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State of Decay


Chase - Posted on 11 June 2009

1

There's something inherently wrong with airing stuff out of order. I mean the actors get older, they grow more accostumed to their roles, there's even some continuity stuff that gets mixed up. This happened or is seen most in LAND OF THE GIANTS, where Barry grows quite a few inches or more between the first half of the first PRODUCED episodes and the way they were aired. There was also character development that went out the window. The thing is that some executive got hold of the show and hated it and thought, I'll air the worst episodes first IN HIS OPINION but it backfired on him. The show rose in ratings from day one and then leveled off as he aired the BEST eps first.

Anyway, not to be negative, the story here is the second to be shot I think. Matthew's first scenes as Adric are here and some say he's very bad. I just say he's inexperienced and juvenile...yet juvenile is one of many points of Adric and so is inexperience. He wants to "join up with the Doctor and see the universe..."  That's BRILLIANT!

STATE OF DECAY is without a doubt the best that DW can be. There was the feeling at the time that it couldn't get any better than this and for a long time after. I felt that if it remained this way for years and years I'd be watching and allright with that and I imagined tons of adventures for this team. Sigh. It was not to be. But then the Doc and Adric could have tons of adventures too, right?

This story has great atmosphere. Yes, it's the old vampire stuff mixed in with science stuff. Chris Bidmead rewrote a 1977 Leela story and made it futuristic and took out the medevil stuff. JNT in ANOTHER GREAT MOVE and I"m not being sarcastic, made him change it back to be more medevil and less futuristic. SOme of the tech still survives and that is what makes this story great. Yes, it's another civilization turned decayed and almost backward...because of another alien or monster or whathaveyou. However, this time, THE EARTHLINGS have become the monsters and have invaded another planet! When you realize that, it's amazing. True, there's a vampire behind it but more on that later when we find out that these creatures are ancient enemies of...

The set design is fantastic, the location work great, Tom is in great form and so is K9 and Lalla. Her outfit is just wonderful. Tom's voice comes on through as always and even he seems to think this script is GREAT and he's right. The guest actors are generally good and the characters interesting. The only let down is the cliffhanger, it's somewhat atmospheric and I can tell what they were going for with a swarm of bats (an underrated movie NIGHTWING had, in the 70s I think, done the whole bat thing more effectively and disturbingly with more blood and deaths) but it's not really as effective as it could be.

Still, the lordly Romana and the Doctor against the three who rule is coming up and the build up is rather nice and into the mix is the formerly lonely, mixed up CHILD Adric who is already in trouble...THIS STORY ROCKS!

And it was the best DW could be up to that point and for a great deal afterward...DW only got this good again when RTD first took the reigns in 2005 and then dropped them at the very end of  2008 and all of 2009. Anyway...onto 2...   

Oh and anyone who says they knew the castle was a space rocket ahead of time and what was really going on in this ep and guessed the revelation later on...was lying...        

2

 

Just awesome. Their first meeting with Zargo and Camilla is just fantastic and Zargo's beard has to be seeen to be believed. Anyway the dialog is littered with references to other things but it all fits and doesn't seem at all goofy or silly. "There are guards, many guards,"  and more. I just love it.

A note about Matthew Waterhouse. Say what you will but he does a FANTASTIC JOB in this episode, trying to bluff Aukon AND later as Adric is totally under the hypnotic spell of Aukon and Zargo shoves a knife near his eye...Matthew doesn't flinch, doesn't move, doesn't hesitate in keeping in the trance state. That's brilliant acting, sorry. It just is.

The whole language idea is well transmitted to us and visually while the Doctor and Romana chat and sit and figure out who the three who rule are. It's noted during the commentary and the text stuff that Tom and Lalla while filming these scenes as well as the very creepy scenes as they climb the rocket shaft and find the bodies (gruesome looking ones that Lalla and others in the crew complained about but which should have been given more air time really but it wasn't totally necessary), that Lalla and Tom had a lot of tension between them. He doesn't look at her. Mind you, when seeing this ep for the first time, it wasn't noticable and it just is the Doctor being the Doctor and Romana being Romana and relating to  a strange alien. Even for a Gallefrean, the Doctor is strange. Love Romana's memory and recall of the names and info. Just lovely, the entire scene, the entire ep really. Their characters just relate so well even if they weren't at the time. At one point, Tom refused to help Lalla down. Later, when tensions eased, Tom made as if it was his idea that helping her down (in a different scene) would be a nice touch. The director had previously asked him to help her down in an earlier scene a short time before and Tom said somethig like, "She can bloody well get her own self down."

The blood in the rocket fuel holder is just inspired. Tarak is a sort of male Leela and except for the beard, would make a great companion. Someone once said that this season had many beards on display. Also: many men after Adric. This might be the first. Adric has Aukon after him however it might have been that he had men after him in FULL CIRCLE too. Even the female vampire is after him.

The ep ending is very good too with Aukon meeting the Doc and Romana and a close up on his eyes. And oh yes, the bat thing in the first ep was good too. More coming I think in ep3. The heartbeat was also a nice touch.

Just a great episode, again. A lot going on and alot of explanation and movement and great sets. Great dialog. This is how DW should always be! IMO of course.     

     

3

The DVD text tells us how this ep has lowest ratings of the season and in general the season had lower ratings than last season. This is a shame as this ep is really very good and well done and deserved better ratings. In fact, with FULL CIRCLE, the season just picked up all round.  One thing I don't get is that the Doctor told Romana last ep about how to kill a vampire and then in this ep she tells Tarak the ONLY way to kill a vampire is a wooden stake to the heart but the Doc already told her about beheading.

I'ts interesting how the script changed from script to action and in many ways it is bettered here. It's also interesting to note how at Romana's request, the Doc takes off and goes to the TARDIS, leaving her and Tarak to rescue Adric. Mostly due to, he says, billions of lives at stake (or is that in the script?) but anyway he leaves them to it...and in the next ep, Adric is correct in his evaluation of the Doctor...even if he is bluffing, BLUFFING understand. The Doc clears off! But not true, not entirely as he is gathering info, knowledge to stop the vampire

The cell scene is rich. Yes, it's a lot like the Atlantis cell scene with Jo and the Third Doc, but there it's more like he's her uncle or something but here, it's more like they are boyfriend and girlfriend or something. And the Doc looks so proud of his finally being able to say something to a female that's SLIGHTLY romantic...that it smacks now of...well, of his being like Rose says, "...so gay."  Yeah, that's another issue but really, for a being of 450 years or so, you'd think if he were able to, he'd really be off with a girl, if he wanted to. Maybe he is gay and just fighting agianst that and trying to win the hearts of a girl, esp one of his own race. Who knows. The scene, is, very well played and both Tom and Lalla do a great job all around to make it differnet and not boring and they succeed. Tom gets some tom foolery in and it's marvelous to (the door hitting him, the "I'm a not a great one for swarming", and many others.

Tarak getting killed was a surprise. There are also allusions to Macbeth and Hamlet I think. And I like the way the walls of the cell and the surrounding corridors are colored...red in a strange way. A bit about how the Doc got out of the castle via the tradesmen entrance was cut out.

The cliffhanger. Once again, and I"m sorry about this but once again, in his one brief scene i this ep, Matthew does a phenomenal job. The script offered him waking up right away and offering and "Adric cheeky grin" but he opts instead for more believeable groggy waking up and is disoriented, almost still hypnotic. Is he already a vampire? Has he already been bitten by one of them? Maybe he had, who knows? But this scene is tense and the cliffhanger exciting. I thought they were trying to make it look like Romana was stabbed by the knife but who knows. One thing: in trying to tone down the fight scenes, they did that and made it just fine wthout the nastiness but in this scene, by toning it down somewhat, they made it more...scary or intense...by seeing no blood on the knife, it works that Zargo is a vampire...and I love how the vampires move at their prey, and move in general...almost ballet like. The attack on Adric by Camilla is fantastic and Adric throwing of the knife at Zargo pretty good. That was probably a left over from when Leela was the companion in this script/story outline but whatever. Too bad they didn't continue Adric's knife abilities, it would have given him the edge he needed but in fact, I like it that he's not that violent or able to defend himself so well.

It's odd that the Tardis has a magnetic card system. Back in the 1980s or late 70s maybe it was not that old fashioned...in fact, computers used huge stacks of data cards but  today it makes it look so outdated and older than ever. Which works for something like the TARDIS which is an old Type 40 even by Gallifrey standards. Even so, Tom and K9 make the best of the long TARDIS scenes. There seems to be something on the floor near the Tardis door, something yellow. Did K9 pee? :)  There's also a mike or two that alledgedly appear but I didn't spot them really. 

In the novel, Ivo's son's body was dumped outside his door, drained of blood. Now that doesn't make sense. If the vampires wanted to keep the peasants in the dark about such things, why do that? Apparently Ivo's son's part was written out so that Adric could take over the role he would have played in the story.    

All things said and done, again, another great ep.             

    

4

 

"You've redecorated. I don't like it."

Anyway not sure I like this new site. It seems harder to use and has no view of how many people are readng the posts and seems slower to use IMO.

Anyway apart four of STATE OF DECAY ends on a high note. I don't understand why the giant vampire or any giant monster is a continual problem for the BBC thenadays but whatever: I mean Irwin Allen was doing giant monsters usually succcefully in the 60s on probably the same budget or maybe higher who knows?

Anyway what we do see on the scanner is pretty good and creepy and the giant hand, well, it's okay. The end of the vampires is well done with make up being very good. The Doctor is quite funny with his speech to the rebels (King Henry V), the fight scenes are well done, and K9 is useful once again! Hooray! Lalla does a great job and I love her quiet defiance of and fear of at the same time of Aukon. Splendid. I also like some friction between Romana and Adric as he tries to fool the vampires into thinking he's joining them willingly. He does try to save Romana---who gets bitten by a bat and seems to suffer no ill effects. Adric's ploy fails but later when the shaking starts he pulls her away...the script was worse...it was to have him in a trance the whole time until the shaking starts. I like the aired version better.

Tom is in top notch form here as is everyone involved. He's quite funny. Matthew's acting is okay and not too bad and I like it that he is out of  his usual Adric costume, he looks better in other clothes. I like Ivo's apology to K9 and the like the way the Doctor uses the rocket to kill the great vampire. I guess the vampire bats just scattered. I like again, how Adric's non knowledge about Earth sayings is brought up.

All in all, yet ANOTHER great ep and a great climax to a great story.

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