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3.8 out of 5 stars68
3.8 out of 5 stars
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I remember watching Sixth and Seventh Doctor serials when they were first aired, and not liking them much, especially the start of the Seventh Doctor's reign. I haven't seen them again until the DVD releases, and in general (Time and the Rani, Vengeance on Varos etc) I have reassessed my opinion and found lots to enjoy. This however was just as bad as I remember and time has not improved it.

The set up is interesting - The Doctor and Mel try to go to the fabled Paradise Towers for a holiday. When they get there they find instead of a gleaming modern tower block, the place is a dump. The occupants, who were sealed inside, have split up into various societies and gangs, all warring with each other. It's a fascinating set up, and a really great idea. But that's where it ends. Having had this great idea the script writers then had to find some problem for the Doctor and Mel to resolve, and, frankly, the mystery at the heart of Paradise towers is pretty incomprehensible and pointless. It really feels shoehorned in.

There are a few fun ideas - the officious `Caretakers' and their strict adherence to the rule book, the way the caretakers are all named after regulations and the Kangs all named after wall signs, the `Rezzies' and their strange dining habits. But there is not enough here to flesh out the series. Added to which is a misjudged performance from Richard Briers as the main bad guy, it is just too camp and silly to make him seem like a real threat. The main `monsters', the cleaning robots, are just badly constructed and again so laughable that they give no sense of menace, which this overly humorous series badly needed. And there's Mel. Mercifully her stay with the series was a short one, and this series shows just why she is one of the series least liked companions. It's a shame really, as Bonnie Langford has shown how good the character could have been in her work on the Big Finish audio range. Finally there is the rather disturbing scene with the knife wielding grannies - I found this disturbing as an 11 year old, and I still do today.

Sylvester McCoy is still trying to get to grips with his Doctor's character, and generally does a good job with the material given to him. His performance is pretty much the high point of the series, his physical timing is great and leads to some genuinely humorous moments.

In all an interesting set up which has no room for the Doctor, so goes nowhere. Poor monsters and villains, too much humour and Mel at her worst. Sorry, but I have long considered this to be the worst of all the classic Dr series, so can only give the story 1 star.

On the upside, the DVD from 2Entertain is a great job. The usual informative production subtitles, and a host of special features which are well thought out, interesting, and have a relevance to the story. It's quite a package. The picture and sound have been very nicely restored and presented, someone has put a lot of thought into this package. SO another star for the overall presentation, two stars in total.
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on 21 January 2014
'Paradise Towers' has a rather poor reputation, in fact it is perceived by many to be one of the weakest Doctor Who stories ever. Is this reputation deserved? Absolutely not in my opinion.

There are some wonderful sets for the towers, in the past Doctor Who sets had been inappropriate because they were so spotlessly clean, in this story the sets look grubby and help to create the impression that Paradise towers is dilapidated and neglected. The sets are assisted by some remarkably effective red, blue and green lighting. Admittedly though some of the sets, the Rezzies' flat for example, are rather over lit.

After a shaky performance in 'Time and the Rani' Sylvester McCoy starts to find his feet as the Doctor and his performance here is on the whole very good. Sadly Bonnie Langford's performance is poor, she's just too cheerful and upbeat (this seems especially unsuitable in the scenes set after she has almost been cannibalised by two old ladies).

It has been suggested that Richard Briers' performance here is a career low. I couldn't disagree more, for the first three episodes Briers gives a very amusing and entertaining performance as the Chief Caretaker (the manner in which he converses with Kroagnon in the basement is especially hilarious). I will admit that Briers goes over the top when portraying Kroagnon in the body of the Chief Caretaker in the last episode, but this is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. Clive Merrison gives a good performance as the Deputy Chief Caretaker.

Howard Cooke may be a poor physical fit for the character of Pex (who was supposed to be really muscular) but he gives a strong performance.

Stephen Wyatt's script is full of imaginative ideas and dialogue, for example the Kangs' distinctive dialect. The cannibalistic Rezzies are sublime, Elizabeth Spriggs and Brenda Bruce are simply brilliant in these roles. I also found the Caretakers' blind obedience of the rules amusing, especially in the scene where the Doctor uses this to escape them.

The main monsters in the story are the cleaning robots, in my opinion they look quite good although they do move slowly (something they have in common with most other Doctor Who monsters) and it's difficult to imagine they could do any harm with their implements.

On the DVD there are two complete scores, you can watch the story with Keff McCulloch's score or a rejected score from David Snell, McCulloch's is the better of the two even if it is a bit too upbeat at times. Snell's score is moodier but also quite repetitive.

In conclusion 'Paradise Towers' is very good but by no means perfect.

As for extras, there is 'Horror on the high rise' a 34 minute 'making of' documentary, which is very good. The highlight for me was an interview with Richard Briers.

The other major extra is 'Girls girls girls the 1980's' in which Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Sophie Aldred all talk about their periods on the show. All three have interesting comments and this is very amusing at times. Fielding clearly loathed the outfits that were inflicted on Tegan which is fair enough. This clocks in at 21 minutes and is introduced by Peter Purves for some reason.
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on 22 February 2013
Having lived in a tower block a few years ago I can tell that, if they had locked us all in, things probably would have gone the same way. They only thing that spoils it for me is the bit at the end when Richard Briers paints his face silver and seems to be doing a an impersonation of Frankenstiens monster.
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on 4 December 2013
I realise that I am probably a lone voice in the wilderness that is 80s Dr Who, but I love this. Sure th acting is dodgy, the script is worse, the set is clearly BBC TV centre, and McCoy chews the scenery with every line (until Richard Briers gets going!) but then again, loads of Dr Who stories can have the same criticism levelled at them. I watched this when I was a kid, loved it then. Watched it as an adult, and still love it. Now off to complete my collection of McCoy's seasons.
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on 11 July 2013
This has got to be one of the most weid and odd pieces of TV ever made. The story keeps jumping from everyone being friendly and nice, to then two seconds later hating The Doctor and Mel. At one point Mel is just sitting down enjoying a cup of tea and next under the threat to being Murdered by the exact same characters. However all the same it is a bit of fun and enjoyable to watch.
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on 8 February 2015
This story has so much going on for this and is such an enjoyable piece of television. I have seen this story three times now and i still enjoy watching it again, its so underrated. The 7th doctor in my opinion is fantastic and just seems to get better and better by each season i would personally recommend any sylvester mccoy story and yes even Delta and The Bannermen.
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on 17 September 2013
A good Sylvester McCoy story, if just slightly odd. Richard Briers got to play the pantomime villain with great relish.
This is one of McCoy's better stories. A well acted episode. Would recommend to any Dr Who fan.
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on 3 December 2014
Hadn't seen this before. Scary. Cannibals, robotic killer in the pool. Bullying, person you wanted to be a hero and so he was in the end.
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on 5 September 2013
I liked this story and enjoyed it very much. Sylvester McCoy was great as always. The acting was ok and i love Bonnie Langford.
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on 14 January 2014
a dvd that is worth watching and a must see would recomend to any doctor who collector and new comer
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