Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Highlanders


  1. The new Doctor and his companions are now thrust into the last purely historical story for many along year and, as with "The Smugglers", it's a story based more on romantic fiction than any educational historical rendering of the time.

    The setting is the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and the Doctor and friends are caught up helping some highland survivors of the defeat avoid the excesses of the victorious armies brutality. Troughton enjoys himself immensely assuming various disguises and voices - a german doctor, an English soldier and a old lady amongst them. Ben is his normal fast-thinking self and it's good to see Polly taking the lead in helping her friends when she and Kirsty are seperated from the rest. Wills and Hannah Gordon as Kirsty are particularly good when using the unfortunate Algie Ffinch - he really is no match for Polly.
    The rest of the guest cast are all pretty good and Frazer Hines as Jamie is immediately immensely likeable. But on the whole I don't enjoy this story as much as "The Smugglers" and I think it's because the characters aren't as big and entertaining as that story. Consequently the actors don't match the impression that characters like the Squire, Captain Pike and Cherub made simply because big performances would be out of place in a grimmer tale like this.
    So, on the whole it's a quite entertaining but average story for me. Not terrible but not enough for me to be terribly upset at the decision to axe pure historicals from the series. 5/10

  2. "I would like a hat like this!"

    And the new doctor settles into his new role with a penchant, it seems, for trying on new hats.

    I love Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. The feeling that he's always constantly improvising, barely staying on top of things, is such a contrast to William Hartnell's portrayal. He also has lovely physical comedy chops as when asking "Do you have a headache?" - answered in the negative - results in him slamming some poor fellow's head against the desk and a revisiting of the question.

    Despite that, his core values are the same. Although he spends most of one episode threatening people with a gun, when he eventually pulls the trigger it turns out to be unloaded.

    Well, of course. They're dangerous things.

  3. "Romantic piffle"

    It seems very sad that Lloyd and Davis decided to abandon historicals due to the perception that the public disliked them, rather than trying to improve them. The educational ambition of the original idea of the show was never really that successful but to have a time travel show without historical adventures just doesn't quite scan. Seemingly, this last historical only came about because Elwyn Jones fancied writing it - and then couldn't!

    Still, The Highlanders is hardly a shining example of how to do Doctor Who historicals. Aside from the introduction of Jamie and the variety of the Doctor's disguises it's not particularly memorable. It's all a bit dry and historically innacurate really.

    Ben and Polly continue to impress but I did find Polly's irritaion with Kirsty either out of character or rather overplayed. To be honest she's horrible to the poor girl. Troughton is a delight, as usual.

    Better than: The Myth Makers... maybe.
    Not as good as: The Smugglers