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Oct 06, 2006

Scarlioni's Angle

City of Death Part 3

Finally, in this episode you find out what Scarlioni is up to and why he is seemingly able to be in two places at the same time, nearly five hundred years apart. He also reveals himself to be a Jagaroth, but not just any old Jagaroth but the last of them. That’s it I’m afraid, the last of a proud race now living in pieces all over time.

It took a while to get there but now it all starts to make sense. Not that it really matters as the story is so enjoyable you wouldn’t mind if it took several more episodes to get to the crux of the matter. Well I wouldn’t anyway. Tom Baker is just being his usual self as the Doctor and Julian Glover is continuing to play the Count with a great deal of dignity, when many lesser actors would just resort to playing it completely over the top.

Like the rest of the episodes this one contains plenty of great, very quotable dialogue, more than the entire Sylvester McCoy era put together (which isn’t difficult let’s face it).

Lalla Ward gets quite a bit to do in this episode being very Doctorish with Duggan as her clueless companion. Duggan gets to do what he is best at in this episode also (i.e smashing and breaking things).

As Kerensky gets to hear of the Count’s real plans he finally works out that he is not interested in ridding the world of famine after all, he defies him. Cue cliffhanger with rather a funny death scene by David Graham.

There really isn’t much else you can say about the third episode as they aren’t particulary interesting on their own, but suffice to say that the third episode of City of Death has plenty of great lines, in fact the majority of the lines in this story are quoteable and virtually all of them work out of context as well as within the story itself.

City of Death Part 4

Sadly we come to the end of the story now, which is a great shame as I have throughoughly enjoyed watching it back. It is difficult to put one’s finger on what it exactly is that makes this story work because it is pretty much a triumph in virtually every way: the direction in particular, especially in the location shooting in Paris, is excellent and looks very much like a feature film quite unlike a lot of other episodes of that era; the script is simply sublime, chock full of one liners and very, very funny lines.

It may not be atypical Doctor Who at times but as it so enjoyable and just so much fun you can forgive it, you can even forgive the fact that for about three episodes very little happens.

For a quite a few fans City of Death is usually in their top 5 Doctor Who stories of all time, more usually than not in the top two. Indeed it is my favourite story of all time, this may be the fact that I am also a fan of the works of Douglas Adams, but it is mainly because it is such a good story. Douglas may have written the script, but the majority of the ideas came from David Fisher. However it was Douglas who made the story what it was. I am sure had it been written by David Fisher that it may not have been anywhere near as good.

There are lots of interesting ideas present in here. The idea that a person can be splintered throughout time and live independent lives is quite an interesting sci-fi concept and then, of course, there is the major plot point that if the villain wins the day then the human race would never have been. These are both very science-fiction and although they are the most important aspects of the plot they are often placed into the background pretty much until the final two episodes, mainly the final episode if you are honest!, for a lot of pretty Paris travelogue and people stealing the Mona Lisa.

I guess that one aspect of the plot that doesn’t really make sense in the final part is the whole relationship between the Count and his Wife. I mean how did she not realise that he was not human and that he really was a spaghetti Bolognese headed alien. I guess they never actually enjoyed conjugals during their marriage.

I am digging a bit too deep on this point as it doesn’t really matter, you just sort of accept that they were married and that he was such a good master of disguise that she was never made aware of the fact that he wasn’t who she believed him to be. In this part, all the of the plot threads came together nicely and their was a satisfying ending with the universe being saved by a punch from Duggan to Scaroth’s nut.

There was even time for a lovely reverse zoom shot from the top of the Eiffel tower at the end of the story showing the lovely views you can get from the top of the tower. The French tourist board could probably have used this as a corporate video showing the sights of Paris!

It just wouldn’t have worked had it been filmed anywhere else. You can’t imagine a scene shot from the top of Blackpool tower having the same effect.

Finally, there is the cameo by John Cleese and Eleanor Bron. Virtually pointless, but a lovely little scene that is about some the major themes in the story, i.e the value of art. It didn’t need to be there, but you are glad that was.

Enough gushing now, let’s move on to Mark of the Rani. God help me!

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