Friday 30 March 2012

494 The Androids of Tara Part Three

EPISODE: The Androids of Tara Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 09 December 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

Strella is revealed to be an android, which the Doctor believes had been sent to kill the king. Grendel makes accusations that there may be more androids present and the rest of the ceremony is postponed. Lamia enquires of Romana as to what her stone is but refuses to return it. Lamia is ordered to prepare another android as the Doctor works to repair the Prince's android. K-9 reports he has detected Romana in Castle Gracht. A message is sent to the Doctor from Madam Lamia bargaining Romana's safety for safe passage for the Count. The Count sends an android copy of Romana to kill the Doctor, but while being copied Romana steals a tool from Madam Lamia. The Doctor & K-9 go to the arranged meeting place, Pavilion of the Summer Winds, as Romana frees herself and escapes. The Doctor meets Lamia, who brings "Romana" in but K-9 detects the android and destroys it. Lamia flees the scene but is accidentally killed by the Count's guards who open fire on the Pavilion. K-9 blasts a hole in the back allowing them to escape and meet Romana. They meet Farah, Zarak & the Android Prince at the hunting lodge where Romana tells them the the Count is holding the real Prince. Grendel comes to see them under a truce, but destroys the android prince and escapes, seizing Romana!

Escape & recapture. Hmmm, seemingly the only reason for Romana to escape is to convey the information that Grendel is holding the real Prince..... Hmmmm, didn't the Doctor and co all but know that anyway? Apart from destroying the Prince's android the plot doesn't advance much in this episode but it's all done so well. I remember the laser crossbows the guards were using as well as the electrically charged swords: the story's marriage of a medieval society with high technology worked well for me at the time and I still like it today.

Guest starring as Count Grendel of Gracht is Peter Jeffrey, formerly the Pilot in The Macra Terror. By this point he's a famous name: I caught him on TV over Christmas in the Yes Minister Christmas Special Party Games as Eric, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who leads "an active life away from the House of Commons". Simon Lack, playing Swordsmaster Zadek, was Professor Kettering in The Mind of Evil. Count Grendel's gateman/servant Till is played by Declan Mulholland, previously Clark in The Sea Devils. Declan Mulholland is best known for not appearing on screen as Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars: his role in the film was cut. The character was later shown in a completely different form in Return of the Jedi, so when the footage featuring Mullholland was reinstated into The Star Wars Special Edition, Mullholland found himself replaced by a computer generated effect. However the footage showing him has been shown in several making of features over the years! Returning for a fourth & final Doctor Who appearance is Cyril Shaps as the Archimandrite. Hos previous roles were in The Tomb of the Cybermen as John Viner,
The Ambassadors of Death as Dr. Lennox & Planet of the Spiders as Prof. Herbert Clegg. I think this his only appearance in the series where his character survives the story! There again Michael Sheard appears in the show six times and his character always gets it!

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