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29 March 2018 @ 08:05 pm
The Randomiser: The Visitation  
It has been noted that one of the oddities of Eric Saward's scripts for Doctor Who is that he seems to be a great deal more interested in the supporting characters than he is in either the Doctor or the companions. In his first script, The Visitation, this isn't so obvious but the main supporting character, down-on-his-luck thespian Richard Mace, stands out very clearly as one of the more interesting parts of the tale and, indeed, gets rather more to do than Adric, Nyssa or Tegan. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Saward was very annoyed at Michael Robbins' performance and thought it distinctly sub-standard. This seems odd to me. I'm not sure what he was expecting, but Robbins' conveys well a reluctant but intrigued participant in the adventure and times the comedic lines well without actually becoming a comic character. Maybe the problem is that Eric Saward had a clear penchant for grotesque's and in comparison to the performances for some of his later characters, Robbins is very restrained.

I actually think this is a pretty good story for Nyssa, despite the fact she spends most of it in the Tardis building an android. We get to see her build a machine without the Doctor's help and use it to destory the android when it breaks in. We also have some nice interactions between her and Adric, contrasting her dependability with his impatience. It's not, it has to be said, such a good story for either Adric or Tegan, both spending a lot of the time being captured, while Mace acts as companion and Nyssa builds the android destructor device.

To be honest I like this story. It's solid and mostly looks good (because historical). It's not as well paced as it might be, but it has a lot of nice moments and enough ideas to keep it moving along. I'm not a big fan of Saward's later work, but at this stage I would have said he had a lot of promise, both as script writer and editor.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/492954.html.
liadtbunny: Adam Adamantliadtbunny on March 30th, 2018 02:16 pm (UTC)
I did feel a bit sorry for Michael Robbins after listening to the commentary/special features. Like you I thought he was fine. Maybe Saward was suffering from 'On the Buses' snobbery?
louisedennis: Who:FIvelouisedennis on March 30th, 2018 04:55 pm (UTC)
It is odd. Maybe Saward just couldn't separate "not the way I imagined the character" from "can't act".
liadtbunny: Callanliadtbunny on March 31st, 2018 02:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm, that sounds about right!