Terrance Dicks’ ‘State of Decay’ is easily the best of the season so far. They have a writer who understands the series and understands drama. There’s a little humour here and there, it’s kind of a fun ride too, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.
The concepts are easy enough to understand and the story flows logically. The design is strong, the direction good. Tom Baker seems to be back to something like his very best form, and the villains are rather good too! I only have one main issue with the story – like its predecessor, the fact that it’s in E-space, negative co-ordinates, a different universe, has no impact on the story whatsoever, other than it was a great place for the Great Vampire to hide. He could have hidden underground on any ol’ planet really.
|Emrys James as Autron menaces Mathew Waterhouse.|
I mean what makes it E-space? Coordinates? Well that’s not really an interesting pull for an audience. Everything looks the same, people act the same, in fact everyone in this story also fell through a CVE into E-space anyway. So what’s the point?
Autron is the main villain of the piece, played wonderfully by Emrys James. He is supported by the Zargo and Camilla, played by William Lindsay and Rachel Davies, again strong performances. Dicks has chosen to do a story, which like ‘Brain of Morbius’, is full of clichés, things you’d expect with a vampire story. But that is exactly why it works! If you’re going to have vampires, don’t be
|Zargo and Camilla welcome the Doctor and Romana to their house.|
Then he mixes in the rocket, and the remnants of the technology that brought the descendents of the villagers to the planet. Weave in a little Time Lord history, a clever way of destroying the slowly-waking Great Vampire, and you have a classic Doctor Who story. You don’t need anymore! You don’t have to be as complicated and confusing as in ‘The Leisure Hive’. Honestly!
|Stake in my heart? Try a mistake!|
Sure there’s the technology which looks like a commodore 64, but hey, that was cutting-edge at the time. Sure, Adric (Mathew Waterhouse) is just strange, unconvincing and a pain in the arse, but you can just pretend he’s not in the story cos he really doesn’t do that much.
‘State of Decay’ is not the greatest Doctor Who story by a long shot, but it returns to the series’ strengths and the end result is a very solid, enjoyable and even at times exciting story.