Sunday 20 September 2015

202 - The Warehouse

There is an unwritten rule in Doctor Who that it has an “infinitely variable format”, a show where literally anything is possible. It’s a show with boundaries that should be constantly pushed.. problem is when boundaries are pushed like for example with Love and Monsters or The Horns of Nimon – fan reaction tends to be lukewarm at best or incandescent with rage at worst.
Season 24 was a difficult season but through Seasons 25 and 26 Sylvester McCoy became my favourite Doctor, and in last months story, We Are The Daleks, we saw a Season 25/26 McCoy in a Season 24 story, and it really worked. This months story, The Warehouse, is pure Season 24. If you close your eyes you can see the 1987 production values, the garish colours, the studio bound story with the set shot from different angles. You get where I am coming from. Some stories push boundaries, this one plays it safe. To put it in film terms, this is more of a Disney than a David Lynch. It however pure season 24, and for that it must be commended.
So the plot… The Doctor and Mel on their way to the Opera turn up at the Warehouse, a huge storage facility (like Amazon in Space) where clone families made up of Fred (Barry McCarthy), Jean (Anna Bentinck) and Ann (Clare Buckfield) continually perform a stock take – there are a Fred, Jean and Ann for every section with the letter of their section after their name to designate them: Fred E, Fred F, Fred G, etc). The Warehouse has also been invaded by apparently deadly carnivorous giant space rats, has strange mould growing almost everywhere, is run by a mysterious Supervisor (Phillip Franks), and then there is the planet below that has not received any deliveries for over 300 years…
Very much a by-the-numbers Doctor Who story, reminiscent of Paradise Towers, Face Of Evil and Big Finish’s own Spaceport Fear – it’s a story of a culture degenerating, worshipping technology as divine, and following rituals made of half-remembered customs of the past. There are a few twists and turns to keep the plot trundling along, but it all seems a bit too familiar. Of course, familiar is not necessarily a bad thing and it is a solid story with great performances – Phillip Franks is delightfully arch as the Supervisor and the sound design again is a great homage to Season 24. As a pastiche of the period it is a great success and also explains why McCoy’s umbrella changed between Paradise Towers and Delta and the Bannermen. Definitely one for traditional Who fans and those nostalgic for the late 80’s.

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