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     Home »  The Tom Baker Era »  MASQUE OF MANDRAGORA 4; HAND OF FEAR 1
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     Monday, March 23 2009 @ 05:17 PM EDT
    The climatic battle…is a bit of…a let down. Now there’s lots to love in almost any Tom Baker story and lots to love here: Sarah is in rare form here and at her best and most likable and vulnerable and strong all at once. Her answer to his bluster, “When have I ever been wrong?” when he’s out of ear shot is, “Lots of times,” and her ability to speaky very good English is just very…well, human. Had Sarah stayed on she would have become an even stronger companion. That said, there’s a lot of bits where she just stand around watching the Doctor computer figures and it’s…it kind of reminds me of how great the Romana character is and how great Leela is…Romana for being able to pitch in and help and do the science work (Adric, too of course for being able to do the maths better than the Doctor), and Leela for when she’s watching the Doctor do his thing, she is, in her own way and form, very watchable. She’s like a German Shepard watching its master do something and then turns its head and that’s not a dig, I love Leela and Louise Jameson has told and retold that she modeled Leela on a child and a faithful dog, the master actress that she is (and I mean it). I just think Sarah’s time is up though: the show needed a new fresh take on the companion. There seems to be a blooper when the Count dies…or maybe I mentioned this already. Anyway just after the Doctor enters the torture chamber and does his thing…and the Rossini character gives up, it seems as if the story faltered…it didn’t know where to go. When Guiliano asks if he should have the party/dance and the Doctor says it’s a marvelous idea, I was like “WHAT?” I thought, at first viewing that it was some plan of his to fool the Helix but…as it turns out, by letting this happen he gives the Helix an easy way to kill alot of people. HUH? And Sarah goes along with it despite things being really bad. Oh and how did the BrotherHood get in? The implication is that they were the entertainment. Weren’t the entertainers looked over? Or were they just part of the Brotherhood anyway and it was not known? The Helix’s motives still are vague and remain that way throughout, although it is scary to think that humanity is just going to be sheep to it. Oh and how did the Doctor use the armour to drain the Helix? And he wanted it not to show…only, it does show. And were there no Brotherhood remaining with Hieronymous when he attacked the Doctor? And and and…a sort of let down in the end but at least the Doctor won…I think. A few other characters seem to vanish without a trace…but then again maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Anyway the ending is nice and not as coy as in Seeds of Doom.

    Although Masque started the new season, for some reason this story seems to have a fresh look and feel, maybe due to the location work and the color after the darkness of the castle of Masque. Daylight, bright day horror seems to happen in this story a great deal and …well, the silly opening with the Doctor and Sarah talking while alarms blare out…with the two idiots unaware of the danger they are in…makes little to no sense…and it makes me angry to think the Doctor caused this problem for Sarah…so often during this time it seems the Doctor doesn’t check the scanner for danger before disembarking. Sarah’s costume… part of the flavor of this far out show now. The show looks good though and the ride to the hospital and the ride to the complex just look splendid. The story: blah, I guess. The aliens in the beginning look and sound alien enough and it is all spacey enough. The possession well done by Lis Sladen. The hand crawling around as good an effect as we can get from this year from this country…all well done but it’s all kind of old ground for any horror fan aware of the CRAWLING HAND, THE HANDS OR ORLOK, and BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS. Only not as well done or scary. Here, it’s just rather strange. This Doctor seems more at home in the present than in the past…and fits right in despite his odd clothing. And once again, we seem to get a kind of pseudo UNIT story without UNIT being present. The cliffhanger, after so many great ones in the Tom Baker era, is just okay. The story is just okay and Tom and Lis and the supporting cast make it so much more than it is. It is very likable thanks to them.

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