Monday, 2 September 2013


CSO instead of sets.
‘Underworld’ I am told is regarded as something of a complete turkey in Doctor Who circles I believe. Well, do I concur? It’s fair to say that, in keeping with some of the earlier 15th season stories, it seems like this is a story which went into production before it was ready to. Firstly, the script needed another going over or two. There was some good ideas, the premise itself – a story based on the story of Jason and the Argonauts was a top idea from writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, but after episode one it becomes a very confusing story which doesn’t fully explain itself.
The Doctor and Leela with the crew of the R1C.
Should a Doctor Who story explain every little thing? Probably not. But perhaps there were things that needed to be explained in this story and just weren’t. The slaves are mining rocks... I think, to provide energy for the Oracle. What is this Oracle? I think it’s the P7E, the spaceship that the Minyans are chasing as it has their race bank. If I understand the story correctly, it’s become basically a mad computer and a God to those serving it. Some of whom have evolved into robotic type servants.
It’s all there, but it hasn’t been well-developed. The characters in board the R1C are reasonably well defined, Jackson and his crew, although more could have been done with them, the slave
characters though are just caricatures with only two characters of note. Some of their acting is a little off what it needed to be to convince an audience as well, regrettably.
Then we come to the use of CSO, and the special effects. The design budget had very little in it, a lot was being held over for the final story of the season and they discovered they basically had no money to build the cave sets. Clearly they mustn’t have had enough to go down to Wookie Hole either where they shot ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, which would have been perfect for this story. So they made a model and CSOed into the background for nearly 30 minutes of this story. Which over four episodes underran by ten minutes incidentally, which they could have used for story-extrapolation.
Only the bridge and the humans are real, rest is CSO,
This shot worked OK IMO.
Then again, the CSO took a lot of time to shoot and I suspect that a number of scenes had to be cut because they ran out of time to shoot them. Episode two is probably the worst episode. There’s a lot of walking around the caves, a long long LONG sequence involving gassing but generally it’s a very dull episode with a bit of over acting and a lot of walking about. The CSO to be honest, considering how hard it was to do, and the fact that cameras have to be locked off, is not too bad. It just doesn’t convince and perhaps it never could. K-9 moves merrily along rocks and dirt which you’d think would be hard for him, and hair and feet fade in and out. Then there’s that glow around most characters. The camera angles are
Just what the strange gold-headed guys are....
I'm not sure!
very static because the camera had to be locked most of the time to match with the CSOed background.
Good on them for giving it a go. They were considering abandoning the thing due to cost cutting, which may have pleased a few fans in retrospect. But robbed Who-history of four episodes.
As it stands it’s a story that doesn’t quite work, although I think episode one is in fact really strong. They chose a direction in Canadian Norman Stewart who understood the CSO technology well, but was a first time director and because of the technical issues couldn’t spend time on the actors and so forth.
I know it gets panned badly from Who-fandom, but I didn’t hate it, and I think it needs to be viewed with an understanding of the situation behind the production.


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