Tuesday, 30 August 2016

DAMASCUS

Viewed from inside the UNIT family the third Doctor is a charming avuncular patrician with a healthy dose of disdain for bureaucracy. Viewed from the outside though, especially if you happen to be one of the bureaucrats he has such disdain for how would you view him? Would he seem so avuncular, would he appear so charming, would you like his patrician attitude – these are questions that this months Short Trips story “Damascus” both asks and answers.
 This as quite a different take on a standard UNIT era story as it is all seen from the point of view from one not in the UNIT bubble, and a very important someone that is too, none other than the Prime Minister of the UK who here is only referred to as “Jeremy”. The PM has received reports of a spaceship hovering above Norfolk, UNIT are playing politics laming government budget cuts on their inaction and the Doctor seems completely disinterested so Jeremy decides to go to UNIT HQ to confront the Doctor face to face.
 The characterisation of the third Doctor is very interesting – Jeremy is told by Jo Grant that the Doctor is in a bad mood, and the Doctor is downright rude to him. Rude in a way that has only been hinted at in the TV series, abrasive, dismissive and callous. If you recall the way he speaks to the Brigadier when he is displeased, or the way he chastises Jo in The Daemons when she takes his side against the Brigadier, well its like that but a lot more aggressive. Then again, we are only seeing Jeremy’s point of view and he may be an unreliable narrator with an axe to grind….
 Tim Treloar narrates the story, you may recall that he plays Doctor number three in the Third Doctor box set and again he captures the essence of Pertwee without doing an impersonation of him. The whole story has the feeling of a 1970’s political thriller, of a power play and of trying to establish the pecking order in a line of command. And when you are up against the Prime Minister it may be better to hold your tongue and respect your place in the order of things especially if you are an alien that could be perceived as a threat…..
 A very interesting take on how the Third Doctor is perceived and how he really is given a long leash by the Brigadier – I feel we may be hearing a lot more of “Damascus” in further Third Doctor stories – 7/10.