Inferno Episode 7
I first saw this episode on the Pertwee Years VHS compilation back in 1991. I wasn't overly impressed: it came across as a pedestrian mad scientist romp with an anticlimactic denouement. But of course it's anticlimactic, how could they possibly top last week's stab at perfection? In short, this is the 'love conquerors all' cut of Inferno. This time we get the happy ending.
Greg is convinced there will be a blow and so he offers to take Petra to a Berni Inn, where he's just hoping there'll be one. It looks like these two can't keep their grubby little paws off each other, no matter what the political climate happens to be at the time. This is the main reason why I can just about cope with the positive afterglow of episode 7 after wallowing in nihilistic despair for the last three hours: the thought of Greg and Petra getting hitched just makes me want to smile. I can imagine them going on shopping expeditions to Biba, followed by romantic evenings down the Swiss, blissfully unaware that their alter-egos where burnt to a crisp in mid-fumble. I bet there's a Missing Adventure written in the 90s where they get a messy and unnecessary divorce before dying from the clap.
This is the 'love conquerors all' cut of Inferno...
The Doctor finally awakens from an extremely convenient expositional coma and delivers a wonderful monologue when he agonises over the "terrible, terrible things" happening to the planet he's just scarpered from. I'm not Jon Pertwee's biggest fan by a long chalk but even I have to doff my hat to the man - it's one of the most emotionally charged and touching moments I've seen in any era of the programme. Just beautiful.
And you can break out the champagne: Sir Keith ain't dead! I know, the Doctor can't quite believe it either; it appears that even fatal car accidents are more benign in this universe. Sir Keith's inexplicable existence also proves to the Doctor that instead of wallowing in self-pity and wondering how he'll spend his last few moments on earth with a huge nose, he can actually get off his arse and do something about it! Cue sirens and countdowns, lots of running around, pernicious use of flanges, more shambolic werewolves, and a strangely empty moment where Armageddon is narrowly averted. Just in time for tea and biscuits.
Even fatal car accidents are more benign in this universe.
There is one memorable moment, though. The haunting scene where Stahlman starts smearing green slime all over his face whilst squawking like a demented Stephen Hawking is delightfully disturbing. However, I can't help believing that If Inferno had been a tight 6-parter with zombies instead of werewolves it could have been the perfect story.
Poor Elizabeth Shaw. After enjoying a great subplot back in the deadly dimension of doom, here she's just a perfunctory cipher. Caroline John gives a decent enough performance as the feisty scientist throughout season 7 but it's difficult to shed any tears when she leaves. Fortunately, whether by accident or design I can't remember, the Doctor does at least get to say goodbye to her ("I shall miss you, my dear"). Poor Liz didn't even manage a trip in the TARDIS, although I like to believe that the Doctor popped back for her now and then. Probably in a Missing Adventure, just before she catches the clap.
I started this series of reviews with a declaration of love for Inferno. And for the first time in a very long time blogging hasn't tempered my affections. Sure, she's a little plump and occasionally rough around the edges - and I could certainly do without her hairy palms - but she's still got it, deep down where it counts. She's still got heart and soul.