Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday

The new season of The Apprentice made some big changes
"You know, I come here from time to time myself and nothing on earth changes quite so often as the fashion! You wouldn't believe the way some people look!"

After a opening shot that is a rather blatant attempt to ape Star Wars, the larger than necessary Team TARDIS find themselves on a massive spaceship controlled by a humanoid frog, who has collected a large assortment of cultural stereotypes. Like most aliens on this show, he wants to TAKE OVER ZE VORLD!!!! At least he would, if he ever actually got there.

'Four to Doomsday' in an alien invasion story that never actually gets around to the invasion. A more accurate title would be 'Four Very Long Days to Doomsday'. Hardly anything happens at all. Almost an entire episode is wasted on the Doctor and Tegan watching the various cultural stereotypes put on a very dull cultural festival. At the same time Adric and Nyssa wander aimlessly around Monarch's rather bland looking ship learning that the various cultural stereotypes are actually all androids, a reveal that is dragged out far longer than it needs to be.

Peter Davison might have believed that Nyssa was the companion best suited to his Doctor, but I've always believed that Tegan complimented him best. Her Aussie sarcasm provided a nice contrast to his thoroughly English optimism. That said, her over the top hysterics in episode three really drives me up the wall. I know Tegan is new to all of this and an unwilling companion in the Doctor's travels, but the way she completely loses her cool, goes running back to the TARDIS and tries to fly it while crying her eyes out just feels out of character. I know it is early days and they probably don't have the character all worked out yet, but it really makes no sense for her to react this way when only two stories ago she faced the death of her aunt, being abducted by an alien and the possible destruction of the entire universe.

It’s a great story for Adric haters. The petulant maths wiz has never been more detestable than he is here. First he shows how sexist he is by dismissing women as "mindless, impatient and bossy" (which somehow doesn't end with Nyssa and Tegan beating him to a pulp with that maths book) then, for the umpteenth time, betrays the Doctor and his ‘friends’ to the first alien invader he encounters. Tegan finally does what everyone else has been longing to do for a long time and wallops him. Even the Doctor gets in on the action by giving the treacherous little twerp a right telling off (“Listen to me, you young idiot”). Bizarrely, he’s forgiven by the end of the story rather than kicked out of the TARDIS.

Namedropper Alert

The Doctor was a friend of Francis Drake, was at Heathrow when they were rebuilding Terminal 3, and once took five wickets for New South Wales.

Notes and Quotes

--There’s Burt Kwouk, OBE, in a supporting role as one of androids in Monarch's stereotype collection.

--The Doctor tells Tegan that no one on Earth will believe them about Monarch's invasion. What about UNIT, Doctor?

--Someone should've told the Doctor that hyperventilating is not the best way to preserve his oxygen.

--Those helmets look absolutely ridiculous.

--This story establishes that Time Lords can survive in a vacuum for a limited time in what has to be one of the silliest scenes in Doctor Who history.

--Seems Tegan is quite the speedy artist.

--The TARDIS doesn't seem able to translate ancient Aboriginal.

The Doctor: (at the sphere) "Hello, you must be having a ball."
--What's with the dad jokes, Doctor?

Monarch: "Conformity is the only freedom."

Monarch: "And this is Persuasion."
The Doctor: "Friendly, I hope."

Monarch : "Is this one of your drop-in times, Doctor? Your visits to Earth?"
The Doctor: "Yes, I promised to put Tegan on her plane."
Monarch: "Her astral plane?"
The Doctor: Yes, in a sense. They go from Heathrow Airport."
Monarch: "This is not Heathrow Airport."

Two out of four cultural stereotypes.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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