Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Four To Doomsday (Part 1)

Originally Broadcast 18th January 1982
Written by: Terence Dudley

In a nutshell: The Doctor and co. arrives onboard a spaceship where they encounter a strange race called the Urbankans as well as four passengers, each from a different era of Earth’s history.

Review: I think it’s possible to skip the first ten minutes of this episode and you’d be in exactly the same place. Nothing at all happens! The first ten minutes details Tegan wanting to get home, the Doctor failing before landing on a spaceship and literally walking around it for ages. To be honest, the start of this could describe any other Peter Davison story, although I have to remember this is the first time this has happened to the fifth Doctor (being only his second adventure), so maybe I can cut the writer and script editor a break (until I review ‘The Visitation’ alongside another fifteen adventures staring this Doctor!).

I’m quite keen on the design of the monsters here, they don’t look like the worst in Who’s long history, in fact they look better than a lot of other alien races I’ve seen, particularly considering the budget of the 1980s. I also found myself liking how the interaction between them and the Doctor was handled, with the Doctor clearly loosing the battle of authority by the end of the scene.

I don’t know what’s going on with Tegan here either. Yes she’s Australian, yes she’s an airhostess, but how the heck can she draw that good and be fluent in ancient aborigine. Fair enough at a stretch it’s an Australian aborigine but I’d hazard a guess saying that doesn’t mean it’s like a second language to them, surely?
Adric is being annoying and childish throughout the episode (when’s Earthshock again?) and he shares some wooden acting with Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa who’s not that good in this episode either, to be honest. And then again neither is Janet Fielding’s Tegan! All I can guess at is it’s down to having three companions although I never had a problem liking the Ian/Barbara/Susan team or the Ben/Polly/Jamie team for example.

A childish Adric with an artistic air-hostess Tegan
The plot for this episode (well, the last ten minutes where there is a plot) hasn’t done anything for me yet as I know absolutely nothing! Ok, we’re on a ship, there’s some green aliens and some humans from different eras, but it all feels too slow. Surely I could learn more than three little things in a twenty-five minute episode? There are some great effects and models work in this episode, I have to say, sticking up for it. The circular cameras are a great effect and feel really fresh and new for the time this Who is set in, it feels a mile away from what the show was like just one or two series ago as Tom Baker neared his end.

Ah well, hopefully I’ll get some plot as I play episode two!

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