Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Following a five-week holiday after “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” wrapped, Doctor Who’s second production block made an unpromising start with this strange little story, “The Rescue.” Normally I have a strong opinion either way about a Doctor Who story, but this two-parter really has me stumped. I’ve seen it two or three times now and I’ve gone from absolutely hating it, to finding it quite charming… and then all the way back again!

“The Rescue” has quite a bit going for it. To begin with, it has the brand new gimmick of introducing a new companion. The trouble is, she isn’t new. When Carole Ann Ford left at the end of the first recording block, Maureen O’Brien was contracted to play ‘Susan.’ Although her name may have changed, her character is so similar to her predecessor’s that it’s hard to get excited about her arrival. To be fair, in “The Rescue” Vicki is portrayed as quite a damaged young woman beset with grief, but she recovers from her ordeal surprisingly quickly and soon becomes the ‘teenage girl from the future’ that Susan was. However, I feel that David Whitaker should have explored the effects of Susan’s departure on the TARDIS crew more fully rather than focus so much on the new girl. Obviously a TV show has to look forwards, but even so Susan’s departure is barely mentioned let alone dealt with. Thankfully, Paul Leonard would later write the Missing Adventure “Venusian Lullaby” which would explore Susan’s sudden departure in a much more satisfying manner.

I liked a lot of the lighter moments in “The Rescue”; there is one scene I found particularly amusing where Barbara kills a horrific creature that turns out to be Vicki’s pet! Best of all though, I found it hilarious that the villain of the piece - Koquillion - is revealed to be Bennett, a human criminal in disguise. The production team actually have an excuse for providing a fake-looking monster as it’s supposed to be fake! 

At the end of the day, “The Rescue” does its job well in introducing Vicki to the series, but under modern scrutiny, the way Susan’s departure is (not) dealt with is unforgivable. My advice would be either to enjoy this serial for what it is, a quaint little two-parter, or if you’re after the heavy stuff check out “Venusian Lullaby” instead.

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