Doctor Who (William Hartnell) – The Gunfighters

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The Doctor (Hartnell), Stephen (Peter Purves) and Dodo (Jackie Lane) find themselves in the Wild West, specifically the O.K. Corral when the TARDIS next lands in this tale written by Donald Cotton.

Filled with a sense of fun, and a really bad recurring song, this story aired in 4 parts, A Holiday for the Doctor, Don’t Shoot the Pianist, Johnny Ringo and The O.K. Corral from 30 April, 1966 to 21 May, 1966.

In the first part of the story, the Doctor, in need of a dentist after one of the sweets from the last story causes him a toothache, finds himself mistaken by the Clanton boys as Doc Holiday (played by Anthony Jacobs), and ends up in all manner of trouble, while Stephen and Dodo get caught up with all kinds of goofy fun, once again their costumes making them stand out in a big way.

When Wyatt Earp (Victor Carin) shows up, he tends to make matters worse, as he lets the Clantons believe that the Doctor is Holiday, and we see that very shortly, things are going to end very badly at the O.K. Corral, and the Doctor and the others may be caught right in the crossfire. It probably doesn’t help that the Doctor keeps mispronouncing Earp’s name…

The story moves along pretty quickly, and highly enjoyably, except for the recurring song, and some really hideous attempts at American accents. I was delighted to see familiar face Shane Rimmer amongst the Clantons, as their friend Seth Harper. He’s had an illustrious career but for me, he was always be Commander Carter from The Spy Who Loved Me.

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There is some nice continuity at work in this story, as we see once again the Doctor’s severe distaste for guns and violence, which is still a brilliant message to send. It’s always wiser to use your smarts, and that is something the Doctor continues to believe in all these years later.

Happily, this wasn’t a reconstruction, and I quite liked the look and feel of the episode, the story walks between humor and drama, and you start to feel bad for the Doctor and his case of mistaken identity.

There is of course the big shoot out at the end of the 4th part, and the production value on it is really very good. The Clantons are helped out by the devious Johnny Ringo (Laurence Payne), who isn’t afraid of shooting a man in cold blood.

The Doctor and his companions find a safe way out of it, and they get ready to be on their way again, after a final goodbye to Doc Holiday, who is actually a very cool, and quite the stand-out character in this story.

This was a great romp, and I’m quite looking forward to the next adventure, which sees the Doctor encountering… The Savages!

The Gunfighters (1)

 

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