C044 The Dominators


Browse the WBW Podcast

Browse Classic Who reviews

 

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)
Ronald Allen (The Dominators // Ambassadors of Death)

Philip Voss (Marco Polo)
Philip Voss (The Dominators // Marco Polo)

Brian Cant (Daleks' Master Plan)
Brian Cant (The Dominators // Daleks’ Master Plan)

Malcolm Terris (The Horns of Nimon)
Malcolm Terris (The Dominators // The Horns of Nimon)

4 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

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>