Thursday, 16 June 2011

Four To Doomsday (Part 3)


Originally Broadcast 25th January 1982
Written by: Terence Dudley

In a nutshell: The Doctor, with the help of Bigon, starts to learn more about his ‘hosts’, the evil Urbankans. But as his companions turn against him, will the Doctor be too late to save Earth?

Review: A hundred times better than part one or two in terms of plot, ‘Four To Doomsday 3’ really steps up a level with the terms of threat and who these Urbankans are. Still, there are some boring points such as Monarch having to turn to Enlightenment every two sentences to discover the meaning of a word. This works sometimes when it’s something such as the meaning of ‘love’ but it happens too often to carry anything of importance here. The same goes for the message of the ‘state of our world’ that Monarch can change, the writing forces it into the audience, telling them “Our world is a mess, this is why, do something about it” rather than hinting at the ‘wrong’ ways in which we lead our lives. This scene between Monarch and Nyssa/Adric would work so much better if we swapped one of them for Tegan, who actually knows about modern-day Earth so she could argue a solid case.

But no, Tegan is off doing nothing this episode, just throwing hissy fits of bad acting, especially at the end of the episode when she’s desperately trying to fly the TARDIS. Although, I loved her argument with the Doctor about having to go and warn Earth, this was a brilliant plot stand which would later see effect in 2008’s ‘The Fires Of Pompeii’ swapping Tegan for Donna.

The Doctor is given some good material here too, especially a scene where he acts quite alien, as he’s interested more in Bigon’s mechanics than the threat to the planet for a second or two, reminding us how he isn’t human,

Setting up for a downfall
But above and beyond worst acting and scripting in this episode goes to Matthew Waterhouse’s Adric. It’s not really Waterhouse’s fault though, as I just don’t understand the character motivation for siding with Monarch. There was a small moment at one point in the episode where I thought, “Yeah, OK, I can see why Adric would want that to happen” but after (and before) that moment I just thought “What a twat”. He doesn’t get many, but this episode is definitely not one of Adric’s golden moments.

The cliffhanger was pretty good, although I can already see the ‘get out’ by the directing and Waterhouse’s acting (but maybe I’m wrong!) as Adric raises a leg, appearing to prepare to kick the sword away from the Doctor’s neck. This ending can’t help but remind me of an episode of ‘The Visitation’, although as this serial appeared first, I suppose I should stop thinking of ‘Four To Doomsday’ as the copier and more the copied.

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