.  Shouldn't explode like that though ... dangerous to be around in the wet, if that's the case.

3:58: Ah, the Randomiser.  Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, only one season in (a short one, too - five stories of four episodes with the cancellation of Shada) and the re-boot has been re-booted just so as they can fit in picturesque location work.  How *very* JN-T.

4:41: That's a pretty crappy circle-wipe as stars surround the talking Romana and Doctor.  Will be interesting also to see how they pronounce Argolin, considering the name of the planet is apparently "ArGOHlis".  An Experiential Grid, hey?  Intellectual, Psychic and emotional regeneration - sounds like what'll happen in about six stories time.

4:58: Ah, they've re-used the opening credits sequence.  Haven't seen that since they put the closing credits on the screen at the end of episode 3 of Day of the Daleks.

5:18: Another long pan.

5:50: Hang about a bit... the Argolin's planet was levelled by 2000 interstellar missiles in a "horrid" war against some reptile people.  Right.  But the Argolins are green - which makes them seem cold-blooded at the very least, or at least highly dependent on chlorophyll.  The plant-like pods at the top of their head suggests the latter.

6:34: Non-gravity swimming pools - sounds interesting, as long as they come with SCUBA equipment as well ... the worst Red Dwarf book (Last Human, if you're counting) did a whole bit about that.

7:20: Pangol's just a p***k, really. A bitchy teen who, in this era of Who was the cliched norm, rather than type-breakers.  But at least he's acting opposite Laurence Payne (Morix) who's really dignified and distinguished in this scene, if a little "All aggression is bad".  Remember what that did to Ned Flanders.

7:25:  More modelwork that made Nathan-Turner's appointment seem long overdue.  Until you hear the synthed music behind.  But we can give him a pass for the meantime - it was the early '80s, everyone was using synthesisers.

9:00:  First appearance of Klout.  The guide books are right (I've seen this several times but not really watched it with intent) - he really does look like a guy whose cupboards are full of gaffer tape and video nasties.

10:05: Tom Baker's new costume is very purple.  Apparently when he signed on for Dimensions in Time (the first and only time we'll mention that abomination on this blog, hopefully) his one condition was that he was happy to get in costume "as long as it's not the s****y one".  Fair dos.

11:05: Green scales make Brock's skin crawl?  What colour is Morix?!  But the plot - the business side of it at least - is intriguing.  Not sure what to make of the Recreation Generator yet.  Ah, the first of the pods falls off ... Another Whovian mention of "radioactivity" as well - seems like Fisher understands this much better than some of his predecessors like Bob Baker and Dave Martin.  Or Whitaker, for that matter.  In the early '70s, it was like some mystical death-force that killed by being transmitted along road barriers (c.f. Ambassadors of Death).

13:15: So that's a Foamasi.  Not bad, if a little bit ... chubby.  Background music is playing that kind of up-and-down scrabbling music that often accompanies documentary footage of creepy-crawlies like spiders and insects.

15:04: The Foamasi, while green and allegedly reptiles, actually share many characteristics with insects.  Like someone crossed a chameleon (no, not a Faceless One) with a Stink bug.  In other news, Mena seems tough.

17:00:  All this stuff about tachyons indicates Bidmead.  Last series it was Douglas Adams who couldn't possibly have used a sciencey term like tachyon without making some sort of a joke (c.f. I'll never be cruel to an electron in a particle accelerator again).  Rather gruesome end for Mr. Lohmann ... the rings are a good communication mechanism - I like.

17:30:  Purple Tom Baker's purple hat is purple.   

18:52:  Notice how Klout doesn't speak there?  Nice move by Bickford and actor Ian Talbot. Just stands there looking like the Doctor's torn the head off a haddock or something.  And what kind of name is Klout for a human?  (Searches Whitepages.com).  Turns out there are four people with that surname in the United States.  Two of them live within five minutes drive of me.  Check mate, Whitepages.com.

19:00: Adrienne Corri's got a really deep voice.  That is all.

20:31:  I miss Dudley Simpson and Tristram Cary.

21:00:  Those statues look remarkably like the Emperor's red guardsmen from Return of the Jedi from afar, don't they?  Long, brightly coloured robe-type things I think make the impression.

22:17:  Why's that Foamasi going to turn on the machine?  Honest-to-goodness scream by Baker there - not something he really did that often.  In fact, it's the only "scream" I can think of him making amidst a lot of grunts, stifled choking squeals and roaring.  Not sure about the SFX where the body parts fly straight towards the camera though... but I am 32.  Benefit of the doubt, maybe a ten-year old would be frightened.

22:27:  Purple.

Credits: The theme music is quite percussively undulating in the background - perhaps that's what gave the current composer for BBC Wales the idea to have the bass-drummer going nuts in the current version of the theme music. Hardin's played by a guy named "Nigel" - not too many actors with that name any more ...

Apparently the BBC got in trouble for using the credit "Tannoy Voice".  I think it may have been in Terminus, not this serial, though...

Rating: 3.

Stay tuned for part 2 live-blogged!

No comments:

Post a Comment