Saturday 22 October 2011

334 Carnival of Monsters Episode One

EPISODE: Carnival of Monsters Episode One
TRANSMITTED: 27 January 1973
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who Revisitations Box Set - Volume 2 (Seeds of Death, Carnival of Monsters & Resurrection of the Daleks)
Episode Format: 625 video

On the planet Inter Minor, Kalik & Orum witness the arrival of the cargo shuttle which discharges the humanoid Lurmans Vorg & Shirna from it's cargo bay along with their scope. One of the functionary workers rebels and is stunned by Kalik. The Tardis materialises in the hold of the SS Bernice in the Indian ocean: The Doctor was aiming for Metebelis III, the famous blue planet in the Acteon Group. Vorg starts his show pitch when the Scope start to show a defect. Exploring the ship they encounter the sleeping Major Daly, while his daughter Clare and her beau Lt John Andrews take a stroll round the deck. Jo finds a paper proving the date as a plesiosaurus surfaces scaring Clare. They are spotted by Daly and held prisoner by Andrews as stowaways and locked in Daly's cabin. En Route The Doctor & Jo find an odd silver hexagonal plate in the floor which Andrews can't see. The Doctor explains to Jo that the Bernice was lost at see on June 4th 1926 which is the day marked on the calender. Jo notices that the clock has gone back an hour while they've been imprisoned. Jo unlocks the door with her skeleton keys and they escape. The third member of commission, Pletrac, arrives and between them they decide to deport Vorg & Shirna. Vorg attempts to deceive them with a document they think is signed by their president Zarb but is actually signed by the Wallarian Wrestler the great Zarb. Returning to the Tardis for a device to open the deck plate, The Doctor & Jo witness the humans on the boat repeating the same things they did before. The Doctor believes they have been programmed to repeat a pattern and that the ship is part of some collection. On que the plesiosaur arrives creating a diversion which allows the Doctor & Jo to get back to the Tardis in the hull. The Doctor goes inside to fetch his magnetic core extractor but is called out by Jo as a giant hand reaches in and removes the Tardis.

From this first episode it almost seems likes there's two disconnected stories going on here: Vorg, Shirna & the three Inter Minor officials plus the Doctor & Jo on the boat. And at no point in this first episode do the stories directly cross. The Doctor's strand has several mysterious elements built in: we know something is going to happen/has already happened to the Bernice on this day. We've also got an out of place plesiosaur, some odd repeating behaviour, the mysterious hexagonal deck plate and, finally, the odd giant hand to contend with! Following Troughton smacking the Tardis console in the previous story to get it working we now have some more "delicate technical adjustments" from Vorg, who also gets to engage in a discussion about his entertainment with Kalik "We are merely here to entertain, nothing political" which is the start of this story's comments on television. There's some fab dialogue in this episode with Vorg, talking about the Scope, "The generators were built by the old Eternity Perpetual company. They were designed to last forever; that's why the company went bankrupt." and Orum, about the functionaries "They've no sense of responsibility. Give them a hygiene chamber and they store fossil fuel in it", which is in itself a corruption of the old phrase "give them a bath and they'll store coal in it!"

Carnival of Monsters was the first Pertwee tale I saw, and also was my introduction to Jo Grant as a companion. It was shown on BBC2 on the 16th to 19th November 1981 as part of the Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat season, but oddly shown the week before it's preceding televised story The Three Doctors. Carnival was made before that tale though, and had an earlier production code so maybe that influenced the decision as well as the desire to show the first episode of Three Doctors on the show's eighteenth birthday. You wonder if an earlier four part Pertwee such as Spearhead from Space, which establishes the Doctor's exile on Earth, or Day of the Daleks, which feature the Doctor's mortal enemies who don't feature during the Five Faces season, might been a better story choice for Doctor Who fans following the repeat run. We'll pick the story of Five Faces with it's fifth and final story on 31st May next year.

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