Saturday, 15 August 2009

Doctor Who: Underworld

Part One

“The quest is the quest.”

After The Invisible Enemy I can’t say I’m particularly enthused to see another script by the Bristol Boys so soon. And the reputation this story has makes me worry it might be something of an ideal. Still, the Marathon goes on, and this is one of only two stories I’ve never seen. The quest is the quest. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

We begin in the TARDIS, where the Doctor is dressed rather oddly and seems to have splashed out on a big widescreen scanner.

The TARDIS has arrived at the edge of the universe, where we see a new spiral nebula forming. And we see some guest characters in a spaceship, it’s a relief to see that, unlike with other recent space operas, the sets and costumes are at least competently designed. Unfortunately, Jackson and his underlings may be competently acted but they’re also extremely dull.

A few minutes in things threaten to become interesting, though. These people are from Minyos, a planet destroyed 100,000 years ago, and they describe the overheard TARDIS dematerialisation sound as sounding like “the time ships of the gods”. It seems the Time lords meddled in their affairs with dire results, and this is the reason for their policy of non-intervention. Oh, and the Minyans can regenerate seemingly without limit (thousands of times, at least) and get to keep their original bodies. Why can’t the Time Lords do this then?
This is all very Ulysses 31 (“The gods use us for their sport”). Oh, and there’s a ship, on a quest, led by a bloke called Jackson. I’m sure there’s a Greek myth that reminds me of- Ah! They’re really old and tired of life but have to keep on living until they fulfill their quest. That’ll be the myth of Sisyphus then.

Annoyingly, though, just as they did last time, Baker and Martin are writing Leela as stupid and a target for other characters’ mockery. I really don’t like this.

Part Two

“Whatever blows can be sucked(!).”

The Doctor, Leela and the Argonauts are about to crash into a planet- and at no point is it mentioned that stepping into the TARDIS might be a good idea, what with the whole avoiding certain death thing. Oddly enough though, the blatantly CSO’d caverns bother me mainly because of how dull they look- they may look very unconvincing in out-of-context clips but in fact I got used to them very quickly.

Unfortunately this is all very dull- some dull baddies and some dull slaves. Yawn. I love the way Jackson’s lot decide to split the party. Reminds me of some D&D sessions.

Part Three

“It’s not my plan exactly but it has worked before.”

Oh dear. After a very long reprise things continue to be very dull. There’s one fun Bristol Boys idea (no gravity at the centre of the planet), and a pleasingly bizarre means of execution worthy of Heath Robinson himself, although the fire seems to be taking an awfully long time to burn through the rope. Otherwise, there’s little to comment on.

Part Four

“You’re just another machine with megalomania.”

Sadly, things fail to get any better at the end. The drama stops dead and the story treads water for ages before we realise the cylinders have been switched, and even the script admits that the “Oracle” is just a less interesting version of Xoanon of off of of Face of Evil. And you can’t understand a thing it says.

At long last- a story that was even worse than The Underwater Menace. Rock bottom- surely everything to come is bound to be better than this? 1/5.

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