Monday, 30 September 2013


This is the most highly rated story of the season, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a very stylish four episodes of Doctor Who directed by Fiona Cumming and written by Barbara Clegg. It tells the story of the ‘Eternals’, beings that live outside time, immortal beings, sailing boats inspired by Earth in space in a race for ‘Enlightenment’. It’s well cast and expertly directed. It’s a story which doesn’t have a lot of points where as an audience member you question the reality of what you are watching, so you believe in the world of the story.
However, to me it falls short of being a classic. Why? Because the script appears to lack a level that it COULD have. It’s basically a very linear storyline and not one with a lot of twists. It resolves the story of Turlough trying to kill the Doctor, but not in a convincing way. Plus the two Guardians walk around with birds on their heads. What WAS the designer of those costumes thinking?
Janet Fielding, Lynda Baron and Peter Davison.
On the DVD a shorter and presumably tighter version of the story is presented along with the broadcast version. In this case I went with the broadcast version. The sets are polished and beautiful. The model work for the time and budget is excellent. The cast has some wonderful performances. I’d like to start with Tony Caunter as Jackson. There are many humans aboard each ship, kidnapped from the appropriate time on Earth. Jackson doesn’t drink the rum, so he is aware of everything that’s going on. I understand his part was expanded on after the first draft of the script. I really would have liked to see this character feature more in the story. He doesn’t really appear in the second half of the story, but worked very well with Turlough.
Publicity still with Leee John in the middle.
Mark Strickson gets a good run in this tale, as it is wrapping up the whole ‘trying to kill the Doctor’ thing which has got a little old by now. He tries to gain the confidence of ‘Wrack’, played by Lynda Baron. I think the casting was great but perhaps she could have toned it down at places. The Episode three cliff-hanger features hey laughing down the barrel of the camera which to be honest was just too OTT. Her offsider, ansell played by Leee John was a poor, stunt piece of casting and the character is very distracting and the actor does not appear to be taking it seriously.
Janet Fielding also has a good go, with the Eternal Marriner (Christopher Brown) showing a somewhat lustful interest in Tegan. She gets to wear a hell of a beautiful dress, which people remember for…. Anyways. It’s a good run for both companions and in fact the Doctor does take a bit of a back seat for the best part of this story.

However, as good as it all is, I feel it’s lacking something. ‘Terminus’ has many more issues than this story, yet watching it I cared more for the characters. There was something to work out. At the end of the day, the prize is ‘Enlightenment’, which is… enlightenment. Meaning great power for the winner of it. But why? Not really explained. Why Turlough ends up with it is not clear other than narratively they needed him to. Then when he sweeps it over to the Black Guardian the Black Guardian is destroyed by it for some reason, even though he wanted it, but he’s not really destroyed of course. Valentine Dyall’s appearances have been interesting over the course of the three stories. Like Wrack, the Black Guardian laughed evilly a lot and got angry a lot but basically did nothing.
The biggest issue with ‘Enlightenment’ is though as visually stimulating as it is, there’s an awful lot of nothing going on. Four episodes is more than enough to detail the story of a race through space, but what we get is about three or four points – two ships destroyed and a party aboard the Buccaneer. I feel in some ways it’s a missed opportunity.
So this sounds pretty negative. It shouldn’t be.  It’s a great example of Doctor Who, the look is superb, I just feel that there could have been MORE. That it’s something of a missed chance to make one of the most sensational Doctor Who tales of all.



The second part of the ‘Black Guardian Trilogy’, three unrelated stories which get interrupted by Valentine Dyall’s booming voice as the Black Guardian as Turlough tries to manoeuvre himself into a position to kill the Doctor (and of course he fails to kill him every time), ‘Terminus’ gets stuck in the middle and appears to be a not very well regarded Doctor Who tale.
Liza Goddard.
The writer is Steve Gallagher – who gave us ‘Warrior’s Gate’, my favourite Season 18 story, and to be honest I also liked ‘Terminus’ a lot too. If there are genuine criticisms to be levelled at the story, aside from the radiation armour sounding plastic and making a lot of noise, it’s that the story seems to be missing an element of action. It does date a bit too, some of the costumes are very of the period, but having said that I really liked the look of the story despite some of the costume impracticalities.

This is the final story for Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, and this exit is handled much better than Romana’s thankfully. Gallagher is an ‘ideas’ man, and presents us with several interesting ideas in ‘Terminus’. We deal with the Universe’s unwanted sick, a space ship fixed to the centre of the Universe and slavery. Not to mention  a drug dependency as the Venir require a drug called ‘Hyrdomil’ to survive. Interestingly this drug appears in the form of a green glow-stick, the likes of which were used in ‘Snakedance’ as lanterns. It seems the season for glowsticks!
The story as I said has its drawbacks. Turlough and Tegan are basically superfluous to the plot, trapped under grates and separated from the action and the Doctor for basically the whole story. Turlough (Mark Strickson) is constantly in contact with the Black Guardian and ends up back in the TARDIS. Gallagher was very unhappy with the ‘Garm’, a big dog-creature who facilitates the treatment for Lazar’s disease, intended to mirror leprosy. He didn’t want the thing to be seen, yet the story was reworked to feature the beast heavily and I don’t think, for the time, it looked too bad. There are certainly worse monsters in Doctor Who.
The Doctor fights a Venir
The plot is interesting but not over-complicated. The engines are due to start up, but they are not safe and will induce a huge explosion if they start up. The only thing that doesn’t quite work is the idea of Terminus being able to time travel. This was expositional as the whole idea was the previous explosion started the Universe, but it’s very unclear how old Terminus is, who built it and for what. It seems the company found Terminus and decided to use the dangerous radiation leaks there to cure the Lazars.

Nyssa contracts the disease, and is cured by the treatment which sometimes kills. It is an experience which affects her greatly and leads to her decision to stay and help. It’s a progression through the story and not a sudden decision which is good plotting for once. As a viewer I felt a real empathy for the whole situation, it was well cast, and although it certainly wasn’t a ‘fun’ story I really appreciated what they were trying to do. The direction could have been snappier – they were running way short on time during the shooting apparently due to a strike and lost a lot of time. I found there were moments of pointless violence on behalf of the Venir, but I presume they were all basically criminals who were sentenced to be slaves. And they were completely reliant on the Hydromil.
Although this is missing the edge of humour that ‘Warrior’s Gate’ had, I do think that Steven Gallagher’s second script for Doctor Who has a lot of merit.


Mawdryn Undead

The Brig is back!
A story which plays a lot with time, Peter Grimwade was given a second chance and despite the story being complicated, he makes a much better fist of his second tale than his first. We see the return of the Brigadier after it seems like forever, which is nice, even though he was originally supposed to be in UNIT in the early 1980s (Sarah Jane once said she was from the 1980s) and yet in 1977 he looks a good 10-15 years older than when we last saw him. So if I was only interested in Doctor Who cannon I would have to give this story a big fail, but I’m kinder than that.
It is another loopy story with some nice touches in the scenes mirroring each other in 1983 and 1977. The idea of two Brigadiers, the way when they touch the day is saved, the build up is excellent. We have a new companion too in Turlough, the return of the Black Guardian, we have a lot in this one, and for the most part it works.
Strange that they wanted to go back to three companions, or indeed a male companion. Turlough seems very old for school, but is perfectly pitched by Mark Strickson and is clearly no Adric-replacement. Then we have the great David Collings (previously appeared in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and ‘Robots of Death’, another great piece of casting, as Mawdryn, a member of a race who cannot die stuck on a space ship going nowhere. I really like most of the elements, and for the most part they come together pretty well.
David Collings must have felt he was still on the Sandminer from ‘Robots of Death’, the space ship was decked out in Art-Deco and didn’t look too bad. Ok, the exterior was very poor and unbelievable but you can forgive that by choosing the new CGI effects on the DVD menu. They are a good idea because the 80s effects used are seriously distracting and garish, especially the pattern behind the Black Guardian, played by the returning Valentine Dyall. Apparently he didn’t know what was going on for much of the production, and I can see that but he is perfectly cast in a sadly two-dimensional villain. They might as well have used the Master, but I’m glad they didn’t. Does the Black Guardian storyline add a lot to the rest of the story? I don’t think so to be fair, it would have worked just as well without him.
David Collings as Mawdryn.

Mark Strickson, Valentine Dyall and those 80s special effects!
It is a little slow in places, there does seem to be an awful lot of shots of people wandering around the space ship watching the automatic lights pop on and off. I think a trick was missed too. Nyssa and Tegan find a man they think is the Doctor (it’s Mawdryn) burned in the capsule, and take him back on board the TARDIS. He says he is the Doctor and is regenerating. But then we see the Doctor in a different time zone conversing with the Brigadier. A great scene by the way – flashbacks to earlier adventures featured, which is rare. BUT what if the audience DIDN’T know either? Maybe we have a new Doctor? With spaghetti on his head….
Probably wouldn’t have worked but I think it’s a nice idea. This story is not perfect, but it is a nice idea. The aliens move around brilliantly in there strange foam costumes like Daleks – they don’t appear to have feet. I liked that. The design was pretty good too even with the spaghetti. It’s very timey-wimey, but in a good way, and if you over look the cannon-stuff, the plot holds together very well.
The original plan was to bring back Ian Chesterton, which I would have loved to see (instead of the Brigadier), but when he proved unavailable the script was altered to suit Nicholas Courtney returning as the Brigadier, and it worked very well. The Brig is a classic Who character after all.
All in all, it’s fun but could do with a bit of a snip here and there. And definitely opt for the new CGI effects on your DVD.


Friday, 27 September 2013


Martin Clunes as Lon with Collette O'Neil
‘Snakedance’ is Christopher Bailey’s sequel to ‘Kinda’, and although it’s not as thought-provoking or skilfully crafted as the first story, it’s a decent piece with some lovely characters and superb acting, which makes it generally enjoyable even if it still suffers from unconvincing snakes and a very confusing ending which really needed to be explained but wasn’t
John Carson (second from left)
Martin Clunes heads an all-star guest cast as the son of the Federator who wears quite the most ridiculous costume I’ve ever seen – a sort of short white dress with blue clouds on it. Hmmm, yes very fetching. His mother, Tanha, is played by Collette O’Neil, also a very good performance but special mention must go to John Carson as Ambril, whose reactions to the Doctor and general disposition are a real hoot.
Janet Fielding gets to do a bit more of the evil voice and evil acting, even if she comes across as a whining wimp in the first few scenes at the thought of the Mara returning. I thought Adric had left? Maybe she was filling the breach.  I like the ideas, and some of the sets too. The image they went for was Morocco inspired like a huge bazaar. Tents and colours abound.
My issue is seriously with the lighting.
It’s always hard to light for exterior when shooting multi-camera on a set, but this is very poor. I always feel like it’s a set. Even the cycloramas on the stuff that was filmed belies the actual location of filming – they are white! The set is a bit polystyrene too. The inside of the palace or wherever the Federators’ wife and son are staying is good, and I LOVED the six faces of delusion mask (brilliant moment in the story).

Manussan street

Snake finale with Janet Fielding
So it was a real mixed bag. Some stuff is downright creepy, the scenes in the hall of mirrors are some of the best from a writing and directing point of view. And then we hit the end. The Doctor communicates in the middle of a supposed desert with Dogon, the old high priest or some telepathically and goes back to the cave. The Mara appears, the Doctor holds out a small crystal and does something unexplained with his mind and he kills the Mara. In the next story he explains the Mara can only be killed between stages of its becoming or some waffle like that, but I was just left wondering why the Mara lost.
Costumes are a bit much really. Lots of layers, yet
apparently we are close to a desert. Also, everything looks clean and new. Much as I like the colour purple, perhaps tan and brown would have given a better sense of the location? It’s just so… so… so studio. And you get no concept of the full town, where the palace is or anything, or how far from the desert the town is either.
But it’s a lot of fun but it really is like watching a play. The designer Jan Spoczynski was very wrong for the show it seems. Enjoyable story thanks to the cast.


Arc of Infinity

Better than ‘Time-Flight’. Just. That’s not saying much is it? I’m sorry this isn’t going to be a long review today. Johnny Byrne managed to write one of the most forgettable Doctor Who stories here which consists of an entire episode of running around Amsterdam. Gawd! And a conclusion which is the Doctor shooting Omega, the villain of the piece.
Instead of getting the incredible Stephen Thorne back to reprise this role, one I truly believe there was no need to bring back anyway, they got in Ian Collier who was in ‘The Time Monster’ and frankly the role worked better as a shouting loony than trying to turn him into something he wasn’t. It’s a bit convoluted, the Time Lords are done just as bad as they were in ‘The Invasion of Time’, except they were now more eighties, and generally it’s a boring groan-fest of rubbish, not auguring well for the rest of the season to follow.
It’s also full of ridiculous coincidences, especially that last episode Tegan went away and the next they bump into her in Amsterdam because her cousin, who is also from Australia without the apparent accent, has been caught by Omega because he happened to need a place to sleep for the night and his incredibly geeky friend thought a crypt would be the place to go.
Colin Baker as Maxil.

Then we have Colin Baker as Commander Maxil, he would go on to play the Doctor but for some reason this part and that of the new Castellan (Paul Jericho) has been written with both having venomous hatred for the Doctor. Why? No idea don’t ask me I just work here. Borusa has regenerated again and is now President. Michael Gough camps up the Time-Lord traitor Hedin who apparently was a great friend of the Doctor but we’ve never heard of him in 20 years of them making the show.

Omega's new mask
Ian Collier

The show starts with the Doctor repairing parts of the TARDIS by opening ‘roundels’. Hmmmm, did they have to give the circles on the walls names? I’m sure the series would have survived without that. The sets are plastic and bright, too long again spent in the TARDIS. Time Lord technology looks like something created by Mattel. It’s DREARY! Seriously dreary. The script is nonsense, Omega runs around looking like Peter Davison and suddenly they change the actor rather than do split screen and it’s so obviously. And don’t get me started on the ludicrous Ergon.


Thursday, 26 September 2013


The Doctor and the Master in disguise
And then there was ‘Time-Flight’. Yes. Look, being a Time Lord I am lucky enough to understand the plot – and no, it doesn’t make it any better. The Zeraphin combined all their power together and became one incredibly powerful entity. Inside this entity is good and bad. They were individuals at one point, they wished to be so again, but the Master came along and as individuals were made he destroyed them (or should I say shrunk them with the TCE). He then battles for the power which the Zeraphin hold as a huge collective entity inside a sarcophagus. The good and bad side of the Zeraphin fight each other, and the bad wins agreeing to side with the Master (this is at about the end of episode three).
However, the Master tries to rematerialise his TARDIS at Heathrow and the Doctor blocks him with his TARDIS and boots him off to Zaraphax, the home world of the Zeraphin where they will deal with him. He’s stuck there because of something the Doctor has done to the part of the TARDIS he gave him.
CSO on the tarmac.
Does it all make sense in the end? I don’t know. Peter Grimwade decided to have a crack at writing and Saward probably wishes he didn’t. It is seriously convoluted and there are some bizarre elements to the script such as the Master disguising himself. The disguised Master seems to die a horrible death only to rise again back to normal. Why he decided such a bizarre form I have no idea.

Then his main plan to get to the Zeraphin. Import a whole lot of people by opening a time tunnel to 1983 to smash through the wall of the room that housed the sarcophagus. They’ve been there for a day or two at least and haven’t made the slightest impact but the Doctor asks them and suddenly they break through in minutes. That turn of events isn’t as stupid as the scenes of a host of passengers from the first Concorde bashing on the wall in the back ground continuously.
The Master reveals himself
One of the better effects shots of the story.
Look, episode one is ok, because none of the complexities of the plot are entered into really. Episodes 2-4 are just some of the weakest Doctor Who ever produced. Or directed. The sets appear to be 10 metres across and very matte, very cheap. Concorde is represented by one solitary wheel. This is the classical of everything that doesn’t work in Doctor Who being rolled into one story. It’s a dead-set shocker. It’s almost impossible to follow, dull and slow, appears to have been directed on the fly by Ron Jones, it is full of one-dimensional characters (at least most of the actors seem to enjoy it I guess even if the characters they had to play are rubbish) and I haven’t even started on the Plasmatons. They appear to be magic rocks with legs. LEGS. One of the most pathetic things to appear in the series. They rival the Fourmasi and are worse than the giant Prawn in ‘The Invisible Enemy’.
Nice that they were able to use Concorde. Not so nice that the Doctor and Nyssa without a second thought left Earth and Tegan behind. Bad scripting there because on JNT’s idea to split them up and reunite them at the start of the next season. And really, we didn’t need another Master story so soon after ‘Castrovalva’.
So yeah



Trouble in paradise!
This one is regarded as a classic, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a very strongly written, strongly directed story. It’s very very ‘tight’ – I think that’s the best word. We have the surprise return of the Cybermen  (God bless them for not putting ‘Cybermen’ in the actual title of the show), it has androids, a very pacey plot, and the death of Adric. Not only that, but as it was his last story, Saward gave Waterhouse a few things to do!
It's Beryl Reid!
Again, it’s not perfect and the plot does not make a lot of sense really. The first two episodes are basically all underground (the best underground/tunnels set the show has ever seen by the way) with androids apparently guarding a bomb. If the Cybermen wanted to blow up Earth, why would you bother guarding the bomb? Why wouldn’t you just blow the thing up once you’d put it in the right position?
Ok, they wanted to blow up a conference where different worlds were going to pool their resources to fight the Cybermen. Which in itself is a bit weak. Then it has a timing device? It gets armed by the Cybermen, hiding somehow thanks to one traitor on board, a freighter ship. Hmmmm. But then there’s a countdown. Why not just go bang?
It does seem a bit silly all up. The Doctor transport a whole lot of army-style dudes to the freighter via TARDIS which is hardly his style and again
exposes the TARDIS to any-ol dude. The Cybermen have been redesigned, in the most part it’s a very good job apart from the Ug-boots painted silver and the dodgy gloves. Their dialogue though is even sillier than in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and they have a leader who says ‘excellent’ a lot and who apparently has met the Doctor before. Which seems unlikely at best.

Redesigned Cybermen.

But. The first episode builds up beautifully, it’s full of fear and menace and anticipation plus a wonderful reveal. Peter Grimwade is an excellent director, even if the actors were driven nuts by him. We have a sad farewell to Mathew Waterhouse as Adric. Did I like Adric? Not really. But that wasn’t the actor’s fault. He was always written as a whiny kid who kept stuffing up. That’s sadly exactly how the story starts too. But through the story the Doctor chills a bit and shows a bit of faith in Adric. It’s sad that his death was pointless, and the final scene in the TARDIS is very moving, although I wasn’t totally convinced by Janet Fielding’s crying. The silent credits were a nice touch.
The plot has not got a lot to it, but it just goes to show that you don’t need a convoluted plot to make a great four episodes of TV. The Cybermen want to destroy Earth. Basically, that’s it, isn’t it? They have a 15,000 strong army hidden in silos in a big ol’ space ship. Beryl Reid plays the Captain of the space freighter and apparently she’s not what Saward had in mind at all. But come on! This is the BBC in the 80s! I think she’s awesome!
There’s not much more to say. It has faults, and may be a little over-rated, but ‘Earthshock’ is undoubtedly a very tight story!
Adric's last moments.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Black Orchid

When Nyssa met Anne
This is going to be a hard one to review. A short story at only two parts, ‘Black Orchid’ is almost ‘filler’ – they had 26 episodes for the series and JNT didn’t want to do six-parters, which in all fairness was a very good call. The last two broadcast six-parters were very slow drawn-out affairs. However, instead we get ‘Black Orchid’, a two-part purely historical story with a wobbly plot by a man whose attitude was ‘it’s only Doctor Who’.

Terrance Dudley’s ‘Four to Doomsday’ was okay, lacking a fair bit in action but okay. If they offered him a commission it seems he took it, he was a working writer after all. ‘Black Orchid’
Peter Davison plays a rather unconvincing shot to be honest.
struggles to fill out TWO parts though. I mean we have a cricket game taking up a good chunk of episode one, and episode two wastes time taking the Doctor and companions to the police station.
Why? Because the plot itself is one of those ‘what’s going on’ type plots. Once you piece together the shabby plot points and kill the protagonist there’s nothing left. Instead we get prolonged parties, dancing and Adric eating a lot of food. The companions become purely functional, even more so than they have been. Adric is superfluous to the plot again, and Tegan is just there to explain strange Earth traditions to the two alien companions. Nyssa gets a double, for some strange reason, and the Doctor spends 30 per cent of the story wandering secret corridors. It’s naff and boring.
Charleston time!
What tops the dreadful plotting off is Terrence  Dudley getting himself into a hole with the Doctor accused of murder. How does he prove his innocence? He blows his alien cover and shows the police the inside of the TARDIS! It’s not something ever done before and hopefully not again. It’s purely and simply a plot point. It’s dreadful, lazy writing from Dudley. At that point the story was completely lost to me.
Peter Davison points out in the commentary another plot hole where he tells everyone not to let George Cranleigh know he doesn’t have Anne (Nyssa’s double) on the roof, but in fact Nyssa.
The Doctor and Lady Cranleigh.
Then he goes up there and that’s the first thing HE tells the guy! George has been to South America and something bad happened to him and his features got distorted and he went mad and lost the ability to speak it seems. What a horrible caricature was presented on screen. And his own family kept him tied up on a bed all the time! I mean really. Please! Don’t ask an audience to buy this crap.
Can't fix your plotholes? Take everyone into the TARDIS.
Then the cricket scene. Apart from the one ball Peter Davison bowled on the stumps which took a wicket, it’s woefully directed. The shots must have been done in a hurry because it doesn’t look like real cricket at all. The ball moves so slowly, the shots that Davison hits would be lucky to get past cover, the catch he takes clearly did not come off a bat. It seems like they had ten minutes to shoot the cricket game shots and they had to make do.
They dialogue is mostly expositional, especially from Tegan. Grrrr. Bad. BAD. BAAAAAD.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Visitation

‘The Visitation’ was the second of Peter Davison’s stories to be recorded, behind ‘Four to Doomsday’. It’s a return to a more ‘traditional’ style of Doctor Who story, with an historical setting mixed with alien and science fiction elements. It’s a very solid story, enjoyable too, if not one without its issues as most stories have.
The Doctor and co spy a stranger in the tree
Eric Saward’s first Doctor Who script would see him very quickly become the script editor – Antony Root was script editor on a temporary basis only whilst JNT looked for a permanent person in the post. It’s a very solid four episodes, strongly directed by Peter Moffat, good pace and build up to the climax, a new and interesting villain, and a great setting.
The combination of history and science fiction is what Doctor Who does best, so it’s no surprise that ‘The Visitation’ is such a competent piece. By now, I have to be honest, it seems clear that the show’s biggest issue is the three companions. They have become caricatures and even over 100 minutes of story it seems very difficult to find something for them all to do. Naturally they get split up at points and have their own subplots, in ‘The Visitation’ though they inherit another pseudo-companion, Richard Mace (Michael Robbins) , who gets more of a supporting role than either Tegan, Adric or Nyssa. The sad thing is, he’s far more interesting than any of the three companions as well!
Android disguised as death.

Tegan meets the Tereleptil.
A highway man, an actor and a rogue, it might have been an interesting exercise to have a companion like that, but instead we get feisty, whiny and meek. No offence to any of the actorsn because they did their best with questionable material which rarely showed any interesting in using or developing their characters. Hey, in ‘Kinda’ they just wrote Nyssa out and barely used the other two. It goes to show that by now the best mix is just one companion with the Doctor. They can have a fair bit to do, whilst it allows for more colourful characters (like Mace) to also chime in with a sizeable role without diminishing that of the companion.
In ‘The Visitation’ Tegan spends half the story hypnotised, Nyssa spends nearly half in the TARDIS tinkering with a machine to destroy androids and Adric runs around looking for people, fighting badly and being pretty darned useless.
Saward starts the story well, with a group of humans attacked by androids and Tereleptils who have just arrived on Earth. They all die, so we don’t see any of the characters again,  but immediately the audience is drawn into this story.
Who you looking at?
The Doctor and his companions don’t take long to get drawn into local politics when a group of villagers immediately attack them after they arrive for very little reason other than ‘they’re strangers’. We see the android, the house, the Tereleptils. The main one has some great animatronics moving his mouth, although like the Marshmen in ‘Full Circle’ the joins in the costume betray poorly that there’s a man inside. Needed to be wet! Such a common issue with Who monsters!
Richard Mace helps out the Doctor.
It’s an interesting and pretty silly plot to be fair. Three Tereleptils on Earth plan to wipe out the population with a deadly virus. And then what? There’s just three of them. They can hardly populate the Earth now, can they? Still, it’s effective enough in my opinion. Most plots fall apart under real scrutiny, and I don’t just mean Doctor Who but Sci-fi plots in general.
The sets are a highlight, and the locations were perfectly chosen. The sets are pretty much faultless, easier to do when you don’t have to build a lot of futuristic stuff I know, but even the backdrop for London in the final scene is well done. The idea that this is the start of the fire of London is great too, the sort of thing which Doctor Who should have done more of by now – explain historical events. It’s paced well, moves along, has colourful characters. Far from perfect, but a very solid story!


Sunday, 22 September 2013


‘Kinda’ is a very different story in a season of different stories. However, it works on so many levels unlike ‘Castrovalva’, and that is because, purely and simply, good writing. Good writing, good ideas and good characters. Good exposition, a good mix of action in there with it, Christopher Baily’s first Doctor Who story is the first Peter Davison story I have liked.
There is a point to the story, unlike Bidmead’s rubbish which is a scientific concept gone awry. It has its fault, principally in production values and the fact that the giant snake at the climax of the story is rubbish, and that is a major issue because it’s the resolution and end of the show and that needs to convince your audience. The CGI version on the DVD is obviously a much better rendition of a giant snake, but perhaps they were asking too much of the production team initially. Still, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a better effort than what they originally gave the viewers.
The Doctor enters the dome.
But let’s forget that. The script is complicated without being convoluted, which is very important for Doctor Who because once you’ve got a convoluted script the amazing production values will simply not get you out of that hole. Baily’s script has the two stories combined really. That of the Mara coming, and ancient force which comes to the Kinda world via Tegan’s dream. The ideas of collective dreams are great, the strength in collective dreaming is what prevents the Mara from coming through. Janet Fielding gets some great stuff as well.
Simon Rouse is brilliant as Hindle.
In the dome we have the plot of two men who have gone completely mad. The Doctor but principally Adric have the job of humouring them both. Hindle is wonderfully portrayed by Simon Rouse,
who would go on for a very many years in ‘The Bill’. His madness is not underplayed at all, but you never get the sense of over-acting. In fact it’s an incredibly believable performance. Richard Todd as Sanders loses his mind when he opens the kinda box, but it’s a very different kind of looney to Hindle. It’s great that someone with such a resume as Richard Todd threw himself into the role so wholeheartedly.

Mary Morris as the 'Old Woman'

Nerys Hughes was great support as Todd, and Mary Morris played the old woman Panna, and her look was absolutely amazing. Peter Davison’s performance is his strongest yet. Mathew Waterhouse finds Adric in distressing situations again, as he always seems to week after week. I feel quite sorry for the guy to be honest. I think he did his best but his character appears to written just to whine, complain and get into stupid situations. This story is no exception sadly and it would have been nice for a writer to take his character and develop it!
The Doctor shows the fool a trick,
Having said that it’s better than Nyssa – who was written out of this story at the start and only reappears once the whole thing is dealt with. This linked in apparently with her fainting at the end of the previous story. She uses a machine called a ‘delta-wave augmenter’ to give her some proper sleep. Very weak pointless bizarre stuff.
The sets were as good as you could hope for when doing a jungle for video in a small studio. They weren’t great and it would have been much better if they used filming and Ealing Studios, but this one was completely studio bound, as was ‘Four to Doomsday’. The dome sets were good, but you never really believe you’re on an alien world. The Kinda, the locals, also don’t exactly
This is NOT the CGI snake.
convince. Their costumes are a bit too nice and uniform – they all sort of look the same. Perhaps a lack of water of mud is another contributing factor.
‘Kinda’ though is an engrossing, interesting, at times funny story. It’s offbeat in some ways, larger than life in others and easily the best story since Peter Davison took over.