Friday, 26 August 2011

277 Inferno: Episode Six

EPISODE: Inferno: Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: 13 June 1970
WRITER: Don Houghton
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield (and Barry Letts - Uncredited)
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Inferno
Episode Format: 525 video RSC

Escaping from the Brigade-Leader's office with the aid of Fire Extinguishers which they use to cool the Primords the Doctor & Sutton contain them using the coolant for the drill head. The Brigade & Section Leaders take Petra to the power room where she attempts to reconnect the power to the Tardis Console, but she is forced out by the Stahlmann Primord. Sutton returns with her and they activate the power making it back to the Doctor. The Brigade Leader pulls his gun on the Doctor threatening to shoot him if he won't take them with him. Liz shoots the Brigade Leader and orders the Doctor too leave as Lava pours towards the building .....

When I listened to the Abominable Snowmen I was impressed by how the tension was ratcheted up over the six episodes. It's the same here as we know the Doctor is under real time pressure to get off the Inferno Earth and return to our own before that world is destroyed. The noise just gets louder as this episode goes on, it's noticeable how much quieter it is on the real Earth during this episodes brief visit there! Douglas Camfield uses a lovely visual effect over the location footage to indicate the rising heat.

By using a parallel Universe this story allows members of the cast to play not one but two versions of themselves, so when Nicholas Courtney died earlier this year, and Liz & I decided to watch one of his stories, this was the one we chose. But he not only gets to play the Brigadier and his evil counterpart the Brigade Leader, in this episode he also gets to take the second character for a huge jump off the deep end as he sinks first into hopeless despair and then insanity in the face of his imminent death doing everything in his power to find a method of escape. It's a brilliant performance from Courtney and underlines what a good actor he was.

One of the faults Parallel Universe stories have is the inevitable sequel. Star Trek , especially Deep Space 9 repetitively returns to the Mirror, Mirror Universe and also works events from Next Generation's Yesterday's Enterprise into the main continuity, both of which devalue the original. The X-Men have returned to the Age of Apocalypse twice now. New Doctor Who flips back and forth to the universe where the Cybermen were created like it was the room next door. I very much feel it's best to do the Parallel Universe and then leave well alone. And the best way to do that is to destroy it at the end of the story, just as Doctor Who does here. Any sealed portal can always be undone, any prohibition broken. A decently apocalyptic finale should enshrine your parallel universe to one off status, not that it stopped Yesterday's Enterprise or the Age of Apocalypse from being revisited!

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