I must begin this post with a confession – when I first watched the DVD I was attempting to whisk the cream required to make a Sachertorte … by hand. So although I was theoretically giving it my fullest attention, in practice I was wondering why my cream was refusing to reach the light and airy consistency my recipe was demanding – thus proving I have no future on that truly Great British institution, the Bake Off. That said, the story is relatively straightforward, so I think my review will not be unduly distorted by my distraction!
This two part adventure in William Hartnell’s second season primarily serves to introduce Susan’s replacement in the TARDIS, Vicki. It is striking in having a very minimal cast and a plot that justifiably only runs to two episodes. The TARDIS arrives on the planet Dido, and the crew discover two survivors of a spacecraft crash – Vicki, and the (apparently) crippled Bennett – both of whom are awaiting rescue from Earth. To cut the story short in massive spoilerific fashion – Bennett had been imprisoned on the spacecraft for the murder of a crew member, but the ship crashed before the crew could relay the news to Earth. After the crash he murdered the crew (and the planet’s native inhabitants) in the guise of a mysterious figure called Koquillion – sparing Vicki so that she could testify to Bennett’s innocence when they are eventually rescued and place the blame on the fictional Koquillion. Naturally of course, the Doctor, Barbara and Ian put paid to this scheme, and Bennett falls to his death after being startled by two native inhabitants who turned out to have survived after all.
Shockingly – that one paragraph is really all that needs said to explain The Rescue – and that is why it is rather low on my list. It is not a bad tale and works moderately well as a story, but it is for good reason that both the VHS and DVD releases paired this serial with the much superior The Romans – the story which followed. It’s incredibly short and simple, and for its time the production values aren’t bad – but it is far from memorable, and it’s hard to escape the impression that its sole purpose was to explain why Vicki ended up in the TARDIS. I will look forward to watching it again when I do my epic season-by-season watching of Doctor Who (assuming the BBC ever gets around to releasing Marco Polo) – but it’s not one I’d be in a hurry to watch in isolation.