Tuesday 12 June 2012

567 Four to Doomsday Part Four

EPISODE: Four to Doomsday Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 26 January 1982
WRITER: Terence Dudley
DIRECTOR: John Black
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 9.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday

Nyssa deactivates the robot executing the Doctor saving his life. The Doctor, Adric & Nyssa are taken to Monarch where the Doctor feigns co-operation. Nyssa is held hostage to insure his good behaviour and a recreational is organised. The Doctor convinces first Adric and the Lin Futu to help him. They rescue Bygon and recircuit him and then free Nyssa. The Doctor & Adric attempt to get the Doctor to the Tardis using borrowed space gear but they are interrupted by first Persuasion & the Enlightenment. Both ministers have their circuits thrown overboard but not before the Doctor is cut loose. He uses a cricket ball's momentum to propel him to the Tardis which he brings back to the ship. Monarch deactivates the ship's life support forcing them to use the breathing gear again. The Doctor takes Monarch's poison to the Tardis but Monarch intercepts them. The Doctor throws the poison at Monarch which kills him: he was still organic. The Tardis crew take their leave of Bygon and the android copies, but once they are in the Tardis Nyssa collapses.

The recreational stuff is wearing a bit thin by this stage in the story but at least it proves useful to the plot with the dragon dancers providing the cover needed to abduct Bygon from the hall. Monarch's demise might seem a little contrived, suddenly he's flesh when they've made him out to be an android for the last few episodes. But it is hinted at: who else is eating the food and why else does he have the ship restore the atmosphere? However the Doctor does seem a little quick to be removing his helmet afterwards.

Putting my cricket buff hat on I am forced to explore one of the Doctor's claims in this episode: the claim that he once took 5 wickets for New South Wales bowling Chinamen. Fine in itself. But later this episode when he throws the ball he does it right handed, and 3 stories later we'll see him having a bowl and he definitely bowls right handed there. Is the Doctor ambidextrous or has he changed which hand he uses between regenerations?

So how's the serial as a whole? Well it's a little bit of an oddity. Stratford Johns makes Monarch into a decent villain and Persuasion & Enlightenment are suitably slimy henchmen. Enlightenment is perhaps a little underused and Persuasion spends most of this episode coming into Monarch's chamber ad getting sent out again. But while the threat to the Tardis crew is there, the overall menace to Earth seems remote and the recreationals get a bit repetitive after a while.

Four to Doomsday was novelised in 1983 by Terrence Dicks. It was released on video in 2001 and on DVD in 2008.

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