Ground Control to Major Not-Tom
There is a sequence in the first episode of The Ambassadors of Death in which some music plays that is clearly meant to be an homage to the song A Whiter Shade of Pale. In fact, the TARDIS Data Core says that the song is actually played, but it certainly wasn't there at least on the Region 1 DVD. I am very curious whether the wiki is wrong, or if there as a clearance issue for the DVD release and the music had to be subbed in with a sound-alike. Either that's the case and they did a very nice job of filling in the section, or else composer Dudley Simpson did a lovely job of evoking the song without infringing to begin with. Either way it is a nifty sequence showing a rescue space capsule docking with a drifting and unresponsive Mars capsule. As for the rest of the story so far?
Well, let's talk about that.
The Ambassadors of Death - Episodes 1 & 2
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Honestly, it's hard for me to say much about the story so far. The basic premise is that there was a manned mission to Mars, and something happened to the two astronauts such that they were presumed to be dead. But then their capsule unexpectedly took off and returned to Earth orbit without ever sending any communication. As the story starts, a rescue mission has been mounted with a lone astronaut sent up to dock with the Martian capsule and find out what happened. Of course, that mission also goes all pear shaped and all communication is lost with that capsule as well.
There is a whole thing with an unexpected signal being sent from the capsule, and a similarly unexpected reply sent from a warehouse in London. There are shadowy people who seem to know what is actually going on, and people on the inside of the space service and the government who are either complicit or are possibly mind-controlled. By the end of the second episode, the rescue capsule has landed in southern England with no further communication. The capsule is loaded up onto a flatbed truck, which is promptly hijacked in a big action scene featuring a helicopter dropping smoke bombs. Fortunately the Doctor foils that hijacking, and the capsule winds up back at Mission Control, where it is about to be opened.
Early on their is a weird scene in which the Doctor is working on the TARDIS console with Liz there to help, and it seems downright strange that we have missed the obligatory "it's bigger on the inside" scene. In Spearhead from Space Liz only sees the TARDIS from the outside, and it never appears at all in The Silurians, so it seems very strange to never get a proper first introduction of Liz to Dimensional Transcendence. Doubly strange is the fact that the console is there, but it appears to be in a living room complete with television, fireplace, and mantel as opposed to being in the stark white TARDIS control room with the round things. ("Look! It's the round things! I love the round things!!"). No in-story explanation is given at all, it just kind of sits there unspoken. Behind the scenes, the truth is that after more than six years of wear and tear the TARDIS control room set had been completely destroyed (although not intentionally) when it was put into storage. The whole thing is very strange.
Beyond that, the story itself is stylistically very different from the normal Doctor Who plot. I am not far enough in to say how well it works on the whole, but so far at least I am enjoying it. I think tomorrow's viewing will be when the creepy astronauts from the previews will finally show up, or at least I hope so. An hour into the story and there has been enough cloak & dagger and foreshadowing, it's time to start bringing out the real threat.
Companion(s): Liz Shaw, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Episode(s): The Ambassadors of Death - Episodes 1 & 2
Steps Walked: 6,937 today, 907,016 total
Distance Walked: 3.57 miles today, 441.19 miles total
Weight: 270.06 lbs (five day moving average), net change -37.24 lbs