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     Home »  The Tom Baker Era »  HAND OF FEAR 4, DEADLY ASSASSIN 1
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     Friday, March 27 2009 @ 10:35 PM EDT
    It’s over! Sarah’s gone! YEAH! Yay! That’s mean and I really do like Sarah Jane Smith but truth be known, despite her great leaving scene, I really wasn’t so sorry to see her go. I mean I think she had more go in her as far as this series was concerned but…Doctor Who is about to go to VERY strange places…and with a new girl but first a stop on Gallifrey. Anyway, the planet Kastria was a fun place, wasn’t it? Sarah: it seemed as if they were touting her as leaving and maybe, just maybe going to die. Behind the scenes, they had already planned for her to die but dropped that. It turns out Eldrad was a baddie all along, whether or not he/she was a he or a she. This moves along nicely and is over soon, that’s the best that can be said about it. It’s not a bad story but not a great one either but it does the job. The best thing about the entire story is the scene at the end. Having just found out that Baker and Sladen wrote the entire scene themselves, I wonder why they weren’t hired as script editors or writers themselves. This leaving scene is perhaps one of the only truly touching/emotional and character driven scenes in all of DW (of course Susan’s leaving scene was as well). It adds depth to the characters and that’s something that is almost always missing from DW Classic. Of course DW New is doing this far too much these days with a whiny, pouty Doctor who muses over his lost companions all the time and acts like an emotional wreck and blames his companions for leaving him, when he very nearly forces all of them leave at one time or another. What a jerk! Anyway, these last ten minutes or so are a joy to behold as the two act their socks off and add an emotional touch that makes you want to cry. I didn’t but it was sad none the less, then comic as Sarah realizes the Doctor put her down in the wrong place. As a footnote to this, for me, at that time, I NEVER felt Sarah was interested in the Doctor as anything other than a friend, that the two were just good friends. Perhaps in hindsight, I was wrong but certainly there was nothing sexual implied or overtly stated. There’s much here that goes unsaid at first: the Doctor, for me, to me, felt that Sarah was his equal. She continually came up with ideas or gave him something that lead him to his solutions. Sarah, on the other hand, felt that the Doctor was above her, a god like figure who jokes and plays games on her but who enjoys her friendship and even her worship of her. She seemed off the mark about him. He, on the other hand, tells her, “Don’t you forget me,” which proves that he believes she is worth even more then himself perhaps, that she will have a life beyond the TARDIS (and why one of the worst aspects of SCHOOL REUNION is that Sarah’s the equivalent of an old spinster who never married because the love of her life left her). On the other hand, her feint, vague protests about leaving certainly weren’t the boo hoo of Rose’s first leaving (and that’s not a criticism…I love Rose’s first leaving and DOOMSDAY) but Sarah’s looking up, proves that she really wanted to stay but if she couldn’t, she’d get on with her life. Problems: the Doctor could have gone back for her. Somewhere, someone, a fan maybe or a writer, surmised that the Master knew the Doctor’s strength was in his companions and friendships and that Sarah’s friendship was the strongest of them all and that she often gave him the ideas behind his getting out of trouble…so in this theory, the Master plants the suggestion that Sarah “has to go” whereas she didn’t have to go at all, really. And it makes sense since the Master is the one who planted the suggestion/psychic prediction about the President dying in the Doctor’s mind. Which leads us to…

    When one stops to think about it, why wasn’t the Doctor more suspicious about his psychic prediction to begin with? And yet…many people think these Time Lords are so far removed from the ones we’ve seen…well, we haven’t seen much in the past…and certainly the ones we have seen were older men anyway. Here there are some strong ones present as well as some older ones. It doesn’t jar at all with the previous tv episodes but maybe with some of the spin-offs that happened over the years but who knows? Seeing this again, the pomp and circumstance certainly bore but the point wasn’t really Gallifrey at all…what they were doing was totally ripping off a movie called THE PARALAX VIEW with Warren Beatty about a man who uncovers a plot to kill the President (or some high up official) but the more he digs and digs, the more he realizes…too late…that he’s being set up as the fall guy…just like the Doctor in this episode. And it had to be another planet because they couldn’t have the Doctor set up to kill the Prime Minister or the US President or anyone on Earth really. Then why not set it on the Doctor’s home planet because it would have more impact that way. Looking at this from that point of view, the show is seemingly out of ideas AGAIN and ripping off a movie, not purposely recreating or as really is the case creating the Doctor’s people. Yes, this might not be all of Gallifrey but this story, for better or worse, influenced spin-offs and fan fiction and pervaded almost all of fandom…all the Patrixes or schools or the Capital, the military, all of it was often quoted, named, used and reused in fandom, fan fiction, fan magazines, fan comics, fan clubs, etc. And frankly, most of it is boring. Engin and Spandrell aren’t yet…but quickly becomes the pseudo companions for this story. Spandrell slowly grows on me…or you or whatever…and as he’s a military Castellan (the best the series ever had or will have) he is not a sympathetic character yet. He does have some great lines though, especially when chastising Hildred. Engin: loved him from the first scene he’s in. For some reason in the 60s and 70s old people, old characters and older heroes were not avoided or frowned upon. Nowadays, it’s all young, good looking people and while there’s nothing wrong with some young good looking people, older people shouldn’t be cast aside or ignored. It’s refreshing to have an older hero (like the First Doctor, Engin, and Spandrell) Engin is a hero or rather a hero’s companion. He’s not very brave but he does have knowledge. His interaction later on with Tom Baker is great and his interaction in this episode with Spandrell is funny, truthful, and speeds the plot along. It was also strange as to what was going on so for the first time in a long time, we have an actual mystery. And why did the Doctor see himself shooting the President? And did he really do it? Was he being controlled? Was the President being controlled and had to be killed? The other Time Lord stuff is okay: the news reporter and the Doctor’s reaction to him, the two old guys that the Doctor encounters and gives one of them the stolen outfit, and the military are all well done. The sets? Let’s move on. Anyway this story is strange and entertaining if only because Tom is talking to himself for some of it, more so in this episode than the other three. AND it is so different from HAND OF FEAR as to make one realize one is watching DOCTOR WHO again…and then later on, FACE OF EVIL is so different from this one…the first ep may not be the best of this story but it sets it all up rather well and hey, who’s this guy with the omelet eyes?

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