Doctor Who #117: Don't Shoot the Pianist

"I have no intention of trying anything, only people do keep giving me guns and I wish they wouldn't!"TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 2 of The Gunfighters. First aired May 7 1966.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor is mistaken for Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp has to put him in jail for his own protection, but the Clantons threaten to hang Steven if he isn't released to them.

REVIEW: Bit of a false start on this one... Steven is singing the Ballad in the previous episode's reprise (he's up to the fourth time apparently, the Clantons really love it), and then Kate walks in and sings it AGAIN, only this time it's a bad lipsynch because they pipe Lynda "Captain Wrack" Baron's recording of it in the studio. It's a surprise to me - and it seems, to him too - that Steven can also play the piano, and Dodo's jealousy at being replaced is less notable than her complete obliviousness. She was having fun at gunpoint, she acts like she's a damn holodeck sometimes. The way the Clantons all take one step towards the Doctor and say "Alive, that is" at the same time like they're in a musical comedy (which I guess they are) pushes the limit past what's acceptable for the series. And the fact that Dodo didn't spot the Doctor from the top of the stairs shows that even the usually stylish direction can have its hiccups.

But for all that, there's still a lot to like. Hartnell is brilliant at the understated comedy, playing into the Clantons' misconception of him both accidentally and consciously, depending on the moment, then seems content to stay in a cell he can easily walk out of. The line I've used as this review's epigram is the epitome of Cotton's style of matter-of-fact dark humor. It's also found in Doc Holliday, of course, who can't seem to get his priorities straight. He risks his life for a drink, and when the hanging party takes Steven and his operating chair, it's the latter he cries out for. The Clantons are bullies you might recognize from the school yard, crowding the Doctor and then Steven to intimidate them with false friendship and smiling threats. Their MVP is Canadian actor Shame Rimmer as Seth Harper though, whose natural style makes him avoid the Western caricatures many in the cast are doing. I'm really sorry so see him get shot this early. The heart and soul of th supporting cast, however, is Kate. Though she gives as good as she gets, you can tell she's really in love with Holliday, warts and all. They seem a good match despite the age difference, and she's rather easy on the eyes.

I wish I had as much to say about the companions, but they basically get bounced around by the needs of the plot, either as victims or forced into actions by other characters.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - It was dodgy there for the first few minutes, but after the Doctor says his famous line (above), all is forgotten and forgiven.


S said...

Is the famous line the quote you used at the top?

Siskoid said...



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