Retro ‘Doctor Who’ Reviews Vol. 6.1


After the eccentric Fourth Doctor and youthful Fifth the next actor to step into the role has some big shoes to fill. Full credit to the writers and the producers for taking the character in a different direction. Shame about the direction…

The Twin Dilemma

The_Twin_Dilemma_UKWhilst watching through the impressive back catalogue of Doctor Who I have done my best to avoid any information regarding the different versions of the character, preferring to be introduced to each incarnation as they were intended. To date none of them have disappointed. Coming to the Sixth Doctor things are…different. Instead of the usual tongue in cheek comment about how awful he looks this Doctor comments on his perfect features. Then he tries to strangle Peri for reasons that are not entirely clear. His personality is so radically different that the first impression is that he is somehow being manipulated and would reveal his true self before long. Sadly this is not the case and he continues to mock and deride his companion and basically everyone he meets. He even tries to strangle someone else before the end of the story.

Sixth Doctor Peri

WHO EVEN ARE YOU?!

On the TARDIS the Doctor is choosing out his multi-coloured coat. Meanwhile the mysterious Professor Edgeworth kidnaps human twins named Romulus and Remus. He takes them to Jaconda and before the Mestor, a creature who controls the kingdom once led by Edgeworth aka Azmael. The twins are to be used for their extraordinary mathematical ability is a plan of Mestor’s to bring two smaller planets closer to their orbit. When the Doctor arrives during part of a plan to become a hermit he unravels that the slug-like Mestor is actually planning to use the planets to scatter his eggs across the universe is a bid for conquest.

The Twin Dilemma

The titular twins.

The story has its ups and downs. The overall plot is imaginative but the villains over the top and the twins seem to be getting set up as the initial bad guys just because of how creepy they come across during the opening scenes. The biggest problem with the episode is the very sudden and drastic shift in personality in the Doctor himself. The Sixth is just downright mean, frequently mocking Peri’s way of speaking and commenting on his own ‘perfection’. The impression was that he would reveal his real self later but some research reveals that they wanted to take a different direction with this version who would become a better person as time went by. Not a terrible idea but they drastically overshot their mark.

You can, however, play a very dangerous drinking game by having a shot every time the Sixth glances at Peri’s breasts.

Attack of the Cybermen

Attack_of_the_cybermen_australia_dvdAt the beginning of this episode the Sixth attempts to commit the cardinal sin of trying to fix the chameleon circuit of the TARDIS, taking away the very thing that made it an iconic ship to begin with. Fortunately he fails at this task and has to spend the episode trying to get instead a piano and other random objects. Underneath London a dangerous presence is making itself felt in the sewers by attacking workers. The matter is complicated by a group of criminals who are planning of using the sewers to gain access to the Bank of England. Among this group is Lytton, the mercenary last seen working for the Daleks.

Attack of the Cybermen

For those a little slow on the uptake it is revealed at this point that the evil menace in the sewers are indeed Cybermen. The Doctor learns that the Cyber Controller is still alive on Telos. When the TARDIS arrives on the Cyberman planet many of the robots are beginning to come out of hibernation and go on a rampage due to the damage many of them still sustain. Naturally it is revealed that Lytton is working for the Cybermen to capture a time vessel. The Doctor and Peri must work with the remaining Cryons, the original inhabitants of Telos, to defeat the Cybermen.

AOTC

The beginning of the story starts out quite well with the sewer heist running afoul of Cybermen. Once the action shifts to Telos things turn into a more routine adventure with the Cryons on hand to mix things up, even if their history is mostly skirted over. The Doctor is still suffering from the after-affects of regeneration and continues to be mean to Peri. The episode does feature some fun continuity bits and pieces, such as the TARDIS appearing in the scrapyard in which the series began some decades earlier, but they’re only for hardcore fans. Lytton’s return is quite clever, and it’s a shame he didn’t become a regular character.

Vengeance on Varos

Vengeance on VarosLife isn’t good on Varos. Living conditions for the population of miners is extremely oppressive, assigned to tiny rooms and half-starved due to rationing they spend their time watching the television programming assigned by the Governor. The political system has an unusual set-up wherein the sitting governor has his policies voted on by the live audience, and a series of failed policies results in their live execution by cell disintegration. Behind the scenes the slug-like Sil controls the Governor and swindles the people of Varos by paying them cheaply for their Zeiton-7 ore.

On the TARDIS the Doctor is wrecking mayhem by causing electrical fires and getting lost. The ship suddenly comes to a stop in deep space. Finding that he needs Zeiton-7 to get it working again he uses it’s last jump to travel to Varos. Along with a rebellious prisoner who was about to be executed the Doctor and Peri overcome a televised obstacles laid in their path. Eventually Sil captures Peri and begins to mutate her while the Doctor assist the Governor is taking power.

varos

The most interesting aspect of this serial is the world and society that is created on Varos. Although it seems to be stretching credibility with the political process it does create a tense and interesting setting for a science fiction story. Although it does feel like padding the obstacles and traps that the Doctor and his companions have to overcome are a step up for this era and it does make for effective viewing. The number of times the Doctor mocks Peri for the way she speaks or how little she understands is still dragging the series down, but at least the story is solid this time around.

Vengeance on Varos2