We've been continuing to watch various old Doctor Who stories recently, with mixed success. I mentioned last time how much I enjoyed Tom Baker's debut story 'Robot'. Sadly 'Planet of Evil' from the following year is less impressive.1 The setting is atmospheric, especially the weird alien jungle, but it just lacks the necessary character banter from the Doctor to lift the so-so plot. Likewise Pertwee's debut story 'Spearhead from Space' manages to be simultaneously snappily edited and draggingly slow, which is disappointing. Even the Autons can't really lift it from tedium.
We then progressed to the 'Beneath the Surface' box set. 'The Silurians', despite being very long, is consistently entertaining with good characterisation, decent location filming, Fulton Mackay, Geoffrey Palmer and a vague attempt at moral complexity. Okay the Silurians themselves look crap and the young, headstrong one has a hilarious voice but otherwise it works very well. The sequel tale 'The Sea Devils' is less good but still quite enjoyable. You can't go too far wrong with Roger Delgado and Sea Devils, and in true Pertwee fashion the story is stuffed to the gills (geddit?) with location filming and speedboat chases. The end of the -ahem- "trilogy", Davison's 'Warriors of the Deep' is both better and worse than I remembered. Better in that it was a tiny bit less polystyrene than I recalled, but worse in that the Silurian and Sea Devil dialogue is nothing but undiluted exposition and cliche of the worst kind, delivered at about four words per minute. "Soon.. we.. will.. have... our... revenge..." kind of stuff. (Also, why are the Silurians calling themselves Silurians when we know from 'The Sea Devils' that it was a misnomer? And why do they talk about "Our Sea Devil brothers"? Don't they have a name other than a pejorative nickname some sailors slapped on them in the 1970s?)
I'm enjoying old Who overall but it's a very hit and miss experience. My boss's 6 year old boy was apparently sat down in front of an old Tom Baker episode recently and immediately started complaining that the monster looked fake. Sign of the times.
1 Although a few moments gave me powerful deja vu from watching the show in the 1970s, and from reading the novelisation -- it's surprising how often that happens. Those novelisations were a big part of my childhood.