Sunday 29 July 2012

614 The Awakening Part Two

EPISODE: The Awakening Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Friday 20 January 1984
WRITER: Eric Pringle
DIRECTOR: Michael Owen Morris
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening)

The Doctor is rescued by Will & Jane. Tegan is forced to become the village's May Queen while Turlough is imprisoned with Andrew Verney, Tegan's grandfather and the village historian who discovered the Malus in the church and shared his findings with Sir George who has become controlled by it and has arranged the war games to fuel the Malus with the Psychic energy it needs. The Doctor arranges Tegan's rescue with the help of Colonel Ben Wolsey and they flee for shelter in the Tardis in the church, pursued by Sir George who will pushes through the hole containing the Malus. With it's human link killed the Malus self destructs taking the church with it but the Doctor & his friends escape in the Tardis.

Oh look the church gets destroyed at the end of the story! It's so not inspired by the Daemons is it? But despite this it's a decent episode and Awakening is probably the best 2 part story done in Doctor Who (caveat: in the 25 minute episode format). The plot moves along quickly, it makes sense and all fits into the time slot. But as well as being the best two x 25 minute episode story it's also the last. It's also the last story for designer Barry Newbury who worked on the very first Doctor Who story and the only jobs on the series for director Michael Owen Morris and writer Eric Pringle. Given how well this serial turned out I'm surprised that neither worked on the series again.

The story adds to Doctor Who's collection of Liver Birds: Series 1 Liver Bird Pauline Collins (Dawn) appeared in the Faceless Ones as Samantha Briggs while her replacement Nerys Hughes (Sandra) appeared as Todd in Kinda. Polly James appeared alongside both of them as Beryl and here plays Jane Hampden. The Actress that played Beryl's replacement, Carol, Elizabeth Estensen has not appeared in Doctor Who but did later find fame as the children's TV Character T-Bag. The two other major characters in this story both have prior form in Doctor Who: Denis Lill, who plays Sir George Hutchinson , was Dr. Fendelman in Image of the Fendahl as well as being a regular in Terry Nation's Survivors where he played Charles Vaughan. Meanwhile Glyn Houston, playing Colonel Ben Wolsey, was Professor Watson in The Hand of Fear. Playing one of the troopers in this story is Christopher Wenner who is uncredited in the end titles. He was the 9th official Blue Peter, appearing there from 14 September 1978 to 23 June 1980. He's the second Blue Peter presenter to appear in Doctor Who after former companion Peter Purves.

A famous outtake exists from this episode where the horse pulling the May Queen's cart demolishes the specially built Lynch Gate at the entrance to the church. The out take was seen by more people than watched the story itself when it was used on The Late Late Breakfast Show's Golden Egg Award. The section of the show showing this is included on the DVD.

The Awakening became the only story from the 1984 season to be repeated that year when it was shown as a 50 minute compilation on 20th July. It was novelised the following year for Target books by Eric Pringle, the author of the TV Script. It was released on video in March 1997 in a double pack also containing the following story, Frontios. It became the last Fifth Doctor story to be released on DVD on 20th June 2011 in the Earth Story boxset with The Gunfighters. The Gunfighters? What? Some of 2 Entertain's boxset choices have been a trifle odd but I can understand the themes behind most of them. Linked consecutive stories like The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warrior's Gate) & New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva) are pretty obvious as are monster themed sets like Mara Tales (Kinda / Snakedance) or The Cybermen Box Set (Attack of the Cybermen/Silver Nemesis). I can even see the point of grouping The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon in Myths & Legends as they're all inspired by Greek Legends. But The Gunfighters & The Awakening? Both have Blue Peter presenters in them? Both have horses in them? What makes it worse is the previous month 2 Entertain released Frontios, the following story which The Awakening had been paired with on Video, on DVD by itself. So you got the stories coming out on consecutive months in the wrong order! Pair Awakening & Frontios and release Gunfighters by itself.

And don't even get me started how we so very nearly got a boxset featuring The Sun Makers and The Ambassadors of Death together before problems with Ambassadors colour restoration kiboshed that release!

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