Friday, 27 September 2013


Martin Clunes as Lon with Collette O'Neil
‘Snakedance’ is Christopher Bailey’s sequel to ‘Kinda’, and although it’s not as thought-provoking or skilfully crafted as the first story, it’s a decent piece with some lovely characters and superb acting, which makes it generally enjoyable even if it still suffers from unconvincing snakes and a very confusing ending which really needed to be explained but wasn’t
John Carson (second from left)
Martin Clunes heads an all-star guest cast as the son of the Federator who wears quite the most ridiculous costume I’ve ever seen – a sort of short white dress with blue clouds on it. Hmmm, yes very fetching. His mother, Tanha, is played by Collette O’Neil, also a very good performance but special mention must go to John Carson as Ambril, whose reactions to the Doctor and general disposition are a real hoot.
Janet Fielding gets to do a bit more of the evil voice and evil acting, even if she comes across as a whining wimp in the first few scenes at the thought of the Mara returning. I thought Adric had left? Maybe she was filling the breach.  I like the ideas, and some of the sets too. The image they went for was Morocco inspired like a huge bazaar. Tents and colours abound.
My issue is seriously with the lighting.
It’s always hard to light for exterior when shooting multi-camera on a set, but this is very poor. I always feel like it’s a set. Even the cycloramas on the stuff that was filmed belies the actual location of filming – they are white! The set is a bit polystyrene too. The inside of the palace or wherever the Federators’ wife and son are staying is good, and I LOVED the six faces of delusion mask (brilliant moment in the story).

Manussan street

Snake finale with Janet Fielding
So it was a real mixed bag. Some stuff is downright creepy, the scenes in the hall of mirrors are some of the best from a writing and directing point of view. And then we hit the end. The Doctor communicates in the middle of a supposed desert with Dogon, the old high priest or some telepathically and goes back to the cave. The Mara appears, the Doctor holds out a small crystal and does something unexplained with his mind and he kills the Mara. In the next story he explains the Mara can only be killed between stages of its becoming or some waffle like that, but I was just left wondering why the Mara lost.
Costumes are a bit much really. Lots of layers, yet
apparently we are close to a desert. Also, everything looks clean and new. Much as I like the colour purple, perhaps tan and brown would have given a better sense of the location? It’s just so… so… so studio. And you get no concept of the full town, where the palace is or anything, or how far from the desert the town is either.
But it’s a lot of fun but it really is like watching a play. The designer Jan Spoczynski was very wrong for the show it seems. Enjoyable story thanks to the cast.


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