Saturday, January 19, 2013


"Raaaahr!  Were's monstas!"

"I shall be charging you with gross neglect of duty. The passengers should be your first concern, yet I find you drunkenly looking on as they are attacked and killed. Well?"
"They're only economy class; what's all the fuss about?"

1) This is the last serial written by Bob Baker, the writing partner of David Martin....and if I wrote this, it'd be my last serial as well because it's thoroughly and absolutely wretched.  Even if we have to assume that the story was, like others in this season, heavily rewritten by Douglas Adams, Baker's tale is so messed up I can't imagine anyone salvaging it.

2) I am absolutely convinced that Lewis Fiander was doing an imitation of Peter Sellers' Dr. Strangelove when assaying the role of much so that between the weird 'vest-with-John-Lennon-specs' outfit and that bizarro accent, Tryst stops the story dead every single time he opens his mouth.

3) What the Hell is Lalla Ward wearing throughout this story--a maternity dress?  That thing is so loose-fitting and so volumous that Romana looks positively lost in that ugly violet thing.

4) You know how I'm convinced that Adams rewrote this script?  There are a whole slew of ideas--the whole crux of the drug running storyline revolves around a matter storage/projection machine--that are given, ummmm, less-than-solid scientific rationalization.  The one quality of the matter projector, namely the way people are able to move back and forth into the projected window, is never explained at all.  We just see The Doctor and Romana jump into the projection of Eden and are asked to accept this.
Monsta Hug!  Monsta Hug!

5) And then there's the monsters....grumblemutter...or should I say 'da monstas.'  The Mandrils are amazingly bad designs, not the least because they sport what looks like big-ass black sausages for a mouth (which, I guess, means they're related in some way to those dorky sea creatures from The Horror Of Party Beach....).  It doesn't help that the cumbersome outfits make moving difficult, and that the zipper and the odd flash of side-flesh when the shirt pulls out from the pants can be clearly seen at points.

6) I will give this one small thing to the serial--there are some tiny moments where the Doctor and Romana actually act like, you know, The Doctor and Romana.  I particularly liked the moment where the Doctor is told he has to traverse a stretch of space liner rife with Mandrils sans K-9 and guns, and Tom Baker grins happily and says, 'I'll have to use my wits.'

7) And while we're on the subject of K-9....David Brierly assays the voice of the little tin dog and as such, this iteration does.  not. work.  The character is actively annoying from the moment it opens its 'mouth.'  And since its co-creator is writing this script, K-9 gets loads to do--most of it embarassing (particularly the moment where K-9 'sniffs' a character when the Doctor introduces him as a friend).

8) Okay, so you want to make this story about the dangers of drugs; I get that.  But do you have to do the Full Reefer Madness to depict how terrible a drug this vraxion is?  I mean, David Daker's Captain Rigg downs just one spiked drink and becomes this lazy, giggling numbnuts instantly.  The choice Daker makes to play this, which all campiness and Adams-esque 'comedy,' detracts from the supposed seriousness of the vraxion threat.
"....and I anticipate a ratio of 10 women for every man...."

9) For a series known for lame and tatty micro-budget designs, this serial hits a new low.  For a supposed luxury liner, the scenes of people in foil jumpsuits in a cardboard corridor manages to break the suspension of disbelief.  There is nothing--not the corridors, not the labs, not the engine rooms--that look like anything other than hastily designed sets.  Usually there's enough interesting things going on we can overlook the cheapness, but given how awful the story is....well.....

10) On the whole, the cliffhangers are subpar.  However, the third episode cliffhanger, where the Doctor seems to evaporate into nothingness when he successfully separates the two ships is pretty good thanks to some really good optical effect.  It doesn't convince us for a second, but at least it's neat.

Overall...One of the worst stories during one of the worst seasons in Classic Who, this serial fails on almost every level.  Avoid at all cost.

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