“I am the Doctor. And this…is my spoon.”
Did you see that film, The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists? It is fun, although the book (Gideon Defoe, whose real name actually appears to be Gideon Defoe) is inevitably better, focusing as it does on the Church’s reaction to evolution – a plot line that the film tries rather too hard to avoid. On the plus side, the cast (particularly Grant) are wonderful, the set pieces are impressive, and there are lots of ham jokes – by which I mean jokes about ham, as opposed to jokes that are prone to theatrical exaggeration. It even has Brian Blessed as the pirate king, for goodness’ sake. What’s not to like?
This song plays over the end credits – the montage in which the pirates see their reputation restored, before sailing into the sunset – and while I’d heard it before, I think this was probably the moment I decided that it would work rather well with scenes from Doctor Who. Because let’s face it, when you’re dealing with a time-travel themed show that features frequent jaunts into history, it’s more or less a given that at some point someone’s going to whip out a cutlass or a rapier. The Doctor’s sword prowess has varied over the years, but he’s usually game for a laugh, although it’s a shame we never got to see McCoy take down anyone with his umbrella. Certainly it might have made ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ more tolerable.
Tenpole Tudor were / are one of those punk bands that managed to be well-known in their community without ever reaching the household name status ascribed to someone like, say, The Sex Pistols, typically in disapproving tones about how awful the music was. Or perhaps that was my house. I mean, my father dismisses most of my jazz collection as ‘just noise’ (which I refute utterly, although when it comes to Ornette Coleman, he’s got a point). Punk as a movement was designed to be brash and functional in a way that decorative prog rock was not, but to reduce the entire genre to a three chord wall of noise and profanity is to ignore the stylised, occasionally highly intelligent music of people like The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers and Sham 69. But this isn’t a musical discourse, although if I were feeling whiny I might point out the sheer laziness of setting an establishing montage of the capital to ‘London Calling’ – something that TV and film directors do constantly, usually accompanied by at least two or three images of the uniformed police force that the song condemns.
For the purposes of this exercise I limited fights to ones involving the Doctor. There are plenty of other scenes in the show in which Ian, Madame Vastra and even Amy Pond demonstrate some form of prowess with a pointed weapon, and they’re usually fun to watch (even if Amy goes from being entirely competent with a hunter’s rifle in one story to completely useless with a revolver a week later). But it muddies the waters. And why do that, when you have stuff like ‘The Androids of Tara’? I mean, just watch Baker with that sword. Watch him. He fights like a demon. It’s a wonderful conclusion to the second-best story that years (beaten into submission only by ‘The Ribos Operation’, although there are some who would disagree. Missing: the First Doctor taking on his robotic clone in ‘The Chase’, and the bit in ‘The Time Warrior’ where Pertwee prances around a hall in a suit of armour. They just didn’t fit.
There are times when you almost regret starting something, and that might have been the point at which I decided to overlay every single clash and clang for the sake of making a unified video (because otherwise the swordfighting is entirely silent, which somewhat lessens the effect). And it’s not like that took ages. Or that I spent three hours trying to get the damned thing to interlace properly. Not at all. But that’s fine, because eventually it worked. And I was quite pleased with it. And then it occurred to me – in that way that one thing inspires another – that there was plenty of scope for a montage with axe fights.