|Originally Broadcast 24th November 1979|
Written by: Bob Baker
In a nutshell: The Doctor, Romana II and K-9 answer a distress signal to find two ships have crashed into each other in space. Whilst trying to dislodge one from the other, one of the crew members is attacked and killed, but by what?
Review: This story gets slated a lot and often finds itself hidden in the bottom half of any survey, however from episode one I’ve really enjoyed it. The storyline is very obvious and full of stereotypes leading back to Patrick Troughton’s days but this works nicely as a character piece. There are few characters in the episode, but they are all explored well and given some good characterisation.
Still, there are one or two I dislike such as the idea of making Lewis Fiander’s Tryst German, as it falls back on the mad German scientist device which is boring, god knows how many times it’s been written before. Tryst aside; the story is a very clear representation of different members of society today. We have a reckless youth, a man who hates his work, a man obsessed with it and someone who just wants to do what he can.
In amongst this we have, as ever, the objector to society: The Doctor. Although in this episode he seems to just go along with what’s happened and act a little childish. The fact we have Romana here is a blessing, as Tom Baker during his sixth series just couldn’t work without her. Romana is, essentially, the Doctor when not being written or played for laughs; therefore she works well and gives a lot of answers to the audience. She’s very Jon Pertwee-like in her character. Baker does get some great lines, such as the one about not being paid as Galactic shut down twenty years ago (one of my favourite fourth Doctor lines) and isn’t as silly as some serials from the same time, such as ‘The Creature From The Pit’ so it’s not horrendous and, if anything, contrasts with Lalla Ward’s Romana perfectly.
There’s a scene just less than ten minutes from the end where the Doctor is shot, which surprised me for a moment. I don’t expect to see a scene like that 15minutes into a serial from 1980, I’d expect it to be played as the cliffhanger and, in fact, it was more interesting than this times ending, which contained a dodgy effects shot hitting Romana and the Doctor finding a cuddly Mandrel. To find out what happens next, log on to the next review!