Sunday 20 March 2011

118 The Gunfighters Part 4: The O.K. Corral

EPISODE: The Gunfighters Part 4: The O.K. Corral
TRANSMITTED: 21 May 1966
WRITER: Donald Cotton
DIRECTOR: Rex Tucker
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - The First Doctor: The Sensorites, The Time Meddler & The Gunfighters

Oooh, no recap, straight into the action. Virgil Earp arrives as Wyatt, Bat & The Doctor are in the saloon investigating the murder. Meanwhile the Pa Clanton has arrived and isn't happy at events that have transpired between his sons and the Earps. Warren Earp, shot by the Clantons, dies in the arms of brothers. Virgil goes to challenge the Clantons to a gunfight. Ringo arranges for the Clantons to face up against the Earps while he sneaks behind and kills them. Holliday arrives in Tombstone, having been brought there at Gunpoint by Dodo. Holliday agrees to assist the Earps when he learns that they're holding Kate. Masterson deputises the Doctor and asks him to talk to the Clantons and avoid the gunfight. Pa Clanton won't listen to him, and Ringo & the Clanton boys ride into town to face the Earps in the gunfight at The O.K. Corral. Dodo is seized by Ringo, but her escape allows Holliday to gun him down. One by one the Clanton brothers are gunned down by the Earps and Holliday. The time travellers leave in the Tardis, landing on a new planet. As they leave to explore a strange figure is seen on the Tardis scanner.

I wouldn't describe myself as a big western fan, despite having watched enough Champion the Wonder Horse when I was younger. However this story really worked for me leading up to a fabulous gun battle climax recorded on film. However apparently Rex Tucker wasn't happy with the episode as transmitted which had been recut and insisted his name be taken off it. The gunfight as shown isn't 100% accurate - see Wikipedia's article on Doctor Who: The Gunfighters and the real Gunfight at the O.K. Corral for details.

With this episode we bid a farewell to individual episode titles: New producer Innes Lloyd decided he's like an overall story title instead. Some of the individual episode titles haven't always been appropriate or even good, but a bit of me will miss them and their passing is a milestone of which there are several at around this time in the series history.

The serial was novelised in 1985 by it's author Donald Cotton. It was released on video as part of the William Hartnell boxset with The Sensorites & Time Meddler and has a soundtrack release with narration by Peter Purves and a compilation of the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. The Gunfighters is due to be released on DVD in 2011 in the Earthstory boxset with The Awakening. Why I don't know as that seems a ridiculous pairing and to my mind the Awakening would be much better paired with the following story, Frontios, also due this year. No details on the special features but I hope they get Shane Rimmer & David Graham in for the commentary.

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