Doctor Who #337: Carnival of Monsters Part 2

"Suppose we're due for the monster bit any minute now?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.3 1973.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Jo gum up the mini-scope's works.

REVIEW: There sure is a lot of eye candy in this episode. The miniaturized Doctor and Jo walk around a pretty effective circuit board set. A giant eye looks down upon them and jump away from a giant tool (one of the better CSO effects ever). The only Cyberman of the Pertwee era on the mini-scope screen. The bubbling stream. The drashig bursting out of the marsh (I want that hand puppet!). It's all very well done and nice to look at, as is the alien planet's set itself. Top notch design effort by Roger Liminton and his team.

But while there's a lot to see, what I'm NOT particularly seeing is that vaunted satire about television. Sure, the mini-scope is a big viewer thing, and there's an occasional meta line like the one above, but really, how much of this is actually taking a shot across TV's bow? We have aliens salivating at the prospect of being shown violence, but it's not like our own remote controls have aggrometers on them. Instead, the real thrust of the "normal-sized" thread is how the gray aliens are so paranoid that they fear these carnival barkers are the spearhead of an invasion. It's funny to see one of them handle a growing TARDIS as if it were a bomb or a pooping baby, but the dialog isn't quite as crisp as it was in Part 1.

The weakest element by far is the stuff on the S.S. Bernice. We're still going through the time loop, and those different angles are particularly flattering. I didn't want to mention it in Part 1's review, but 1926 as depicted in Carnival is off-puttingly racist. Part 1 had comments about lazy Madrassi, and now something about "Johnny Chinaman". It's historically accurate, of that I have no doubt, but since it's not at all relevant to the story, couldn't they have had the characters talking about something else and avoided the racial slurs entirely? The boxing match the Doctor indulges in didn't do it for me either, I'm afraid. Of note is the sonic tool the Doctor uses to open the mystery deck plate, obviously a functionality he'll give the screwdriver in the future; and the fact that humans are called Tellurians for the first time - interesting that aliens have a species name for us. But not THAT interesting.

VERSIONS: The Special Edition DVD includes an earlier edit of this episode, about 29 minutes long. It includes the clap board outtake, an immediately scrapped new version of the theme tune (it's not that bad, but inferior to the original; if you were in Australia at the time, this arrangement actually went out on the air) and extra scenes, such as the Minorians patronizing the Lurmans and interrogating them about the miniscope, and the people on the S.S. Bernice trying to explain the heat they felt in the eradicator attack (gotta be sunspots!). Because Part 1 under-ran, this Part 2 edit features a number of scenes that were, in the broadcast version, shifted to Part 1.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - This story is highly regarded, but I've yet to fall in love with it. Lots of nice sets and effects, but the various ideas haven't come together meaningfully yet.



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