Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Dominators

So nice to know I have only one story that is (mostly) a recon to go. The season six opener was a curious beast to watch, if very cringe-worthy at times. A script originally by Mervyn Haismen and Henry Lincoln, responsible for the two Yeti stories, Derrick Sherwin, now producer, rewrote it extensively and cut out an episode as he felt the material didn’t warrant six parts. The original writers weren't happy and went with the pseudonym ‘Norman Ashby’ as the writer.
Quark alert!

Educator Balan (Johnson Bayley), a typical Dulcian/
Although astonishingly embarrassing at times, ‘The Dominators’ shouldn't be merely written off as rubbish. It deals with some really interesting ideas which is fails to convey in an engaging manner. The idea of a planet of pacifists is no doubt a reaction to the hippy movement of the sixties. What if everyone on the Earth became a peace-loving hippy? What if everyone in one country did? The writers theorise that they would then be open to being conquered with no form of retaliation. It is only the Doctor and his friends who think fighting is an option on Dulkis.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe explore the 'Island of Death'.

I would have loved to see these ideas fleshed out better. In some ways the story is already a bit silly, but perhaps the comedy angle could have been pushed more. The problem is that none of the Dulkins are particularly interesting in ‘The Dominators’, because of this non-violent approach. Perhaps another angle that could have fleshed ‘The Dominators’, which had an episode cut from it as the producer, Derrick Sherwin, felt it didn’t have enough material to go the six episodes, was that behind everyone being nice to each other was a different, malevolent force. Anyways, ‘The Dominators’ is what it is.

Zoe ends up in Dulkis' gear with Cully (Arthur Cox)
Aside from scripting and character issues, the design of this story helps in no way at all. The costumes are, I hate to say, ridiculous and embarrassing. The poor actors who had to wear them must have so embarrassed they probably didn’t watch it when it was broadcast. The men running around in high dresses are particularly poor. The two Dominators themselves have these bizarre shoulder humps and the rest of the costume appears to be made out of ticker-tape. I don’t know what the costume designer, Martin Baugh, was thinking.
There’s a lot of quarry filming, which is appropriate for the story, and it’s interesting to see that Patrick Troughton must have been excused from the location shoot as the brief shots featuring the Doctor obviously have a double. The sets work well for the most part, probably the best aspect of the design, and then there are the Quarks. I like the heads. They don’t look very menacing though let’s be honest even with their firepower. Their voices are hard to understand and strange.
Inside the Dominator Space craft.
There are quite a few model shots in this story, and they are pretty poor. They couldn’t convey the idea of the fast moving travel capsule at all, and I still don’t know where it travelled – presumably in the outer atmosphere of Dulkis. The capital was under-utilised and completely forgotten in the final episode. The ending lacks visuals and is very very rushed. A real quick ‘goodbye’, oh, volcano? Quick into the TARDIS. It’s a real surprise when suddenly the credits start rolling, it felt like there was more to play out.

Ultimately the problems of a story start with the script and should end with the director. Morris Barry was probably hard pressed just to get the thing finished, but it really lacks energy at places and the actors look very uninspired for most of it. I think the ideas behind the story are very interesting, and it’s a real pity it couldn’t result in a much better final product.


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