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Resistance is Useless

Reviewed by Jeff Stone

One of the most confusing things about Doctor Who these days, I find, is the BBC's attitude towards bringing it back. By now, a lot of fans have given up the ghost, dismissing the various promises that it will be back as fobbing-off techniques, and there is a lot of truth in that opinion. Yet, when such programmes as Resistance is Useless and its accompanying 'Seven Faces of Doctor Who' repeat run on BBC-TV are broadcast, I can't help thinking that maybe the much-maligned Beeb are serious about continuing with Doctor Who. Because, as tribute programmes go, Resistance is Useless is pretty damn good.

It all begins with some of the scenes most people associate with Doctor Who - various aliens and people proclaiming the conquest of some planet. All very impressive and quite nicely edited too, even if the abrupt switching from black and white to colour and back again gets a little unsettling at times.

The talking Anorak - oh dear. Like most people, I'm quite amused by this obvious joke on the average Doctor Who fan, but I'm a bit concerned about how the public at large would interpret this. How many of you out there own anoraks? And, for that matter, how many of you have accents as nauseating as the voice of the Anorak? But I digress.

We fans tend to forget that programmes like Resistance is Useless are not intended solely for our well-informed entertainment, but are designed to inform the ignorant public about a programme not many of them are clued up on. In this respect, Resistance is Useless shines - a very impressive selection of clips from twenty-six years of Doctor Who. Due to the lack of Sixties material, the Hartnell and Troughton clips tend to lack much punch, but the best selection has been made with what's left. It's a pity that a clip or two from The Tomb of the Cybermen couldn't have been included. Two rare gems I was happy to see included were the surviving clip from The Power of the Daleks, and the FX footage from The Daleks' Master Plan.

The Anorak, when you could understand what he was saying through his ridiculous accent, gave a very comprehensive run-down of the show's history and achievements, but I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling uneasy when he (it?) refers to Doctor Who as 'the show that ran for twenty-six years'.

Individual sections catered for various aspects of the show, such as Special Effects (a look at the best - and worst - effects scenes); The Brig's Finest Moments (clips of the Brig, of which only the 'chap with wings' segment was in any way fine), and Doc Fax (trivia), to name but a few. Despite its comprehensive coverage of the show, glaring omissions were made - e.g. Tom and Colin Bakers' regeneration scenes (the average viewer would assume that Tom Baker regenerated into Colin), any clips of the Ainley Master, and almost nothing of Davison's, Colin Baker's or McCoy' s eras. Perhaps this was deliberate? I also thought they over-killed on clips from The Invasion - it's a good story, sure, but why so many?

All in all, Resistance is Useless is an excellent half hour look back at the show we all know and love's finest (and silliest) moments, and a great way to kick off a repeat run. Must dash - I'm off to pick up my anorak from the drycleaner's, and attend my Nauseating Swansea Accent classes. If you can, get hold of a copy of Resistance is Useless - a short but brilliant tribute to a marvellous programme.

Reviewed by Paul Scoones

Just to add to Jeff's comments, I too was very impressed with the Resistance is Useless documentary. The second time I saw it was at the NZDWFC event at the Discontinuity SF convention over Easter, and the audience were visibly impressed. I could have sworn I heard several sharp intakes of breath when that opening sequence of The Trial of a Time Lord came on. The haunting music and the long sweep over the majestic trial ship still gets me every time I see it; a magical piece of television from an otherwise awful season of Doctor Who.

The black and white material, which dominated the documentary, was for me a particular delight to see. As I've still yet to get around to watching many of the early episodes, a good number of those clips were first time viewings for me.

With the aid of the excellent guide to the documentary in DWM 186, I have come up with a few interesting statistics. There were a total of 135 clips shown, taken from 53 stories. Breaking the clips down into Doctors' eras, the results were: Hartnell: 31; Troughton: 43; Pertwee: 25; Tom Baker: 20; Davison: 5; Colin Baker: 4, and McCoy: 7. The story with the most clips was The Invasion, with a total of 15, and followed a long way behind by The Moonbase with 7, however despite these both being Cyberman stories, I was left with the impression that the documentary was rather Dalek-dominated. Strange.

Still, a very entertaining half hour, and if the BBC is prepared to make documentaries about the show, then maybe one day we'll see a new season....?

This item appeared in TSV 28 (April 1992).

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