Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Visitation (Part Three)


Originally Broadcast 22nd February 1982

Written by: Eric Saward

In a nutshell: Nyssa is hiding out in the TARDIS with Adric as the Doctor is brought before the Terileptils.

Review: Again there’s quite a lengthy recap here, but I like the line given to the Doctor before he’s beheaded of ‘Not again’. This serial carries a nice bit of continuity, not just for the sake of relating back to old stories for ‘the fans’, but also to carry a sense that these characters don’t just ‘get over’ an adventure once the cameras stop rolling before being reset to the norm for the next serial. That’s why we get Tegan talking about only just starting to understand what the Mara did to her in Kinda at the beginning of this serial.

This episode is strange. It’s keeping my interest which won’t fade for some reason and yet nothing is happening. Tegan’s been turned into a zombie, so she isn’t giving us any fun lines of dialogue, whilst Nyssa’s just traipsing around the TARDIS as she waits for Adric to turn up with plot developments and the Doctor is locked up in a cellar. The story should feel stilted but it’s still holding me. I don’t quite get why.

There’s a bit of a ‘ropey’ moment as the glam-droid has been sent to fetch the Doctor and Mace. When attacking the villagers, he grabs hold of a scythe, making him look like the Grim Reaper. It’s a little embarrassing, as it could’ve been handled a little less obviously or maybe could’ve been done from the start as an idea by the Terileptils to scare people away. Nevertheless, it gets us moving along and the Doctor gets a ‘showdown’ scene with the monsters. It’s a little annoying that the Doctor seems to know everything about the Terileptils as a race. I like when the Doctor doesn’t know anything about the villains or, if he does, it’s because we’ve met them before. Here, it’s just because Saward wants the dialogue to be a bit more fierce between the characters.

A grim impersonation
I think one of the strongest elements of this episode I haven’t discussed enough is Michael Robbins as Mace. As a one off character, he’s brilliant. The lines he’s given as comic effect are funny and really gives a nice flow to the episode, breaking up the seriousness when needed. There was a great line at the end of episode two when he’s asking donkey if he can carry an old thespian. It’s just a character that works and is being portrayed by a brilliantly over-the-top actor who just gets how to play the part.

Back in the TARDIS Nyssa’s being irritating. She’s clearly carrying the weak link of the story this part as all she has to do is build some huge device I have no knowledge of to stop the glam-droid. Adric leaves her to it and gets captured outside the TARDIS which gives Sarah Sutton the chance to look at the camera in desperation as she delivers the ‘oh no’ line to us. It’s a poor excuse of a storyline for an episode and is only here to get a character out of the way for a while.

More importantly, the sonic screwdriver has been destroyed! It’s been often noted how this was put in place by the producer and script editor and I do agree with them. The sonic was becoming too much and this marked it’s last appearance in the classic era, apart from a second-hand version in the form of the sonic lance with the sixth Doctor. I can’t help but feel this is something that should be done in today’s show, as it’s pulled out at every opportunity, even used to pathetic lengths in this years series.

The cliffhanger to this third instalment is quite good, actually, although sparks back to the box being opened in Kinda. I like that the Doctor has already used the ‘get through to Tegan and talk her out of it’ excuse before the credits roll and it fails to work. If that’s the get out for part four it’d be weak and rubbish, so to get it out the way now means I don’t know how they’re going to escape in the final instalment tomorrow.

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