Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Embodiment Gris

If I had a time machine, the first thing I'd do with it wouldn't be preventing any horrific and tragic disaster, or even skipping ahead a couple of hours to see tonight's lottery numbers. It would be to take a telly and video back to 1965 and tape "The Daleks' Master Plan" in its entirety. Like most BBC programmes of the sixties, the tapes were all destroyed long ago, and only three of the twelve episodes still survive. But I've been watching them today, and it really is cracking stuff. And not, like some old Doctor Whos, the kind of thing you watch to laugh at the cheap sets and effects, but it's brilliant, enthralling, deadly serious sci-fi drama that leaves me impatiently waiting for the next episode. Which, of course, is unlikely to be shown any time soon, unless another old film turns up in a BBC junk room unexpectedly.

Also brilliant is the DVD commentary on the recently-discovered episode 2 ("borrowed" by a young BBC engineer in the early seventies when he found it lying around the place, never returned and forgotten about until 2004), by Peter Purves and Kevin Stoney. They both cheerfully admit to having no memory of filming this 40-year-old episode they once starred in, but have a lot of fun discussing the old days and the people they worked with. It's somehow very warm and cosy to hear them referring to Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy as "Julian Sherrier". The name actually suits the character surprisingly well. A typical bit of commentary goes like this:

"There's Julian again..."
"No, that's not Julian, that's Bill."
"Is it?"
"Yes, Nick Courtney beat up Julian and put his cloak on Bill, so now he's infiltrating the council of war. Do keep up, Kevin."
"I'm getting lost here..."

Somebody give me a Tardis, so I can watch episode 3!

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