Sunday, 22 August 2010

Blast from the Past: Survival

By the time that this final story of the classic series came around, Doctor Who had been a dying show for a long time. With ratings at their lowest recorded levels for the show, and stories looking cheaper than ever, the BBC were more determined to cancel the once adored science-fiction show. The title of ‘Survival’ was ironic for the era when it was shown, as Doctor Who was fighting for its own survival. A fight that sadly wouldn’t be won…

The computerised effects seen in this story are surprisingly realistic, and very impressive considering the small budget that was given to the show. However, the practical effects of various cats in this adventure (with remote-controlled heads) are less than impressive, and unfortunately add to the criticism about the programme being technologically behind the American science-fiction shows.

The Cheetah costumes are another disappointment in the story, as the fluffy head masks they wear weren’t going to convince the audience that they were real, as well as not allowing much expression of the actors to be seen. However, this is partly made up for by the excellent acting and sound effects which are used to bring these (somewhat fake-looking) creatures alive.

The original and engaging script by Rona Munro is the main factor which saves this story, and proves that a high budget and state-of-the-art production values are not what make good television. The death scene of one of the Cheetahs is a particularly effective and moving moment in the story, as the supposed monsters are given an emotional side to them. Sophie Aldred also gives a strong performance as her (posh gangster) character of Ace in this scene, and her expressive acting makes her one of the most believable companions.

Sylvester McCoy had been an excellent Doctor, offering a new mysterious take on the legendary Time Lord, yet for various reasons no-one was bothering to watch the show anymore. Doctor Who may have been a dying show, but that didn’t stop the production team from creating some of the finest stories in the show’s history. The thrilling tale of ‘Survival’ meant that Doctor Who ended on a high note, with the Doctor and Ace walking peacefully into the distance. If only they had been given a fair chance…

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