Wednesday, July 2, 2014


"You don't see me making fun of your haircut, do you?"
“The android's armed. If it wanted, it could destroy us ten times over.” 
“Once would be enough."

1) There are many reasons why this is one of my favorite--if not my all-time favorite--Davison serial, and the prime reason is the presence of Michael Robbins’ Richard Mace.  Mace, who was originally created for a series of radio plays, is a magnificent creation that plays off of Davison expertly.  I’d be a truly happy man if he had joined the TARDIS crew permanently (maybe kicking out Tegan in the process, one could hope).

2) The rather intriguing attempts John Nathan-Turner makes to create a tighter continuity continues here.  Having taken place literally minutes after the events of Kinda, we see Tegan trying to explain what happened.  That is effective; the dismayed Doctor going ‘not again’ when he’s about to be decapitated (a callback to Four To Doomsday) not so much.

3) While everyone participates, it’s obvious the strain of having three companions is wearing on the production crew.  Tegan gets mind controlled for an episode, after all, and Nyssa is left in her bedroom working on a sonic amplifier (which sadly, makes this one of the serials where Nyssa actually has anything to do).  It’s no wonder that Adric is given his walking papers in two serials.
"Yes, yes, Doctor...I know I'm awesome.  Let
us not spread it around."

4) There’s definitely something to be said about a serial with location shooting.  No generic rock quarries or stark landscapes here; the lush forests and seemingly authentic architecture contribute to the veracity of this story, making it work all the more.

5) Wow....for a so-called ‘beautiful’ android, that playing-card looking thing is seriously goofy.  It’s much more effective when it’s wearing the Grim Reaper disguise, and even then the hints of its soccer goalie gloves takes the drama out of it.

6) I always felt the Terrileptils should’ve been used more.  In this serial (their only appearance) they prove to be a compelling and scary opponent for the Doctor.  I’ve always wondered if the cumbersome suit with its limited animatronics hurt the creature in their popularity.

7) This was Saward’s first script for the show, a script he sold before he became script editor.  And even in this early script we can see a lot of the weaknesses in Saward as a writer, especially his bloodthirstiness.  The scenes of the Terrileptil’s bodies being consumed by the fire (including what I presume to be their eyes blowing up and bursting) is a gruesome sign of things to come.
"Raaawr!  I's a crap android monsta!"

8) I wonder if everyone--save Matthew Waterhouse--knew Adric’s time was up.  There are some lines in a conversation with Nyssa that sounds an awful lot like foreshadowing.

9) Is it just me, or are these some of the lamer cliffhangers in a long while?  I mean, Nyssa gets upset because the Doctor walks through a holographic wall?

10) So let me get this straight--the Terrileptils are all refugees from a prison planet where the environment is so nasty that they are horribly scarred....and yet the other two Terrileptils seem rather pristine.  Okay, granted the budget couldn’t afford three animatronic suits, but couldn’t special effects guys mess up their face, or lose them a thumb or something?

Overall...even with some of the silly bits (Go away, playing card android), this is a well-done basic Who episode that triumphs thanks to atmosphere, effective enemies and one of the stand out temp companions of all time.

1 comment:

  1. As always, LOVE these lists! Great job! Some thoughts to share. You mention the strain of three companions on the production crew: While this aired later in the season, this was actually the second story to be filmed (Four to Doomsday being the first). If the strain was catching up with them already, it must have been pretty rough. You can follow the production order by the length of Peter Davison's hair (ha!). Also, many of the earliest Peter Davison press release photos were taken during the filming of this episode's location shots.
    While Tegan is certainly annoying, I'm a fan of hers. She whined a lot, but having someone acting contrary to the Doctor made an interesting dynamic (certainly more interesting than Adric & Turlough's contrary behavior).
    If I remember correctly (and I might not), wasn't the Tereliptil injured in the crash? Maybe not. Just the way I remember it.
    That android is HIDEOUS! WTF were they thinking? Looks like it's left over from a silly Red Dwarf episode!
    Richard Mace is fantastic, but a bit over the top. Yes, he would have been a stellar companion. I wish NuWho would add a companion from centuries ago. Makes an interesting dynamic.
    Thanks! Keep up the great work!