Saturday 29 October 2011

341 Frontier in Space Episode Four

EPISODE: Frontier in Space Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: 17 March 1973
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke
DIRECTOR: Paul Bernard
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Dalek War: Frontier in Space & Planet of the Daleks
Episode Format: 625 video

The Doctor & Dale are rescued by the newly arrived Master. They are placed in confinement but the Master blackmails the Governor into releasing the Doctor who is imprisoned on the Master's ship with Jo. The Master intends to take them to the Ogron planet. The Doctor escapes using a wire saw and then spacewalks along the outside of the ship, being slung off during a course correction before using his air to direct him back to the ship. The Master detects the Doctor's absence and investigates as the Doctor seizes control of the ship. The Master locks Jo in the airlock, but as the Doctor struggles with him they are boarded & captured by the Draconians. The Doctor says he has information for the Emperor so all three are imprisoned together for the journey to Draconia, which the Doctor has visited before. The Master activates a beacon & summons his Ogron allies.

Hmmmm. The start of the episode, as the Master rescues the Doctor from the moon, and the end, as they're boarded by the Draconians, are fine but the middle with the Doctor & Jo in a cell then escaping and the interminably slow business with the spacewalk is just appalling. Then there's the moon prison stuff from the previous episode that continues into this one: a little bit of colour for the story, highlighting that the Earth regime keeps political prisoners but that's it, it serves no other function other than to eat up about an episode of time. You could have easily cut most of this episode, no problem, especially as the three most important characters in the story, The Earth President, General Williams & the Draconian Prince don't appear. I'll come back to this in episode six.

We've already criticised Paul Bernard for his directing in episode 1: here we get the most appalling episode end as we close on a shot of the back of an Ogron. However, if memory serves, this is one of those occasions where I think an episode ending had to be moved round during recording. If you think the interior of the Master's ship is familiar then you're right: it's the cargo freighter from the first two episodes redressed, with the cargo hold where the Tardis lands now incorporating the prisoner's cage with it's yellow rails now resprayed black. Rather amusingly, given the conflict he's trying to engineer, the Master is reading a copy of HG Wells' War of the Worlds.

Oh look, there's a prop we recognise! The Doctor's spacesuit helmet was previously worn by Beaus one of the delegates at the Dalek's conference in Dalek Masterplan. It'll be back on a different spacesuit in episode 6 and again in the next story.

Time to update the "locked up" tally for the story, currently at 8:

9) The Doctor in Solitary Confinement after Escape Attempt
10) Jo, and then the Doctor in the Master's ship
11) Jo locked in airlock
12) The Doctor, Jo & the Master locked up in the Master's ship

and we've still 2 episodes to go!

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