Number : Season 10, serial 2 of 5.
Which One : The minaturised alien zoo.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Kalik : Michael Wisher
Orum : Terence Lodge
Pletrac : Peter Halliday
Vorg : Leslie Dwyer
Shrina : Cheryl Hall
Major Daly : Tenniel Evans
Claire Daly : Jenny McCracken
Lt John Andrews : Ian Marter
Captain : Andrew Staines
Written By : Robert Holmes
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 27 January–17 February 1973.
Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : On course to Metabelis 3, the Tardis lands on board a Earth sailing ship, where the crew (unknowingly) are repeating the same period of time over-and-over, in a loop. The Doctor realises that the ship and all of her crew, have been hijacked and minaturised – into a portable alien zoo; called a ‘Miniscope’.
Whats good : Twisty, suspense laden. The Drashigs.
Whats bad : Vorg and Shrina’s costume design. Uninteresting scenes between Vorg and the custom aliens.
Review With Spoilers : Carnival Of Monsters is the 2nd serial of anniversary season 10 – and the first episode; following the events in The Three Doctors, in which the Doctor is able to travel freely in the Tardis – once again.
Attempting a trip to Metabelis 3, to show Jo the famous blue crystals (which forms a small sub-story – through season 10 and the Doctor’s eventual regeneration in Planet Of The Spiders). The Doctor mis-pilots the Tardis, onto an Earth sailing-ship.
Unbeknown to them, the crew are repeating the same pocket of time, over-and-over again. The Doctor and Jo, escape through a door into a different swamp landscape and are attacked, by a pack of carnivorous Drashig’s.
The Doctor realises, that they have been miniaturised and captured in a ‘Miniscope’; an alien ‘portable zoo’ device. This device was banned by the Time Lords. As an added menace, the machine is starting to fail and the Drashigs escape from their environment – into the others; attacking the ship’s crew.
Carnival Of Monsters is for the first half; a twisty, nicely building – mystery piece. As the Doctor works out, where the Tardis has been brought to. For the second act, it up’s the stakes, with an action packed finale, once the Drashigs get loose.
If things weren’t bad enough, a minaturised Tardis is plucked out of the Miniscope. Leaving the Doctor, with just the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor always works best, when removed from the Tardis, which can be too lazy – a plot device, for fixing events/things.
It’s interesting to watch, the writer’s write around – the lack of the Tardis. It presents a nice extra layer of peril, for the Doctor; without access to his protective blue box.
The Drashig’s present, an ever present peril – throughout; but work best, when not on screen, such as the scenes – in the swamp. Especially, when they are hunting the Doctor and Jo – underwater. Their design is passable, although their small puppety quality – is glaringly obvious.
“Roll up and see the monster show! A carnival of monsters, all living in their natural habitat, wild in this little box of mine! A miracle of intragalactic technology! Roll up! Roll up! Roll…..!” Vorg
The SFX used to present the Doctor and Jo – as minature; is done well for the era (although some of the fuzzy edges are obvious due to the CSO overlay of scenes on top of another). Still, the SFX are commendable – for the era. It also has a hint of William Hartnell’s – Planet Of The Giants; about it.
If Lieutenant John Andrews, looks familiar – its because he he is played by Ian Marter
Here, making a pre-appearance to his Harry Sullivan role. There is also brief cameos for the Ogrons and – in their only appearance in the Pertwee era; The Cybermen, as Miniscope attractions.
Some of the production though, is badly dated now; namely the “zoo keeper” characters of Vorg and Shrina. Who are attired in the most ill-advised and ridiculous glam-rock outfits. Still, it was probably cutting-edge stuff, at the time – it was made and inline with Top Of The Pops – outfits of the day.
The scenes between Vorg and the custom aliens; outside of the miniscope. Are not as interesting, as the action going on within it – and as a result, the cutaway between the two plots – becomes annoying.
Carnival Of Monsters, is a twisty mystery-piece; where the Doctor has to uncover events – bit-by-bit. Beginning, with why the ship’s crew, who keep repeating time over and why a door that none of the crew can see, leads to a room – full of circuitry. The ante is also upped, when the Doctor loses his Tardis to a huge hand.
The Miniscope concept – being a useful and unlimited plot device; was dusted off and used again 6 years later, in the Tom Baker adventure – Nightmare Of Eden.
Doctor Who works best, when the Doctor is required to get to the bottom of a puzzle. Especially where the Doctor and the viewer uncover events together. The lack of a Tardis helps up the ante. It also builds, to a nice action-packed conclusion; with the Drashigs threatening to escape – the Miniscope altogether.
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