January 27: "Desperate Measures" / "The Slave Traders"

(The Rescue episode 2 & The Romans episode 1)

The Doctor confronts Koquillion in the People's Hall of
Judgement. ("Desperate Measures") ©BBC
That ended rather quickly, didn't it?  All this story really needed was for the Doctor to wander in and work everything out.  From the moment he enters the spaceship he's charming to Vicki, intrigued about Bennett, and sharply analytical about the truth of what's going on.  For him it doesn't seem to take much effort to deduce the truth about Koquillion, and he gets a decent fight scene to boot!

And he's not the only one, as Barbara gets to be heroic shooting a flare gun at a slavering monster.  Of course, it turned out to be Vicki's pet, and she's terribly upset about the whole thing, but nevertheless, Barbara's doing her best.  And Ian gets the weirdest line ever, as he refers to Koquillion as "Cockylickin" -- this apparently isn't in the script though, and is William Russell's contribution.

But really, this is about introducing Maureen O'Brien as new companion Vicki, and it's a job it does quite well.  She's quite likable, acting pert and strong yet with a bit of vulnerability -- the perfect person for the Doctor to take under his wing.  And the fact that we get a nice little story to boot, with crashed spaceships, menacing aliens, and a neat little plot twist at the end, as well as nice characterization for all the cast, means that The Rescue is quite wonderful.

But then it's on to the next adventure, as the TARDIS pitches over a cliff!  As About Time points out, the next shot is of Ian, seemingly lying unconscious -- but he's actually just stuffing his face with grapes, rather than in any actual danger.  "The Slave Traders" is full of fun moments like this, with the Doctor enraptured by Barbara's menu, Ian getting a somewhat Roman hairstyle which leads him to proclaim Julius Caesar, Vicki complaining about how bored she is...there's a lot of fun to be had.  Plus the pun from the Doctor where, upon being mistaken for lyre player Maximus Pettulian, he introduces Vicki with the line, "She keeps her eye on all the lyres," is good fun (and you can tell Vicki gets the joke).  Really, this is the most relaxed we've ever seen the TARDIS crew, to the point where Vicki is complaining about it: "The way you spoke I thought we were going to have adventures and see things!  We've been here nearly a month and all everyone wants to do is sit around and rest." 

But there're also some real threats here too: the slave traders Sevcheria and Didius are quite threatening, especially since the audience is anticipating their abduction of Ian and Barbara and we're wondering how they'll get out of it.  The fact that they don't is what leads to the episode's near-cliffhanger, where Ian is sold off and has to leave Barbara behind.  I say "near-cliffhanger" because it seems like it should be the end of the episode, except they have a little bit more time to fill and so the actual cliffhanger shows the Doctor about to be assassinated.  Hmm, I wonder how that will turn out...