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This review is from: Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos [DVD]  (DVD)Watching this DVD, it's difficult to see why the series was in such trouble in the mid-1980s. This is not only great "Doctor Who", it's great television fullstop. A two-part (from the brief era in which the series had 45 minute episodes) stroy, it sees the flummoxed sixth Doctor discover the TARDIS needs more fuel, get embroiled in a political revolution on a mining planet, then watch the long-suffering Peri get turned into a birdwoman by a dastardly torture device.
The story really works in the 45 minute time slot. Scenes are allowed to be played out to their full potential and characters are allowed to shine. Though ultimately shorter than most of the 4x25 minute episode stories, there feels like there's more to it. A couple of characters serve only to reflect the feelings of a populace kept in line by televised punishments and never become part of the main storyline, and you just get the impression these would have been cut right out of a traditional length episode, which were always about leading up to the next cliffhanger. In this story, the plot is allowed to develop without needing to get the Doctor into dire straits every 20 minutes.
Villain of the piece, Sil, has been described as a love or hate character, and this is possibly true. I found his irate tongue flappings very entertaining. He comes across as the illegitimate child of Jabba the Hutt and Gollum from "Lord Of The Rings".
True star of the show, however, is the much underrated Colin Baker. People found his Doctor grumpy and dislikeable, but in this story he's courageous, witty and a little scatterbrained. He really does seem to care about poor old Peri, too. Incidentally, in an extended scene on the DVD (there are over ten minutes of cut material) he's shown to have a blazing row with Peri, which makes it look like they hate each other. I'm glad it was cut.
Whilst this story was a comment on the power of the media as a tool of an oppressive regime, I did wonder whilst watching it how Tony Blair and co would respond to a little Varosian democracy - the governor is tortured live on TV whenever the people reject his plans...
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Initial post: 4 Aug 2012 18:07:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Aug 2012 18:23:33 BDT
Trouble is the production people went way 'OTT' with the arguing with Peri thing that put many off Colin Baker's Doctor (the strangulation scene in 'Twin Dilemma' plus a odd coat were enought to send some fans into a state of furied shock that some STILL haven't recovered from...even to this day !)
The fact Tom Baker wore an absurdly long scarfe...or William Hartnell had blazing rows with companions (& a certain Producer too !) and his Doctor once considered battering a caveman with a rock - while Susan attacked Ian Chesterton with scissors.....
seems to have gone unnoticed !
Dr.Who had over time got very 'cosy' for a generation who never saw 'black & white' TV....with a few extras who 'put their hands out' as they went down after being exterminated etc and despite the odd later scare in tales the show had become very predictable and lacking in any great challenge to it's audience 'comfort zone' in many aspects while the central character was warmly regarded as an 'old friend' they felt they knew (not how the show had begun at all....)
- thus Colin Baker shaking them up by throwing something of William Hartnell's early era acidness and mocking tone at the average 80's viewer - well it was deemed almost sacrilege !
the fact they STILL get hot under the collar over a multi coloured coat & a brief (tho' misguided) strangulation scene - forgetting alot besides re Colin Baker's era (moaning how he wasn't "nice" - well for a fair bit of the time neither was Hartnell's, or even Tom Baker's Doctors)...really tells us everything re how a fair chunk of the audience had gone by the 80's
however this story which was quite sadistic in it's tone, with touches of black humour (touches, not the 'pie in your face' slapstick humour the show often slipped into from time to time from the Graham williams/Douglas Adams period onwards...) was a memorable tale from a show that if BBC's mandarins had not decided to interfere with might have carried on for far longer, a change of Producer & a better script editor would have been needed, but it could easily have survived as before - however by this time BBC had seemingly decided it 'wasn't their type of show...' anymore thus had set in motion a series of moves that killed the programme off, prior to later the public requesting it's return (maybe one day it will...?)
An adventure well worth watching !
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