Doctor Who: The Dominators

“Shall we destroy? Shall we destroy?”

One of the great tragedies of Doctor Who is the loss of so many episodes from the show’s monochrome days. This was all due to the BBC’s insane junking policy during the 1970s. The cheap gits wouldn’t fork out for new tapes so they just recorded over all the old ones in the archive.

Patrick Troughton fans certainly suffered the most because of this. To date only six Second Doctor stories still exist in their entirety. Eleven are incomplete and four are completely lost, unlikely to ever be recovered. Season six (Troughton’s last as the Doctor) is the only season he did that remains more or less intact, featuring only two incomplete stories. ‘The Dominators’ was the opening story of that season.

And by Rassillon’s beard, is it dull.

I’ve seen Doctor Who at its absolute best, its unforgivable worst and everything else in-between but even all that wasn’t enough to prepare me for how relentlessly boring ‘The Dominators’ is. How something as lacklustre as this can have managed to survive unscathed, while so many great stories are lost in limbo, is surely definitive proof that the Almighty must’ve preferred The Tomorrow People (to be fair, it did have one awesome title sequence).

Everything about 'The Dominators' is dull. The bad guys, the Dominators themselves, are dull. The Quarks, their robotic sidekicks and one of the last major attempts to duplicate the massive success of Dalekmania, are dull and somewhat rubbish. The spineless pacifists they’re picking on, the appropriately named Dulcians, are dull, not to mention annoying as they waste five episodes bickering over whether to surrender now or debate further. The costumes and the sets are drab and uninspiring while the plot moves along at the pace of a geriatric snail stuck in line at the Post Office.

One thing ‘The Dominators’ does have in its favour is the magic trio of Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury. I know a lot of people think two companions is too many and that the show works best with just a single companion but I disagree. I love Tardis trios. Its not the quantity of companions that matters but the quality of companions. Right now we have a fantastic team in Matt, Karen and Arthur. Just as we had a fantastic, if short lived, team in Chris, Billie and John. As well as Tom, Lis and Ian. But the best of the bunch is still Pat, Frazer and Wendy. By this point the Second Doctor and Jamie were an indispensable double-act, each perfectly in-synch with the other. The addition of Zoe, a smug and utterly adorable smarty pants, was just the icing on the cake.

Notes and Quotes

--This story was originally supposed to be a six-parter but was heavily rewritten by then script-editor Derrick Sherwin and reduced to five episodes.

--The Dominators possess the most epic shoulder pads in existence. I bet Lady Gaga would love to get hold of a pair of them for her next tour.

--Writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln weren’t happy with Sherwin’s rewrites, nor the BBC’s plans to merchandise the Quarks. In response they had their names taken off and the pseudonym ‘Norman Ashby’ was used instead.

--Johnson Bayly (Educator Balan) keeps pronouncing 'robots' likes he's trying to say 'row boats.'

--Zoe's Dulcian clothing leaves very little to the imagination. Proof that Doctor Who was sexed up long before Steven Moffat came along.

--Apparently the Quarks were operated from inside by three small boys. The BBC was notorious for its use of child labour back then.

Toba: "Primitive architecture."
Rago: "Every culture develops, Probationer Toba, never base an assumption on the past, examine the present."

Toba: "We’re meant to be obeyed!"
Jamie: "Not by me you’re not."

The Doctor: "An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie."
Jamie: "Eh?"
The Doctor: "Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?"
Jamie: "Oh, aye, it's eas..."

The Doctor: “What would they want Dulcians as slaves for, they've got the Quarks?"
Jamie: “Aye, nasty little beasties.”

Cully: “She can't be a Dulcian - she has an enquiring mind.”

Jamie: "Oh, no, you're not thinking of what I think you're thinking of, are you?"
The Doctor: "That, I think, Jamie, depends upon what you think I am thinking!"

One and a half epic shoulder pads out of four.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Woo hoo! Our first classic Doctor Who review! I enjoyed reading this one, Mark, and I'm looking forward to more.

Paul Kelly said...

The novelization of The Dominators was better than the serial itself. Mind you, I was barely more than a foetus when I read it. At that age, I dare say I thought The Hardy Boys was top literature. Sadly, TV dates. But your imagination never does.

Nice review, Mark. I have only a vague recollection of the Troughton era. Worzel/Tom/Peter are more vivid in my memory. And with the wiping policy of the 70s' I doubt I'll get to see much of what I've missed. Bummer.

Mark said...

Mark (the reviewer, not me): You might like what's on the BBC site.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide

Lots of notes about all the old episodes, including reviews. I'd suggest writing your review first, so you don't get influenced by anything you read there.

You are defintely not alone:
A study in sadism, The Dominators is also very dull.
At the bottom of the review, it does mention:
Fortunately, better was to come as the season progressed.