Saturday, 21 May 2016

118 The Gunfighters Episode 4: The O.K. Corral

EPISODE: The Gunfighters Episode 4: The O.K. Corral
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 21 May 1966
WRITER: Donald Cotton
DIRECTOR: Rex Tucker
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 5.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening)
It's the OK Corral
Boys of gun fighting fame,
Where the Earps and the Clantons,
They played out the game.
They played out the game
And we nevermore shall
Hear a story the like
Of the OK Corral.
Oooh, no recap, straight into the action. Virgil Earp arrives as Wyatt, Bat & The Doctor are in the saloon investigating the murder. Meanwhile the Pa Clanton has arrived and isn't happy at events that have transpired between his sons and the Earps. Warren Earp, shot by the Clantons, dies in the arms of brothers. Virgil goes to challenge the Clantons to a gunfight. Ringo arranges for the Clantons to face up against the Earps while he sneaks behind and kills them. Holliday arrives in Tombstone, having been brought there at Gunpoint by Dodo. Holliday agrees to assist the Earps when he learns that they're holding Kate. Masterson deputises the Doctor and asks him to talk to the Clantons and avoid the gunfight. Pa Clanton won't listen to him, and Ringo & the Clanton boys ride into town to face the Earps in the gunfight at The O.K. Corral.

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Dodo is seized by Ringo, but her escape allows Holliday to gun him down. One by one the Clanton brothers are gunned down by the Earps and Holliday.

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The time travellers leave in the Tardis, landing on a new planet. As they leave to explore a strange figure is seen on the Tardis scanner.

I wouldn't describe myself as a big western fan, despite having watched enough Champion the Wonder Horse when I was younger. However this story really worked for me leading up to a fabulous gun battle climax recorded on film. However apparently Rex Tucker wasn't happy with the episode as transmitted which had been recut and insisted his name be taken off it. The gunfight as shown isn't 100% accurate - see Wikipedia's article on Doctor Who: The Gunfighters and the real Gunfight at the O.K. Corral for details.

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Pa Clanton, who we briefly saw last episode, is played by Reed De Rouen. In a recent Doctor Who Magazine interview with Peter Purves, in issue 483, his name got misspelt as Reet Deroon! Sadly it wasn't the only error in that interview which was in an issue got to press in somewhat trying circumstance with less time and less people, presumably over the Christmas 2014 holiday. Newcomer Virgil Earp is played by Victor Carin.
With this episode we bid a farewell to individual episode titles: New producer Innes Lloyd decided he's like an overall story title instead. Some of the individual episode titles haven't always been appropriate or even good, but a bit of me will miss them and their passing is a milestone of which there are several at around this time in the series history.

The serial was novelised in 1985 by it's author Donald Cotton and numbered 101 in the Target Book collection. Just as Cotton employed Homer as the narrator for the Myth Makers novel here he uses an aged Doc Holliday telling the story to to a journalist.

The Gunfighters was released on video as part of the William Hartnell boxset with The Sensorites & Time Meddler and has a soundtrack release with narration by Peter Purves and a compilation of the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. The Gunfighters is due was released on DVD in 2011 as part of the Doctor Who - Earth Story Boxset where it's paired with The Awakening. Why I don't know as that seems a ridiculous pairing and to my mind the Awakening would be much better paired with the following story, Frontios, also released that year!

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