Tuesday 29 March 2011

127 The Smugglers: Part One

EPISODE: The Smugglers: Part One
TRANSMITTED: 10 September 1966
WRITER: Brian Hayles
DIRECTOR: Julia Smith
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Smugglers
TELESNAPS: The Smugglers: Part One

When I was growing up The Smugglers had a bad reputation. It was one of the last Hartnells to be novelised and although I bought the CD I never listened to it till my "make sure I've heard/seen every Doctor Who story" session last year. So here we go on CD, as we'll be for most of the rest of the next two seasons of the show.

The Tardis dematerialises from Fitzroy Square. The Doctor doesn't realise that Ben and Polly are aboard until it's too late: they've come to return Dodo's key. Ben's keen to get away quick so he can return to barracks and is disbelieving when the Doctor explains that the Tardis travels in time and space not knowing where it will land. They materialise and can see caves on the scanner. Ben is very surprised when the Doctor opens the doors and he finds himself in a cave at the sea shore. Dismissing their move in space he decides to make for the nearest railway station with Polly, despite the Doctor's protests about them moving in time as well. They go to a local church where they meet worried church warden Joseph Longfoot who initially threatens them with a gun. When the Doctor enquires he says he's afraid of the friends of a man called Avery who he had dealings with before he turned to God. The Doctor resets his dislocated finer for him and in thanks Longfoot entrusts him with a riddle
"This is Deadman's secret key, Ringwood, Smallwood, Gurney."
The Doctor and his friends leave for a nearby inn and saying they know Longfoot the suspicious Landlord, Jacob Kewper, admits them and gives them lodgings. He sends his stable boy Tom to the Church Warden with a message that a delivery is coming but Tom finds Longfoot's body, murdered by the pirate Cherub who has visited him demanding the location of Avery's Gold. Tom rushes back to tell Kewper and is then sent to summon the squire. While Tom's away Cherub arrives at the Inn with some help, and having previously observed the Doctor talking with Longfoot he has him Kidnapped. Ben is knocked out in the struggle and on waking he and Polly can't give a satisfactory account of themselves so are arrested by the squire. The Doctor is taken by boat to the ship The Black Albatross where he meets Captain Pike who tries to intimidate the Doctor by plunging the metal spike that he wears, in the place of a missing hand, into the wooden tabletop.

That's great stuff that. I love the opening scene. Whether planned by Davies & Lloyd or not the new companions first sight of the Tardis and the usual questions that produces fall at the start of a story that itself falls at the start of a new season, Doctor Who's fourth. So we start the season by getting an effective introduction and refresher on Doctor Who, the Tardis and why the Doctor knows not where and when he's going. We also get the Doctor saying he was looking forward to being by himself. Then when we get to our location the circumstances only serve to reinforce Ben's view point that they can't have travelled in time. Meanwhile Polly's sixties clothing make her appear to the locals as a boy avoiding any awkward questions. Getting down to the business of the story itself we find a lot of stereotypical roles here, but it's all competently enough done leading to an entertaining first episode.

This is Brian Hayles second script for the series. His first, through little fault of his own, had to be rewritten more than once and he gets a second chance here. He obviously did something right because he's invited back again for the next season.

During Doctor who's summer break 2 events occurred that are worth mentioning: On 6th August it was announced that William Hartnell would be leaving Doctor Who. Then two days before this episode aired, on the 08th September 1966, the first Star Trek episode, The Man Trap, aired in the USA.

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