Thursday 6 January 2011

045 Planet of Giants Part 3: Crisis

EPISODE: Planet of Giants Part 3: Crisis
TRANSMITTED: 14 November 1964
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield (and Mervyn Pinfield uncredited)
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Planet Of Giants

The Doctor & Susan shelter in the overflow pipe avoiding the water and climb up through the plug to be reunited with Ian & Barbara. Forrester calls the phone exchange, speaking to operator Hilda Rowse, to make a call to Whitehall. He imitates Farrow's voice and tells the Ministry that DN6 is good stuff, but Hilda is suspicious as she doesn't think it's Farrow on the phone. The travellers find the formula for DN6 and realises the dangers involved if it was used and got into the food chain. Barbara isn't feeling well. The travellers plan to make use of the phone and go to a great deal of trouble to lift the receiver. The phone rings at the exchange but Hilda can't hear them at the other end. Barbara collapses: she touched the insecticide and has been overcome, but the Doctor is confident she will recover if they return to the ship so she can be treated. Forrester is irritated the phone isn't working, Smithers thinks the one in the lab may be off the hook and leaves to reset it and look at Farrow's notes. When the receiver is replaced Hilda rings on the pretext of putting a call through. Now certain that Farrow isn't the man on the phone she sends her Husband PC Bert Rowse to investigate. The travellers decide to start a fire to attract the attention of the authorities using matches & a bunsen burner gas tap. Smithers realkises how deadly DN6 is and rebels against Forrester. The gas tap projects it's flame onto some insecticide which explodes into Forrester's face as Bert arrives to take them both in for questioning. The travellers return to the Tardis which dematerialises and they return to their correct height and Barbara recovers.

Yeah better than part 2, but oddly disjointed in places. However there's a reason for that.....

Planet of Giants 3 has a somewhat odd history. Originally Planet of Giants was meant to be a FOUR part story, with the first three episodes (Planet of Giants, Dangerous Journey & Crisis) directed by the experienced Mervyn Pinfield while the fourth (Urge to Live) was a debut for Douglas Camfield. However when Head of Drama Sydney Newman viewed them he found them too slow and ordered them spliced together to make a faster paced episode, but cutting large parts of Bert & Hilda's roles. Because this episode of Doctor Who required much editing to put it together it was transmitted from film, at the time a more easily edited media, rather than the usual videotape. As such this episode wasn't subjected to the vidfire technique when released on video. Pinfield receives no credit on the finished episode, but since the original versions no longer exist and the scripts aren't in the public domain it's hard to say what material in the broadcast version is from which of the two produced episodes. At 26m35s it's the longest episode of Doctor Who broadcast to date, just beating Marco Polo 2: The Singing Sands. I thought the early Hartnell episodes tended towards 22/23 minutes a piece but quick trawl through the timings reveals that several episodes in the first season topped the 25 minutes slot allocated for the program.

This then created a one episode gap in the number of required episodes, a problem that was solved by creating a one episode prelude to The Dalek's Masterplan, Mission to the Unknown, which was filmed without the regular cast at the end of the second recording block using the same crew as Galaxy Four.

As we've previously mentioned this episode marks the directorial debut of Douglas Camfield, previously a production assistant on An Unearthly Child & Marco Polo. He would go on to direct (deep breath) The Crusade, The Time Meddler, The Dalek Masterplan, The Web of Fear, The Invasion, Inferno (or most of it - he suffered a heart attack while working on this story), Terror of the Zygons and Seeds of Doom. He worked on many series outside of Doctor Who including The Sweeney, The Professionals & the BBC Classic series, headed by Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks. He died on 27th January 1984 from another heart attack.

And here we bid adieu to the Video recorder. It will be back before the Hartnell era is out for the Gunfighters & The Tenth Planet. But apart from 2 episodes on CD we'll be spending the rest of Season 2 on DVD.

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