Hello everyone, the Historian here, with the first wrapup post of the TARDIS Project’s final season! As our regular readers know, there was some…difference of opinion about the merits of The Dominators among Project personnel. For now, though, let’s move along with the first half of the post.
PRODUCTION NOTES: I’ve already alluded to some of the production issues with this story. Its origin lay in the (thankfully temporary) loss of the Daleks to the show. The production team turned to Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, fresh off their successful scripts for The Web of Fear, to create a new, marketable monster. And thus, the Quarks.
The writers decided to introduce the Quarks in a story that satirized (their view of) the pacifist hippie movement, but story editor Derek Sherwin was less than satisfied. And, although Haisman and Lincoln worked on changes to the storyline, the scripts didn’t satisfy Sherwin either, to the extent that he had his assistant rewrite a good deal of it without the writers’ knowledge, not to mention cutting it from six episodes to five–which would have significant consequences for our next story! (That assistant’s name might be familiar to some of you–Terrence Dicks.) Haisman and Lincoln were, understandably, incensed, and demanded their names be taken off the scripts and replaced with the pseudonym “Norman Ashby.”
To add insult to injury, there was a disagreement about the commercial exploitation of the Quarks–technically co-owned by the writers and the BBC. Haisman and Lincoln signed some deals to make Quark items, but the BBC (which had started pursuing their own merchandise deals) objected. All of this led the writers to walk away from Doctor Who forever, costing viewers the third Yeti story that had been on the verge of being commissioned.
For more of the story (though I’ve pretty much summarized the high points), check out “A Brief History of Time (Travel)”. (And I didn’t even mention the dreaded budget cuts for this season!)
DOCTOR WHO FIRSTS: Well, it’s less of a “first” than a “second” and expansion. As I pointed out, this story gave us the second appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver…and the first use of it as something other than a screwdriver! It’s not a big thing, but it has had a huge impact on Doctor Who to this day.
PROJECT REPORT: Man, I don’t know what to say. The scripts clearly went through a rewrite shredder, to the extent that I have no idea how the writers’ original ideas would have gone. It was supposed to be a satire, but there’s no real elements of satire in it. There are some half-baked, strawmannish views of how pacifism “doesn’t work,” but that’s pretty much all that seems to be left of the anti-hippie sentiment. Would we have gotten something better or worse?
There’s no question that this story benefitted from one episode at a time viewing. And there’s no question that there are things to enjoy about the story–mainly the interactions between the Dominators themselves. MiniSpoo loved the Quarks, so they definitely hit their target market. (We all liked them too, but I’m putting the ten year old’s opinion up as more important than the adults!) I still don’t understand Ketina’s fixation on the character Cully, but I’m glad she liked him.
In fact, even though I still stand by my opinion (and it is only that) that this is one of the weakest stories we’ve seen thus far, I’m very happy that the Project members did enjoy it as much as they did! Really! And, as always, regardless of how good or bad the story was, it was just great to watch it with the Project. I laughed a lot during the discussions. Speaking of which….
Next up (tomorrow night), something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. And how! Until then, I remain