As part of my getting in the mood for the Big Finish release of Counter: Measures (see my piece on the novelisation of Remembrance here) I now move on to the actual TV episode. As I describe here I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the show by the Seventh Doctor was on the scene but put some effort in for the 25th anniversary. Unlike the novel, watching this for the first time since broadcast did put me back to 1988 and I collect here some observations based on my dim memories of that experience.
As for my bizarre title – anyone who watched Friends would eventually spot that each episode was called ‘The One With…’ and for me the standout re-use of scenery for me (apart from the school / scrapyard / command post) was the greasy spoon!
What hit me about the production?
I remember being impressed by how much money they seemed to have spent on explosions and some effects; looking again they in fact played down the effects in the first episode.
The whole ‘which one’s Davros’ with the little girl and the Emperor worked well visually though there is no way that the little girl wouldn’t have been obvious to anyone in the room.
The in-joke with the TV about to show ‘new science fiction series Doc…’ worked ok.
Too many new things for me – why would the Hand of Omega (never before mentioned) by lying around a funeral home for six regenerations? The special weapons Dalek – nice to look out but opens a can of worms.
The Daleks travel up stairs impressed at the time and felt overdue. Ace I found a difficult character to relate to (Big Finish has improved that) and the whole ghetto blaster/ professor/ baseball bat/ nitro-9 isn’t for me. Speaking of the baseball bat it was rubbish – enhanced by the Hand of Omega all it did was spark a bit, beat up a couple of Daleks then break!
Visually though this is really a treat, great cast for the Counter: Measures team, more humour than I remember and clearly a chemistry between the Doctor and Ace.
Meanwhile back in 1963
As it states at the beginning of The Go Between:
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
Via the mechanism of the greasy spoon and the boarding house we have casual racism ingrained in society for Ace to be offended by; it is ironic that from these roots the show actually grew and despite how long before we had a coloured assistant in the TARDIS the show does try to avoid stereotypes. We leave this behind firmly believing that it was quite possible for any number of aliens to have had any number of battles on the streets of East London. Maybe they still do!