|Originally Broadcast 1st December 1979|
Written by: Bob Baker
In a nutshell: The Doctor and Romana have learnt someone is drug smuggling aboard the ship, but what is it’s connection to the monsters roaming around and who is the mysterious character who shot the Doctor?
Review: I said the first episode worked so well as it represented society and was a great character piece but episode two can only be appreciated by being the opposite. All the good characterisation has vanished and the plot is still sour and predictable so it’s up to Tom Baker’s bonkers Doctor to make this attractive.
Douglas Adams no doubt had a big hand in the comedy for this serial and it steps up here, there’s more fantastic lines delivered by Tom Baker here, making the episode fun and enjoyable. Even if you’re one of the fans who see Tom Baker’s sixth series as his worst due to the comedy and madness of it, fair enough, but I still bet you’d crack a smile or laugh at at least one of the Doctor’s lines in this episode.
Alan Bromley’s directing skills here are, if anything, invisible. I think it’s unfair to put all the blame onto Bromley, as it’s clear the budget restrictions played a part in this. Whenever we get a chase scene, the same shot is used for the Doctor running, then the other person running, the exact same camera shot, this is followed by them running through the same set again (meant to be another floor of the ship). Now I can’t blame Bromley for only being able to afford the one set, but he could’ve mixed up the angles a bit or techniques to film in, this way it just looks a bit dull and repetitive. At least we have some brilliant ‘chase-sequence’ music here, I think some of the most catchy from the classic run and so soon after ‘City Of Death’s (1979) classic, well-remembered score.
A special mention has to be given to David Daker’s Captain Rigg who is just brilliant, his acting was spot-on in episode one and here he has been poisoned. The script for this goes far too downhill but Daker just goes with it and plays the part wonderfully, making me like Daker even though the idea is a bit of a silly one.
The end of the episode sees quite an intriguing cliffhanger, probably the best bit of Bob Baker’s script (if we say the jokes are Douglas Adams’) as it feels like you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Despite this serials constant criticism, I’ve enjoyed both episodes but only if they are both read as different texts and I find myself genuinely looking forward to the next part, but more for the silliness than anything else.