Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Massacre


  1. The first episode is very slow, and consists mostly of Steven sitting in a pub, waiting for something to happen.

    It doesn't.

    Like The Crusade, this feels like a story written for the guest roles rather than the regular cast. Unlike The Crusade, it has even less of our regulars, ordinary actors instead of brilliant ones, pedestrian dialogue, and a dull and (to me, at least) incomprehensible story.

    Witness the major threat/dilemma our heroes face: Is the Doctor the Abbot? Or not? Not exactly a conundrum for the ages. And as the Abbot's never so much as threatened, a particularly pointless one.

    After two episodes, I had not the slightest idea what was going on. Nor did I care. And that didn't improve. Who are these people? Where's the story? Where are our heroes?

    And the climax of the story is... wait for it... The Doctor turns up, they wait five minutes for the guards to bugger off, then get in the Tardis and disappear.

    And then suddenly we have a couple of marvelous monologues, out of nowhere! Steven gets all righteous and the Doctor realises that no-one will ever understand him!

    And then someone from the 1960s randomly wanders into the Tardis, Steven comes back, and the Doctor takes off, and all for no good reason.

    This is the second person who's randomly wandered into the Tardis for no good reason at the end of a serial. Let's hope it works out better this time than it did for poor Katarina.

  2. The Massacre by John Lucarotti - only it's not really as it was substantially rewritten, which may explain some of the problems I have with it. Like Lucarottis' season one classic 'The Aztecs' it's a historical set in a fairly unfamilar background but never matches that story for tension, surprise and wonderfully deep characterisation. What is there is a fairly ok historical drama, with Peter Purves doing a fine job as Steven in the absence of The Doctor for the main plot. But every scene is just ok, much of the debating is repetitive and at one point I actually audibly agreed with The King when he has a go at his councillors for their perpetual arguing. The supporting characters similarly are ok but not one, with the possible exception of Anne Chaplet, really makes an impression. And Anne may make an impression simply because she is one of only two female characters in the entire main story I can recall. For me even William Hartnell is just ok as The Abbott - it's a nice contrast to his Doctor characterisation but really it's quite staccato and monotone delivery without investing any real depth into why he hates Protestants at all. And I can't see any reason why not having The Doctor in two episodes -an absence which is never adequately explained - is in any shape or form a good idea. And what happens to Preslin - he just disappears from his shop offscreen doesn't he?
    The only time this story rises above ok is right at the end, when Steven and The Doctor reunited in the Tardis have an almighty confrontation. Excellently played by both and really quite touching when The Doctor ruminates alone. And unlike Piers I actually like the first entrance of Dodo too - great that someone just runs in. However she isn't at all freaked out by the interior dimensions, in fact she doesn't react at all. I think the script logic police were on strike that day. So apart from one scene an average, slightly boring, occasionally irritating drama, not really Doctor Who for me. 4/10

  3. Oh great, a historical. I love these. Oh, where’s the Doctor gone? What’s happening exactly? Oh, no wait - I don’t actually care any more.

    Part of the problem here is that this serial relies on Steven to carry the story in the Doctor’s absence. Steven is no Ian and/or Barbara. The rest of the problem is that it’s ponderous and dull. I’m obliged to say that I might like it better if I were able to see it as transmitted but, you know, I doubt it.

    I agree the scene where Steven turns on the Doctor at the end is splendid, but it comes out of nowhere and is resolved all too suddenly and easily. The less said about Dodo's Corrie accent the better.

    Come back Dennis Spooner, history needs you!

    Better than - The Keys of Marinus
    Not as good as - The Reign of Terror