Saturday, 9 March 2013

Revisiting The Visitation

Mentioning to Siskoid that his pilgrimage through Doctor Who was getting to the point I was around for, it occurred to me that the first TV story I really remember (as opposed to the comics or toys, of which I have spoken before) is Logopolis, mostly the end, probably as repeated before the start of the Fifth Doctor’s initial run in The Five Faces Of Doctor Who.

But the first TV story I could really tell you about from experience was The Visitation, the one with the Terileptils, sneaking about London in 1666, altering the Plague, and accidentally causing the Great Fire of London.

I knew that, unlike the Master from a few stories earlier (or the Daleks and Cybermen from the toys) the Terileptils were new, but I remember being impressed by the robot Death and their brightly coloured fishy look, clearly from a more exotic part of the space aquarium than the Sea Devils. I soon realised they weren’t going to become a big deal, but I still have fond memories of them.

(Oddly enough, real aliens using a fake ghost to scare people off is a bit Scooby Doo, isn’t it?)

I suspect it lodged in my mind most of all for the setting. Aliens in the future, or on a spaceship? Normal. Aliens in the present? Common enough. Aliens in Pudding Lane? Here was something I knew about from history at school (which now seems odd as I was seven, which seems a bit young for the Black Death) and no other show had something like that happening. Pseudohistoricals remain Doctor Who’s “killer app” to me, something it does better than anything else. You get schooling brought to life - and a monster to keep you interested if there aren’t enough swordfights anyway. Fantastic!

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