Four Sixth Doctor stories
Well, much to be said about yesterday’s episode – though I won’t say it here, except that I agree with those who believe that surely we will be getting a cop-out of some kind at the start of next week’s 65-minute climax, no doubt involving the hand.
Instead I’m writing up the four Sixth Doctor stories from Season 22 I watched on the laptop yesterday, lying in bed. Two of these are rather meh, the other two awful.
I’ve said before that very few Cybermen stories actually make sense. Attack of the Cybermen is not one of the exceptions. The whole idea of basing a story around the continuity of an earlier story is not intrinsically bad, but once we have reached the real 1986, it is better to just imagine that The Tenth Planet never happened, rather than try and protect it. Even in 1986, we knew enough about Tomb of the Cybermen that the differences between its sets and the “Tomb” sets here killed any visual connection. The Telos scenes as a whole make very little sense – Why human slaves? Why allow escapees to wander round? How did the Cryons evolve on a planet which is clearly warmer than freezing? Above all why haven’t the Cybermen worked out that it might be a bad idea to lock their prisoners in a room full of explosives? Colin Baker is particularly annoying here, but he is far from the worst thing about it. I felt a little sorry for the ice-maiden Cryons, but was left confused by their means and motivation.
I remember catching the first scenes of Vengeance on Varos first time round, where Jason Connery’s Jondar is unpleasantly tortured as an audience looks on, and then the Tardis breaks down and the Doctor decides it can’t be fixed. At that point I gave up and went away to do something else. Well, I misjudged it slightly. The torture scenes are unnecessarily unpleasant, and Colin Baker’s portrayal as annoying as before, but the rest of the story is not bad, Martin Jarvis and Nabil Shaban being especially good. Having said which, the scene with Peri turning into a bird is a bit crap.
Mark of the Rani is just rather dull. The Rani comes across as a more interesting character than in her other TV appearance; the Master’s presence appears pretty pointless; the scenery and setting are nice; the rest of it just isn’t very interesting. (We tactfully pass over the infamous tree shot.)
Timelash comes very close to The Twin Dilemma as being the worst Who story ever. Paul Darrow is just awful. Really awful. The glove-puppet aliens are just awful. Really awful. The pointless continuity with an unbroadcast Third Doctor story is just pointless. The inclusion of HG Wells is just stupid. The climbing wall scene is especially unconvincing. And what happens to all the people exiled to the twelfth century? Are they just left there? The only saving grace is that Colin Baker’s Doctor is a little less annoying here than elsewhere. But that is not saying much.
In summary, it is amazing that the 1986 cancellation was not permanent and that we got another four seasons of Old Who after this.
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