Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Doctor Who: The Rescue

The Doctor gets a new travel companion.

Sometimes it's crazy what people are willing to do for love, like when the Doctor's young granddaughter Susan decided to stay behind in the post-apocalyptic London of the late 2100s because she has fallen for a man there. As the second season serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth came to an end, the Doctor and his two accidental companions, 1960s London schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, continued on without Susan, going to another unknown location in the Doctor's phone box-shaped ship the TARDIS. When they materialize, it's in a serial where they already find a replacement for Susan.

The setting of the serial The Rescue is the planet Dido, where a ship from Earth crashed in 2493. Some time has passed since the crash, and the only people left on board the wreck are a bedridden man named Bennett and a young orphan girl named Vicki, who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a rescue ship. When the ship detects that the TARDIS has landed nearby, she momentarily thinks it's the rescue ship.

It's easy to understand why Vicki wants to get off Dido, as the other crash survivors (including her father) have been killed off by locals represented by an insect-like creature called Koquillion. People act like Koquillion is a scary monster, but he's really quite goofy looking. When we learn more about him, it makes sense that he seems so silly.

The Doctor has been trying to sleep his way through the sadness he feels over Susan staying behind, but when he realizes he's on Dido he perks up considerably and starts doing an adorable little giggle, he's so excited to be able to see the nice inhabitants of this planet again. Unfortunately, most of them have been murdered by Koquillion, who is not a native of this world like Vicki and Bennett believe him to be.

The Rescue is a short and simple serial, consisting of just two episodes - The Powerful Enemy and Desperate Measures. It was knocked out very quickly just to bring in the new companion, Vicki. Rather than spend any time making serials with just the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara, the makers of Doctor Who apparently thought they needed to have a young girl in the mix, as they certainly didn't break the mould when trying to figure out who could step in for Susan. 24 year old Carole Ann Ford was replaced by 21 year old Maureen O'Brien. O'Brien may be blonde rather than brunette and Vicki may be a regular Earth girl of the future rather than a mildly telepathic girl from Gallifrey, but she serves the same purpose. I guess they thought they needed a younger character for younger viewers to relate to.

Vicki doesn't get much to do in this serial aside from being sad, scared, surprised to hear where the Doctor and his companions have come from, and anxious to get away from Koquillion. As if things haven't been bad enough for her, Barbara piles on more sadness when she gets scared by a creature called a "sand beast" and kills it with a flare gun, not knowing Vicki considered the thing a friendly pet.

To really get an idea of what Vicki's like, we're going to have to wait and see how she acts when she accompanies the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara on their next adventure. By the end of this serial's second episode, the Doctor has had a confrontation with Koquillion in the local Hall of Judgment and Vicki has decided that it'd be better to go off with the travellers of time and space to no one knows where and no one knows when than it would be to just wait the last few hours for the rescue ship from Earth.

There's not much to The Rescue, but it's an enjoyable 50 minutes.

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