Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Smugglers


  1. Another historical and by this stage of the series the aims certainly seem to have changed. In series one they certainly had a big educational element but this is story is typical of recent ones we've watched in that it's very much based on fiction that share the setting rather than any reality. And I have to say it's much the better for that.
    The story is a fairly simple tale where the Doctor holds the key to the location of pirate treasure and smashes a smuggling ring to boot. Hartnell continues his fine form of recent stories, really adding to my enjoyment of the story. And his interaction with new companions Ben and Polly is superb. The Doctor seems to have a much more relaxed and real relationship with them than he ever achieved with Dodo. The great promise that the two companions showed in their debut is confirmed for me here. Anneke Wills and Michael Craze both give nice performances and I like the fact that Polly will have a tussle with pirates but won't go anywhere near a rat in the jail cell. Also, may I thank the writer Brian Hayles for getting in the "Polly, put the kettle on" pun.
    The guest cast too throw themselves quite happily into their roles, being suitably big without over acting becoming a problem. I enjoy the Squire, Cherub and particularly Captain Pike, pirate leader who comes complete with hook.
    So much to enjoy here. But the downsides are that there are some dull patches and, more majorly, I don't understand why the Church Warden tells The Doctor the riddle that leads to Averys' treasure. If any of you get it please let me know. But it is a huge flaw that I never quite recover from that the driving force of the plot is something that doesn't make sense to me.
    Overall, then, enjoyable but not great so I'll give it 6/10

  2. There's a lovely moment early in this story where the Doctor says "And I really thought I was going to be alone again." It's a lovely, wistful, heartbreaking moment that reveals his character. "I suppose I shall have to chase after them. Quite incapable of looking after themselves." This Doctor is lonely.

    And then the Doctor proudly proclaims that he can foresee "oodles of trouble." :)

    The episode one cliffhanger is a bit rubbish. "He'll talk to me, or my name's not Samuel Pike!". Ooh. Terrifying. Perhaps it works better on video, with a threatening leer or something.

    This is the second time the Tardis has been stuck on a beach underwater and they have to wait for the tide to go out. Is this the new pools of acid trope?

    I love the fact that Ben is the first real working-class companion, unlike Dodo and her magical wandering accent. (Northern to RP in just two episodes! It's a miracle!) And I love Ben's relationship with Polly. These two feel real in a way that Steven and Dodo didn't. Perhaps that's because they're from our time.

    The story's slow and over-reliant on its guest stars, which is a problem we've seen before back in the John Wiles era. Basically, when there's no Tardis crew in the room - why should we care?

    "I'm under moral obligation" to stay, says the Doctor. I believe this the first time he's stayed in an adventure by choice rather than not being able to leave. This, then, is the tipping point from the antihero of the first season to the hero of today.

    There also seems to be a lot more location filming now that Innes Lloyd has taken over as producer, both in this and in The War Machines.

    Polly is told by Ben to go back to the Tardis and wait for them there, and agrees without demur.

    Oh, feminism. Never mind.

  3. I'm afraid this is going to be brief as it's quite a while since I watched this one now.

    I enjoyed The Smugglers, there are a lot of larger than life characters and a couple of the performances are particularly engaging. Ben and Polly are a lot of fun, especially lovely Polly passing herself off as a lad (just a tad unlikely!).

    I must say that as good a job as Loose Cannon (other reconstructions are available) do, recon fatigue was truly setting in by this point and looking at the long list of missing episodes still ahead sent a shiver down my spine.

    Better than - The Myth Makers
    Not as Good as - The Romans