Monday 22 August 2011

273 Inferno: Episode Two

EPISODE: Inferno: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: 16 May 1970
WRITER: Don Houghton
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Inferno
Episode Format: 525 video RSC

A Unit soldier, Wyatt, is attacked by Slocum. Slocum is shot and collapses against the wall scorching it. The Doctor is able to bring the reactor under control. The Doctor believes he has heard the screaming noise Slocum was making at the Krakatoa volcanic eruption. Wyatt, and the injured technician Bromley escape. The Doctor encounters Wyatt high on top of the project's gas cylinders where Wyatt falls to his death, but Bromley stays hidden. More of the green slime has come up the drill pipe and Stahlman accidentally touches it. Annoyed by the warnings given by the computer he sabotages it, cuts off the Doctor's power and advances penetration time to 49 hours. The Doctor surreptitiously reconnects his power and the sends Liz on an errand to check his calculations. When she realises she's been duped she and the Brigadier return to find the Doctor, Tardis Console and Bessie vanishing.

Again it's the little touches in this episode that make it so good: the phone ringing throughout the confrontation with Slocum as Stahlman gets more and more irate that nobody will answer it not realising that the phone itself is agitating the situation. It's good stuff and a level beyond what we'd normally see on Doctor Who. The gas holders on the exterior of the drilling complex give an industrial feel to proceedings and they're not unlike the fuel complex seen in the previous story. The one locations used by the story is Berry Wiggins and Co Ltd, a bitumen manufacturer found by the crew while they were out scouting another potential location. Fire Hazard was a major risk at the site so smoking was strictly forbidden and footwear with steel caps was banned in case of sparks. You have to ask why the Brigadier & the Doctor go up onto the walkway between the gas holders to have their little chat, there seems to be no reason for it. There's nothing up there and it connects to nowhere that couldn't be more easily reached on the ground. As is well documented Jon Pertwee had a fear of heights and had to be taken up onto the gas holder by Havok stuntmen Terry Walsh & Alan Chuntz and walked about till he was comfortable. Another of the Havok team, it's chief Derek Ware, gets a credited part here playing Private Wyatt. Several of the location scenes in this episode were filmed on 1st April 1970, and a fourth member of the stunt team, Derek Martin, found himself a victim of a practical joke played by the cast & crew when he was made to believe that his beloved 1964 2.8 Jaguar had been damaged in an accident. Quite a high number of cast & crew tales exist from this story, indicating it was a memorable experience for those involved. One of them has gone down in convention circuit legend and we'll get to the tomorrow!

The location filming completed before the studio sessions, This episode is the first to be filmed as part of a change to established recording routine, previously one a week to two a fortnight. The idea was to record one episode on the first day and the second on the next but Douglas Camfield used the first day for camera rehearsals and filmed both episodes on the second day.

This is the first episode we get to see the Doctor use Venusian Karate as he immobilises Stahlman in the Brigadier's office.

The final seven episodes of the season hadn't yet had a story attached to them at the point that Barry Letts became producer of Doctor Who. Don Houghton had been a script editor on Crossroads at the point Terrance Dicks had worked on the show and had read in a scientific journal about a real life project to dig into the Earth's crust that had been abandoned under somewhat mysterious circumstances which prompted Houghton to develop a storyline which ran to four parts. However the production team needed a seven part story to close the season. Fortunately Terrance Dicks had an idea on how to extend the story.......

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