DVD Review: DOCTOR WHO THE SEEDS OF DOOM

DVD Review: DOCTOR WHO THE SEEDS OF DOOM

Presaging John Carpenter’s seminal film THE THING by a full six years, The 6-part 1976 DOCTOR WHO serial SEEDS OF DOOM, is not only one of the best Tom Baker era Doctor Who episodes, but is one of the best Doctor Who story-lines; in its going on 50 year history(2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the show).

Mixing space born terror, cronenbergesque occupation with body horror, ecological concerns, and human madmen it is a surprisingly brutal and more than a bit horrific entry, in the oft imaginative, but usually tame, family show.

An intelligent, engrossing, exciting and risk taking script by Robert Banks Stewart (script edited by the great Robert Holmes and produced by Philip Hinchliffe, so SEEDS OF DOOM is the highlight of what many consider the best Doctor Who producer/script editor team), is complemented by one of the best directed episodes of Doctor Who by the equally great director Douglas Camfield, and all tied together by stellar performances from the usual suspects (Tom Baker giving one of the most commanding and passionate performances of his seven year run) as well as the guest stars.

It was typical for serials longer than four parts to feel padded, not this one, it starts out engrossing and just gets more intense each episode. My first impetus, upon my original viewing was to grade this an A/A+. Having let some time pass, viewing the episode again, it lives up to that first impression, it rates a solid A+.

If you want a modern comparison it is the BLINK (the best episode of the David Tennant era) of the Tom Baker era. DVD sports a commentary with Tom Baker (The Doctor), John Challis (Scorby), Kenneth Gilbert (Dunbar), Michael McStay (Moberley), Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer), Robert Banks Stewart (Writer), Roger-Murray Leach (Designer) and Joggs Camfield (son of Douglas Camfield, Director).

Final Grade: A+
Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom (Story 85): Price Your Copy Here!

FAVORITE DOCTOR WHO DvD Commentary! THE POWER OF KROLL?!!

Recorded in 2002 (mere weeks after the death of Terry Walsh, one of Britan’s premier stunt-men, and a stunt man who had a visible role in many episodes of Doctor Who, most notably this one) the commentary by Tom Baker and John Leeson for the 4-part story THE POWER OF KROLL, first aired in 1978, is nothing short of great.

From tales of performing Sherlock Holmes, to a party for Sean Connery, to autograph seekers, to rumors of death, to Migraine Acting it’s just everything a commentary should be.

Tom Baker always a sharp, if at times distracted, speaker on commentaries, here manages to feel completely on… for this one, and delivers a really fun and funny commentary. And it helps that the episode of Dr. Who that this commentary adorns, is actually a very good story (starring Phillip Madoc whose performance elevated every Doctor Who episode he was in [including the 2nd movie]). So a fun story, with a must listen commentary.

And this story is part 5 in THE KEY OF TIME series, a 26 episode storyline. So rather than just purchasing this individual episode, I would recommend the 2009 Boxset that includes the entire KEY TO TIME storyline as well as extras that were not on the earlier individual DVDs (Including an interview with the aforementioned Phillip Madoc).

While this storyline is not in my best Doctor Who storylines (it has major flaws most notably the tedious and lackluster ending which basically made the whole storyline unnecessary) it does have some fun moments in the buildup, and THE POWER OF KROLL is one of those moments.

In addition it is something of a watershed moment in the Tom Baker years. After this his enjoyment in the series, and for the most part the quality of the series (while there would be some peaks, there would be far more often valleys) would be in steady decline, with the uneven John Nathan Turner years on the horizon.

So this is a great DVD to get a sampling of a time in a seemingly immortal series, when it glimmered… very bright… against the coming night.

Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Special Collector’s Edition) (Stories 98-103)! Price your copy here!!

The following breakdown is courtesy of Violin MD @ Amazon.com:

“The NEW 350 minutes-worth of special features details are as follows. All the making-of features are new and NEW commentaries are marked with an *:

I. The Ribos Operation: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 98 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm
2. A Matter of Time – A new 60-minute Documentary
3. The Ribos File – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
4. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
5. Season 16 Trailer – BBC1 trailer for the forthcoming season
6. Photo Gallery

II. The Pirate Planet: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 100 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Bruce Purchase and director Pennant Roberts
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and script editor Anthony
Read
3. Parrot Fashion – Documentary that includes old and new
interviews, including Douglas Adams
4. Film Inserts, Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
5. Weird Science – A funny look at the science seen in The Key to
Time
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

III. The Stones Of Blood: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 95 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm and director Darrol Blake
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Susan Engel and writer
David Fisher
3. Getting Blood from the Stones – Cast and Crew Interviews about
the making of this story
4. Hammer Horror – Featurette about the influences of horror films
on Doctor Who stories
5. Stones Free – Mary Tamm visits the Rollright Stones location and
talks to local experts
6. Deleted Scenes
7. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
8. Excerpt from ‘The Model World of Robert Symes’
9. Blue Peter segment about the 15th anniversary of Doctor Who
10. BBC’s Nationwide news program segment about the 15th
anniversary of Doctor Who
11. Photo Gallery

IV. The Androids Of Tara: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 97 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes
2. The Humans of Tara – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making
of this story
3. Now & Then: The Androids of Tara – compares and contrasts
present day locations as they are now with how they appeared in
the story
4. Double Trouble – a brief history of ‘doubles’ in other Doctor
Who stories
5. Photo Gallery

V. The Power Of Kroll: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 90 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and John Leeson
2. In Studio – a glimpse inside the studio during recording of the
story
3. Variations – a BBC local news programme visits the story’s
location during filming
4. There’s Something About Mary – Mary Tamm looks back at her
single-season starring role as the Doctor’s companion
5. Philip Madoc: A Villain for All Seasons – Madoc looks back on
his numerous roles as a Doctor Who villain down the years
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

VI. The Armageddon Factor: Special Edition (2 DVDs; 6 episodes; 147 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm, John Woodvine and director Michael
Hayes
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and John Leeson
3. DVD-ROM: 1979 Doctor Who Annual in Adobe PDF format
4. Defining Shadows – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
5. Alternative / Extended Scene
6. Directing Who – Michael Hayes looks back on his directing career
on Doctor Who
7. Rogue Time Lords – a potted history of errant Time Lords
8. Pebble Mill at One – Tom Baker interview from 1978
9. Radiophonic Feature – a Pebble Mill at One interview looking at
Radiophonic music and effects in Doctor Who
10. The New Sound of Music – Dick Mills talks about creating Doctor
Who sound effects
11. Merry Christmas, Doctor Who – a special Christmas sketch,
recorded on the set of ‘The Armageddon Factor’ for the BBC
Christmas Tape that year
12. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
13. Photo Gallery
14. Late Night Story – Tom Baker reads five spine-chilling stories
from this 1978 series:
a. The Photograph by Nigel Kneale
b. The Emissary by Ray Bradbury
c. Nursery Tea by Mary Danby
d. The End of the Party by Graham Greene
e. Sredni Vashtar by Saki (never broadcast)
15. Easter Egg

Adding up the running times gives us 627 minutes for the box set. All episodes are presented in full frame video, with the original English mono audio and with English subtitles.”

DVD REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO – THE HAND OF FEAR aka the SEXIEST DR WHO Villain?!!!?

Well that’s a strange heading for a blog post I admit, but I was re-watching the 1976 episode of DOCTOR WHO: THE HAND OF FEAR, and man is this a ‘rocking’ episode of Doctor Who!

Okay the following contains spoilers for the episode (as well as a smattering of risque adult themed humor :)), now you regular readers know I typically avoid spoilers like the plague, but there is no way to really sell this episode and not describe its reveals. And it is still a great episode, even when you know what is coming.

However, jump to the last paragraph if you want to avoid any spoilers (or avoid tasteless humor :)).

For the rest of you… into the mystery.

This 4 part episode works in large part because of the villain of Eldrad played by Judith Paris. A silicone rock based creature who is one of the first scifi gender-bending characters I’m aware of. This alien menace starts out off camera as a dude, becomes a dudette, and in the final episode returns to a dude form. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t see the whole serial as a kid, as my young mind may not have been able to compute all that. But as an adult I can appreciate the entire serial.

But yeah the first three episodes, and much of the fourth are just great, and again largely it’s because the villain of Eldrad is such a rich and complex character. Powerful, a bit violent, but also a bit vulnerable, it’s just a well written part, that Judith Paris I thought performed the heck out of.

It didn’t hurt at all that she was drop-dead gorgeous. Between her and Catwoman in the Adam West Batman reruns… I knew puberty had arrived. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wait did I say that out loud?!!

What can I say that woman was frigging gorgeous. Okay there were slight problems, she was an alien menace, and she was made out of rock. Okay I see that being a minor hiccup, but hand me my ‘Ben Grimm’ condoms and cry ‘Clobbering Time!’, and I’m good.

(Heh, Heh! That joke is only for fans of the FF. Yes, I am evil! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Okay getting my mind out of the gutter (I’m telling you, I’m going to find that costume and put my girlfriend in it— wait… did I say THAT out loud?!! DOH!!) it’s just a great 4 part storyline, right up till the last episode, when Judith Paris’ Eldrad gives way to a male version.

Now, I’m not a sexist, and I’m not going to hate on the rock dude villain, because he’s a dude, but I am going to hate on him because… he is effing rubbish! Eldrad turns from a complex, intriguing, nuanced character, to this blustering, shouting, scenery chewing, mustache twirling stock villain… yeah.. it is just disappointing; a glaring combination of bad writing, and horrendously bad over acting.

But thankfully the screen-time of the male Eldrad is brief, and the episode ends on one of the pivotal scenes between the Doctor and his companion, Sarah Jane Smith. It was a good four part-er that really showed how well these two work together and what they mean to each other, which made the ending all the more… bitter-sweet.

All in all it is not a perfect episode of Doctor Who, largely because of dropping the ball with the demise of Eldrad, but that aside it’s a beautifully directed, and well performed episode that comes highly recommended. Plus the DVD offers a commentary with the cast, so it’s worth getting for that alone. Grade: B/B+.

Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (Story 87)

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RATING THE DOCTORS: The Best & Worst Doctor Who Companions Pt. 2 of 2!

While picking the companions I disliked was easy. Narrowing down my five favorite companions is a LOT more difficult, because in 30+ years there have been some great companions. On the whole the good companions far outweighing the ones I dislike.

So narrowing down all those great companions to my five favorite, very difficult, and very subjective. But as stated, having recently watched all 30+ seasons of the show, you can call my choices informed subjectivity.

So without further ado:

I have some issues with Russell T. Davies as discussed in my worst companions posting, but one thing you can’t fault him with is in building up the dynamic/relationship between the Doctor and his female Companion, and doing a great job of casting that companion role… well, and writing it… well.

I think one of the common complaints many actresses who played a companion to the Doctor had, was in the writing of their roles. Davies with the characters of Rose and Martha created companions who had it all, beauty, brains, guts, and adventuresome spirit, and a personality, an aura… magnetic. And roles that complemented the Doctor.

So while I really love a lot of the companions that have been in and out of the ship of time, the two I come back to the most, which is a way of saying the two who are great characters, brought to life by great actresses, and they have great stories under their belt, and a great complement to the doctor… in other words they have it all…

Martha Jones played by the stunning Freema Agyeman and Rose Tyler played by the effervescent Billie Piper. They get the one, two spot.

Sarah Jane- I don’t think any list of best companions would be complete without Sarah Jane, played by the fantastic Elisabeth Sladen, who brought such a caring, and humanity, and belief to her role, and whose tenure bridged both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John, acted opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. And she brought beauty, brains, wit, sophistication to the role, and at the time they thought that was too much. She was too capable, and she was replaced in a single season, with a dumbed down companion Jo Grant(that’s not a kick against Kathy Manning, who played Jo Grant, she quite made that role her own, and made that dynamic work, and became a great, woman of action companion for the bulk of Pertwee’s run). However, it was still an unfortunate replacement because she was a fantastic companion. And you look back at the handful of stories she did and they all stand out as fantastic Doctor Who episodes.

The last spot is a tie between Leela and Ace.

Leela- I really liked the character of Leela, playing opposite Tom Baker’s Dr. Who. Played wonderfully by the beautiful Louise Jameson, I thought she was a very interesting character, but her relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor, and seemingly Tom Baker himself, was seemingly frictious and dismissive. Possibly because she was such a strong and striking character, and a strong and striking actress, and Tom Baker at the time wanted no competition for the spotlight. But despite the less than stellar dynamic between them, they still were in 2 or 3 of the best story-lines in the history of the series.

And tying her for fifth place was Ace played by Sophie Aldred. Ace was just a fantastic companion, and had a great relationship/chemistry with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. And they were in some amazing stories together. Their REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS being easily in the top ten of any list of best Doctor Who stories.

Honorable mentions are:

Ian Chesterton – played by William Russell from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Barbara Wright – played by Jacqueline Hill from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Susan – played by Carole Ann Ford from 1963 to 1964 with William Hartnell
The first companions, if they had failed, if their chemistry had failed, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show.

Jamie – played by Frazer Hines from 1966 to 1969 with Patrick Troughton
His chemistry with Patrick Troughton, was a great, almost vaudevillian dynamic.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – played by Nicholas Courtney from 1968 to 1989 with all the “old” Doctors apart from Colin Baker.
While not a companion, Nicholas Courtney’s reoccurring role as Brigadier Stewart, head of the UNIT, was a great addition to the Who mythology, particularly during the earthbound Pertwee era. He’s just a fantastic straight man for the Doctor’s craziness.

Jo Grant – played by Katy Manning from 1971 to 1973 with Jon Pertwee. She took the ditzy role she was given, and made it into a courageous character who would risk anything for the Doctor.

Peri – played by Nicola Bryant from 1984 to 1986 with Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

Let’s be honest, Nicola Bryant was brought in, by hit-and-miss producer Nathan Turner, for T&A… to sex up the show in hopes of salvaging the lackluster Peter Davison years. She was brought in for her huge breasts, and they were paraded prominently.

(Oh come’on don’t get offended, we’re all adults here, and that’s absolutely the truth. They were real, and they were fabulous. :). Oh, I’m joking! )

With the exception of Davison’s last episode, the only thing that was watchable about his tenure, was Nicola Bryant. But surprisingly enough, she was more than just a pretty face and a stunning body, she was a solid actress, and she was exceptionally likable, and this became very obvious during the Colin Baker Doctor years.

Colin Baker off-putting pompous portrayal of the Doctor, only made somewhat palatable because of Nicola Bryant’s Peri. I quite liked her, and unfortunately she was saddled with questionable characterization by the writers of her and her Doctors. But despite that she does manage to be part of 2 or 3 stories that transcended those issues, to be quite entertaining.

So that’s it for this installment. Five favorite companions and the honorable mentions! Feel free to mention your favorite companions.

RATING THE DOCTORS: The Best & Worst Doctor Who Companions Pt. 1 of 2!

Update:

Okay waiting for my trusty photographer to send me the pictures from Wizard World Philly, and then the 2nd and final part of that convention coverage will go up. Part II of the Pulp article, and the Charles Saunders MONARCH OF MAYHEM are both being worked on.

And working on WEDNESDAYS WORDS for tomorrow, Have not missed a Wednesday yet! (Knock on pixels)

So in the interim of all that heavy lifting I’m doing, here’s an easy, breezy post…

************

THE BEST AND WORST DOCTOR WHO COMPANIONS

This year I made it through watching all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who, counting the old (with the exception of lost episodes) and the new.

I first ran across Doctor Who as a kid watching the Tom Baker episodes on PBS. Incredibly low budget even by my childish standards of the time, it was okay. Quirky, not something I really made a point of following, but would watch if nothing else was on.

Re-watching the entire 30+ year series in a matter of months, I have a far better appreciation and understanding of the series as an adult.

There were some really smartly written and exciting and imaginative episodes in the show’s 30+ year history, and we’ll get into those. But in this post I wanted to discuss the barometer for what is best and worst in Doctor Who… namely the companions.

If you dislike the companion, or find them annoying, or their dynamic with the Doctor just doesn’t work, the show seldom rises above your assessment of them. ie bad Companions translating to bad and annoying episodes. This is very subjective of course, but informed by the context of watching 30+ seasons of Dr. Who. So informed subjectivity if you will. ๐Ÿ™‚

So without further ado the five best and worst Dr. Who companions:

We’ll start with the negative in this post, and do the best next time at bat.

WORST

Adric – played by Matthew Waterhouse from 1980 to 1982 with Tom Baker and Peter Davison – The character of Adric was an annoying whining and joy eroding albatross stuck on the end of Tom Baker’s tenure and throughout Peter Davison’s tenure by the long running and both creative and stifling producer, John Nathan Turner. John Nathan Turner was a hit and miss producer, responsible for an equal share of Doctor Who successes as he was missteps and failures. His choice of companions being one of his most obvious. Adric being the worst of Nathan Turner’s lot of disagreeable companions. “Wow we are getting to travel in space and time, so instead of being thankful or awed let’s just bitch and be upset all the time, and wear the same stinking clothes for no apparent reason”. The reason for wearing the same clothes, was another Nathan Turner misstep, wanting the companions to wear a consistent uniform, which just came off as stupid, and eschewed the fun brilliance of the first companions who every episode carried over pieces of clothing and garb from their adventures through time and space. Quite a fun idea if you think about it. So the character of Adric, was the most egregious of Nathan Turner’s bad decisions, but not, unfortunately, the only flawed bit of casting and character.

Turlough – played by Mark Strickson from 1983 to 1984 with Peter Davison, along with the characters of Nyssa and Tegan and Adric, he was part of Nathan Turner’s whiny, unlikeable companions. Which is a dig against the producer and writers rather than the actors. Despite Tegan being written unnecessarily combative and whining, and the character of Nyssa being completely underwritten, I didn’t find them too grating, or ‘turn off the show to avoid’ bad. However I did feel that way to a great degree by the character of Adric, and to a lesser, but still unsatisfying, degree, Turlough. So hence him making my worst list.

Mel – played by Bonnie Langford from 1986 to 1987 with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy- In her defense she’s bubbly. But beyond that she just seems an odd choice that never quite works for me. She is not as bad as the others listed, I don’t dislike the character, I just don’t care for the character.

Amy Pond & Rory- I found her from the first incredibly annoying and uninteresting. Her whole pouty thing, and the Rory/Amy show… not remotely interested. Stopped watching after the first season with them.

Mickey Smith- Ugghhh. A Shakespearean trained actor and you have him doing a bitchy step&fetchit neutered character. Just annoying from the first episode of the revived Doctor Who series. I disliked the character so much, that it would not be until many years later, when given the chance to view the whole series cheap, that I would go back to Doctor Who. A character that defines the negative connotations of the term ‘Black faces, White messages’. Russell T. Davies who is to be applauded for reviving Doctor Who and making it a world-wide phenomenon had some very negative uses of male characters of color in his first few seasons, and Mickey Smith was that dynamic at its worst. Ironically with the character of Martha Jones, he would introduce a fantastic female companion, and a fantastic character of color; Davies issues relegated seemingly only to the male. Whatever the reason Mickey Smith was an awful character, redeemed only marginally in his last few appearances.

Those are the five worst companions in no specific order, though I think you can tell by my descriptions, my personal ranking of them. See my rating for the five best companions here!

RATING THE DOCTORS! The Best and Worst of Dr Who! The Most Melodious Dr?!

“You will be brought to account Gavrok, and made to pay for your actions.” -Doctor

“Give me Delta, and I will give you… your life!” -Gavrock

“Life?!! What do you know about life, Gavrok?! You deal in death, lies. Treachery and murder are your currency. You promise life, but in the end it will be life that defeats you!” -Doctor

“You have said enough. I have traversed time and space to find the Chimeron queen. I will not be defeated.” -Gavrok

“You will. I came here under a white flag, and I will leave under that same white flag. And woe betide any man who breeches its integrity!” -Doctor

—from DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN

I just adore the above exchange. Lines delivered only the way Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, could deliver them. Raising even a ludicrous episode like the Bannermen (which I am aware of the dislike for, and can understand the dislike. It is all over the place) to something I find quite enjoyable. I mean “woe betide” come on, you have to be pretty good to use that in a sentence and make it work! ๐Ÿ™‚

Who…. is The Most melodious Doctor Who?

All of the actors , well most of them, that have portrayed Doctor Who, have impressive voices. Part and parcel of the role is being able to ramble off this scifi and apocalyptic jargon, not just competently, but believably. With authenticity.

You have to be able to sell to an audience… urgency and belief.

And all of the doctors to varying degrees were good at this, but I would say the top 3, are Tom Baker, David Tenant and surprisingly enough Sylvester McCoy. I think Sylvester McCoy, because he had the bad luck to be on the sinking ship of Doctor Who when it sunk, and follow up the inglorious run of Colin Baker, is often overlooked, or judged out of hand as the bottom of a rather steep slide into cancellation.

I myself had that impression of McCoy, based I admit unfairly, on nothing more than his rather clownish appearance. But his episodes finally watched what amazes is his… commitment, his intensity and particularly his delivery.

He’s a rare word-smith.

โ€œThere are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do.โ€
โ€• Sylvester McCoy

That quote sums up everything that made McCoy’s Doctor, and McCoy’s era (once he got rid of Mel [another poor John Nathan-Turner companion] and teamed up with Ace) one of the strongest since early Tom Baker.

Tom Baker may be the quintessential Doctor Who and the one with the most commanding voice, Jon Pertwee may be the most ‘man of action’ Doctor Who and the one with the most number of great episodes, and David Tenant may be across the board the most consistently excellent Doctor Who, but Sylvester McCoy can deliver a line, better than any of them. His delivery is like a song.

So he gets my vote for the most Melodious Doctor Who. ๐Ÿ™‚

DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN is typically not mentioned on anyone’s best of list :), but it is definitely a three part story worth finding a copy of.

The first episode starts a bit slow, but stick with it because it becomes a pretty great three parter, and McCoy earns his word-smith title, delivering great lines, and making them even greater with his delivery. Check him out on the cliffhanger of Episode #2 I believe, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

That episode and the four part REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS is must own McCoy era Dr. Who. Definitely recommended.

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks (Special Edition) (Story 152) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen – Story 150 (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks (Special Edition) (Story 152)

DOCTOR WHO: STATE OF DECAY Episode Review!

This review is for DOCTOR WHO: STATE OF DECAY, the 113th Doctor Who story aired.

Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy – Full Circle/State of Decay/Warriors’ Gate (Stories 112-114)

It’s an interesting episode, in that it has excellence right beside dreck, and walks a very interesting tightrope.

We’ll start with the dreck. This story has some significant problems, among them less than stellar or convincing performances by two of the actors playing the vampires. They just play it too camp.

Another acting problem is Waterhouse as Adric; he just exudes annoying brat, even more than most kid actors, you can tell he is irritating everyone around him, actors and viewers both. The producer’s decision to cast him as a companion was a sizeable mistake for season 18, a component in the poor ratings, and became an additional incentive for Tom Baker’s departure.

Add to those failings, not exactly impressive direction and relatively shoddy effects (that fall far short of such an ambitious story) and you have a conflicted episode of Doctor Who.

But all these negatives accepted, the episode has some notable positives, the onscreen chemistry between Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, which was variable, really was pretty fantastic in this episide. And I think that’s because the script lent them some beautiful, and witty exchanges, and they were very good with each other.

And Baker who often blows everyone else off the screen, sometimes even himself, gave a subdued, giving, almost understated performance, that allowed for Lalla to shine with him. Terrence Dicks really wrote them as a team, as equals, which is not something that often happened in Doctor Who (And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it needs to happen routinely, the show is called Doctor Who. But it worked very well in this case).

The two, Baker and Lalla, have never done a commentary together, but I think this would be the episode to do it on, they work that well together in this story.

Of course the story is the thing, and Terrance Dicks cobbles together an amazing script, that unfortunately the director, effects, some of the casting, and the budget… could not really capitalize on.

One of my favorite lines, is this inspired bit of writing:


Aukon: The guards must hold the tower to the last man.

Head Guard: My lord. We’re outnumbered. Unless you aid us we shall all be killed.

Aukon: (Comes down close into the kneeling guard’s face) Then… die. That is the purpose of guards. Go.

Wickedly cold blooded and brilliant. And well delivered by Emrys James, playing the lead vampire. He does a textured performance, as opposed to the other two, who just come off as camp.

So if you can forgive the failings, the strengths of this episode are worth a viewing. The story is strong enough that I would love to see it recast (though much of the charm of it is Lalla and Tom in those particular parts, in that particular time) and redone with today’s effects. I think it would shine.

Weighing the pros and cons, overall grade: C+.