Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 44

Here it is! Blogtor's personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don't expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I've seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I'm talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let's begin...

44. Carnival Of Monsters
First broadcast 27/1 - 17/2/1973 starring Jon Pertwee

Like many people of my age, this was perhaps the first introduction to the Jon Pertwee era through the BBC Two series, The Five Faces of Doctor Who (where stories from each Doctor were broadcast in the lead up to The Fifth Doctor's tenure). It's a great, if slightly misleading, introduction to The Third Doctor with miniaturisation, monsters, mystery, time loops and civil unrest all taking place in a fantastical story.

As a child, the colourful nature of Carnival (in terms of plot, characters and direction) captivated me (with some aspects of the tale going over my head - which I'll come to later) and it really is an old-fashioned style of story - The Doctor and companion turn up somewhere and get into trouble. Simple. It's that simplicity that I love in so many Doctor Who adventures. There's no world-saving, there's no Earth doom, just a mystery to be solved and their own lives to be gotten away with.

Behind this "simplicity" is Who ledge, Robert Holmes. And his well-used trope of odd double-acts is instantly recognisable with such twosomes as the traveling carnival show people, Vorg and Shirna, and the two Minorians, Kalik and Orum. There's a Shakespearian style to the latter of those characters, and in part their performances, as their scheming and machinations take place with almost stage-whisper aplomb.

Countering the seriousness of the events on the planet (and in the miniscope), Carnival is a light old beast with lots of playfulness from Pertwee and Manning; their antics on the SS Bernice are most enjoyable. Likewise, the miniscope purveyors Vorg and Shirna make for a wonderful distraction. It's just all so damn colourful! (And I'm not just talking about their outfits.)

At the heart of the majesty of the story is the miniscope itself; such a simple and fantastic invention for the show (and later aped in the Tom Baker "classic" Nightmare of Eden). Like the TARDIS, it's a gateway into other worlds, and possible adventures. The thought of a tiny TARDIS and Doctor is delightful, but chucking in a well-realised monster (the Drashig) and some top location work is the proverbial cherry on the very tasty cake.

Carnival of Monsters was my introduction to the Pertwee era and is still my favourite of his time as the Time Lord. It displays a more whimsical and fun sci-fi feel to the proceedings which shows off The Third Doctor superbly but also the other-worldly possibilities that sometimes the show denies itself. Carnival *is* a carnival - a carnival of fun!


Check out Nos. 50-45 HERE

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carnival of Monsters was broadcast in 1973 - just to ammend the above date.

Cameron McEwan said...

Thanks for pointing out my typo!

Steve Crofts said...

Same here with the Five Faces broadcast. I also had bought me the Target novel which was the first that I had so I've always had a soft spot for this story. Everyone was just having fun !

Anonymous said...

I also loved this as a child for its fun, having seen it when it was first broadcast in Australia. 40 years later I adore it for a different reason ... the very witty pokes it makes at grey faced administrators and petty power struggles.

henz said...

we never got the 5 faces of Dr who in Australia however we got 'reruns of the ABC stock (I thought Dr who went to colour part way thru dinosaurs...or maybe peladon!) watching this later on DVD - loved it. same with your next selection android invasion with different UNIT ppl-which brings me to my 2 cents- seeing Harry Sullivan for the 1st time....but not! I reckon u have a twin dilemma next week too....your planned number 1 (turn left?) has to be pipped by the all new web of fear-of course col Lethbridge-Stewart's debut is still missed so you have a loophole of sorts. enjoyed the different take that dwm mate-cheers&happy 50th!