C044 The Dominators


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It’s Dresses vs Shoulder Pads in this (possibly) entertaining clash of the dress codes.



Doc and Jay-Z (that’s Jamie and Zoe) go to the planet Dulkis where the shoulder-pad-rocking, guess-if-they’re-good-guys Dominators have just arrived to enslave the indigenous, sweet and good-natured, unisex-dress-sporting Dulcians, and blow up their planet in order to turn it into radioactive fuel.

Furthermore, the Dulcians never fight, except when they do, and are ideologically primed to believe in aliens, except when they’re not.

And Doc & Co’s challenge is further compounded by the Dominators unleashing their precisely 8-16 Quarks, an unstoppable army of robots that can only be destroyed by literally any means at ones disposal, however rudimentary and seemingly inefficient, including rope.

All in all, this 5-episode Troughton serial is full of plot holes, riddled with overacting and, as far as 50% of us are concerned, tremendously entertaining. Listen to our divisive review now!

 

 

Check out these Doctor Who Connections, as some of the actors have appeared in other episodes of Doctor Who:

Ronald Allen (Ambassadors of Death)
Philip Voss (Marco Polo)
Brian Cant (Daleks' Master Plan)
Malcolm Terris (The Horns of Nimon)

And here’s the novel jD mentioned:

 

5 Responses to “C044 The Dominators”

  1. Peter Zunitch

    Hi guys, future me here. Just wanted to say that I submitted my review for this about three weeks ago, about the same day you released the last podcast. To be fair though, when I hit “submit” on the website I may not have categorized it as “mini-review”, so it might be my all my fault. Anyway, here’s my review again in case anyone is interested. Sorry I missed the show. (BTW the Mind Robber is already in as well, let me know if you can’t find it). Cheers!

    I had trouble finding a nice re-touched version of this story. I wish the version I watched had been of a higher quality. Still it was better than the VHS I had previously. I’m still seeing details I never saw before.
    When I was young the Dominators confused me for some reason. Upon 2nd watching (about 10 years ago) I was bored out of my mind. This time I simply found myself enjoying it for what it is. It’s a little adventure set in a well-defined world with some decent characters and rather agreeable production. My thoughts were generally positive, but at the end of the day this serial is good, but not great.
    Arguably the first item worth noting is the wardrobe. The costuming is…well…creative (and let’s leave it at that). I haven’t seen shoulder pads that big since the 90’s! And the women, women wear similar outfits on modern day earth…at the pool. As for the rest of the costumes, someone was really in love with ruffled window drapes.
    Next are the characters. Already we see the amazing trio of Troughton, Hines and Padbury at work. They are phenomenal out of the gate and will only get better as time goes on. They all have at least one moment where they shine, though Zoe admittedly gets less of the action. The Dulcians are extreme pacifists. Extreme anything irks me a little but I like the way they were done here. They were so comfortable that they became stagnant. The Dominators remind me of classic Trek Romulans in both appearance and characterization, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. I like the Quarks but just imagine what they would be like if used in a modern episode (hopefully they’d float). In fact this whole story would make a brilliant modern day Dr who serial. Let’s bring back the Dominators as characters minus the shoulder pads.

    The story itself is simple yet multifaceted and there’s so much to explore. It starts so small in scale until the end when we learn the entire planet is at stake. However because of the visits to the citadel and the mentions of the war fleet there is always a feeling that what happens here will have epic consequences.
    The technology used in this story, from the rocket transports to the atomic storage engines adds enough other-worldliness to make the story intriguing and the sets are quite gorgeous. The issues are minor and with one exception never get in the way of the story. Even as a teen, a question I’ve always wondered about the Dominators is, “why do they need to clear such a large area for such small drilling holes”? I would retro-rewite this and add one single sentence explaining this issue. More likely though I would just put some budget into the props and make the drilling rigs bigger.
    The Dominators was not by any means a thrill a minute, but it was a solid and enjoyable watch. The multi-faceted world created through extensive backstory and the splashes of personal conflict used to diverge from the main story make this an episode worth revisiting once in a while. Thus this story gets a, “Command accepted” 2.9

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @TrentonBless

    Hello once again, podcast land! Today I’ve returned for another review! Today’s serial is “The Dominators”. I’m trying out a new format where I mix in facts with the review, just to keep things on the short side. So, without further ado, let’s begin! And I thought I wouldn’t get to this review.

    Backstage unrest can either bring out the best in a production crew by stimulating its creative juices, or be manifested on screen with merciless clarity. The opening two stories of season six provide textbook examples of these scenarios – and it’s apparent in seconds which is which.

    Originally slated as a six-parter, The Dominators was, incredibly, the work of Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, whose brace of Yeti yarns is such a focal point of the classic canon. But the pair submitted their screenplay late and script editor Derrick Sherwin rewrote it heavily, reducing the adventure by an entire episode. Unhappy with the result, the writers donned pseudonymous camouflage, and resentment simmered for some time afterwards.

    Welcome, then, to the world of bullies versus weeds… Dennis the Menace v Walter the Softy, if you will. A comment on the hippie movement of the time, The Dominators, according to Haisman, examined “what happens to a completely submissive society… when it is suddenly overrun”. A diverting idea, certainly, but not a new one (The Daleks). Neither is the plan of drilling into a planet’s core (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), nor the concept of a space museum (The, ahem, Space Museum).

    In just one small example of the laxity on display, the woolly phrase “sort of” can be heard five times in less than 20 seconds. That could be down to actorly improvisation, of course. In which case director Morris Barry should have stepped in – as he should when Johnson Bayly repeatedly mispronounced robots as “roe-berts”. Stop it! The cliffhangers are hopeless, too, the worst being the Quarks’ destruction of the museum, with any anxiety about the fate of Jamie and Cully doused by clearly seeing the pair flee the area beforehand!

    It’s hard to root for anyone among the black-and-white protagonists. The scowling, bickering Dominators are one-note, while the Dulcians (surely Dulkian is the correct derivative of Dulkis? Then again, maybe Dullard does the job just as well) are mostly cringing simpletons. Arthur Cox does his best with the more spirited Cully but…

    Such a lack of audience identification makes watching the serial a terrible trudge, and the characters aren’t helped by their costumes. The floaty dress worn by male and female Dulcian may suggest the necessary combination of apathy and hedonism, but just looks daft. I pity poor Wendy Padbury for having been made to go native. The Dominators fare no better, either; Rago and Toba look like the unfortunate love-children of a piñata donkey and the Thames Barrier.

    Happily there are a few saving graces. One is the Quarks, whose foldaway arms and mace-heads were nice pieces of draughtsmanship. But any intention to create a worthy successor to the mighty Dalek was scuppered by the Quarks’ barely comprehensible baby-on-helium voices. Then you got model work that was decent enough.

    There are some magnificent examples of on-location pyrotechnics, too, the best of the bunch being the obliteration of Cully’s craft in episode one. Very satisfying. As is the stirring sight of Jamie once again taking the game to the opposition. He’s right up there in the shortlist of best companions, no question.

    But this is grasping at straws. Centering an entire plot on a boring operation says it all, really. It’s tempting to say: “Move along – there’s nothing to see here.” But given the behind-the-scenes turmoil, perhaps we should be grateful it ever made transmission at all. So, maybe a 2.58/5 is an alright rating. I would agree with Mervyn Haisman when he said there are so many Doctor Who serials missing, and yet with this one we have the “whole damn lot!” But, at the same time, the model work was pretty good. That’s maybe the only great thing about this serial. And the Quarks, of course. The Quarks look kindof cool.

    Next time, a quick escape from Dulkis turns into a nightmare as the TARDIS crew ends up in massive jam as they take on a crazy computer and a ton of fictional characters, oh and the TARDIS sort of explodes. You guessed it, it’s The Mind Robber! And, I’m very sure it’s way better than this.

    I want to thank my local library for providing a copy of this serial on DVD to review. Without them, this review wouldn’t be possible. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Stephen | @sgamer82

    You know, it’s actually kind of refreshing to see the belligerent military commander on the other side for once. That seemed to be the dynamic in this serial as the villain commander kept having to stop his subordinate from stroking his hard-on for destruction.

    That’s one of the things I remember most from the last time I saw The Dominators. This time I didn’t have a chance to re-watch in full so I’ll be working off memory more than I’d like.

    The other thing I remember was the near incomprehensibility of the Quarks. I think this is when I realized how much a feature that was to the black and white run of Doctor Who, if not for Troughton in particular.

    Instead of belligerent commanders, we have a people who are too peaceful and indecisive for their own good that, unlike the Thals, I don’t recall learning how to fight when they need to. Not outside the individuals with the Troupe at least.

    My favorite scene is perhaps Zoe counting off the time on the Doctor’s demonstration bomb while the Doctor himself is too busy explaining it. Followed closely by “We happen to be ON the island” and the Doctor’s fooling the Dominators into thinking he’s an idiot.

    Allowing for lapses in memory since it’s been a while, I’m going to give The Dominators a 3.5. I didn’t think it was great, but I also don’t recall anything bothering me so much I remember it all this time later.

    Reply
  4. I consider this a skippable serial. It is very hard to take villains wearing life-vests and bickering like an old married couple very seriously. The Doctor is great, as usual. It showcases his ingenuity, but doesn’t really do much for the other characters. The only thing memorable about Zoe in this is her outfit and about Jaime is his throwing of rocks. I also wonder if the Dulcians respond so well to Jaime’s actions because he also wears a dress. I gave The Wheel in Space a 2.1, so I definitely can’t go over a 2. And I gave the Abominable Snowmen a 1.0 and I’d put this around there except it is easier to watch cause it is still intact. The Dominators: 1.2

    Reply
  5. Paul Fauber @wordsmithpaul

    A spaceship landed on a radioactive island on the pacifist planet Dulkis to suck up radiation and survey the area. Cully brought young Dulcians there for an illicit adventure, but didn’t detect the expected radiation. He couldn’t persuade his customers to stay on the ship and followed them outside, where they died, but not from radiation. Robots murdered them and Cully fled. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrived for a holiday vacation as the robots, Quarks, destroyed Cully’s ship. Exploring, the TARDIS trio found a war museum displaying horrors, and radiation in particular. A Dulcian survey team found them, and after superfluous decontamination, Cully arrived to tell his story, which included Dominators discussing destroying the TARDIS. The Doctor and Jamie hurried to investigate despite the survey team doubting Cully. They found the TARDIS perfectly safe; survey markings; and footprints leading to Probationer Dominator Toba, a Quark, and possible destruction.

    Lead Dominator, Rago ordered the Doctor and Jamie brought to the Dominators’ spaceship as Zoe and Cully went to the Captitol on the Dulcian mainland. Cully interrupted a discussion to tell his story. Despite Zoe’s support he wasn’t believed again. Dulcian leader privately told Cully his activities were known but tolerated since they were harmless. Cully decided to return to the island with Zoe, whom he wrongly felt needed native clothes. The Dominators, meanwhile, examined Jamie and tested the Doctor, who played dumb to be underestimated. They followed Zoe and Cully to the Capitol after being released while the Dominators tested the survey team. Zoe and Cully returned to the survey unit before Toba ordered it destroyed.

    They escaped to be captured and put to work with Dulcians clearing a drilling site. At the Capitol, the Doctor and Jamie urged the Dulcian Council to act, but only persuaded them to contact the survey unit. There they all saw a Quark, which prompted the Doctor and Jamie to return to the island. When Jamie pointed out they would arrive at survey unit, where the Quark waited, the Doctor climbed into the nose of the travel capsule to crash land it elsewhere. Back at the Capitol, the councils’ emergency expert analyzed the Dulceans’ options: They could fight, but universally rejected that choice. They could submit, but did not know to what. Finally, they could flee, but did not have any idea where to go. So, to avoid doing the wrong thing, the Dulceans decided to do nothing. The Doctor and Jamie discovered the Dulcian work party, which Cully and Zoe planned to save using a laser gun from the war museum. Jamie stopped Cully as he aimed the weapon to shoot both Quark guards. The Dominators found the Doctor who was marched to their ship with the work party after Cully’s absence was discovered. When Jamie and Cully destroyed one Quark, the others attacked the war museum.

    Rago chewed out Toba over his needless trigger happiness, reminding him Quarks’ power was low and destroying everyone in sight would deplete both the potential labor force and the killer robots’ precious energy. Then, he left his subordinate in charge while heading for the Capitol. The Doctor persuaded Rago to travel in the capsule he’d crashed so he and Zoe could investigate the Dominators’ spaceship. Rago interrupted a Dulcian council meeting to stress the need to obey Dominators by killing a council member.and announce Dulceans might serve as slave labor. Back on the island, Jamie and Cully were buried in a bomb shelter beneath rubble from the war museum near the drill site. Escaping suffocation, they destroyed a Quark, prompting Toba to remember Cully. The Quark’s destruction told the Doctor and Zoe Jamie was alive before they figured out the Dominators’ ship was nuclear powered. Toba demanded to know where Jamie and Cully were and began killing prisoners get answers. The Doctor would be next.

    Rago returned and ordered Toba to report on the operation’s progress and resume drilling. Toba and the Quarks brought the Doctor, Zoe, and the others to the central bore hole, where Jamie and Cully attacked a Quark and rescued them all. In the bomb shelter, the Doctor explained rockets would be fired into the planet’s thin crust at the four corners of a square before an atomic seed device would be dropped down the central shaft and detonated so that the resulting atomic volcano could fuel the Dominators’ fleet. At the same time, the Dulcians would all be wiped out since they had been found unsuitable for slave labor. The Doctor realized defusing the seed device would defeat the Dominators and save everyone. Jamie suggested tunneling to the bore hole and catching the seed device when the Dominators dropped it. To provide time to dig, the Doctor used a med kit to make bombs Jamie and Cully could use to attack Quarks. Cully was shot and suffered temporary paralysis as he and Jamie bought time for the digging. When the Dominators dropped the seed device, the Doctor caught it and discovered it was sealed. So, defusing it was impossible. The Doctor sent Jamie and Zoe to the TARDIS and the Dulcians to the Capitol while he ran to the Dominator’s ship and slipped the seed device aboard. Rago and Toba took off, saw the seed device rolling across the floor, and began arguing again as their ship blew up. Jamie and Zoe waited outside the TARDIS as the Doctor returned and explained the only thing to happen would be a volcano forming on the island, where Jamie pointed out they were standing. The trio fled into the TARDIS.

    Writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln penned both “The Abominable Snowmen” and “The Web of Fear” for DOCTOR WHO’s fifth season, but used the pen name Norman Ashby for this serial due to strong disagreements with Script Editor Derrick Sherwin, who trimmed their six episode serial back to five. The boxlike, robot Quarks proved, like the hulking, huggable Yeti, to be another unsuccessful replacement for Daleks as the Doctor’s primary, alien foe. They were hard to maneuver and Jamie toppled one by tying its legs together before holding it immobile by sitting on it. Actress Sheila Grant, who later appeared in the first episode of “Colony in Space,” provided the killer robots’ voices. Their masters, the Dominators looked better than they behaved with legs from which pseudo-feathers extended and shoulder pads so tall they flanked the tall actors’ ears. The trouble with the Masters of the Ten Galaxies was they argued constantly about destroying everything in sight. The Dulcians were a complete contrast. Instead of arguing, they conducted endless discussions which inevitably led to utter inaction and their costumes resembled curtains. Worse! Cully subjected Zoe to local garb, which let us see her legs, but still . . . . Patrick Troughton was doubled for all the location work in this serial, but used his sonic screwdriver as a cutting torch in one studio scene, explaining, “It’s a little more than a screwdriver.” Even with the Doctor helping pitting pacifistic Dulcians against warlike Dominators was problematic since it didn’t promote drama. Nevertheless, the serial’s antinuclear and antiwar themes were strong.

    Haisman lamented “The Dominators” was his and Lincoln’s only contribution to DOCTOR WHO remaining intact today. Neither of their Yeti stories remains complete, despite telesnaps and the original audio comprising the third episode of “Web of Fear” on DVD. The real tragedy of “The Dominators” is the writers disagreement with Sherwin prevented production of a third Yeti story set in the Scottish Highlands. It would have concluded the show’s sixth season and seen Jamie leave the TARDIS to lead his clan.

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