Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
Right from the beginning of this story we are faced with a 5-person Tardis crew: The Doctor, Ian Chesterton (Both played by William Russell), Vicky (Maureen O’Brien), Barbara (Jemma Powell) & Jospa (James Joyce). But who is Jospa? I liked this dynamic start of a new traveller being part of the team as we go in.
I think one of the biggest highlights of this story is seeing something more from Vicky than perhaps the original show allowed her. O’Brien was brought in as Vicky to replace the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan as played by Carol Ann Ford and at times is feels like that put her into the ‘scream and ask what things are’ role. That isn’t down to either actor; just maybe a sign of how woman were cast at the time. But in this Vicky is bonded to Jospa who in her memory has been a friend for quite some time. They have some really wonderful scenes where he talks of how they are both orphans and maybe they could run away together.
William Russell does his usual amazing job as both the Doctor and Ian on the whole. Occasionally the voices get a bit too close when he is doing a big scene with both characters in; never an easy job.
The only thing I might question in this story is the pacing. As any fan of the early days of Who would, I love that in these they chose to go for a sometimes slower pace and more wordy script that matches the style of the early days; however in this one it does get a little inconsistent. The first two episodes feel a little slow for me even if they are trying to match the style of the original first Doctor adventures; then the 3rd and 4th parts go at a much more active pace which I wish we could have had in the first two.
Another thing the writers and producers of this range do really well whilst making it feel like a first or second Doctor story is they also give you monsters and baddies that they couldn’t have done in those days. The Arunde; ape like creatures that have evolved to have a human like society in the trees is a good example of this in this story.
There is so much going on in this story; which I give a lot of credit to director Lisa Bowerman for managing. Everyone is on form and James Joyce does a wonderful job of fitting into the crew and you are kept guessing as to what his game is; or even if he knows that he is implanted into the Tardis crew. It’s also really worth listening to the behind the scenes to hear William Russell talk about working with Maureen O’Brian and Jemma Powell talking about how she came to take on Barbara.
A great addition to the story of the first Doctor. 7/10 sonics.
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