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Frontios - The Doctor comes to realise the gravity of the situation...,
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Frontios [DVD]  (DVD)The Fifth Doctor, Turlough and Tegan are forced to land on the planet Frontios by a strange force that even the TARDIS cannot counter. The Doctor is keen not to land as it is apparently forbidden by the Time Lords (and when did he ever really care about them?) On the planet they find one of the last remnants of humanity, struggling to survive on a barren planet with strange meteor showers killing them off at an alarming rate. What follows is a great study of the small group fighting to survive, and starting to fight each other. This political study soon shifts and an altogether creepier tale with sci fi monsters comes to the fore as the reasons for the meteor attacks become clear.
This is a cracking script from Christopher H. Bidmead, and I remember it quite grabbing my attention when I first saw it on TV as a child. The study of the dynamics within the small colony, the great characterisations, and the use of real science concepts, added with the really scary idea of the earth just swallowing people up really got me hooked. I especially liked the way it is almost two tales in one, with a tale of intrigue morphing onto a hard core sci fi thriller.
While the story was well written, the realisation on the screen, as ever, was limited by the budget. The monster costumes were a bit of a failure. But that is looking through my grown up eyes. As a child (when this was the norm on TV, I doubt modern kids exposed to the CGI wonders of new Who would feel the same) the were really creepy, and made me really scared of woodlice. Actors were on good form here, especially Davison, who really delivers with the sense of rising panic that he does so well. Tegan is her usual annoying self, but Turlough, always my favourite of Five's companions, is given a lot to do and really gets some interesting character development. We see him transform from running scared to facing up to his deepest fears and being a proactive (though still very frightened) help in defeating the alien menace. Mark Strickson does an excellent job.
Good script, good acting, so-so production values. Four stars for this story. The release from 2Entertain is their usual excellent standard. The info text notes are fascinating, and the extras, especially the short series of interviews with cast and crew about the making of the story are worth while additions. The picture and sound are, of course, excellent.