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FOUR TO DOOMSDAY


Chase - Posted on 27 June 2009

FOUR TO DOOMSDAY 

 

1

 

Not as bad as the reputation would have you believe. The spaceship model is not bad at all. The interior sets more impressive than anything in the series before and truthfully probably in the classic series, after. The aliens Monarch, Enlightenment, and Persuasion supicious enough and menacing even through subtley, the make up and costumes superb. The music is well done, at least in this episode. The plots not bad either.

What's killingly poor though is the characterization of the regulars. Filmed first for Davison, the Doctor is somewhat bland and as plagues almost all the Doctors after Tom Baker, quippy. He says to the monopticon, "Having a ball?" Not quite as bad as Sly McCoy in TIME AND THE RANI but...still. really.

I guess they're also trying to make the regulars have some friction between them to spice the show up but really it just gives the show less continuity and makes us dislike them more and more. Nyssa here shines as...as usual she's given less to say and do for now...if she were given stuff to do she'd be somewhat interesting but the writer here sort of gives her the least to do in this episode and say. WHich is good since what he gives Adric and Tegan to say and do is annoying and silly compared to both of them before. Tegan was annoying in most of LOGOPOLIS but in CASTROVALVA she improved by a fraction or so. Adric...well this writer can't write for him, can he?

Maybe? I guess what they were going for was interplay and jealousy. It brings out the worst in lover...I mean in companions. First it also makes the Doctor look like a big jerk and an idiot or just a pompous ass. He offers the TARDIS key to Tegan, when she balks (idiot that SHE is too), he only then offers it to Adric, then she takes it and he gives nothing to Adric (or Nyssa for that matter---shouldn't he be giving each of them the key or a key?) Then, he sort of forces Adric to stay with Nyssa (and the idiot Adric doesn't...he leaves Nyssa alone to be taken away and then worries afterward). When Adric tells him NO, he doesn't want to stay with Nyssa, the Doctor is pedantic and says, "Ther'es a good chap."  He's a JERK first class. Instead of acknowledging the boy, he ignores his feelings, even though Adric obviously is hurt by this. And the Doctor takes Tegan instead. Would you? Ewk. Because of this, the writer makes Adric sulky but to be fair at least Adric does seem to care about Nyssa, when she is taken away.

What's happened since CASTROVALVA to make everyone so pushy, nasty to each other, and egotistical and grumpy? Who knows fiction wise but again, this was filmed first so maybe they were getting to  know each other and their characters and it shows...badly here. Again, to be fair, Adric TRIES to be nice to Tegan and tries to remain positive but SHE acts like a bossy, impatient, and mindless frump to him so she deserves his chauvanistic remarks, which he cannot believe, then again, his culture didn't seem to have Decider Females so maybe they were a chauvanistic society. He certianly didn't treat any female like that at all in the past stories he was in. When he calls Nyssa a girl, she seemed upset by that sort of or embarassed by it in Tegan's presense. Either way, the whole le't's make Adric say stuff about females thing is a strange one and one that doesn't really fit him at all. In fact, lots of that is to come. It could be that he's been ignored or hurt by the Doctor's attention for Nyssa and Tegan.

Another thing I don't like is that now they make Nyssa more intelligent than Adric. Suddenly she knows all this science over him, when HE is the smarter one in almost all the stories before this. The script favors her, the actor playing the Doctor favors her, and soon, the Doctor himself will favor her. It just isn't fair and I was feeling the same way as Adric. AND for some reason Adric acknowledges and it's proven that he is "no good with his hands." He says to Nyssa, "You know I'm no good with my hands!" Why? What has he tried with her? Anyway this doesn't gell with his lockpicking, his building of things, and his coin flipping in the past eps. And for him to admit it? Well it's not like him at all but perhaps he's having a teen fit. Which would be like ANY teen to have. They also seem to be going on (at least some of the time) that Adric knew the Doctor best. "He's always in trouble...or haven't you noticed? It amuses him."  Well, that might have described Tom's Doctor to the tee but it doesn't really describe this Doctor. He doesn't seem to want trouble but peace. He also looks somewhat embarassing, the Doctor I mean, when he inadvertently says something like "you should see what some people look like" in front of the funny looking frog faced aliens at the time. Thing is: this writer doesn't know the characters and the actors don't seem to either.  Stuff like these lines (Tegan's bossiness and nasty about not being back home, Adric's comments about females)  would never have happened during Tom's time as the Doctor because he would have protested that most of this makes Tegan and Adric look dumb and he doesn't travel around with dumb people and the companions he had wanted to be with him. I can't even say making Tegan annoying has given her depth or motivation, it really hasn't. It just makes her worse than she was in CASTROVALVA and it changes Adric almost totally. Regardless of what anyone else says.  

And the Doctor...hmmm? He's gone out of his way to ignore the male companion for the female ones. Does this make him hetero or homo? I have another post I might make about this later...maybe. Tegan's constant grumpiness in this and supposed fear are not making her charming or endearing, nor making her the best of companions as later she herself will say . Davison will point out that Tegan often didn't want to be there and that's not making for a good companion. I'm not sure. I mean if you look at the new show, Martha, Rose and even Donna wanted to have fun and be there and wanted adventure. Then again, a true to life character might be more like Tegan, afraid and just wanting to go home. Even Jo Grant wanted this. But Tegan's extreme so Davison might be right on that count. Even though he might just be saying all that because he'd rather have a do nothing, bore like Nyssa over Tegan and/or Adric because the later two characters had more limelight, more lines, and were infinitely more interesting than himself and his Doctor. His Doctor also started  to seem more Adric-like than the Tom Baker Doctor and this is another reason they might have gone for getting rid of Adric. Or maybe the Doctor's just gay?

Anyway, there is tension, suspense (even if is of disbelief), and mystery with the arrival of Bigon and the fellow Earth people taken from long ago. What is going on? And Tegan's drawing came to life. How? Why? It's all a good start to be honest. If the regulars had been more than just roughly drawn out and given better lines and a better rapport this would have been so much better. ANd things only get wrose as Tegan gets stupider, Adric goes over to the other side for the second time (the Master in CASTROVALVA first) of his own free will and possibly due to getting the Doc's attention and over his own jealousy thing, and Nyssa gets to be the Doc's favorite again. Bah!            

2

 

This episode makes Tegan look almost schizo. She goes from annoying, whiney, to symapathetic, back to cowardly and human again. Fielding, it seems is doing what she can to keep Tegan likable but the script and dialog are not helping. On the other hand, Nyssa is child like and retains her innocence and almost regains her peaceful background, especially when the android (yes, that's what they are) knocks her away. And I think it's charming that Adric sticks up for her ("Don't you do that to her."). As if he can do anything about it. Again, he's a typical teen. ALthough his stupidity in helping Monarch doesn't happen until the next episode, here, he's becomes stupider than Nyssa science wise. He retains his mathematical excellence though and surprises this new Doctor with some figures or with his figure. I don't really get the whole distract the Doctor from the TARDIS with dances, gladiatorial combat, and performances thing but there you have it...and it works. Why the Doc didn't just get Tegan to the Tardis and then go find the others or find out what was going on is beyond me. Bigon is a colorful charcter, well played by Philip Locke. Adric and Nyssa's big adventure is nice and it seems not only are some of the set pieces props from SPACE: 1999 but some of the rooms they explore look like redressed and refitted rooms from the show such as MAIN MISSION and COMMAND CENTER! And they look great here too.

While the Doctor smiles and mugs his way through and keeps calm, Tegan's not doing so well and her prattling does tend to get on one's nerves. I"m not sure what else happens in this ep tha't's worth talking about but Adric seems more fit to being the companion at first here. He's not as nice to Tegan as he was in LOGOPOLIS and seems to be annoyed by her also, perhaps trying to show the Doc the obvious--that he's better companion material than she. I also am a bit upset that Tegan and Janet are listed in the credits before Adric. That's not fair really. Even if Fielding had more experience. Truthfully it doesn't seem like she did but there you have it.

The ending is effectively werid but could have been so much better had the effects been better. And they should have been. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN were doing scenes of robot face lifting years before this and much better. In fact, unless I"m far wrong, even GET SMART did stuff like this in the 1960s so there's no excuse for the bad effects here except there wasn't enough money. And the flap of skin that covers Bigon's chest unit is a bit flimsey. Still thanks to the actor, Bigon's revelation is creepy. He plays it so well.

So this ep is not too bad and the story not as bad as one might have been lead to believe by others. It has it's moments, both good and bad and strange but this ep is pretty good.  

One thing interesting to note is that when Monarch's computer is asked to try again to intefer what the Doctor's power is (Artron Energy and/or Gallifrey) it suggests "the occult"!!!!!    

3

 

A bit more action but not much. Though I must say the direction is sharp here, directed by trhe same director of KEEPER OF TRAKEN, he makes you feel a lot of action has happened even though it really hasn't. Why Monarch waited this long to try to stop the Doctor and kill Nyssa (to make her an android more specifically) is beyond me but it does make him a patient villain. His plans seem both logical and then mad (he believes he's god and will meet himself at the beginning of the universe?WTF?). The guest actors are very strong in all counts. Yet another SPACE: 1999 link is the actress who plays Enlightenment (I believe she played Tanya in 1999 in some first season eps and possibly even one second season ep).

The trouble here is still with the regulars and how they are written. Adric is nothing like Adric at all and the problem was discussed above I think. Tegan. Ahh, yes, until now she was just fearful and upset and rightly. In this ep, however, she panics. The dvd text tells us that she was deliberately made to be this way: in the first three stories she was supposed to usurp the Doctor's leadership over himself and Adric and take over, her brash overconfidence making her a liability. Well wtf? First of all, I can see Tom Baker squashing that. With the less in control Davison (that changes fast as he is the main reason JNT gets rid of Adric; Nyssa was supposed to go), the writers and silly producer and sillier script editor (and I mean Eric Saward and maybe even Root) made Tegan obnoxious, overprotective of Earth and the TARDIS and just plain annoying. SHE should have went. In any event, her scenes of stealing the TARDIS are just annoying and embarassing to watch as she overacts, cries, and laughs as she gains the ability to dematerializes. She sucks. In fact, she's left the Doctor and Nyssa to be killed in the event that she wants to go warn Earth...but she knows she can't fly the TARDIS. No wonder the Doctor didn't want her to be on board after this and tries to get her back to where she belongs...amid much harassement. I actually am annoyed that so much of the time Waterhouse had left on the show was filled with the annoyed, annoying, nag/boss Tegan and here she's at her worst, knocking Adric out (although to be fair, the way he's being written, as a brat, this time he deserved it). NO ONE here, save Waterhouse, understood Adric or knew how to use him.

It's easy to see how he might just think Monarch's abilities are interesting and when people are about to die at the end of their natural life span they might just want to become part of Monarch's process but none of that is stated. He just sides with Monarch and starts telling about the Doctor, prompting Nyssa to tell him to shut up. AGAIN, she gets the more scientific bits, using the Doc's pencil and sonic screwdriver to...do something in the next ep (stop the androids). Here, she's somewhat stupid too as instead of playing along with Monarch, she protests and then is surprised when they hypnotize her and try to make her one of the androids by putting her in another SPACE: 1999 prop (or one very like one in MISSION OF THE DARIANS).

It's still strange to see two companions fight physically and Tegan knocks Adric down and out and his recovery is pretty funny to watch. It's stranger still to see the Doctor tell Tegan earlier that if they try to warn Earth, they will be laughed at. Has he forgotten thanks to his regeneration that he was a member of UNIT and they fought all manner of invasions from outer space and even once from under the sea?  UNIT certainly would not laugh at him. The dolt. Another thing is that this Doctor is the least interesting character here and that even includes the "NEW" stupider Tegan and Adric.  He's just very flat and boring. I didn't notice at the time but he is but then again maybe I"m still comparing him to Tom Baker's better Doctor. Davison may be still finding his way but it's still...well, he's still quite dull in most ways. He doesn't even have the bad puns going at this point.

Again, though, even with all of that, this ep is not as bad as the story's reputation holds and there are far worse stories to come (I won't list them all but I might have already elsewhere) and far worse companions to suffer through.

       

4

 

A fitting end. Tegan doesn't get reprimanded as she should but Adric does. Adric of course turns on Monarch and helps the Doctor and once again takes command as the main companion. A few questions remain: Nyssa at one point tells Adric her air is running low but nothing's done to help her and it's forgotten about. The poison: the Doctor throws it at Monarch and ...he shrinks? He doesn't seem to be dead either and the script says he turns back into a toad? WTF? Anyway the action is better in this ep and the Doc's plan makes sense but Monarch is too sedate a villain. I think there are deleted scenes of him trying to get into the Tardis...which is strange as the Doc and Tegan upon reTARDISing in, leave the door open in time honored blooper tradition. Persuasion ends up in a ridiculous position. The space walk scenes are not bad at all, better than memory allows and even if they don't make scienfic sense, they are fun and nice to see. All in all a better ep and a story that is not that bad. It also has the first cliffhanger at the very end into the next story, something that hasn't been done for a long, long time, possibly since Pertwee's DALEK MASTER...I mean FRONTIER IN SPACE into PLANET OF THE DALEKS and then before that back into  Troughton's last season. It's a nice thing to have but again, Nyssa will be sidelined. If you have four companions, chances are good this will happen if your writers can think of what to do with four of them. Proving that Nyssa or the poorly turned out Tegan should have been written out. Nice to see Davison turn out his pockets as Tom often did and also to put himself into that trance state and to resist the cold temps of outer space.      

Oh and one more error concerning Adric: you would think he would know what photosyethesis is since he came from a swamp planet or rather  a planet that had a swamp on it. The writers realy blew it concerning Adric (and to a larger extent Tegan) in FOUR TO DD. He also helped prepare slides in FULL CIRCLE so he should know more scientifically and as the writer had more to go on for Adric than any other character here, Adric is the one that he should have gotten terribly RIGHT but he's the one the writer gets terribly WRONG! Even through all of that, Adric still, IMO, comes off as the best more interesting companion. but this is his weakest story.  

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