This story is also much maligned but truth is, to be honest, again I just love it to pieces. The setting is fresh and original and well presented. Romana's outfit is space age...or rather space opera age and that's a good thing. K9 doesn't get overused...or used at all...and he needs a break. He's done a lot and will continue to for some time. The location stuff, as in the last story, is just wonderful, the night shoots as in TARA are well done and filmed and the guest stars pretty good.
The Swampies: I like them. The make up is good, the costumes okay, the hair interesting. I don't know what to make of the Native American relation...because the green ones are deceiving their own people, gun running, and while I think some Native Americans certianly did this...not sure they deceived about religion or spiritual stuff but anything is possible. I also didn't find the drum playing or chant annoying but did find the ceremony speeches rather embarassing. It's nice to find out the monster attacking Romana in the cliffhanger is actually a man in a suit.
The Doctor gets some great lines and played a reed, this time he doesn't get very many funny, humorous lines but a few, a few less than usual but still good. "I've got a shrewd idea who it is being sacrificed...I mean Romana's not the easiest of guests..." and a few others.
In some small ways, this reminds of some early Tom Baker stories or scenes from those early stories. The refinery, the obvious model, reminds me of TERROR OF THE ZYGONS. Tom being shot but not really being shot reminds me of similar scenes in THE SONTARAN EXPERMENT and maybe GENESIS OF THE DALEKS.
Every Doctor has a story with men standing around STAR TREK style, talking about the world and world views as well as staring at radar screens. For Hartnell, it would have to be THE TENTH PLANET, for Troughton it would have be THE SEEDS OF DEATH and THE INVASION and maybe one or two others; for Pertwee it seems to be SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE and maybe one or two others but for many STAR TREK types colonies look no further than THE MUTANTS, COLONY IN SPACE, FRONTIER IN SPACE, and a few others. This one is Tom's Doctor's radar lookout episodes as well as Star Trek type associations (such as, well, we're doing the Native Americans or the Palistinian War but using another planet to do that).
The set up is good, the story already moving along, Romana already captured. She gets captured a great deal doesn't she. I mean Leela didn't seem to get caught as much as she does...
The guest stars are convinciing even with some dialog that seems stiff, they are not. The Doctor seems to have some sympathy for the swampies. Rohm Dutt plays into the story and there's enough going on to keep interested IMO.
For me, this doesn't let up much but again, this story does have some slower parts as did TARA but not many. And again, I enjoy almost all these later Tom stories as opposed to his earlier more iconic classic stories. That's just me maybe.
OH AND NOTE: SOMEONE ASKED WHAT EP DOES TOM BAKER PUT A CUP OF TEA IN HIS POCKET: IT'S THIS ONE! he's given a cup of something, I think tea and he just puts it in his pocket!
The King Kong stuff is not unnoticed by me and that's okay it culiminates as a fake monster---on DOCTOR WHO! There's a lot of filler stuff here and a lot of talking, characters telling other characters what we've seen in ep1 and ep2; lots of men looking at screens and talking. Philip Madoc looks suitably bored and subdued, having missed out due to a mix up on playing Thawn, as if he'd find that part more interesting. Anyway he does what he can as do the rest of the cast, I'd say.
Much is made of how bad the CSO is but really, I covered that already. I really think the monster model looks rather good and the size of it is really depicted fine. It does the job.
I love the almost lengthy by other stories' standards time between jokes and when they come they're just as funny ("Introduce me as someone wise and wonderful who wants to help. Don't exaggerate." "This is ahhh..." "Seize them!" "I told you not to exaggerate!"). That one might be a GET SMART type joke but it works. The Doctor is also serious in this, too. And JNT took over for an ill Graham Williams. Is that the reason for less jokes? Still, what's there is funny.
John Leeson usually plays K9, plays one of the refinery crew. And, ahh, what else? The cliffhanger for the first time in a long time involved someone other than Romana and/or the Doctor...and is resolved for once by the person DYING! From Kroll! okay so not the greatest ep ever but not terrible either, it does the job and furthers the story and continues with the great outdoor stuff...you might want to listen to the commentary on this episode, it's pretty funny thanks to Tom...
More happens here and there's a lot of Tom Bakerisms here as he distracts the villains, Romana and Rohm Dutt's attention from the stretching death sacrifice. Even though it takes over 15 minutes for them to get out of it, the dialog, the pace, the setting and a rainstorm (a big one, perhaps the first one we've seen since THE DAEMONS?)make this interesting. At one point in either this or ep4 Phil's character calls the creature in a quite subdued fashion JEMIMA! WTF?
Anyway, Romana is in good form, the danger is all around and it's interesting that Kroll is thought to be ...a vegitarian primarily or orginally. The monster is given a lot of thought as in older DW in fact and in fact, this reminds me of some older DW, perhaps because Robert Holmes wrote this one?
There's a feel for a world beyond the screen again and the Sons of Earth stuff is interesting. Pity in ep4 Dugeen has to be knocked out and then shot!
The tentacles sequence coming through the walls of...what the ground? is pretty poor and in fact, the effects are mostly poor. What is the direction of the Doctor and Romana's small canoe at the cliffhanger? Why doesn't Kroll get the canoe? All in all the chase is quite nice and Thawn quite the villain.
Oh and while being stretched out, the Doctor says, quite fast, "DID I EVER TELL YOU THE TIME WHEN I WAS A CHILD WHEN..." before Romana interupts him with not wanting to hear. So the Doctor was a child!
He also tries to hypnotize one of the leaders of the Swampies.
And in ep4, i'm getting ahead of myself, there's a scene that reminds me a bit of ARK IN SPACE's conclusion. Another good ep with some wit and good dialog but Philip still seems quite bored...Tom doesn't fortunately and even Philip bored as he is, puts in a good performance. So there's not much to complain about here, it all looks and sounds great and there's a different feel to this story than most others.
One thing that's interesting is that in ep 2, the Doctor says something to Romana when she says she doesn't want to die or is afraid to die, he says something like that's expected at your age. This might be why at this point, Tom plays the Doctor as if he's not afraid to die and even at the end, in ep4, he says "Well I've had a happy life. 760 years, that's not bad." Which explains alot of the performance during this time.
Ranquin gets his just end, the fool, in typical fashion. Again, this ending reminds me of many early Tom Baker stories as the Doctor has to stop a countdown as in ROBOT.
Not a bad ending, not a bad story, it had adventure, swamps, green men, natives, a refinery and the biggest DW monster ever. And it all sounds great, even the farting sounds that come from the refinery control room.
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