We played a game last night where we sorted Doctor Who clips onto what I like to call “The Castellan-Soldeed Scale of Melodrama.” The lowest mark on the scale represents the egregious under-acting of “What? No, not the Mind Probe!” while the highest mark is the ham-fisted melodrama of “mY DREeeEEeems of CON-quest!” Why did such cheesy acting exist in early Who? Well, film was expensive and budgets were small. Redoing a scene was prohibitively expensive and as a result these serials went out in a charmingly unrefined state. Results as follows:
0- The Castellan: “No, not the Mind Probe!” from The Five Doctors
1- Guy who is shot by Zaroff: [Does not react when a gun in pulled on him] [Makes no movement when shot and dies noiselessly] from The Underwater Menace
2- Crowd, upon hearing the announcement of a new age of prosperity: [a few lukewarm hurrays] from The Pirate Planet.
2.25- Fedorin: [Drinks poisoned wine, chokes, apparently attempts to wash it down with another sip of poison] [Falls over] from Enemy of the World
2.5- Guy from crowd who actually raises his arm in celebration. Props to you. From The Pirate Planet.
3- Group award to everyone in The Ambassadors of Death shootout who displayed Python-esque levels of under-acting.
4.3- The Doctor, holding the Master at swordpoint while dramatically eating the Master’s sandwich. From The Sea Devils.
5- True neutral, appropriate acting for the situation at hand. I nominate Solon’s surprisingly even-handed acting in The Brain of Morbius.
5.5- The Seventh Doctor’s famous “UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING” monologue mocking Davros in Remembrance of the Daleks.
6- The Sixth Doctor’s ‘evil mastermind’ monologue at the very beginning of The One Doctor.
6.75- Zaroff: NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN STOP ME NOW! From The Underwater Menace.
7- the very end of The Dominators, where Two attempts to stop their companions from falling over in an earthquake and just kind of. Let’s Zoe fall into the gravel while they cling onto Jamie
7.5 The melodramatic fighters in the Ambassadors of Death shootout, notable mention to Action Hero Brigadier.
8- “Ramon Salamander” (really the Second Doctor in disguise) cowering away and falling onto the floor because they’re afraid Victoria might hit them
3.5-8: Croagnon in the body of the Chief Caretaker. Was nominated to both under-acting and over-acting and I can’t argue with either. Apparently the creative staff told the actor to tone it down and he wouldn’t listen. From Paradise Towers.
9: the end scenes of The Dominators, particularly Rago yelling “OBEY!!!” Made funnier by the fact that The Dominators is possibly one of the dullest serials in Who history.
9: The famous “No one in the colony believes in Macra! There is no such thing as Macra!” monologue from the mostly missing serial The Macra. If you haven’t heard it, please look it up. We were howling with laughter as we were watching this.
10: The one and only “My DReeeeAAAAMS of CON-quest! scene from The Horns of Nimon.