My Thoughts on Story 031 – “The Highlanders”

This was the second Second Doctor story, the first story with Jamie, and arguably the last of the true “historicals”. All three of these things are good.

the_highlanders_dvd_cover_by_leda74-d5f99tm
Despite the rest of this article, I’d love to watch a fully-recovered version of this.

If you’d asked me before I started this saga what I thought of the historical stories (set in Earth’s past, and frequently featuring actual historical characters, but with no science fiction elements beyond the TARDIS and its crew), I would have said I liked them. “The Aztecs” was, and remains, one of the best of the first few years of the series.

But while that story was great, there were so many, many others that weren’t. “The Masscare” and “The Smugglers” stand out as some of the worst that the series has to offer, and others, like “The Crusades”, “The Reign of Terror”, “The Myth Makers” and “Marco Polo” were very humdrum and not all that entertaining. Really, the historicals have become, for me, rather like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.

“The Highlanders” falls between those extremes. It’s wonderful for introducing Jamie. But the story is a bit of a bore, and the characters are largely uninteresting (though fa-Finch was quite nifty). It also covers a part of British history that even I, no mean amateur historian, know little about.

The reconstruction nature doesn’t help things here, but I don’t know that actual video would make this story much better (while I think it would do nothing but help “Marco Polo” and “The Myth Makers”). Stirring action scenes that are made up of still photos with sound effects do leave much to be desired.

The sad thing is that so much of Troughton’s era is missing, which means that there are long stretches of nothing but reconstructions. Joy.

Still, this story did give us Jamie, and that alone makes it worthwhile and pushes the series up onto a new plateau. That pleases me.

Cast
Others
Production
Writer Elwyn Jones
Gerry Davis
Director Hugh David
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer None
Production code FF
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing All episodes
Date started 17 December 1966
Date ended 7 January 1967
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