When the TARDIS doors accidentally open at the critical
moment of materialisation, the crew are reduced to minuscule
size. Innocuous creatures and objects, such as a domestic
cat, a kitchen sink - and a potent new pesticide called DN6
- become deadly threats...
Doctor Who was originally conceived, the intention
was to tell three distinct kinds of story. Historical stories
would send the TARDIS crew back in time to teach viewers about
human history. Futuristic stories would send them forward
in time to analyse scientific wonders. The third type of story
was the least well defined - these would send the crew "sideways"
into "other dimensions". The lack of clarity in this definition
meant that this type of story was dropped from the show's
guidelines soon after this dimension-related serial was produced
(although The Celestial Toymaker, The Mind Robber,
Inferno and Enlightenment are all strong contenders
for the category).
the gimmick of the time-travellers being reduced to the height
of an inch, the story's setting needed to be relatively straightforward.
Hence the TARDIS materialises in contemporary England for
the first time since the series began almost a year earlier.
The basic plot concerns a corrupt businessman (played by Alan
Tilvern) who resorts to murder in order to silence a damning
government report about a devastating pesticide he plans to
market. The ecological message that pervades Louis Marks'
script is even evident in the villain's name: Forester.
relatively mundane situation would not normally pose much
of a challenge to the TARDIS crew, but at one inch in height
even a walk up a garden path becomes a major hike, and on
the way they are menaced by a number of "giant" creatures.
Barring a few optical effects that lack depth and realism,
the scaled-up sets and props - designed by Raymond Cusick
- are truly magnificent, especially the fly that is encountered
by Ian and Barbara.
last two episodes of what began life as a four-part story
were infamously edited down to one at the behest of producer
Verity Lambert, thereby reducing this serial to three episodes.
However, the third part doesn't seem particularly rushed.
In fact, the only evidence of editing is the apparent jump
in the passage of time for the TARDIS crew about halfway through
from that, the only factor that might impede your enjoyment
(or possibly heighten it!) is the performance of Frank Crawshaw
as the government minister Farrow. His teeth whistle whenever
he pronounces "S" sounds, which is unfortunate given the number
of times he has to say "DN6"!
BBC's restoration team have made a lovely job of cleaning
up the old telecine prints of these episodes. By means of
a new computerised process, they have even managed to restore
the fluidity of movement and impression of depth of the original
videotape recordings, something that had been diminished by
the telecine transfer. It's a subtle difference, yet it somehow
brings the first two episodes "to life". The process has not
been applied to the final episode, on the grounds that this
instalment was originally broadcast from telecine anyway (hmm...
I'm not convinced about the validity of that argument).
is an unusual story for sure, but also one of the best Hartnell
adventures available on video.
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