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Oct 03, 2006

Freedom from Tedium

The funny thing about this is how much more tedious these epics feel when viewed spaced out, as opposed to my usual method of watching them omnibus stylee usually with a bottle of something strong to dull the pain.

Episodes 5 & 6

Whoop-de-fucking-doo. A mad computer. That staple of poor sci-fi: what would you do if your Dell started humming Satie and plotting with your microwave? BOSS is an improvement on the standard fare, not speaking in a dreary monotone and being able to hold a decent conversation. It’s just a pity all his complex circuitry is undermined by a simple paradox that wouldn’t flummox a Texas calculator. The answer is clearly – “you’re talking unadulterated dingoes’ kidneys you pompous twat”.

Often described as UNIT’s last grasp of greatness, it is certainly noticeable where Lethbridge-Stewart finally loses his tenuous grip on credibility. He manages to be hypnotised by accident with such a gormless expression on his face it only serves to highlight the affronted-llama pose a few seconds before. Where all indignation sensors should be focused on the pretty blue plot device, you can’t help but cringe at this tubby soldier.

Thank Dicks it’s the final episode.

While the Doctor tries to exert a brain-cell to find a cure, I can only worry about that pupated maggot. What has it turned into? It sounds as if the production team has set themselves quite a task, and if you can’t realize an idea well and it isn’t vital then don’t bother. Nobody would have felt cheated if no mention had been made of the monstrosity, just another chapter to the big book of early 70s CSO catastrophes would have been spared of us.

When the BOSS dies, it makes the episode make some kind of sense. With the zany colour scheme and the sine waves across the screen, it looks very 70s, but the best the 70s had to offer. Unsurprisingly, 70s telly does semi-hallucinogenic very well indeed. While not screaming out for sympathy, it is a poignant moment when Stevens condemns himself, and his friend, to death, crying just a little bit.

I do love this era. Despite the long drawn out plots, the awful CSO, the pompous Doctor, the poor characterization, the tedious Earthbound constraints and everything else that can be thrown at it. It’s still fun and cheesy; it just takes a little patience which gets rewarded with occasional moments of beauty,

Thanks to amazing Welsh healing powers, Jones is back on his feet in no time and they can start production on “Jo and Jones on their Quest for the Fantastic Fungus”. What a great spin-off that would have been. It could have featured all the beloved Nut-Hutch crew with guest appearances by different Amazonian tribes. We might eventually get to find out what it was the Metabilan sapphire cursed.

The final scene is rightfully remembered as one of the triumphs of Doctor Who. It’s subtle, under-played, layered and heart-rending. The absolute apposite of today’s style in three of those respects. It deals perfectly with the complex relationships, (Jones treating the Doctor like the father of the bride, Yates’ heartbreak) and it’s a credit to Jon Pertwee that he packs such a lot of emotion into such little dialogue. The final image is perfect – a glint of light but an otherwise solitary figure fading away with a subdued buzz. If you don't mind, I've got something in my eye...


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