Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
on 16 September 2009
A fun if occasionally slow story. Author David Fisher once levelled at Douglas Adams the criticism of being too in love with ideas at the expense of story. Here he's a bit guilty of the same because despite the solid premise of Argolin race running a leisure complex and turning to science to save their dying race amidst some mafia style inter-racial politics, once it gets onto tachyons it gets bogged down in concepts. Nice to see some use of real science though.
The Argolins are a good June Hudson design, art deco with pods that fall off as they near death. Sadly the Foamasi are not so successful. Okay in long shot, but like giant sock puppets in close up.
Good stylish direction even if Lovett Bickford gets a bit too arty in places-witness the epic tracking shot on Brighton Beach and the overuse of quantel effects. Quantel effects are used for an awful episode climax in part 1.
Good rather than great performances from the guest cast, solid work from Who rep actor Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri (reportedly an authority on tachyons!) and David Haig- but no standouts.
As with all of his last season, Uncle Tom is on autopilot sometimes but once engaged (e.g. on hearing his scarf was wrapped round a murder victim, he suggests "Arrest the scarf then!" gleefully) he is the Doctor of old. He also gets a chance to play a much older Doctor too. Lalla Ward is a lovely bubbly Romana and produces a look of horrified astonishment on seeing the Doctor transformed by an experiment.
In all, it does look as if production values shot up a notch since the previous year and made a good start for JNT as producer.
"A New Begining" is a showpiece documentary on the start of JNT's tenure as producer. Why K9 had to go, why new titles, a difficult relationship between Tom and JNT are among the many topics covered in this excellent piece. The many interviewees include Tom, John Leeson, Christopher H Bidmead & Jnt himself (via archive footage) among others. No one stressing good points is sycophantic, no one stressing the negative is back biting.
There are also features on the writing, the new title sequence and music and costumes-all well done.
The fun commentary has Lalla Ward, Lovett Bickford and script editor Christopher H Bidmead remembering the making of the story and in particular Tom's difficult behaviour at this time e.g. propensity for blocking co-stars in doorways and as Lalla Ward says he would understood sotto voce meant to deliver lines quietly, he just would have refused to do it!
There's an easter egg of a comtemporary plug for Dr Who picture packs.
A great package for a good rather than great story-more for disciples of the cult of Tom than other fans.