Guess what I've been watching..?
Like lots of Doctor Who fans I was up very late last night, once the BBC embargo broke and the new-old episodes were released onto I-tunes.
How magical that is! Not just the fact that these episodes have been found half a world away and returned to the archive after such a long time… but also that, just as we learn about their re-existence, they’re available almost immediately.
Episode Two of ‘The Web of Fear’ came down those virtual pipelines much faster than it takes our boiler to fill the bathtub with hot water.
I sat up watching just that single episode, careful not to binge and spoil the experience. And how weird – to have a story I knew from a Target novelisation from so many years ago – simply come to life. Like reading a book and then dreaming about the characters – that’s just how it feels.
One of my favourite things so far – besides the wonderful and sprightly yeti battle in Covent Garden – are the first appearances by iconic character, Lethbridge-Stewart, as played by Nicholas Courtney. I love the way he takes the Doctor seriously – though the other military bods are scoffing – when the Doctor tells them he has a time machine disguised as a Police Box. You can see their deathless friendship spring into being in just that very moment.
Besides gloriously restored and sparkling and creepy old Doctor Who, there’s been other ancient TV in my life this week. I’ve discovered what’s so great about the original ‘Outer Limits’ at last.
I’d only seen a few episodes before, and stupidly thought it a hokey monster-of-the-week show, with overlong episodes and obscure plot twists. And yes, it is… but it’s also very dark and sour and strange. It’s much more nihilistic than ‘The Twilight Zone’, and all the characters are completely bonkers. There aren’t any gentle, eccentric souls for us to empathise with. Everyone on ‘The Outer Limits’ is peculiar and on the edge. I’m still working my way through the series – and delighting in every show. Favourite so far? ‘Don’t Open Till Doomsday,’ in which an eloping couple end up in a crazy Miss Havisham’s back bedroom, where her own ancient unopened wedding presents are stored. There’s a light shining from one particular box and, if you peer inside, there’s a nasty hobgoblin and a tiny, still-alive husband who’s been there for forty years… It’s proper Atomic Age Gothic, just as Doctor Who’s yetis are. They come from an age when wedding gifts and moth-eaten fur coats and homely locations like the London Underground could turn very nasty indeed.