Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Savages

New writer to the series, Ian Stuart Black, wrote this story, and it’s a very interesting one too. Since ‘The Daleks Masterplan’ every Doctor Who story has been four parts, and the series really is really benefiting from shorter stories and a regular pattern and pace. ‘The Savages’ starts with a lot of location work, and it continues throughout the story. This was something I really noticed, and it occurred to me that to this point the amount of location shooting  throughout the series had been extremely limited.

Apart from ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ and ‘The Myth Makers’, location shooting had only been the occasional linking shot or something like that. Nearly the end of the third season, ‘The Savages’ provides us with the first alien planet shot outdoors – in a quarry naturally! There is a fair bit of outside stuff shot on film for this one, possibly the most to date. It represents a shift in the way the show is produced – now with Innes Llyod at the helm and script editor Gerry Davis. I thought the previous team of Wiles and Tosh were doing some very interesting things with the series, but from watching Donald Tosh interviewed on ‘The Gunfighters’ DVD I see that Lloyd’s ideas for the show were quite different from Tosh and Wiles’, who didn’t have a good crack at the series in all fairness to them. Not all of their stories hit the mark but they were always trying to do something different.
William Hartnell gets all scientific as savages watch on.

Lloyd and Davis took over from ‘The Celestial Toymaker’, however I think this was the first story they commissioned and really had their mark on. And it’s a good start! Sadly, not existing at all in the archives, I realise now that the next couple of seasons’ worth of stories will be hard to get through as there will be a lot of reconstructions. My friend Andrew told me he had never watched the full reconstruction of this one before. He has now!
It’s very much a (well executed) ‘ideas’ story. The concept is interesting, and political too. I’m not sure if it was inspired by apartheid or colonialism in general, but the theme is taking things off others to make you strong. The elders take the life force from ‘the savages’ on this world. They have found a way to take this life force from the savages making them smarter and healthier, whilst the savages are left to live in caves and run around in skin. Perhaps the story is representing the concept of the poor making rich people rich?
Presumably this world is some sort of human colony far in the future, but it wasn’t 100% clear to me. It is mentioned that the savages are the same as the elders – they are both the same race in other words. It’s quite an horrific idea really, and a very adult concept for the show to deal with. I wonder what the children watching back in the day would have made of it.
It's a sad farewell to Steven
and Peter Purves
It is also Peter Purves’ final story as Steven Taylor. Lloyd and Davis had decided to move on both companions as soon as they could, and wasted little time in moving on Peter Purves sadly. At least it was a decent story to go out on for Steven, staying behind to help rebuild a society that couldn’t see that what they were doing was wrong. The leader of the Elders, Jano, is well played by  Frederick Jaeger.

The Doctor and Jano

It’s a nice twist to the plot and the character of Jano when they drain the Doctor of his essence and transfer it to Jano. He can suddenly see that what they have been doing is wrong. Destroying the machines may have been an effective way to stop the plundering of innocent people, but I’m not sure it would have effectively changed the planet. Most of the Elders were far from convinced that what they were doing was wrong.
It’s a good little story. It has a good look to it, with effective use of location work and some nifty looking corridors. Broadcast in 1966 it would have been the sort of story to get people thinking. Also the first story to abandon individual titles for each episode and just have a title for the whole story. An effectively told, interesting story.

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