Doctor Who #118: Johnny Ringo

"If you don' quit hoppin' about like a jackrabbit I'm gonna have to lay you out so cold you'll freeze!"TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 3 of The Gunfighters. First aired May 14 1966.

IN THIS ONE... Johnny Ringo comes to town looking to shoot Doc Holliday.

REVIEW: With his name in the title and posters of him all over the place, Johnny Ringo better not disappoint. (And for me, that means holding his own against Michael Biehn, because I so love Tombstone.) Well, he's a thoroughly cold-hearted badass, and shoots Charlie the barman with a smile and a shrug, but his is the first obviously mangled American accent, and that does distract from the performance. Wyatt Earp gets up to some badassery too, in both colorful language and head-thumping action. And while Dodo puts a gun in Holliday's face, he never loses that twinkle in his eye, knowing full well he could have shot her where she stood, if he thought for one second that she was a threat. There's a strange scene where he shoots someone offscreen as Kate whines "not again!", more of the serial's trademark black comedy, but it feels abupt and out of place. The Clantons do fairly well too, Phineas cackling in his cell as Warren Earp gets shot by his brothers. Kate, girlfriend to the outlaws, has some work to do navigating the dangerous waters between two men.

See what's missing? It's not that the lead characters aren't in the episode, it's that they don't get to do much except tag along on these historical characters' pre-ordained journey. Dodo does best, standing up to Holliday, apologizing for sticking him up and only really stealing a promise from him. It's a fun little scene, but it's undercut by comedy fainting a few seconds later. The Doctor calling Wyatt Earp "Mr. Werp" has gotten to the point where it's just annoying and unjustified, but Hartnell holds his own and makes the Doctor a force for non-violence. Obviously, he gets himself laughed at in this setting. Steven fares worst of all - again - as he keeps getting dragged into situations he obviously doesn't care for.

With the line "gone kind of mental", the Ballad itself goes a little mental, as it can now suddenly comment on the action, using the characters' names specifically, and even reveals new information, like the relationship between Kate and Johnny! And in Kate's "voice" talking about her in the third person, no less! Still, the song has a cheeriness that contrasts with the doom and gloom of its lyrics, which makes it thematically coherent with the rest of the serial. Though it plays many things for comedy, the deaths of characters are anything but. Charlie's death may be the best of the series yet because it is that exact mix of comic and horrific.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - While I wish the leads took a more central role, the play between comedy and true danger is enough to keep one's attention.


SallyP said...

Ahhhh...nothing like a Western. And yes, Michael Biehn was fabulous. But this DOES look interesting.


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