Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Smugglers

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #216)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the first story of the show’s fourth season…

The War Machines

The regular cast is the same as the last story ended, with William Hartnell as the Doctor, Anneke Wills as Polly and Michael Craze as Ben Jackson.

The serial is written by Brian Hayles, and directed by Julia Wells.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

In one of the last pure historicals of classic Doctor Who, the show goes to the Cornish coast for extensive location shooting, which would have upped the production value of this entirely missing story. It’s also the first story with Ben and Polly as “full companions”, and goes a long way to establishing the contrasts in the two characters, with Polly being more of a free-spirited adventurer, and Ben being more pragmatic and suspicious.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

Unfortunately, some of that characterization of Polly includes her being excited by the idea of adventuring until she sees a rat, at which point she is overwhelmed with disgust.

In the middle of the story, both the Doctor and his companions deal with their problems by playing on their superstitions–with the Doctor pretending to tell someone’s fortune with cards, and Ben & Polly pretending to use voodoo against someone else. This isn’t a wholly unreasonable plot idea, but there’s something a bit condescending in the reading of it, especially with similar things happening twice in a row like that.

Catch you next time!

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