Monday, 25 July 2011

Re-Watching The 5th Doctor - Kinda

A 37 year old man and an 8 year old boy set out on a journey 29 years apart...

July 2011. Whoever would have thought while watching those embarrassing low-budget ‘pantomimes’ that littered Season Seventeen like a minefield back in 1979, that just two and a half years later the programme would be gloriously transformed, and we’d be treated to such sumptuous, intelligent, and powerful stories such as Kinda?

Just about everyone loves Kinda; fans, critics, the cast and crew - hell, even Eric Saward likes it, so it has to be good, right?

As I slip the DVD into the machine I suddenly realise I’ve always had strangely mixed feelings about this story, which dates back to its original transmission. Back then my 8 year old self had a very tough decision to make, deciding between two of my most favourite things in the whole world. And it all started the day I missed an episode of Doctor Who…

February 1982. I am so upset. I missed the first episode of the new Doctor Who story and now I wish I hadn‘t. Yesterday my mum told me that I really couldn’t miss any more cub scout meetings, as I’d already skipped the last four weeks, so I should really start going again, that or give up cubs altogether.

It was a really difficult decision to make - I love going to cubs, but going means missing Doctor Who. I really didn’t know what to do, so I asked my mum and she said that I should try giving cubs a go, and she’ll watch Doctor Who and tell me all about it when I get home, in time for today’s episode. That way I can still go to cubs and watch the programme on Tuesdays.

So I went to cubs, but all the time I was thinking about Doctor Who and how I was missing it.

When I got home I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of my mum’s chair and she told me all about it; how the TARDIS landed on this planet that was all green, with trees and grass and big plants, and there were these men, army men she thought they were, who didn’t want to be there and were really unhappy, then Tegan fell asleep and woke up in a room that was completely black where she met these strange people who had snakes on their arms and wouldn’t let Tegan wake up, not until she let them ‘borrow’ her body, and the Doctor and Adric became prisoners of the army men in their base, and it ended with one of the men pointing a gun at the Doctor and threatening to shoot him.

The episode sounded good. Really good. Really really good. And now I’m really upset that I missed it. I hope they repeat the story again later in the year, or I’ll never get to see that episode again, ever.

Missing Doctor Who has helped me decide. I’m going to give up going to cubs. When I’m at the meetings all I do is think about Doctor Who and get upset when I realise I’ve missed it. I never think of cubs when I’m watching Doctor Who, and I’m never sorry that I’ve missed a meeting afterwards. Sometimes I wonder what the other boys have been getting up to, but I’m never sad afterwards, not like I was yesterday.

I told my mum that I was going to give up cubs. She was very sad but said if that was want I wanted to do, then it was up to me.

Now I’m happy, because I’ll never miss another episode of Doctor Who again.

Luckily, I find that today I’m just about able to get past those traumatic events of nearly 30 years ago, and enjoy Kinda for what it is, an imaginative, intelligent and thoroughly engaging piece of SF telly, that works remarkably well despite it being completely studio-bound. Doctor Who has been a little hit-and-miss with its realisation of alien paradise planets in the past; Planet of Evil’s wonderful filmic jungle and Planet of the Daleks’ somewhat disappointing alien landscape being just two examples at opposite ends of the success scale. But the landscape of Deva Loka is realised surprising well, and by the end of episode 1 the audience has just about managed to forget that two floors above that alien planet the latest series of The Two Ronnies is being filmed.

Kinda continues a run of consistently high quality stories, that is only broken by…well, I’m not saying for now, but we’ll get there soon - making Season 19 my favourite in classic Who’s 26 year run (with Seasons 7, 12, 14 and 23, just a gnat’s whisker behind it).

Oh, and…I didn’t miss a single episode of Doctor Who again for 5 whole years, when, in 1987, I wasn’t aware that Doctor Who was back on our tellys, and I ended up missing episode 1 of Time & The Rani.

I was very annoyed.

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