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17 January 2017 @ 07:47 pm
The Randomiser: Carnival of Monsters  
Way way back in 1981 the BBC ran a "Five Faces of Doctor Who" season in which they showed one story from each of the first four Doctors (ending with a repeat of Logopolis and Tom Baker regenerating into Peter Davison), except for the third Doctor who got two stories. It's difficult to say how incredibly exciting this was to a young Doctor Who fan at the time. The two stories picked for the third Doctor were The Three Doctors and Carnival of Monsters. I assume they wanted to show both the anniversary multi-doctor story as part of the "five faces" theme but also a more typical story. I never really understood the inclusion of Carnival of Monsters which did not (insofar as one could judge from Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks' The Making of Doctor Who) seem to be a particularly significant Pertwee story, even if one assumes they were restricting themselves to four parters.

I was a little surprised by Tame Layman's enthusiasm for this however. He also had memories of seeing it at some point (possibly also as part of the Five Faces season) and recalled it as being a particularly good Pertwee story. The Teenager was summoned so that she could experience it as well.

I don't know. The story is generally pretty pacey, so it doesn't suffer from the longueurs of some early Doctor Who but I'd say that almost everything happening outside the miniscope on Inter Minor is done in a rather broad and heavy-handed fashion. The CSO, while not the worst Doctor Who has ever committed, is among the dodgier the show has inflicted upon the audience and it seems more obvious than usual that the budget wasn't really stretching to many sets.

The parts of the story set on the SS Bernice are among the best ,in part I would say because both the actors and the producers of sets and costumes were far more comfortable with portraying the 1920s than fantastical machines or aliens. The reveal that actually the first parts of the story are taking place inside some kind of peep show is clever and handled well. Still I'd argue that one good idea doesn't make a solid story.

It's fun but I don't really get the enthusiasm. Still, Tame Layman and Teenager enjoyed it so who am I to judge?

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/231076.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on January 17th, 2017 10:40 pm (UTC)
I like this one. I wrote about it here. As I recall, I showed it to my then-girlfriend and she liked it too. I've noticed that Pertwee often seems to go down better with casual viewers than card-carrying fans.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 03:53 pm (UTC)
I seem to be in something of a minority, though I guess there is a wide spread of meanings hidden in the words "it's fun".

Re: your review - I always assumed the SS Bernice, as a Marie Celeste type thing was found empty because it's inhabitants had been abducted to the miniscope. When the Doctor returns them he effectively changes history (which if the script were a little cleverer I would assume was supposed be prefigured by the fact that the Doctor has heard of the SS Bernice and Jo has not). I almost commented on this (for Doctor Who) rather casual attitude towards changing history, but couldn't quite see where it would fit in the review.
philmophlegm: I'vegotasportscarphilmophlegm on January 17th, 2017 10:41 pm (UTC)
I like it, although bad puppets and bad CSO is a terrible combination.

louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
It's obviously a little marmitey albeit in people are either "nothing wrong with it but not great" or "good but not great" about it. Spread of comments here on dreamwidth seem to be between people who feel much as I do and people who feel it is under-rated by fandom but aren't exactly gushing with excitement about it.
parrot_knight: parrotparrot_knight on January 18th, 2017 01:33 am (UTC)
I also like it, including the contrast between stylised Inter Minor and the Scope locations - making a virtue of necessity, of course, but Doctor Who is often good at that.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I'm not sure I'd call Inter Minor stylised, so much as minimal. I think it starts well, but I think a lot of the crawling around the scope interior is kind of dull.
wellinghall: Goldiewellinghall on January 18th, 2017 08:19 am (UTC)
I have fond memories of it, although I am not sure whether these are from the first showing or the later one.
gervase_fen: enemygervase_fen on January 18th, 2017 10:15 am (UTC)
The Five Faces season in November 1981 did as much as anything to cement me into my nascent fandom. There had been an excellent run of issues of the re-formatted Doctor Who Monthly throughout the year focussing on the past of the programme - going by month of publication, Pertwee in April, Troughton in June, Hartnell in August, supplemented by the ongoing guide to past stories, their cliffhangers and cast which had begun in February. Carnival of Monsters and The Three Doctors were the only stories the repeat season which had been novelised, so the differences between what I had imagined and the televised versions fascinated me.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 07:43 pm (UTC)
This was a few months before I started buying DWM. I had a few novelisations, but neither Carnival nor the Three Doctors (if memory serves). Most of my Doctor Who knowledge was from the The Making of Doctor Who.
wellinghall: Goldiewellinghall on January 22nd, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the information.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 07:41 pm (UTC)
daniel_saunders comments it may be a story that plays better to casual viewers than to hardcore fans, though the comments here would suggest several hardcore fans are pretty fond of it as well.
parrot_knight: parrotparrot_knight on January 18th, 2017 08:30 am (UTC)
I also like it, including the contrast between stylised Inter Minor and the Scope locations - making a virtue of necessity, of course, but Doctor Who is often good at that.
liadtbunny: DW Jo and Dr Cuteliadtbunny on January 18th, 2017 03:32 pm (UTC)
I find CoM fun too, but surprised at how high it is rated. I only have it on DVD because I won it in a completion!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 18th, 2017 07:56 pm (UTC)
I think we're slightly in the minority here (though londonkds over on DW agrees with us), but it's nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't entirely see the attraction.