Friday, 4 October 2013

Planet of Fire

Nicola Bryant as Peri, with Dallas Adams.
And the irony of it all is, Tegan left in the previous story to little fanfare or interest from the writer, and here we have Turlough’s final story and it truly is HIS story. Two companions getting very different treatment.
‘Planet of Fire’ is Peter Grimwade’s final story for the show as director or in this case writer. It’s very solid. It features the best use of Anthony Ainley’s Master bar none. It was well directed by Fiona Cummings and shot partially in Lanzarote. Turlough ends up meeting up with his own people in the end, and saving a small settlement from dying when the planet Sarn explodes. It’s a good way to finish for Turlough and was written by the writer who introduced him.
Peter Davison climbs the hot hills of Lanzarote
It’s interesting that a line had been put through Peter Grimwade as a director more than a year before this story, thanks mostly to his autocratic style. When you consider the stories he directed are some of the strongest from seasons 18 and 19, sometimes you have to think ‘it’s the result that counts’. Still, he was able to give us this story with his type-writer.
Lanzarote was a perfect place to film. It features as Lanzarote at the start, and then as the location for Sarn with amazing alien looking landscape and the feel of volcanoes being present. Despite some of the costumes somehow looking very 80s (strange when you consider the costuming had a distinctive middle eastern feel), it’s all fairly convincing. Add the star Peter Wyngarde as Timanov to the mix, and it’s looking great.
The sublime Peter Wingarde

Turlough in shorts, though, is somewhat dubious to say the least! Then Nicola Bryant enters as American student Peri, and to be fair to her she was very young at the time (possibly 19) but the accent is not consistent. If an American companion in waiting wasn’t bad enough, we have the return of Kamelion, the crazy non-functional robot introduced in ‘The King’s Demons’ and completely ignored for every story since. That’s five stories he’s been in the TARDIS without appearing on screen or being talked about! There was, however, a scene in ‘The Awakening’ which didn’t make the final cut.
Despite these things, the story turns out pretty
Peri discovers the Master's control box.
strong with some lovely effects work to create the different coloured fires from blue to red. Very well mixed in. I watched the original version again of this as the omnibus version, which my good friend Andre tells me is excellent, was far shorter than the original thing and I felt I might miss something. The effects in the shortened ‘director’s cut’ are apparently very good and the pacing excellent.
Not that this one gets particularly slow at all. The Master brings Kamelion (and the Doctor, Turlough and Peri) to Sarn because an
Is this the end of the Master? Probably not.
experiment has gone wrong and he is now an inch tall, operating things from a small control box in his TARDIS. Kamelion changes from robot to silver man to Howard, Peri’s step-father to the Master throughout the tale. He makes a strange request when freed from the Master’s power of the Doctor – to kill him. Stranger still, the Doctor obliges which left me a little concerned because it barely affecting him.
Grimwade has given us a far more linear plotline than before, and it certainly helps. Sad to see Turlough go, Mark Strickson did a great job with the part despite the dodgy shorts. Cummings’ direction is excellent, you can never fault her at all.


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