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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frogs with funny hairdos
Peter Davison's second serial playing the eponymous Time Lord was actually the first that he recorded; you'd never know this from his assured and breezy performance, although there are a few moments of clunky humour that don't sit well with his earnest demeanour - left over from his fourth incarnation perhaps?. Davison's `wanderer in eternity' is both dashing and as...
Published on 28 May 2009 by Captain Pugwash

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Davison era doomed?
....Not at all!! This isn't the most gripping or well produced of the Fifth Doctor's adventures, however it makes up for this with the deployment of a solid villain and sterling support from all current companions. After the intriguing post-regeneration trauma of Castrovalva, Davison seems to have come to terms with the role, whilst Nyssa, Tegan and Adric have gelled as...
Published on 3 Sep 2001 by Matthew Lidbury


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frogs with funny hairdos, 28 May 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Peter Davison's second serial playing the eponymous Time Lord was actually the first that he recorded; you'd never know this from his assured and breezy performance, although there are a few moments of clunky humour that don't sit well with his earnest demeanour - left over from his fourth incarnation perhaps?. Davison's `wanderer in eternity' is both dashing and as fiercely intelligent as any of his predecessors; he also brings a fresh inquisitiveness and real energy to the role; something that had been lacking in Tom Baker's twilight years on the show.

The story itself is pretty routine; The Doctor and his three companions (Adric, Tegan and Nyssa) arrive on a colossal spaceship and meet its pilots; three amphibian-looking Urbankans. The aliens claim to be visiting Earth as tourists, but their uncanny abilities to replicate the human form, plus the fact that their ship is stocked with androids posing as Earthlings, leads the time travellers to uncover an altogether more sinister purpose.

Perfectly adequate as a lead-in to The Fifth Doctor and his companions; this serial does suffer from being rather static. The best performance comes from the excellent Stratford Johns as the power-crazed Monarch, whilst his fellow Urbankans `Persuasion' and `Enlightenment' are also well played. The music is atmospheric without being intrusive, and the set designs and costumes are effective; reflecting a time in the early 80s when the show still had a pretty healthy budget.

DVD extras here include Davison's first recording session; intriguing as a reminder of how slow it all was in 1981, but rather odd and stilted without the incidental music. It also contains the amusing scenario of Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) demonstrating that he was unable to act his way out of a paper bag.
Rather more entertaining is the short feature `Saturday Night at the Mill'; where interviewee Peter Davison talks extensively about `All Creatures Great and Small' and makes a chocolate milkshake live on air!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Davison era doomed?, 3 Sep 2001
By 
Matthew Lidbury (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
....Not at all!! This isn't the most gripping or well produced of the Fifth Doctor's adventures, however it makes up for this with the deployment of a solid villain and sterling support from all current companions. After the intriguing post-regeneration trauma of Castrovalva, Davison seems to have come to terms with the role, whilst Nyssa, Tegan and Adric have gelled as his bickering but emotive fellow time-travellers. Production values seem to have slipped - particularly evidenced by an unconvincing spaceship and a baddie reminiscent of the Vogon warlord in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Nevertheless, believable characterisations and a robust storyline ensure that Four to Doomsday can sit quite comfortably alongside Enlightenment and The Caves of Androzani, and certainly does the new era justice.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good middling story, 21 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
THE FIRST STORY Peter Davison recorded shows the awkwardness of the new regulars as they try to settle in. The younger cast (presumably brought together to invest a fresh, innocent quality back into the series after the more mature Doctor/Romana relationship of the year before), are a mixed bunch. Davison is instantly appealing, even if he lacks some of the otherworldly edge needed for the role and Janet Fielding has real potential. Sadly, Sarah Sutton's Nyssa is too dull and mannerly to set the screen alight, while pudding-bowl-haired boy genius Adric got on everyone's three-penny bits!
Nevertheless, following a stilted first episode, this emerges as an intriguing tale. The mood and narrative style are reminiscent of the show's earliest days but the concepts are very contemporary (for 1982). Stratford Johns is a wonderfully charming villain and his schemes are both engaging and barking mad. There is wit rather than all-out clowning and the design is gorgeous to boot. Not a story to illicit the panning it has received by others here, or great acclaim either - it's a diverting, middling episode with some interesting ideas and perhaps best if - like me - you watched it go out as a kid where the rush of nostalgia is as powerful as for anyone old enough to remember earlier years and equally influential on one's opinion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing, but nothing special, 8 Feb 2010
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
The Doctor (Peter Davison) and his sidekicks arrive on a spacecraft run by a trio of frog-people on course for the Earth. On board are a lot of people from various Earth cultures. But all is not what it seems.

In 1980 a new production team decided they wanted rid of Romana and K9 because they were geniuses and therefore nobody could identify with them. So they were replaced by an irritatingly smug boy maths genius and a girl science genius with no personality. When the viewer's only 'identification' is with the obnoxious 'mouth on legs' Tegan, you can't help feeling the show was better off with Romana and Robo-Rover. It was also decided in 1980 that the Doctor and his companions should always be wearing the same outfits, hence the main characters in this story wear specially-designed 'uniforms' rather than ordinary clothes. Like I'm sure most viewers do. This being post-Star Wars Dr Who, most of the budget has been blown on a 'big spaceship shot' for the beginning of episode 1.

Another decision in 1980 was that Dr Who should be about 'real science'. What this meant was that for the next two or three years a number of stories felt like they were aimed at swotty nerd types rather than the public at large. It also led to some very long-drawn-out episodes which just seemed to revolve around one 'big idea'.

As demonstrated by the laughable "Doctor plays cricket in space", the supposedly clever scientific stuff made no actual sense whatsoever. This scene is sadly not all that's wrong with this story. It sets out with keen intentions, there are genuinely good points made about human society's failings, and Stratford Johns is excellent as the chief alien Monarch. What lets this story down is its slow pace and its rambling dialogue.
Worth watching, but doesn't really stand up to repeated viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas go to waste, 29 Aug 2009
By 
Mr. A. Anson "Lexifer Crowley" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
It all looks great. We're planted on this space ship with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric, and they explore a ship very slowly. Then they meet some people and, uh, then some more people. Series 18 made it very clear that we would have to sit through 25 minutes of storyline before any action happened, and I was fine with that. I'd got used to 25 minute of character introduction and scene setting, and grown to like it. The problem is that, well, about half way through the third part of this story I realised if there WAS going to be any action, it wasn't going to last very long. I remember saying to my friend "This is like the Doctor Who equivalent to Deep Space Nine: Very little happening in the far future."

Christopher H Bidmead's influence is still visible; problems are solved inventively and scientific ideas are thrown about unnecessarily (but certainly not as interestingly as during Bidmead's own scripts). I wouldn't have minded sitting through parts 1-3 if part 4 was somehow climatic, exciting and a great payoff, but you never get the sense of urgency and excitement you got from the classic stories.

It's a shame, as the central idea is an intriguing one but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four heroes; Four groups of humans; Four visits to Earth; or Four days to Doomsday!, 2 Jun 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
`Four To Doomsday' is a good space yarn! I enjoyed watching it when I saw it!

In 2008, I had been watching Peter Davison's first season from start to finish from 'Castrovalva' to 'Time-Flight'. But two of those stories from that season were missing from my DVD collection - this one and `Kinda'. So I was glad when `Four To Doomsday' came out on DVD. It filled in the gaps of the character journeys for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric who I was really enjoying watching and easily getting into.

This is the second TV story of the Peter Davison era! But did you know this was actually the first story Peter ever recorded in his role as the Doctor before doing `Castrovalva'?! Producer John Nathan-Turner decided in order for Peter to settle into the role of the Doctor, he would give him a story in the middle of the season to record before doing his introductory story. After all, Tom Baker played the Doctor for seven years, and Peter was unsure how to play his Doctor. What better way to start off his era by doing a story where he's already established and can find his Doctor before going onto doing the first?

This story was written by Terrence Dudley, who would go on to write 'Black Orchid' (my favourite `Doctor Who' story). The story's good. The Doctor and his friends arrive on an alien spaceship in the TARDIS and meet the Urbankans - who look like three frogs - led by Monarch. They're on a journey to Earth and are four days away. Can the Doctor discover what the real intentions of Monarch are and will he and his friends be able to stop him and save the Earth in time?

I enjoyed this story very much. There are some nice concepts running through it regarding Monarch, the Urbankans and a group of humans from four periods of Earth's history aboard the ship. Terrance Dudley does a nice blend of science and Earth history very well in his story, although doing history is more his expertise. I would say this story isn't as fast paced or exciting enough to fit into an action-packed series as `Doctor Who'. It feels more theatrical than anything else. But it has some merit and isn't one that should be disregarded entirely. It's a good one to establish Peter's Doctor and his companions on some level.

I like how Dudley portrays the four TARDIS regulars in this story, and depicting their different and contrasting natures in terms of conflict and drama. Due to the crowded TARDIS, it's a job for the writer to give the Doctor and his companions a fair amount of the story. Dudley must have found it a challenge to get to know Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. But he does a grand job and certainly made up for them later in `Black Orchid'. I like it when the four heroes are wearing protective helmets with oxygen supplies, walking about certain areas of the ship and wearing their standard clothes. It saves time and makes life easier for our heroes not to get into astro-suits when walking in poisonous environments and outer space. I love that scene in `Part Two' when the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric are together discussing the Urbankans and debating their different opinions on the situation. The scene establishes each of their characters in turn which is rare in Doctor, and Dudley does the talking scenes pretty well.

Peter as the Doctor is starting when he records this story. He's trying to find his feet as the Doctor, and does an extraordinary job in being enthusiastic and energetic, despite it being a fairly slow-paced story. He sounds a lot like Tristan from `All Creatures' more than the Doctor in this. But he shows a concern for his three companions and is brave enough to stand up to Monarch and his minions when being threatened by him or when they threaten his friends. Peter's Doctor is solving a mystery in this story and he really gets into the heart of the matter when trusting Bigon who tells him about Monarch's real mission. Peter likes using his cricket ball a lot in this story and especially uses it to help him get to the TARDIS in space when bowling it towards the hull of the Urbankans' ship and catching it when it comes towards him. He gets to use his sonic screwdriver in this story, which was great to see since he rarely uses it in later stories as it gets destroyed in 'The Visitation'. Somebody gets to save the Doctor before he gets beheaded in `Part Three'. One of his companions! Can you guess who it is?

I enjoyed watching Tegan (Janet Fielding) in this story. Tegan is trying to get home and return to Heathrow Airport. The TARDIS arrives back in 1981 - right time; wrong time. Tegan gets easily frustrated and bad-tempered in this story. She doesn't like what's going on especially when two of her sketches end up looking like Paul Shelley and Annie Lambert. Tegan becomes hyper-panicky when she discovers what the Urbankans intend to do and doesn't listen to reason from the Doctor. "I'm sick of leaving everything to you!!!" The Doctor easily gets annoyed with Tegan; "Please, will you stop thinking of yourself!" "I'm not thinking of myself!" Tegan protests against the accusation. "We got to get to Earth and warn them!" Tegan also doesn't get on well with Adric when he tries to get the TARDIS key off her and she's red in the face, "Adric, I'm warning you! Get out of my way!!!" "No! Now look! I'm not going to let you do anything silly," says Adric before he gets thrown violently to the. Tegan seems to think she can fly the TARDIS, and she does as it takes off and she lets out laugh, crying through tears overjoyed, which made laugh when Janet played it.

Nyssa is lovely in this story. I immensely enjoyed watching Sarah Sutton, who makes Nyssa lovely every time I see her. She does get sidelined a bit I'm afraid, with being hypnotised and getting her memory recorded and almost wiped. She wears a nice `hairdryer' on her head when being processed. I like it when Nyssa challenges the Urbankans as she and Adric are their prisoners in `Part Three'. They claim to have done great things, but Nyssa calls it `fine tyranny'. I like it when Nyssa asks, "What about love?" and they do not understand the meaning and ask to define love. It emphasises how Nyssa has this caring and compassionate side and her Traken beliefs shine through. Nyssa gets to use her scientific skills in this story, especially with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and his pencil. Nyssa gets rescued by the Doctor from being processed by the Urbankans and she's very grateful, "Oh Doctor, thank you!" Nyssa comes out as being the Doctor's closest companion and Peter's favourite, since she has that caring side and being more of a companion who's resourceful and helpful in terms of supporting the Doctor in a crisis.

I'm afraid I found Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) poorly developed in this story. Adric seems pretty annoying and does things which are pretty uncharacteristic and out of order in this story. I found it annoying when Adric doesn't consider Nyssa to be a woman, "No! You're only a girl!" It seems pretty immature for Adric to say something like that. I did like it when Nyssa gets pushed away by a Greek worker on the ship and Adric shouts to him, "Don't you do that to her!" The root of Adric's poor development is that he stupidly allies himself with the Urbankans believing that Monarch is wonderful and charming. This is where the inconsistency of Adric's development is made. It didn't make sense why Adric thinks Monarch and his people would be doing good things for the Earth. It emphasises how ignorant Adric can be and after all the adventures he's been through with the Doctor, he's pretty immature. He might argue with good reason, but it just doesn't justify Monarch's actions and how Adric can betray his friends to him. It breaks the Doctor and Adric's relationship and a starting point of them not getting on with each other, following the Doctor's regeneration.

The big guest star in `Four To Doomsday' is Stratford Johns, playing Monarch, supreme ruler of the people of Urbanka. Stratford Johns is well-known for playing (according to my parents) Detective Inspector Burrows in the police cop series `Softy, Softy'. Here he plays an alien green frog aboard a spaceship, and does a wonderful majestic performance as a Doctor Who villain. It must have been hard for Johns to be in all that make-up and director John Black made sure his scenes were recorded first to get him out of that make-up quickly. But he does amazingly well in terms of playing Monarch and is really a joy to watch. Monarch has plans to become ruler of Earth after his own planet Urbanka has been destroyed. He plans to travel `faster than the speed of light', which the Doctor claims is impossible. It also seems that Monarch wants to travel back to the beginning and meet himself. He believes he is God. Right! Now, I'm imagining it. God looking like a big fat frog in space. No! I don't think so! Monarch and his subordinates keep calling Nyssa and Adric `the children'! No! They're not children! Well Adric might be, but not Nyssa surely!

Monarch has two Urbankans working for him. There's Enlightenment, played by Annie Lambert; and Persuasion, played by Paul Shelley. I've seen Paul Shelley after watching this in a BBC adaption of Charles Dickens' `A Tale of Two Cities'. I didn't understand the story, but he was good in that playing two parts. Annie Lambert has been in an episode of `All Creatures Great and Small' with Peter Davison. Here both Paul and Annie play two frogs who transform into human beings brought to life by the sketches of Tegan Jovanka. They look humans, but are pretty cold and ruthless. They believe in following Monarch's orders without question, even if it means killing the Doctor or his friends aboard the ship.

Aboard the ship, there are four ethnic groups of humans. There are the Ancient Greeks led by Bigon (Phillip Locke); the Chinese led by Lin Futu (Burt Kwouk); the Maya people led by Princess Villagra (Nadia Hammam) and the ancient Austrian Aborigines led by Kurkutji (Illarrio Bisi Pedro). I like how Dudley brings Earth historical elements in a science-fiction story such as this, especially when they have their forms of entertainment from Chinese Dragon dances; Gladiatorial combat and dances by the Mayans and Aborigines. Tegan even gets to speak in ancient Aborigine to Kurkutji in `Part One', which is interesting and puzzling since the TARDIS translation circuits should be working to translate any language into Earth English. Perhaps it can't translate ancient Aborigine or the translation circuits were having a bad day.

I've seen Phillip Locke before in an episode of `Jeeves and Wooster' before watching this story. He played Sir Roderick Glossop in season 4, so it was a delight to watch him again in a story from `Doctor Who'. The character Phillip plays is Bigon, a Greek philosopher. Let Bigon be Bigon! Sorry, shouldn't joke. Bigone is a wise old man who's been telling the truth all his life. He knows something is wrong with Monarch and the Urbankans' plans to visit the Earth. He shares this with the Doctor who he believes can stop Monarch. It turns out that Bigon is actually a cyborg with his memories, logic and reason kept inside a processor of three silicon chips. I found that moment when Bigon reveals himself to the Doctor and Tegan at the end of `Part Two' very exciting and very clever how they did it with the effects and everything. It made one heck of a cliff-hanger in the story.

Burt Kwouk is also good as Lin Futu, a Chinese man who looks ready to do some karate. Burt has been in `The Saint'; `The Avengers' and also in a film with Ingrid Berman called `The Inn of Sixth Happiness' as well as a James Bond film and `The Pink Panther' films. He would later work with Peter Davison again in a Big Finish `Doctor Who' story called 'Loups-Garoux'. The character he plays here as Lin Futu seems to be a corrupt man who has agreed to serve the great Monarch aboard the Urbankan ship. But there may be a chance for the Doctor to get through to him and persuade him to defeating Monarch in the end.

The story is well-directed by John Black who has also directed 'The Keeper of Traken'. He's done well directing this story with the spaceship's set design; the outer-space effects and the monopticans (described by the Doctor as giant eyes) that are seen throughout the ship in every corridor and room the Doctor and his friends visit. He does a great job in settling Peter Davison into his role as the Fifth Doctor who's just starting. I really found that opening hero shot impressive with the Urbankans spaceship flying through space. A well-directed story by a man who understands the constraints and logistics of making a `Who' story with a fairly low budget and makes an alien spaceship look impressive on its way to `doomsday'.

The special features on the DVD for `Four To Doomsday' are as follows.

There's `Studio Recording' a 27-minute piece of behind-the-scenes footage recording the first day of Peter Davison playing the Doctor with his companions in `Four To Doomsday'. There's also `Saturday Night at the Mill' where Bob Langley interviews Peter Davison on Boxing Day in 1980, mentioning `Doctor Who' and also some rare behind-the-scenes info of `All Creatures Great and Small' before going on to making a `mean' chocolate milkshake. There's a `Theme Music Video' which was included on the `Castrovalva' DVD of the 'New Beginnings' box set. Now it's also included on the `Four To Doomsday' DVD with two versions to enjoy - the stereo and the Dolby Digital 5.1. surround sound remix.

There's a photo gallery of `Four To Doomsday' and an enjoyable audio commentary with Peter Davison; Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton; Matthew Waterhouse and director John Black. There's an info-text commentary to watch during this story. There's a Radio Times Listing PDF for `Four To Doomsday' to access on a computer and a Coming Soon trailer for the next DVD release which is `The War Machines'.

`Four To Doomsday' is an enjoyable tale in the Fifth Doctor era of the series. Peter Davison is really good establishing himself as the Doctor in his first recorded story behind-the-scenes. It's also great watching Nyssa, Tegan and Adric and their complex and conflicting relationships in this story; and Stratford John proves a really good villain for `Doctor Who' in his green frog make-up. Not the best Who story by any means, but certainly worth the entertainment. I'm sure you'll find some enjoyment to be gained in a story as this that deserves some merit.

Nyssa faints at the end of `Four To Doomsday'. What's happened?! Why did she faint?!

The next story for the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric is 'Kinda'!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Champion The Underrated!, 20 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Fan wisdom would have you think this a poor effort for Davison's first {filmed} outting as the Doctor, but I must admit I have always been rather partial to it. This is a story that features some great ideas that are not explored in the same way that departed script editor Chris Bidmead would have elaborated over. This is a plus. I found the problem with the previous seasons adventures was that there was a bit too much emphasis on science over drama. This is a mistake. Doctor Who is not sci-fi, it's drama in a sci-fi setting, sometimes.

Four to Doomsday is a character piece as much as it's a sci-fi serial, the main opponent, Monarch, a brilliantly realised villain from Stratford Johns, is proof of this. Such eloquent dialogue is bestowed on Monarch from writer Terrance Dudley, a respected BBC man-of-all-talents. I find Peter Davison very appealing here, remembering that this is his very first story recorded as the Doctor, he pulls it off admirably, although I must confess that I did chuckle and agree wholeheartedly with Davison concerning the lack of continuity concerning the stars hair length compared to the previous story "Castrovalva", shot 4th in production {about 5 months after this I believe}.

Mention must be made of the truly expansive sets, wow. This truly is a spaceship we have materialised on. They are endless, the corridors are long and more importantly, interesting. No bland white set-dressing here. The make-up has to be lauded as well. Monarch looks truly convincing as an outer-space alien Frog who believes himself to be God. Less successful is some of the CSO shots of Bigon's big reveal at the end of part 2, but it's only a minor quibble. The rest of the cast impress, Janet Fielding is always of interest to watch and Sarah Sutton's Nyssa was always the right sort of companion to Davison's 5th Doctor. The less said about Matthew Waterhouse the better, the only comfort one can gleam is that Adric dies in 4 stories time.

The plot is nice and straightforward, which believe me is a welcome break after the puzzles of Castrovalva, I imagine the viewers at home were more inclined to appreciate the merits of this story and it's plot over "Recursive Reclusion" that was hammered forcefully into the old brain box back on Valva. I love the idea of Monarch actually believing himself to be the one true God, and further to this, trying to travel back to the dawn of creation to meet himself there. Such ego traits are not betrayed in the script quite so bluntly as one would expect, instead we have a charmer in Monarch, until finally his patience is tested by the equally charming Davison. This makes for some great scenes between the pair and only adds to the dynamic of the tale.

For the benefit of the people who are deciding whether or not to purchase this quaint little tale, a word of warning, although I love this story, there are far more classy serials waiting for you, such as Earthshock, Five Doctors and Caves of Androzani, all currently available here on DVD. This is a bare DVD from the beeb it has to be said, 27 minutes of studio footage stands in place of the quite frankly unmissable making-of doco that usually accompanies each story. I was not happy about this. Still, the DVD does present the story in great quality and also includes one or two entertaining tit-bits that add value to this tale.

Overall I would give the story a really solid 9/10. The DVD a much more reasonable 6/10 due to the lack of a doco about the production which as I have stated above, is a necessity in this day and age when one talks of post 2005 classic Who DVD releases. I think you should give this a punt if you have already seen some of Davison's better known serials, it's quite a charmer underneath.

Many thanks for your time in reading my thoughts on Four to Doomsday, it's greatly appreciated.

M.B.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bigon the Zygon?, 1 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Pleasantly surprised by this - in 1982 I thought it was rubbish; looking back, I think it was more this story's place in the batting order - just after the gently paced Castrovalva - that damned it for me.

It is not, let's be honest, an action packed adventure yarn; the first two episodes are much more about talk than action, and I think it's fair to say that the story could be an episode shorter without hurt, but the writing is of a high quality, and it's genuinely easy to listen to, and the story's intelligent and it all holds together, which can't be said for some tales with more pizzazz.

It looks very good too; that staircase seems to be doing multiple service, as I suspect that the multiple rooms are the same set cleverly re-dressed, but I do get a sense of a very big space ship indeed (the model really is good too), and the bridge looks very impressive. The ethnically exotic crew are really rather wonderful, though I can't quite understand why they dance so much - but it's all very pretty to watch - why the Greeks have to fight, when they could be doing Zorba's Dance I don't understand either (Oh yes, it's so one can appear mortally wounded, it's the plot...).

In terms of effects, it's all of its time - there's some fairly obvious Chromakey in the space walk scene, and the bit where Bigon takes his face off doesn't quite work (not nearly as well as in the Android Invasion six years earlier), but his producing the electronic gizmo from his chest and saying 'This is me' makes for a very good cliffhanger.

And it's generally well acted. Peter Davison, in his first outing as the Dr is very good indeed, and Matthew Waterhouse does well at being very stupid and annoying as Adric (the moment when the Dr finally calls him a 'young idiot' is really very enjoyable), and Janet Fielding makes Tegan's anxiety really very real (and irritating), and the bit where she tries to pilot the TARDIS is very convincing. (I wish she wasn't so stuck with the Thunderbird uniform).

Burt Kwouk is wasted, but the guy playing the Australian native earns his money (as do his three chums), and if the lady playing the Mayan princess has taken a vow of silence (handy that) she dances very nicely. Phillip Locke is very good as Bigon - the Greek philosopher, who's been thinking for thousands and thousands of years, and Monarch's greatest antagonist. Which brings us to the aliens.

Annie Lambert is excellent - lovely and poisonously sinister - but Paul Shelley doesn't seem at all on form (he was so good in Secret Army and Blake's 7), maybe it's the wig they've put him in. Stratford Johns is wonderfully magisterial, and carries much of the show - at least those bits that Mr Davison isn't already carrying himself - let's hear it for the fat green frog! At least Mr Shelley's death is remarkable - the only Dr Who character to expire in a pose from Saturday Night Fever.

Just a couple of questions about a story that I've enjoyed far more now than I ever did back in the day; one - How come only Tegan can understand Kurkutji? What about the Time Lord translator thing? Two - Why's the Greek philosopher named Bigon? Should be something like Bigonocles, surely? Or soddit - why not make him Plato and have done?

I don't know enough about Physics to comment on the cricket ball.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, 11 Jan 2009
By 
Varian Beauregard (Le Jardin d'Angleterre) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
I held of buying this one for a while thanks to the unenthusiastic reviews. But having just got a copy and watched it all in one morning I can say it was a lot better than I expected. The effects aren't at all bad for its time and though not my favourite Doctor, Peter Davison gives it a good first attempt (and his performance here is better than in Castrivalva in my opinion). There is a lot of school science thrown in which makes this educational for its target audience and whilst some of the plot and sci-fi elements shouldn't be scrutinised too closely, this is certainly entertaining enough. Not the best of the season but better than Castrovalva or Time Flight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Style and Substance, 8 Jan 2003
The opening sequence of 'Four to Doomsday' is remarkably effective: an ominious and enigmatic score accompanies a series of panning and tracking shots of a dark, mysterious, and (presumably) gigantic spaceship; a tone both mysterious and threatening is established. The viewer (this viewer, at least) is not disappointed by what follows, for whatever the flaws of 'Four to Doomsday' it manages to work as an intriguing, textured, and sinister piece of science fiction.
Although on a plot-only level 'Four to Doomsday' is a bit long, and a bit of a drag at times, it does succeed in telling a story tinged with engaging ideas and concepts. The first two cliff-hangers rely not on a terrible fate for the Doctor, but on a revelation: the drama for much of 'Four to Doomsday' is the discovery of more and more of the details of the science fiction set up. One theme which emerges from this SF set up is that of 'difference' and 'alienness': the them\us split. Perception, and the different ways different people view 'others', is everywhere. There is Adric, in his usual, petulant self-important tone, making notably bigotted comments about what he sees as being the difference between men and women and girls. The whole premise of the plot is the fact that the spaceship is full of different cultures and races, collected from Earth at various points in history by the Urbankans. And although they are not fully developed, 'Four to Doomsday' touches on questions of how we define 'cultures', and whether it is possible that cultures can be recorded, and stored, and preserved in stasis. What the Urbankans fail to see is the speed with which culture changes: their ability to alter their appearance to become 'like' other cultures is flawed, because it does not allow for natural evolution and change, and also because it is only skin deep. Culture is more than just accent and clothing and native dances.
On other levels, 'Four to Doomsday' is classic Doctor Who hokum. Questions of race, culture, and class aside, there is no doubt that the Urbankans neatly fill the role of the classic, unambiguous, atypical, nasty Doctor Who aliens we see so frequently, and hopefully will see more of soon! Monarch's eloquent, mannered, and 'civilized' English diction, rather than making him sympathetic, simply makes him more sinister, and more alien. There is a superb line during episode two (when Adric and Nyssa are suffocating) where Enlightenment notes that Adric and Nyssa "have lungs", and Monarch replies with sadistic pleasure: "Let them remember that." Chilling.
Overall, deficiencies of plot aside (well, not 'deficiences', as such'... there just isn't a lot happening), 'Four to Doomsday' is an entertaining story. And it has a brain as well. Recommended.
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Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD]
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