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Four of Five

Not certain that my watching of Old Who will keep ahead of my reading of the novels, but it looks like I will finish both projects before the summer holidays. More or less at random (and out of sequence, but in the order I watched them) here are the most recent four Fifth Doctor stories I've (re) watched.

The King's Demons is the worst Fifth Doctor story I have seen so far. Some of us non-English types bristle somewhat at the presumption that the Magna Carta is essential to World Civilisation; but even if it were, the Master's plot to derail it Makes No Sense. The Master is cunningly disguised for most of the first episode as a really bad English actor pretending to be a French knight. Turlough, who has always seemed pretty pointless to me, spends most of the story shackled rather unexcitingly to the wall. And we are introduced to Kamelion, the most useless companion of the whole of Who (and that includes Jo Grant, Dodo and Mel), which turns out to be the point of the story, if there is one. The best thing to be said for it is that it is only two episodes long.

There are several good things about Planet of Fire: we lose two of the more useless companions in the show's history (Kamelion and Turlough - and in fairness the latter gets one of his better stories here), and gain one of the better ones of the late period (Peri). The location filming in the Canaries and consequent swimming costumes are memorable. The problem is that the planet Sarn looks so much like the Canaries (for some strange reason) that it doesn't feel especially alien. Also the Doctor's behaviour at the end - where he euthanises Kamelion and apparently allows the Master to die in agony - is very un-Doctorish. Also the story itself is not all that interesting.

As a hormonal fifteen-year-old there was one thing and one thing only that I remembered about Terminus, but to my surprise it actually is a fairly good story as well. Tegan in particular has some good bits (and I don't mean her physical charms, though there is one moment when we cut from a view of her dramatically heaving cleavage to a shot up Nyssa's petticoat). The relationship between her and Turlough is nicely mirrored by that between the Doctor and Liza Goddard's Kari. Peter Benson's mad knight Bor is pleasantly reminiscent of Don Quixote. The plot doesn't make an awful lot of sense, but it is always watchable and sometimes compelling apart from two fairly huge flaws: the Turlough / Black Guardian relationship is now very silly indeed, and so is the Garm - not even trying very hard to look convincing.

Fandom seems to be generally fond of The Awakening; it didn't really grab me. Tegan's relatives have worse luck with alien invaders than those of any other companion pre-Rose. I found the Malus utterly unconvincing, and as so often its means and motivation made little sense. I did like Polly James as Jane though.

So, my verdict: Terminus definitely one to look out for, The King's Demons definitely one to avoid, the other two OK but not spectacular.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
tanngrisnir
Jun. 14th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
The King's Demons is the worst Fifth Doctor story I have seen so far.

Does that mean you haven't yet seen Warriors of the Deep? OK, it's a close call...
nwhyte
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, I haven't been rushing to see that one, but must get to it eventually...
davesangel
Jun. 14th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
I didn't think The Awakening was all that good either, so I am surprised that so many people hold it in such high regard...

we lose two of the more useless companions in the show's history (Kamelion and Turlough - and in fairness the latter gets one of his better stories here), and gain one of the better ones of the late period (Peri).

Ooh that's a bit harsh on Turlough! :P I always thought he was a pretty good companion, and certainly had a more interesting backstory than most of them.

I totally agree regarding Peri, though - particularly in this story and then in Caves of Androzani. It's a pity that this didn't continue in later stories, when she wasn't given much to do or wasn't written particularly strongly - as Planet of Fire showed, she was definitely an excellent companion.
inuitmonster
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
The whole thing with Kamelion was funny... they brought him in in one story, and then he pretty much never appeared again until the story he was killed off in. It was almost like they were making things up as they went along, and thought "Wow, a shape changing robot, cool!" and kept him on as a companion, without thinking what to do with him.
iainjcoleman
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
It's more that the technology didn't work as advertised.
inuitmonster
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
do you mean the special effects, or are you talking in fictional terms?
londonkds
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
The special effects. It took a ridiculously long time to program the prop to do anything, and it didn't help when the guy who built him and really knew how to work him died in a speedboat crash.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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