THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Galaxy 4
The Savages
Venusian Lullaby
BBC
The Rescue

Episodes 2 Two survivors of a doomed ship, one with a terrible secret.
Story No# 11
Production Code L
Season 2
Dates Jan. 2, 1965 -
Jan. 9, 1965

With William Hartnell, William Russell,
Jacqueline Hill, Maureen O'Brien.
Written by David Whitaker. Script-edited by Dennis Spooner.
Directed by Christopher Barry. Produced by Verity Lambert.

Synopsis: A young girl and crippled man are being held captive by the ruthless Koquillion. But it's not long before the Doctor begins to doubt Koquillion's motivations.


Reviews

A Review by Jeff Sims 11/5/97

An Earth ship has crashed on the planet Dido, and all but two of the crew are slaughtered by the inhabitants. The survivors are being tormented by a hideous creature called Koquillion, who must not be allowed to learn that a rescue ship is on the way. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara have arrived. They also fall afoul of Koquillion, but the Doctor is suspicious; why are the natives -- famous for their peaceful natures -- committing such atrocities?

This is a nice little tale, which packs a lot into two episodes. Unlike many other Hartnell offerings, the pace never drags in this one. An air of mystery pervades the story, which isn't dispelled until the final moments. Koquillion is really a nasty beast, who could frighten anybody.

The Rescue introduces Vicki as the new companion to replace Susan. She is one of a certain line of Who girls: sweet, elfin, and spunky. It is a good beginning, since most of the story focuses on her.


An Underrated Jewel by Christopher Fare 11/5/97

The Rescue has to be one of the most ignored Doctor Who stories ever. Yes, it is only two episodes long, but everyone remembers The Sontaran Experiment and The Awakening, don't they?

The plot shows that David Whitaker was one of Doctor Who's greatest writers. The story is packed with great moments, and manages to combine everything from brooding atmosphere to fight for survival to verbal comedy, not to mention the infamous double entendre from Ian, which is the only thing anyone remembers about it unfortunately.

However, it is in the acting that the story really shines. This was the first story recorded in Doctor Who's second production block, and it shows. William Hartnell especially seems to have been refreshed during his holiday, he hardly fluffs any lines and his dialogue with Vicki is heartwarming. Likewise, Hill and Russell contribute their usually sterling performances and their chemistry with Hartnell, O'Brien and each other is still magic after 32 years.

Ray Barrett makes a great villian, but the real focus of this story is Vicki. Most fans have condemned her as a screaming ninny, but Vicki is much better than the wet Susan. She shows naivety, spunk, warmth and pathos and I'm glad she boards the TARDIS at the end. With superb sets and effects by Ray Cusick, and smooth direction by Christopher Barry, this is a short but superb adventure.


A Review by Michael Hickerson 12/1/98

One of the major cliches of the Hartnell years is that you had guys dressed up in rubber monster suits, strutting around and acting threatening.

In The Rescue, David Whitaker takes that cliche and turns it on its ear. The Rescue is what I'd describe as one of the forgotten classics. Coming on the heels of Susan's emotional departure and the second Dalek story and right before the amusing events of The Romans, The Rescue is a quiet two-parter that introduces us to the new TARDIS crew member, Vicki. Vicki gets a strong introduction (it's too bad that later she'll become nothing more than a carbon copy of Susan) with some strong character moments by Whitaker.

But playing with conventions is the real strength of this story. Whitaker makes the bug-eyes monster seem very threatening and makes us truly dislike Koquillion. He is also able to mask fairly well that Bennett is Koquillion in disguise, hiding his secrets. It's nice to see the Doctor put all this together based on his previous experiences with the residents of Dido. It makes for an intriguing mystery and a nice resolution.

But as I said before, the strength here is characters. Vicki is nicely done, but even more striking is Hartnell's Doctor both in the script and his performances. We see the Doctor struggling with his loss of Susan in the previous episode. Hartnell brings an excellent touch to these scenes and his performance is remarkable. The scene in the TARDIS where he calls out to Susan to open the doors before he realizes she is actually gone is nicely done.

And the story does a good job of telling the story and then ending. One of my major problems with the Hartnell years is that some strories drag in spots and have excess padding to extend the episode count. Not so here. At two episodes, The Rescue is correct length to keep my interest up and me on the edge of my seat.


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 23/11/98

The Rescue is a highly entertaining if somewhat inconsequential tale, deserving a better reputation than it has. This is due largely to David Whitaker`s thoughtful script, which boasts some sparkling dialogue. Basically, The Rescue merely serves as a vehicle to introduce the character of Vicki, played to her strengths here by Maureen O`Brien (something that wouldn`t really be repeated during her stay on the TARDIS).

Jacqueline Hill as Barbara, taking on a sisterly type role is also excellent here, as is William Hartnell (once again becoming more paternal,as he was towards Susan), and William Russell is as good as he ever was given the limitations he faced playing Ian. On top of this, the production values are quite high as well: the crashed spaceship, when viewed by Ian and Barbara from up on the ledge, deserving special note.

On the whole, the script manages to remain something of a mystery up until midway through part two, where things become a little predictable. At two episodes long, The Rescue is just the right length to be enjoyable Doctor Who.


Barbara Rules! by Tom May 27/11/98

Barbara: "Doctor, the trembling's stopped."
Doctor: "Oh my dear, I'm so glad you're feeling better!"

A bit of an oddity, The Rescue's short length and straight to the point plot count strongly in it's favour, in comparison to the overt dullness of The Sensorites or The Web Planet.

The adventure starts very oddly, with the troubled Vicki and Bennett, a man with something to hide if ever there was one, both introduced. Meanwhile, Ian and Barbara show the development of their characters perfectly, and the opening TARDIS scenes exude a nice, light-hearted tone. Hartnell's Doctor is, surprsinigly in the view of Susan's recent departure, in very high spirits, and seems to be having a good time in this Dido-based story.

As Ian and Barbara venture out on to Dido, they are confronted by a peculiar, bizarre monster by the name Koquillion, who intimidates Barbara so much that she falls down a precipise. Soon, Ian and the Doctor team up and cross a bizarre landscape filled with unseen dangers, and this "subplot" is by far the least successful aspect of the story.

While this is going on, Barbara meets Vicki and soon develops an almost parental rapport with her. Jacqueline Hill once again impresses as the prim, self-possessed Barbara, giving a richly imposing performance, adding an impulse edge to the character, when she kills Vicki's pet Sandy. Barbara, even as an experienced time-traveller, finds it tough to emphasize her guilt to Vicki, and these scenes are acted outstandingly by Hill.

Aside from the involving, excellenct characterisation of Barbara, The Rescue has many other good points. It's a really witty idea to have Koquillion literally as a man in a suit, in view of the general implausibilty of most of Doctor Who's monsters at the time. Excellent writer, David Whitaker, manages to create a very economical, intriguing narrative, and gives the actors superb dialogue. The unusual costume and speech of Koquillion benefits the story as a whole, and it while it could be said that the ending is a little too straightforward, The Rescue remains a rewarding, enjoyable story.

The Rescue's vaguely self-aware feel is an oddity for the time, as is the relative lack of infuriating padding. It may have very variable set pieces (Barbara's "fall"), and effects (the gun Barbara uses to kill Sandy), but The Rescue features Barbara at her peak (excepting The Aztecs perhaps), a good-natured Doctor acting as an astute grandfather to Vicki, and is very skillfully written by David Whitaker, who displays an excellent understanding of the mix of drama and humour required for Doctor Who. 8/10


Short Episodes Beget Short Reviews by Peter Niemeyer 22/3/01

I don't think there's much to say about this episode. It appears to me that it was written solely to introduce Vicki as the new companion, and in that sense it succeeds. Vicki comes across as being young and impressionable, but she is likeable and feels a strong connection to the Doctor. In fact, except for the fact she is unfamiliar with the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara, she is a virtual copy of Susan. So, I would assume that at this point, the producers were not asking themselves "What kind of companion would be new and interesting?". They were merely trying to preserve the status quo.

The Bennett/Koquillion storyline was interesting enough, but it never really created any tension in the story. Ian, Barbara, and the Doctor never showed any fear or concern about Koquillion's actions, so we the viewer are hard pressed to find him threatening. The sudden appearance of the surviving Didonians at the end of the story was a bit of a let-down, but the story didn't have anywhere else to go, so it was well enough that the story ended.

The one compliment I have is to the set designer. Given this story was done on a two-episode budget, I was rather impressed with the authenticity of the background.

One Thing I'd Do Differently: I wouldn't have had Barbara kill Sandy. The incident (the death of a pet) didn't really move the story forward and the Doctor got Vicki to dismiss it far too easily for me to believe. This just detracted from the story with no purpose.

One Thing I Wouldn't Touch: The way in which the TARDIS crew discussed Susan and her absence. The Doctor calling for Susan to open the doors was priceless, and the way Barbara and Ian speculated about what Susan was doing felt very three-dimensional.

Would I Like To Watch This Serial Again?: Yes, but only if I was watching the entire season. I doubt I'd ever watch this serial in isolation.


Rude Mechanicals by Andrew Wixon 21/9/01

Most script editors of Doctor Who have also got their name on a script for the series. (Some rank amongst the series' most prolific writers.) And it's interesting to see how they work out. There are those who were mainly workmanlike in both capacities, while others were brilliant at one and only average in the other. Others - well, let's face it, we're talking about Robert Holmes - were outstanding at both. Into which of these categories should we put David Whitaker, founder script-editor and a key formative influence on the series?

Whitaker has a formidable reputation, based, it must be said, mainly on the reputation of his two Dalek stories, neither of which is wholly available for judgement. His surviving stories are, to be sure, rather less impressive. Both Edge of Destruction and The Rescue are 'interlude' adventures designed to ease the show through another slight reformatting. Edge of Destruction is intended to largely defuse the tensions in the travellers' group that were established in the opening episodes, and The Rescue's sole function is to introduce Vicki as the first replacement companion. And it must be said it does this in a completely contrived and rather mechanical fashion.

There are plot holes by the dozen here, for example: why was a convicted felon taken to the Didoan feast? Why was a sick young girl left alone at the same time? How did said felon get remotely close to the ship's armament? Why did the ship land on Dido in the first place? Why doesn't Bennett just kill Vicki seeing as no-one knows of his crime? Does he realistically plan to pretend to be paralysed for the rest of his life? Why do the supposedly peace-loving Didoans build lethal traps in their caves? Why, with a rescue ship only three days away, does Vicki take a chance on going off in an alien craft with some highly-eccentric total strangers? (If I was Fox Mulder I'd swear there was a conspiracy at work here to foist Vicki on the unsuspecting TARDIS crew.) The plot itself develops fairly lumpenly - Barbara at on point basically says to Vicki (I'm paraphrasing here) 'Why don't you tell me all about your background and what's going on here?' thus allowing the unfortunate Maureen O'Brien to unload a steaming slab of exposition, delivered straight to camera. it's pretty much scripting by numbers.

The Rescue is not without some points of interest. Well into the second season, Ian and Barbara are still largely the main characters, although Hartnell's Doctor is as mellow as he's ever going to get. All traces of the sinister, selfish man of the first episode have melted away, leaving an avuncular magician. Hartnell's performance most of the way through is quite staggeringly camp, but thankfully for the climax - the first occasion, surely, that the Doctor adopts his now-traditional role of sole investigator and resolver of events - he turns it down to a dull roar. Though you have to wonder at the wisdom of telling a big, strong, killer with a ray gun that you're on to him when you're all by yourself in his hidden lair... The production values are just about okay. Stock music first heard in The Dead Planet makes a welcome reappearance, adding a much-needed touch of class to proceedings.

It's not a great introduction for Vicki or Maureen O'Brien, as she gets saddled with some terrible dialogue and is called upon for histrionics above and beyond the call of duty. She also comes across as rather dimwitted for not rumbling Bennett a lot earlier - Koquillion goes into a room with only one door and Bennett emerges later... it's not exactly The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, is it? (And for all his good work elsewhere, William Russell deserves a good talking to for his pronunciation of the villains' name in the second episode. Dearie me...)

About the best you can say of The Rescue is that while it's deeply mediocre Doctor Who it gets the job done. One can only wish that they'd approached the series' first major change in personnel in a less workmanlike manner. It's not the story we'd expect from a man with David Whitaker's reputation.


Short and to the point by Tim Roll-Pickering 3/10/01

The first story to introduce a new companion, The Rescue is extremely modest in its scope and so doesn't last too long. After the earlier Inside the Spaceship, David Whitaker once again turns in a two episode story full of character, mystery and suspense in order to perform a straightforward task.

Maureen O'Brian gives a reasonable debut performance as Vicki but it is a pity that we are given virtually no clue as to what her life was like before she set out of the space trip. As with a number of subsequent companions she is introduced with such little history that it is difficult to understand her outlook and motivation throughout her time with the Doctor. The concept of the lost orphan is a common one in fiction, but on this occasion it is via the Doctor, Ian and Barbara that we encounter this particular orphan rather than the other way round and so it is much harder to identify with Vicki.

The plot is straightforward, although let down by the deus ex machina ending when two survivors of Dido suddenly appear. The first episode ends with a literal cliffhanger that serves little purpose other than to keep the viewer in suspense for a week - and the concluding episode ends on another literal one! However the Sandbeast is at least put to good use in the second episode in a scene showing that one should never judge by appearances - which helps foreshadow the later revelation - and also giving Vicki some good material.

The Doctor is on top form in this story, doing his best to avoid thinking of Susan's absence and greeting with relish the discovery that he has returned to Dido. Some of his scenes are almost hilarious, such as the one where he listens to Vicki's opinion of him, but others show that he is truly in charge as he enters the Hall of Justice and confronts Koquillion. Whilst the latter is hardly The Powerful Enemy (the title of the first episode), Bennett comes across as a believable schemer, prepared to take Desperate Measures (the second episode's title) to survive. Like Sherlock Holmes, the Doctor immediately deduces the truth of the matter based upon the mere facts presented to him, though he fails to anticipate the danger. The revelation that Koquillion, who looks like a human in a costume, is a human in a costume is a wonderful touch. The main weakness of the design is the rocket ship, as the interior looks far too small for an expedition, but this is only a minor thing.

The Rescue is a nice short story that does its required task and does it well. 8/10


A Review by Daniel Spelner 24/12/01

At just two episodes The Rescue benefits from not having time to wander, it gets on with it! Of course this contrasts with most of 1960s Who which frequently dragged due to being inordinately drawn-out. So it's refreshing to see this "faster" example of the Hartnell era, which introduced Maureen O'Brien's Vicki. This simple story briskly trots along and sustains interest through to the twist ending and is told with Christopher Barry's uncomplicated but effective handling.

David Whitaker clearly knew what winning television was, the majority of his scripts were brilliant and whilst The Rescue isn't his best, it does illustrate his ability for agreeable and exciting story writing. As mentioned this marked the first change of the regulars, from Susan to Vicki, and O'Brien played her artificially - she always seemed unreal somehow.


Classic Who by Joe Ford 23/5/02

Short but sweet, The Rescue is a fine example of what the show could do in its early days. It is totally character driven but all the better for and the flimsy excuse of a plot is merely tacked on to introduce the new companion Vicki. It has no real substance at all, it isn't long enough to get involved with but merely a string of pleasant, warming character scenes brought to life by fabulous actors.

William Hartnell is rarely gentler than we see him here. His loss of Susan is palpable especially during the landing sequence where he calls out her name. His relationship with Ian and Barbara is wonderfully relaxed and you can tell at this point that they really enjoy travelling together. I cannot tell you how much I love his short sequence in the the TARDIS when he realises they are on Dido ("Perhaps I can tell Ian it was deliberate…oh no I was asleep, wasn't I!") it is such a funny scene. But it is his moments with Vicki that shine through, that grandfatherly love shines through and reminds us why we should love him just as much.

Maureen O'Brien is acceptable but there are times that she overdoes things. A few too many tears for my liking.

I feel I should mention the direction by Chris Barry which is polished and stylish. The shot of three travellers as they first leave the TARDIS (with the camera drawn towards them) creates a wonderful sense of unease. And the climax with The Doctor confronting Bennett in the smoky hall of justice looks really eerie and feels appropriately dramatic.

Not a classic then but a wonderful break after the overlong Dalek Invasion of Earth and a fine lead in to The Romans.

Eight out of ten.


Just sort of there? by Mike Jenkins 9/7/02

Perhaps there are reasons this story is overlooked. It has no monumental significance, and at first glance, appears to be there only to fill out the season as it were. The story is less ambiguous then I had originally anticipated. There was an incredible range of highs and lows in the drama. Not a removed or indifferent story at all. Hartnell gives a reserved, dare I say less cantankerous performance than in some (most) previous tales. This allows for an emotional branching out on the part of Ian and Barbara. They now have room to be themselves and not just vehicles for the story, either facinated or upstet, travelling with the Doctor, as usual. It's likely that Susan's departure was instrumental in providing this breathing space.

Vicki, given the things I've just said, could've been the most tragic mistake for this episode, yet her personality compliments the screen with greater precision then that of Susan's, owing to the fact that drama often lacked the same coherence in the Susan era because Carol Ann Ford was meant to be the Doctor's grandaughter. While creative, this overcomplicated the acting sequences, not lending itself as well to Doctor Who as that of Vicki by Maureen O'Brien. At least for the first story that is. In subsequent stories that followed, Vicki's character degenerated considerably, taking an alternative route. Less indifferent than Susan and more idiotic. This two part gem weaves her character miraculously into the web. Bennett is a unique villian. Not a foe but a phony. The Doctor ends up feeling sorry and, playing Daddy Warbucks to Vicki's Annie, shuffles her on board with his two other companions. A swift, moving progressive story, and enjoyable at its short length. Forgettable in no sense of the word but far from perfect nonetheless.


A Review by Alan Thomas 10/9/02

After the gritty and bleak epic that had just passed, the series introduces a new companion for the first time. The Rescue is a nice, neat story, with a distinctive feel that could only be found in the Hartnell era. It's only 2 episodes long, but provides a suitable and entertaining rest bite.

The story has a wonderfully lovely scene between The Doctor, Ian, and Barbara, which shows how their characters have progressed from hostile travellers to genuine friends. Hartnell's acting ability is demonstrated in the very touching line wherein he asks Susan to open the doors. We then learn that The Doctor has visited this singer... er, sorry, this planet before. It's Dido, and the people are very friendly, apparently. This is the first instance of The Doctor referring to an adventure that has never been seen, and helps to increase the scope of the series.

Vicki is a young innocent being held by Bennett, a grouchy and crippled man. This aspect of the plot works well, as Bennett seems at first to have given up hope of ever being rescued, whilst Vicki lives in the hope of it. The evil Koquillian actually evokes images of the controlling father in many gritty dramas of today. He has the control over the ship. From Vicki's point of view, Koquillian is a help to her, but the viewer sees him simply as a bully that is out for what he can get.

Perhaps the stories best scene is the one in which Barbara kills Sandy, a Big Brother hou... er, I mean a sluggish pet of Vicki's. This helps to develop Vicki at a very early stage, something that wasn't obvious with Susan. Vicki is desperate, and little things keep her happy in an environment in which the lying and devious Koquillian and the cynical Bennett drag her down. The Doctor comes across as very kindly to her, and a helpful way out of her mess. Barbara and Vicki work very well together as they got off on a bad foot. Ian and The Doctor, meanwhile, are left trying to overcome traps that Ian thinks have been left by the Didonians. But The Doctor doesn't understand it - they're good people.

When The Doctor uncovers Bennett's scheme, it's not a terrible surprise to the viewer. The plot does have logical flaws, though. How on Earth could Bennett have been masquerading as Koquillian for so long without Vicki noticing that something was amiss? This plot does, however, lead to a magnificent image at the finale, when The Doctor confronts Bennett. The columns are vast and the atmosphere is gloomy. Then two Didonians dispose off Bennett. Where did they come from anyway? Bennett is supposed to have committed genocide and wiped out the entire civilization, yet these two (wearing shellsuits) appear, and Bennett falls down a cliff. Their presence is never explained, neither is why they felt the need to smash up the crashed ship at the end of the story.

The crew's decision to adopt Vicki is very touching, and must have added interest to the viewers. A new face in the TARDIS must have been quite exciting for the children of the sixties. Just as it seems that everything is going to go smoothly, though, the TARDIS lands on the edge of a cliff, and slowly topples off...

The Rescue stands up as one of the best pieces of character drama in the Hartnell era, if not of the whole series. It's far more substantial than it appears. 8/10


Underwhelming by David Massingham 15/1/04

The Rescue is an odd little story, one that has more than its fair share of flaws given its shorter-than-average length. If it weren't for the introduction of the fourth travelling companion, Vicki, and some touching scenes reminiscing about the recently departed Susan, there would be very little to recommend about it.

This isn't to say that this outing is bad per say. Underwhelming would be a much more apt description. It is underwhelming in the way it portrays Vicki, who comes across as a simple Susan-clone, albeit one played by a more talented actress (I must admit, though, that this companion gets more engaging in later season two entries). It is also underwhelming when it completely ruins one of its' most daring plot features, the revelation that Bennett had destroyed an entire race, by revealing that he, er, DIDN'T destroy an entire race. It's underwhelming when it has all that stupid stuff about Sandy, Vicki's pet monster. Seeing Vicki quickly forgive Barbara for the murder of her pet, the equivalent of your pet dog/cat/bird/iguana, dear reader... well, that didn't cut the mustard with this viewer.

The pure execution of The Rescue does nothing to dispel the feeling that this story is filler. The direction is generally uninspired, with the trek through the caves in part one being particularly heinous (I am getting SOOOO tired of the treks that seem to be a dime a dozen in the Hartnell era...). Occasionally, a clever model shot or some nice lighting effects (such as in the scene where the Doctor confronts Bennett) delivers a more atmospheric mood, but generally The Rescue feels like it wants to be forgotten behind some of the flashier season two entries (glorious success stories such as The Web Planet or The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Scuse my sarcasm).

Okay, time to be positive. The scene between Bennett and the Doctor (that one I liked the lighting in), that was great. It was very simple; just the villain explaining his motivation, and then a brief fisticuffs between the two characters before it goes all pear-shaped with the arrival of the Didoians. But this scene seemed to be the one where the entire production comes together. For three minutes, probably the three minutes where it counts most, the aura of the show becomes self-important -- what is happening on screen actually matters, it seems to be saying. As I previously mentioned, the rest of the story is lacking in this department. But the final confrontation between these two is great. We see the anger in the Doctor's eyes, in his condemnation of Bennett ("You're insane!"). We see the Doctor fighting injustice, and it's gripping.

Also, we get some lovely moments remembering Susan. When Bill Hartnell turns and begins to ask a non-existent Susan to open the TARDIS doors, it's heartbreaking to see the look of relisation on his face. These scenes at the beginning seem to inform the final scenes of the Doctor inviting Vicki onboard the ship... perhaps as an unconscious substitute for his granddaughter? If so, the production team does seem to play up on this in the next story, The Romans, in which these two characters are paired off for a trip to Rome... but that's another, more flattering, review. As it stands, The Rescue is a mildly diverting story, which often lacks conviction and depth. It's the best of the season two stories up until this point, but that's only because it's the shortest.

6 out of 10


A Review by Richard Radcliffe 16/6/04

This short interlude is a nice pause after the drama of the previous Dalek story. It is really a vehicle to bring in a new companion - Vicki - and as such it succeeds. As the first regular to go, Susan would only be missed if no one took her place. It was vital then that the very next story introduced the new girl. Vicki, right from the word go, is more submissive than Susan - and she therefore works better with the Hartnell Doctor. It was a good move, and one that enabled the show to keep moving, despite the loss of its original star.

The story is a very simple one, and one that is ideal for the 2-part length. Bennett and Vicki are stranded, a strange creature is terrorizing them. The TARDIS arrives and the crew get to the real truth of the matter. The lack of supporting characters mean that Vicki can have more focus. She is the new kid on the block, quite obviously on her own, and therefore needing the Doctor's grandfatherly care. The ideal successor to Susan, and the ideal emotional foil for the Doctor after the loss of part of his family.

Bennett is the other character of the piece. It is easy on reflection to see Koquillion is Bennett (there are no other characters around for one thing), but the revelation at the time must have been quite startling. The trouble is the actor is not really up to the job as Bennett, giving a rather wooden performance. Koquillion is just a man with a mask though, more superficial, and he is better as that. Koquillion is the most memorable image of this story. That mask is truly frightening, and the hands help. What doesn't is the bland cloak. Great mask, great gloves, bad clothes!

David Whitaker's script was pretty good. The dialogue is good between the main cast. We really get to know Vicki over the 45 minutes. Whitaker rarely failed to deliver, and he shows an adeptness at the shortened form of DW, like he did with the longer format - he remains one of the best writers to grace DW.

Ray Cusick's sets were very impressive. The crashed spaceship was superb - cramped yet modern. Koquillion's lair was very spooky and mysterious. Bennett's scheme is the main point of contention here. It was rather elaborate, and you wonder why he just didn't kill Vicki - he'd killed a whole race after all. The Didonians we do see were a bit ordinary looking too - you'd think they would have been a bit more angry with Bennett. It was a good scene though, nice to see Hartnell at the centre of the action, and helping to defeat the monster.

This is just a nice easy story. A new companion needs to be introduced, which happens well and concisely. The standard of the production is better than usual though, and the whole thing finishes with a flourish. Another reason why DW should have had a lot more stories of this length and type. 7/10


A Review by Brian May 26/3/06

Another two-parter, another filler - and another job for outgoing story editor David Whitaker. Result: The Rescue. Like The Edge of Destruction, plot is not the driving factor. All these two episodes are meant to do is introduce a new companion. It's character-focused, and in Whitaker's capable hands this is always going to ensure success over failure.

Unlike Edge, this doesn't seem like a rushed job. It actually looks as though money has been spent on it. There's an impressive array of visuals - for starters the crashed spacecraft model and the ship's interiors. The passageway linking the main cabin to Bennett's room is commendable, what with all those cables lying about everywhere - it actually looks like there's been a crash. The caves are realistic, the dry ice (or whatever it is) that simulates the mist creating an excellent effect. The People's Hall of Judgment and the mock exteriors in the second episode are also very good. The Koquillion mask is simple, yet very freaky; I can imagine being scared by it if I had first seen it as a child. The only possible weak points include Sandy, Vicki's pet, but as sixties monsters go we've seen far more embarrassing things on Doctor Who. The other less-than-wholly-convincing image is the rather lame-looking set of spikes that come out of the wall: it means that the shot of Ian using his jacket to swing himself around them isn't that good, but immediately after we cut to a wide shot which is much better, giving depth and, dare I say it, realism to the scene.

This is thanks to Christopher Barry, whose direction is great throughout; although recycled from The Daleks, Tristram Cary's ethereal music adds to the atmosphere. But ultimately for a character-driven tale, it's down to the actors, especially Maureen O'Brien, for this is all about Vicki. And she's rather good. Doctor Who had undergone its first major transition, the departure of a regular cast member. What O'Brien had to do was make certain Vicki is an acceptable replacement for Susan and at the same time ensure she's not just a carbon copy. Not only does she manage to do this, she proves she's so much better! O'Brien makes Vicki an incredibly sympathetic character; her tragic plight and Bennett's sadistic treatment of her help with this. There's one piece of overacting - her reaction to Barbara killing Sandy - but this aside Maureen O'Brien and Vicki are promising additions.

William Hartnell is also in fine form. The Doctor is adjusting to life without his granddaughter, whom he has apparently been travelling with for some time. He sleeps through a landing, wants to take a nap rather than explore and inadvertently calls out to Susan to open the TARDIS doors. He's yet to come to terms with his loss, and Hartnell communicates this magnificently. So too his reinvigoration: when the Doctor hears the rockfall he immediately leaps into action to look for Ian and Barbara. Later he breaks down the door to Bennett's cabin; this, and his struggle with the criminal at the climax, see the first Doctor at his most physical. William Russell and Jacqueline Hill don't get that much to do character-wise, but they're excellent, as always. There's some lovely interaction between the two: the moment when Barbara nudges Ian after the "550 years" joke is charming interplay that shows just how comfortable the characters and the actors are with each other. The first scene in the TARDIS also reflects how great a team they are with the Doctor: his reply to Barbara's "the trembling's stopped" is a hoot! It would be interesting to have some more adventures with just these three (cf. Venusian Lullaby), the reference to Susan's departure being flexible enough to warrant this.

Ray Barrett is a little lacklustre as Bennett, I'm afraid to say. Barrett is an excellent and highly esteemed actor, with an enviable film and TV career in his native Australia, but here he just seems to phone in his performance. He's not terrible, but unenthused. The ending is weird, a little sudden and the two natives of Dido look rather silly. The lack of a real plot means that it's rather slow, despite the excellent character moments. It's not exactly riveting, and the episode titles are rather inappropriate: the enemy isn't that powerful and the measures aren't desperate. But it would be wrong to dismiss The Rescue as inconsequential; it's functional, not really a story in its own right, but still a good deal of care has been put into it. 7.5/10


Rescuing The Rescue from the scrapheap of inconsequentiality by Thomas Marshall 25/6/10 L

et's not beat about the bush: The Rescue is no one's favourite story. It's never going to blow you away, it features no impressive or memorable monsters and it has one of the most inconsequential plots in the history of the show. Actually the last one isn't quite true... but, despite all this, it is one of the better stories of the 1960s, filled with fun, adventure and drama, peppered with excellent dialogue and characterisation. There is a rather good twist and the acting is for the most part excellent.

I cannot for the life of me remember which DVD it is but there is one which contains a Coming Soon trailer for The Rescue/The Romans DVD release and its opening trail for this story involves playing some slightly magical music, with the shot of Vicki speaking excitedly into the intercom and the model shot of the crashed ship... this is the kind of thing that would fit into Moffat's current vision of the show: magical, expanding one's imagination, all about humanity's great frontier. It is slightly fairytale-esque, and it is enhanced by solid direction from Chris Barry (sadly not of Red Dwarf fame) and a reasonably good production.

The Bennett/Koquillion mystery plot might play second fiddle to the characterisation but it is engrossing stuff nonetheless; David Whitaker was a fine script editor and it shows in his writing, the way he unrolls the sense of unease surrounding both characters before revealing that they are one and the same is very intriguing and makes for interesting viewing. Koquillion as a creature is a decent enough effect although for once if the effects are laughably bad the production team can blame it on Bennett's DIY skills rather than the BBC's lack of budget. Ray Barrett gives a good performance as Bennett, too: slightly cantankerous and authoritative. There's someone we all know who is a bit like Bennett (before he is revealed to be insane, that is; although we might all know someone like that as well...)

It certainly is the characterisation on show that is the strong point here, however. Whitaker has spent longer in the works of the series than any other writer at this point and it is obvious: his treatment of the TARDIS team is nigh-on flawless. Barbara comes across as slightly out of her depth, whether she's just killed what was to Vicki something of a pet, or when she meets the eerie Koquillion for the first time. Ian is as genuinely likeable as ever, the adhesive holding the team together; the moment where he can scarcely repress his amusement at Vicki's less-than-flattering estimation of the travellers' age, while Barbara looks thoroughly indignant, is a winner.

The story is the very first to introduce a new companion into the fold (unless you count An Unearthly Child). Vicki is written rather well: young, resourceful, but a little idealistic and naive, rather different from Susan; one would imagine slightly less intelligent. Unfortunately, this interesting canvas is somewhat marred by Maureen O'Brien whose performance, while decent enough, is a little similar to Carole Ann Ford's and a bit melodramatic for my liking. Hartnell fares much better, giving one of his best performances as the Doctor; he is by turns mischievous and impish (I adore the scene where he plots to tell Ian that he landed on Dido on purpose, but his plans are squashed by the fact that he was asleep), adamant (in his continued insistence that the people of Dido are friendly), hypocritical (the "ledge is getting narrower" moment), wonderfully warm and grandfatherly (that marvellous little scene with Vicki where he convinces her to let him see Bennett), and suitably sombre (look at the dark expression on his face where he enters the hall). That final showdown with Koquillion is a marvellous moment for his Doctor, as he actually does something active for once, and has a one-to-one battle with the villain. Superb.

It might add almost nothing to the history of the show (well, Vicki) but The Rescue is charmingly written, well acted stuff. With only two episodes, it's almost gone before there is anything one can criticise.


A Review by Jamie Beckwith 4/3/11

My girlfriend Leslie (Who luckily is as big a Doctor Who fan as me!) expressed the opinion that Vicki was one of her favourite companions. I have to say this is a view not shared by me or by fandom at large but I am always in favour of watching stories with a fresh eye and it's been years and years since I saw Vicki's debut. As Leslie had never seen it before, it was something of a no-brainer.

William Hartnell is at his eccentric best in this one and comes across as a much more cuddly Doctor than his earlier performances. That opening scene, where Barbara tells him "the trembling's stopped" and he beams "I'm so glad you're feeling better my dear", is a gem.

Designwise, Koquillion is a triumph but his backstory is a little unexplained. There was a great review of this in DWM upon the DVD release of The Rescue which ruminated that for Who fans we've become jaded and spoilt by decades of programme guides etc and we know that Koquillion is Bennett so we feel bored because there is no mystery or intruige for us. It was a very telling review and a very salient point. The first time I saw this story (mid 90s when my Aunty used to tape them off UK Gold for me), it's true that thanks to Jean-Marc Lofficier I already knew the twist. Thus I concur that it's hard for me to try and view this story impartially and I really wonder how someone new to Who and searching out the back catalogue might find it.

Vicki still didn't win me over and I don't think Maureen O'Brien did a terribly great job... but I liked her a lot better than I thought I would and I'm open to a reappraisal. I am actually quite keen to hear the Companion Chronicle Frost Fire and of course The Romans is released as part of this DVD boxset so that's also due for a rewatch.


Meet Vicki by Yeaton Clifton 23/5/12

This story could be called Meet Vicki. Vicki is nice person, but her spaceship crashed and a monster, which looks like he's just man in a costume, is threatening her all the time, and someone should rescue Vicki. Okay, the monster is a person in a costume, but he's a very evil person. Our group of heroes - Barbara, the Doctor and Ian - do rescue her, but it is hard to get her trust them. Barbra especially has trouble because she shoots a huge lizard that appears to be attacking Vicki, but the lizard is Vicki's pet. David Whitaker was very capable at creating credible dialog that made the idea we were really meeting a person from the future believable.

There is merit is making a character's first story a conversation laden pair of episodes that establish the person's character because Doctor Who works best when the plot is driven by characters. Making it a two-part story instead of padding it until it is something longer, also has merit. Not that this story would qualify as a classic when compared to the really great Doctor stories because it is on the simplistic side. It is wonderful in the context of season two because with all the stories that Vicki is in, it is very entertaining to have an episode where we get know her.

The Verity Lambert era was very strong on continuity of character and Vicki was solidly developed as something unlike Susan, the companion that was dumped back in London. The impression is that the Doctor picked her up because she expressed strong trust in him and his judgment. In fact, in The Chase, she would express a feeling that there were too many people on the TARDIS in the first episode, and urge the Doctor to let Ian and Barbra to leave the TARDIS in the last episode of the serial. She did like and trust the Doctor, and wanted him to herself. In The Space Museum, she proved much more aggressive than Susan because it was Vicki who incited the revolution which saved all of the characters.

7.5/10


A Review by Finn Clark 8/6/13

It's a likeable little story. It's simple, even for a two-parter, but that's because it's set itself the job of introducing the new companion. In running time, dramatic intent and viewing figures (the highest until the Tom Baker era), it's basically 21st century Doctor Who.

The plot's not particularly important, so we'll get that out of the way first. The revelation about Koquillion doesn't feel like a surprise, but that's a good thing. Whitaker builds up to it nicely. It's not yet obvious in part one, but Ray Barrett is sinister as Bennett and we can tell that something's afoot. We just don't know what it is. Barrett's impressive, I think. You needed a strong performance here to keep afloat the lopsided story and Barrett delivers it, especially in his confrontation with Hartnell.

However, it's really all about Vicki. She's good, both on the page and in Maureen O'Brien's performance.

On the DVD, O'Brien likens Vicki to Miranda in The Tempest, on a deserted planet with her Caliban. She gets to show plenty of range, from her rather sweet opening scene to fear, loyalty, anger, defiance and loss. She mourns both Sandy and her father. She gets angry at Barbara for an understandable but still shocking mistake, then ends up apologising before Barbara's apologised to her. We even see hints of the way she'd occasionally patronise Ian and Barbara for being fossils from prehistory. O'Brien gets a lot to play and does it well, giving the character depth and warmth.

The production is good too. The sets, model work and inlay shots all work very well, never letting you suspect that a two-parter might have had less money to play with than a four-parter. I particularly liked the sense of visual scale, with Christopher Barry both showing us the crashed ship in the distance and the surprisingly high drop from the ledge down on to Sandy at the end of episode one. Admittedly he doesn't manage to sell the cliff Barbara falls off in episode one, but you can't have everything. Meanwhile, the Dido temple is atmospheric, the exteriors don't particularly scream "studio" and the crashed ship is nice (and has even been mounted on a slant, to match the crashed model ship that's been broken in two). This isn't the kind of story that you'd expect to be a production-values showcase, but, despite this, it looks slick and professional.

I include the monsters in that, by the way. I like Sandy and I make no apology for that. He's great. The Koquillion costume is cool simply for what we'll learn it is, but I really like it in execution as well, for its spikes and its ceremonial air. He reminds me of close-up photographs of bacteria or deep sea monstrosities. I think it's a wonderful design, actually, and the only reason it's so obscure is that he wasn't a more badass monster. Note that he's in the Keller Machine's hallucinatory attack in The Mind of Evil, which has puzzled fanboys but fits from a "these monsters look awesome" perspective.

I only have one complaint from a production point of view. It's an absurd grumble that would have been impossible to realise in a little two-parter in 1964, but I'm going to make it anyway. The ship's too small. Bennett and Vicki's backstory is chilling, but it's contradicted visually by the ship we see them living in. It's tiny, a two-man ship at most, whereas a production team given this script today would have these two survivors living inside a cavernous wreck that's meant for a large crew. That would have reminded us visually of Vicki's loss and made her story resonate more strongly.

The plot makes more sense than I'd expected. "Why's he keeping Vicki alive?" I wondered... but in fact his reason is superb. I also like the characterisation Whitaker gives to the Didoians, a people who barely appear and get no dialogue. You see, at the end of the story I'd been wondering about that rescue ship. We'd thought the Didoians had been nearly wiped out and I'd been speculating that they might have been a long-lost Earth colony, now at dangerously low population levels and possibly in need of rescue themselves. Do they have any women left alive? Why not leave Vicki on Dido, to help them repopulate? Alternatively, why not leave her to be taken away by the rescue ship that we know is coming for her? Whitaker raises all these questions... and then answers them satisfyingly and entertainingly by showing us the Didoians' attitude to outside intervention. I also like the implied characterisation in the Didoians' timing in showing up when they did. Presumably they'd been keeping their heads low and hoping the humans would bugger off and leave them alone, but at the point when the Doctor's about to get killed, at last they act. I'm guessing they hadn't been keen to do that.

It's even got themes. There's always more to things than you'd think at first, with backstory lying in wait to surprise you. Note that the first place the Doctor goes after dumping Susan is a planet he's previously visited, so presumably its people would remember Susan! I was hoping Whitaker might get something from that, but unfortunately he doesn't.

I liked it. It's not a story you'd call brilliant, but it's solid and those New Who parallels I mentioned explain for me that 13 million audience I was talking about. It's the first new regular Doctor Who had ever introduced, if you don't count everyone in the first story. On the downside, the story's simplistic and the first episode has a bit of a tendency to potter. It's also a twist story in which we (fanboys) all know the twist before we've started watching. However at the end of the day, it's a character-driven piece starring the titanic line-up of William Hartnell, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, in which Maureen O'Brien is in no way overshadowed. I particularly loved Hartnell's face in the scene where he's saying, "Vicki, my dear, sit down."

Efficient and underrated.

"Cheer up, Vicki, and don't forget if old Cocky-Lickin' comes around, I've always got this!" (shows off his mighty weapon)