for Heathrow Airport, the TARDIS instead materialises on board
an alien spaceship, itself due to arrive at Earth in four
days. The ship's peculiar population comprises frog-like alien
Urbankans and human subjects apparently taken from the ancient
cultures of Greece, China, South America and aboriginal Australia.
But what are the aliens' plans for planet Earth?...
this was his second story to be transmitted on TV, Four
to Doomsday was actually the first full Who serial
that Peter Davison recorded. It is evident that the actor
is still settling into the role, and he comes across as a
bit too fatuous at times, but he succeeds in establishing
himself as a more fallible Doctor than his larger-than-life
predecessor, Tom Baker.
principle guest star is Stratford (Z Cars) Johns, who
turns in a watchable performance as Monarch, the Urbankans'
paternalistic leader, although the concept of his monomaniacal
threat to human life comes across rather better in the dialogue
of the other characters than it does in Johns's blustering
cast also includes Burt Kwouk, best known as Cato in the Inspector
Clouseau movies. He has recently worked alongside Davison
again in the Big Finish audio drama Loups-Garoux and
on the zany E4/Channel 4 gambling show, Banzai. (But
can you guess what mark out of ten I will be giving this four-parter
from 1982? Place your bets now!...)
is a straightforward adventure, which is no bad thing in itself,
although it is slow-moving at times. Writer Terence Dudley
doesn't allow himself to get bogged down with complex scientific
concepts (which is odd considering that this story was commissioned
by script editor Christopher H. Bidmead). Only occasionally
does a bit of dodgy science truly affect the enjoyment of
the story, such as when Bigon (Philip Locke) describes a curious
toxin that is somehow able to reduce a person to the size
of a grain of salt. Even more curious is the fact that the
Doctor has no qualms about releasing this toxin, but - lo
and behold - it conveniently affects no one except his intended
script also includes a couple of unintentionally funny lines.
Upon his first meeting with the Doctor, Monarch asks whether
the Time Lord's visit to Earth is one of his regular "dropping
times". Later on, when accused of meddling with Monarch's
surveillance cameras, the Doctor protests, "I wouldn't dream
of interfering with your monopticons"!
certain occasions, though, the production surprises you with
its more cleverly crafted elements. For instance, the fact
that all the Mayan ethnic subjects are female, while the other
human groups are exclusively male, communicates the subtle
impression that something is amiss with the population of
the Urbankan ship. The cliffhangers that conclude the first
two instalments are also extremely effective.
episodes might not be four to die for, but they're jolly good
you guessed "6", then you are a winner!)
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