Saturday, February 18, 2017

Recap: Doctor Who "The Gunfighters" Episode 4: The O.K. Corral

Yes, with a title like that, it seems as though the fateful hour is inching closer. It's entirely the wrong hour, since the gunfight happened at a different time in real life, but why should the serial decide to suddenly get something correct?

The real Johnny Ringo would be pretty surprised to hear he was involved, too.
The episode resumes at the Last Chance Saloon, with a reprise of the ballad's verses telling us that Charlie the barman has been gunned down.

Music: "He knew Johnny's name and he spoke it out loud. Now Charlie the barman has gotten a shroud."

And wouldn't you know it, they've finally gotten around to putting that shroud on Charlie. Bat figures that Ringo shot Charlie, since it was either him or the Doctor. And the Doctor denies that he'd ever do such a thing.

But Wyatt has an idea. Things'll be going down soon, and the Clantons have been led to believe that even if the Doctor isn't Doc Holliday, he's still a fair gunman in his own right. After all, he appeared to have shot a gun out of Seth Harper's hand and he held them at gunpoint and threatened them.

Wyatt Earp: "And boy, you had 'em lined up against that piano like skittles in an alley!"

...I really don't see what this has to do with anything.
As such, even though the Doctor protests that he'll be leaving as soon as Dodo and Steven return, Wyatt deputizes the Doctor for when the bullets start flying.

Doctor: "Nothing will ever induce me to raise a gun in anger!"

And I'm sure three seconds of googling can't possibly pull up a picture of the Doctor in an Old West town about to fire a gun at somebody in anger.

Oh, there we go.
But let's see what else we can find!

Well, was anybody shocked by him grabbing a gun?
Only slightly more surprising.
Daleks are a special case, though.
As is their creator.
Two pictures? Didn't I call this incarnation a pacifist a few years ago?
Well, if it isn't Mr. "I Never Would."  Funny what the end of existence will make you do, huh?
But even if the Doctor won't fire the gun that Earp is pressing into his hand, Virgil Earp knows how to handle a gun, so Wyatt is pretty darn happy when his brother walks through the door.

Virgil: "You got a drink for a thirsty man?"

Not since the bartender died. Wyatt introduces "Pop"...

Doctor: "Would you mind not calling me 'Pop?'"

...and they all head back to the office as the Clanton boys arrive at the homestead with Phineas. So the count for them is three sons, one father, Johnny Ringo, and the reluctantly-present Kate and Steven. The boys brag about having killed themselves Warren Earp, and Pa remarks that there's no backing out of this now.

Music: "It's curtains for Warren, they've gunned the kid down. And them bad, cruel outlaws are heading for town."

Uh... no. No they're not. Them bad, cruel outlaws are all holed up the Clanton place.

Music: "On your way, then, you cowboys, the time will be soon. When there's blood on the sawdust in the Last Chance Saloon."

Warren, as it turns out, is not quite dead yet. He's just alive enough to have a tearful farewell with his brothers as he names the Clantons as his killers.

"My only regret... is getting shot."
And with that, he dies, leaving nothing to do but go through his clothes and look for loose change. Bat Masterson vows to get a warrant and arrest them all, but Wyatt is done playing this by the book. He tells Virgil to ride out to the Clantons and tell them to expect shooting at sun-up.

Bat Masterson: "Now listen, Wyatt. There's a right and a wrong way of doing this."
Wyatt Earp: "Stay out of this, Bat."
Bat Masterson: "This ain't legal, Wyatt! If'n you uphold the law, you don't go startin' a private feud."

When push comes to shove, Bat won't stop his friend, but he won't be there to back his vendetta, either.

Bat Masterson: "The law says that..."
Wyatt Earp: "The law?"

The system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties, Wyatt. Yeah.

Wyatt Earp: "The law can't bring my kid brother back. Virgil and me's gonna step outside the law."
Virgil Earp: "I reckon so, and I'll tell 'em. Where will I say?"
Wyatt Earp: "Tell 'em... the O.K. Corral."

A powerful scene indeed. You know what would ruin the mood? A jaunty ragtime tune playing while Wyatt loads his gun!

Who saw this and thought "This needs more ragtime"?
Music: "So the Earps and the Clantons are aimin' to meet at the O.K. Corral near Calamity Street. It's the O.K. Corral boys of gunfighting 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 O.K. Corral."

I don’t know, it has some similarities to the plot of The Warriors.

Over with the Clantons, the gang is having themselves some grub while Steven talks to Kate about possibly sneaking out and talking to Holliday. Kate doesn't think he'll be too excited to know that she's hanging out with the Clantons and Johnny Ringo, but Steven is confident that Doc will understand what she did. If only he could get away, that is.

Steven: "Well, I don't know why they want to keep me here. I'm no use to them."

Because if he were allowed to leave and see the Doctor, the episode would be over as soon as Doc Holliday got back with Dodo. I mean, because Johnny Ringo wants to keep his presence here a secret. A secret that the Earps all know already.

Speaking of the Earps, Virgil stops by to deliver the message.

O.K. Corral.


Virgil wants to know whose side Steven's on, and he quickly joins up with the Earps in the hopes that he can leave. Pa Clanton's shotgun says "no" to Steven, but his mouth says "yes" to the confrontation at sun-up. When Virgil leaves, Ringo outlines the plan: He'll pull an Earp and sneak around behind them while the Clantons distract them from the front.

Billy Clanton: "Never figured you for a back-shooter, Ringo."

Yeah, the guy who shot an innocent bartender? Surely, he's the bastion of honor.
Johnny Ringo: "I never figured you for any kind of shooter, Billy, which is why we'll do it my way, okay?"

Back with the Doctor, he's wondering exactly what he'll be doing in this whole deal. The Doctor points out that he's been made a deputy. And as such, he should really uphold the law. But the topic is sidelined when Virgil returns to mention a new pal of the Clantons named "Steven." The Doctor claims he's not there by choice, and is likely only there because he rode out with Ringo to find Dodo. Meaning that Ringo's with the Clantons. The Doctor doesn't like Earp's odds, which is Doc Holliday's cue to finally return with Dodo.

She and the Doctor are quite glad to see each other for the first time since Episode 1, but Virgil isn't happy to see Doc. After all, he's the Dodge City Marshal. Doc's an outlaw.

Doc Holliday: "I'll just wish you good luck and go off and find my Kate."

But he's not happy to hear that the Clantons have her. More specifically, Johnny Ringo. So Doc vows to be there at the corral whether Virgil likes it or not.

Doctor: "But this is ridiculous, gentlemen! Can you not uphold the law without using firearms, hmm?"

Well, let's see. This is America, so the only other option is to use excessive physical force.

Wyatt isn't too thrilled to hear alternatives to violence-based methods of law enforcement, so he lets the Doctor un-deputize himself before telling Doc the plan. Much like Johnny Ringo, Doc Holliday plans on doing things his way, though....

Sometime later, the Doctor and Dodo pause to think at the saloon over a couple glasses of milk. The Doctor is worried about Steven and Wyatt, wondering exactly who will help uphold the law if "Mr. Werp" should get shot. The Doctor is a firm believer in every criminal's right to a trial, which Bat Masterson is happy to hear when he enters the saloon. Since Wyatt's hell-bent on revenge, Bat asks the Doctor if he's willing to ride out and negotiate with the Clantons.

Bat Masterson: "They know me for a friend of Wyatt's. But if'n you go to 'em wearing your badge, say you'll guarantee them a fair trial, it might just persuade them. Me? Huh! I'd rather face trial than Wyatt, Virgil, and Holliday together."

The Doctor agrees, since this would give him a chance to retrieve Steven, and he heads right out with only two hours until the shootout.

Back with Pa Clanton, Steven is criticizing his willingness to use dirty tactics in this fight. But Pa counters, and I see his point, that he doesn't want to see his sons killed. And if that means fighting dirty, then so be it.

Makes sense to me. I mean, if you're already willing to shoot a man dead... then really, you might as well play to win, right?

Of course, as Steven points out, fighting dirty could easily see them hang, as opposed to shooting the Earps in "self-defense." But as Pa points out, he'll basically own the town with Wyatt and Morgan Earp out of the way.

Pa Clanton: "Can't build an empire, boy, without getting a mite unscrupulous."

“And you can't make an omelette without breaking a few people.”
But the Doctor arrives in his official capacity of Deputy Sheriff of Tombstone to try and persuade Pa to stop the fight with the promise of a fair trial.

Pa Clanton: "Well, that's real handsome. Only it don't fit in with my plans."
Doctor: "I see. You would prefer them to be shot down in the street?"
Pa Clanton: "Well, they can take their chances."

Father of the Year, this guy.

Pa threatens Steven when he starts yapping about Johnny Ringo, but the Doctor informs Pa that the Earp already know about Ringo. Not only that, but Doc Holliday is alongside the Earps to even the odds. Pa seems to regret what he's thrown his boys into, but it's too late.

Music: "So the cards, they are drawn, and the chips, they are down."

And the buffalo is empty.

Music: "Them outlaws and lawmen are headin' for town. And the Earps and the Clantons are aimin' to meet at the O.K. Corral near Calamity Street."

Fun Fact: The O.K. Corral was not near Calamity Street. Though I must say, that's the coolest name for a road I've ever heard.

The Clantons and Ringo show up early to get into position as the music continues.

Music: "So them bad, cruel outlaws are meeting up soon and they've drunk their last drink in the Last Chance Saloon."

And so, it's time for the Earps and Holliday to get going, too.

Doc Holliday: "Why these here get-togethers has to be held at sun-up, I will never know. It ain't civilized."

Much like Marty McFly, Doc likes to do his killing after breakfast.

...Doc Holliday, I mean. Not Doc Brown. You'll never find Doc Brown wearing a black overcoat with intent to kill in his eyes.

Doc's plan is to fall behind and sneak around to catch the Clantons by surprise. And it's time to see how that plan works out.

Music: "It's the O.K. Corral boys of gunfighting fame, where the Earps and the Clantons, they played out their game."

The Clantons start firing at the approaching Earps before scattering behind cover as the Earps come into range. Johnny Ringo gets ready to get the drop on Holliday, so Dodo runs out to warn him, ending up as Ringo's hostage.

Dodo was apparently unaware that she could simply yell "Look out!"
Johnny Ringo: "Who invited you, Doc?"
Doc Holliday: "You did, Ringo. Seemed kinda seemly to show up."

Doc tosses his gun down to save Dodo, but Ringo get shot by Doc's other gun when Dodo breaks free of Ringo's grip.

Slowly, painfully, Johnny Ringo bleeds out.

Doc Holliday: "I thought you'd do better than that, Mr. Ringo."
Johnny Ringo: "I will... next time."

"You just wait, Doc. I'll get some Sontarans and Androgums on my side, and then we'll see who comes out on top!"
Doc yells at Dodo to get away as he meets back up with Wyatt Earp to inform him of Ringo's death.

The gunfight plays out in what is actually a well-made scene, albeit one with some drawn-out death sequences for the Clantons. And yeah, the Clanton boys end up dying one by one.

Music: "They paid for their sin and they lost on the draw. For the Earps, they was faster. And they was the law."

No, this guy's the law.
Music: "So beware all you cowboys who's yearning to sin, if the Earps is the lawmen, you ain't gonna win."

Well, strictly speaking, the Earps are working outside the law, but whatever.

And so, all is done. Team TARDIS has been reunited, and Doc Holliday is taking the heat for the deaths of the Clanton boys. Before he and Kate flee, they see the Dcotor and the others off and give them a genuine Doc Holliday wanted poster as a souvenir.

Doc and Kate leave to go about their business, and Dodo listens to her sing the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon one last time.

Doctor: "Oh, Dodo. My dear Dodo. You know, you're fast becoming a prey to every cliche-ridden convention in the American West."

Yeah, well, blame the writer.

And so, our heroes enter the TARDIS, pausing only for the Doctor to toss away the wanted poster Holliday gave him. Which is a darn shame, because I'd love it if that poster turned up in a cameo in a new episode. In no time at all, they've changed their clothes and the Doctor has piloted the TARDIS to the far future, on a planet far away.

Doctor: "We've now reached the distant horizon of an age, an age of peace and prosperity."

And so, the Doctor heads out to look around. But unbeknownst to them, the TARDIS monitor and the teaser for the next episode paint a very different picture of the time period they've found themselves in....

Sadly, this is some of the only footage of the next episode.
But that's another story for another time. For now, it's time to review the alleged "worst story" in Doctor Who history and see if it actually deserves that title.

Here's a hint: Probably not.

No comments:

Post a Comment