|Originally Broadcast 12th October 1988|
Written by: Ben Aaronovitch
In a nutshell: The Doctor takes action and hides the Hand Of Omega from the Daleks.
Review: I must admit I’m a little disappointed by the opening of the second half, the Dalek had ample time to exterminate the Doctor before Ace opened the cellar door. Something I omitted from my look on the first part was the white Dalek at the climax. The design and state of it is so much better and more effective than the original, black Dalek we saw which looked old and rotted. The white one looks big and has screen presence. Sadly it has to be blown up though I’m sure it’ll get reused somewhere in the future. Ace with the missile launcher is great fun, with her commenting about how she aimed for the eyestalk.
I think this is one of the first Doctor Who stories to really take advantage of the Doctor ‘walking in time’ when he comments about Harry who runs the café being in hospital. “It’ll be twins” he comments. It’s brilliant when this happens and is overused a little in the current era and unimaginable in the Hartnell era. Hartnell’s Doctor just wasn’t like that whereas a few hundred years later the Doctor’s attitude has mellowed and he cares enough to look into people’s futures. I really like this Doctor but I also liked Sylvester’s Doctor from the previous series. I think it’s heavily on record how ‘bad’ the last series was, but I don’t think it was McCoy who got it wrong, I think he just wasn’t given any insight from the crew. Here his Doctor is different and brilliant in a whole different way. I think you need to get the mix of the two to provide what we have as the Doctor in the past few incarnations.
The scenes with the Doctor here are very stylised and, dare I say it, slightly gothic. A casket that moves by itself, a graveyard with a blind priest. There are a lot of strong visuals to go on here and it creates a grand presence around McCoy’s Doctor. There is a ropey looking effect as the casket is lowered into the grave by itself but I think I can get over that given the strength of the rest of the episode.
The conversation between Ratcliffe and ‘Davros’ is slow but very interesting. I find it fascinating his reasons for joining the Daleks is because his country fought on the wrong side of the last war. It’s often said how villains need to believe what they are doing is right and this is certainly the case here and it’s one I can admire. I don’t agree with it, but I can understand the reasoning behind the character now. It’s a strong piece and one I wish could be developed more in the show if he were the main villain of the piece.
This second instalment, whilst being a bit slow, is another great one and it has yet another strong scene with Ace finding the “no coloureds” sign in the boarding house window. Ace’s disgust at the sign sells the message well before we get another, rather tongue-in-cheek message from the television screen. I know that line comes under some criticism but I find it quite funny. If the whole title of the new sci-fi show were revealed it’d be too far by a long mile but it just about works for me here.
Of course Ace doesn’t listen to the Doctor and goes to the school where she gets some of the best action sequences I think we’ve ever seen in Doctor Who. The run across the tables and through the windows is really cool and unusual for Who but then the cliffhanger is a little disappointing, as we’ve had it numerous times before. Daleks chanting “exterminate” at someone without shooting. It’s a little old but this has been another pretty strong episode, although it’s mostly a lot of build up. I’m hoping for some pay off in episode three.