The Carnival of Monsters – Part 1

Watched this on DVD for the first time. I’m simply too young to have been watching any Pertwee, so every Third Doctor episode and story comes to me fresh.

For a first episode, it throws up far more questions than it answers. In that respect, the story does well to draw the viewer in and leaves them wanting to find out more.

On the one hand, we have Jo and the Doctor on the S. S. Bernice, confused about where they might be and faced with a strange loop in events. Elsewhere, on Inter Minor, we have Vorg and Shirna, intergalactic entertainers and hucksters, intent on turning round their fortunes with their Scope. The Functionaries, little more than labourers and porters, seem fascinated by the entertainers and their device, but the xenophobic Officials show no such interest.

I appreciate the difficulties of ‘blue screen’ style technologies (or whatever form of colour-separation overlay the BBC would have used at the time) – and the episode struggles when it tries to use them. I suspect I’ve used the wrong technical term for what they’re doing here. When we watch the Officials observing the ship landing at the spaceport, with the entertainers aboard, one momentarily loses his arm. The plesiosaurus elements on the ship look better, though the actual model proves less effective. Isn’t it the same model they use later for the Zygon Skarasen (or Loch Ness Monster)?

Overall, I found the story engaging because it pulled you along with it. The two stories seems separate and tell you little, then the final view pulls them together and answers a question you might not have been asking!

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