A highwayman helps Team TARDIS defeat pandemic-plotting dinosaurs and their disco robot
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Attempting to return grouchy companion Tegan to her job at Heathrow, The Doctor accidentally brings Team TARDIS to Heathrow… in 1666! And what fortune, for a trio of corpulent dinosaurs and their cosplaying android assassin are plotting planet-wide genocide in the vicinity.
As our intrepid friends wander across the pre-airport countryside, they are attacked by civilian hoodlums and paradoxically rescued by a debonair highwayman, and thus they are drawn into a swashbuckling mystery adventure with nothing less than the future of the human race at stake.
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It’s the Visitation or as it’s not at all known as:
Time Warrior 2: Terileptil boogaloo
Jokes aside I’ve always loved pseudo historicals. They are such a joy to watch, utilizing some of Doctor Who’s greatest features: time travel and creative sci-fi ideas. It’s a type of story that uses the shows premise to the fullest.
It is refreshing to see Teagan dealing with the effects of a previous story, something that seems like such a modern element of TV shows.
Adric solidifies his place amongst the most incompetent companions by spraining his ankle. No wonder the Doctor keeps him around ; Adric probably reminds him of his dear little Susan.
The supporting cast do a marvellous job and really sell the time period they’re in. The Terileptils both in terms of performance and effects are astonishing. The lip movement is amazing, something unmatched in classic who up to his point.
The sets are very good though I’m not surprised all of London burned down since most of it is made of hay and cardboard. The Doc has quite the track record of starting historical fires, first Rome now London. It seems like the Panama hat isn’t the only thing the fifth doctor stole from the first, Hmm!
Overall this story earns 4.5 meters of gimmicky string out of 5.
Steven from Canada
So after three stories mostly or entirely out in space(!), we finally have an earthbound story for Davison. It’s also Eric Saward’s first writing credit with it pretty much landing him the script editors job for most of this season (production order on this season does not match broadcast as this one was produced before Kinda and Castrovalva, and the next one was made after Kinda). It’s a very strong story in the normal vein of Doctor Who stories (unlike Kinda).
We spend a decent amount of time with our villains the Terileptils and yeah they come across quite good, except when they move in mid/long shots and then they kind of shovel about and yeah that final fight scene is a little disappointing. They also get gruesomely burnt to death and the show cuts back to them on several occasions to show the progress. That is sort of a trope that Saward has, keep an eye out for it.
The opening tardis scenes have a surprising level of continuity with the previous story, which is interesting and makes an interesting change to a show that often ignores the previous week. We also have the destruction of the sonic screwdriver! Thus this is its last appearance until the McGann movie. Companion wise, I feel the split is fairly even between the regulars and our 17th century highwayman companion of the week.
I feel this story is the strongest so far and feel justified giving it 4.2/5 grim reaper robots.
We join the TARDIS crew still failing to get-on. They join guest-ally Richard Mace, who is a bit eccentric, but the actor keeps it under control (a mere 2.2 on the Soldeed scale). He is another example of an ally having more content than the companions; maybe writers are more comfortable writing for their own creations, rather than writing for recurring characters that they may not have seen on-screen yet, so don’t know what’s out-of-character for them.
Based on Nyssa’s line “That Android could kill us 10 times over” and the dialogue given to Terileptil, the writer probably imagined his villains being somewhat more impressive than the clunky Ultra-Man and the waddling Iguana that the production team provided. Terileptil’s performance was hindered by the suit and only the jail scene in episode 3 gives us an idea of the presence he might have had.
Hey Doc, neither Adric nor Nyssa are Earthlings! I guess we all look the same to you don’t we you space-racist! Doc doesn’t like people playing with his toys either; after Adric short-hops the TARDIS (actually doing something useful), Doc treats him like he’d slept with his wife (I thought this was the nice Doctor).
Davison is starting to establish himself in the role, though is still channelling Hartnell for the cantankerousness. He’s gelling with 1 of his companions, but I’m not surprised from seeing this that one of them is going soon.
Enjoyable pseudo-historical, good ally and good villains (in concept if not execution)
Having rewatched it, obviously the Doc is talking about Tegan, not Adric or Nyssa.
It’s ludicrous to suggest, even tongue-in-cheek that Doc is a racist (Space or otherwise) ; it would be like suggesting he’d shoot someone – repeatedly, with say a Cyber-gun or a Colt M1911 … ludicrous.
In some ways this could be the perfect Dr. Who story. The preamble is wonderful. The dialog is great. There’s enjoyable interaction between all of the characters. Everyone has something to do and the main cast personalities are devoid of irrelevant major ticks that made them enjoyable. The sets and locations are perfect for their task. Characters act rationally and have understandable emotional reactions.
Nyssa shows empathy for an android (the name of my next rock album) and we get a simple, yet valid backstory for the villain, whose motives are not only survival at the expense of others, but someone who just chooses to be mean. We’re also treated to a small throwback to Four to Doomsday when the doctor is about to be beheaded. Finally at the end of the day there just are not many plot holes to jump into.
Unfortunately despite all of this it’s not perfect. Minor plot flub: why are poacher, axe man and basket guy afraid of the android when they are under control of the bracelets? There’s a bigger issue though. it’s strange, but not incorrect to say it’s pacing is fine, but at the same time it’s slow. It’s interesting but not always exciting. There’s no speed changes outside of dialog. There’s no emotional rollercoaster, just a small, steady adventure with a subtle tie-in to historical reference.
Overall, It’s another series I enjoy every time I watch it, especially the first half. But it’s not an epic visitation. 3.5
Fugitive fish lizards the Terileptils plan to release a plague to destroy the people of Earth. The tetchy TARDIS team in between bickering with each other and getting captured, escaping and being recaptured must put a stop to the Terileptils. Assisted by the theatrical thesp turned highwayman Richard Mace they foil the alien’s scheme before popping off to London and burning it to the ground – Nice work everyone! Although the 4th Doctor did warn us in The Pyramids of Mars he’d gotten the blame so perhaps this is a fixed point of time thing.
Antipodean ass-hat Tegan still hasn’t crowbarred into her cranium that she’s in a time machine and is still whining about getting to Heathrow on time.
Adric is basically a sulk machine on legs. Not long to go before Adios Adric. Also, in addition to him being unable to walk naturally it seems Matthew Waterhouse can’t say simple words like want properly either – he pronounces it wunt which coincidentally rhymes with what he is.
Nyssa is great though, admonishing the Doc for his lack of compassion and building an industrial size vibrator in her bedroom.
Peter Davison is channelling his inner William Hartnell with his Doctor being crotchety or ill-tempered a lot of the time. He also loses his sonic screwdriver – and we won’t see it again until 1996!
Michael Robbins is great as Richard Mace, deliciously theatrical he’s a character I’d love to see again.
Tegan says The Doctor might come from Guildford (incidently the same place Ford Prefect pretends he’s from in Hitchhikers)
The opening scene of the attack on the manor house – it’s great – it starts us off with a terror seen through the inhabitant’s eyes.
The Terileptil costume, I know it gets a lot of grief but I think it looks cool
A couple of great scenes:
Terileptil: “Where is this Doctor from?”
Tegan: “He’s never told us. He likes to be mysterious, although he talks a lot about… er… Guildford. I think that’s where he comes from.”
Terileptil: “You’re being a very stupid woman.”
Tegan: “That isn’t a very original observation.”
The Doctor: “How do you feel now?”
Tegan: “Groggy, sore and bad tempered.”
The Doctor: “Almost your old self.”
The Terileptil says he’s going to fly the TARDIS himself? How does he expect to do this?
They leave London burning to cover the evidence of the Terileptils, but they’ve left a bloody great big escape pod in the forest! I think some locals might notice!!
The Terileptil is driving the cart to London in daylight – wont people who see him be worried by a fish lizard driving a cart?
Why is the android humanoid in appearance? Wouldn’t you construct it in your own image?
The Terileptils are going to repopulate Earth – how? They’re all dudes!
Despite the many issues with this story, it is a bit of a favourite of mine. Yes, the alien stranded on Earth was probably done better in The Time Warrior, yes, the TARDIS team bickering sometimes feels like an Eastenders episode, yes there’s some stilted dialogue, but it does have a great score, combined with a good guest cast and Peter Davison being really good, it’s a story I loved when I saw it as a kid and I’m happy to watch again and again.
I award this story 3.9 bubbling face-melting Terileptils out of 5
The Doctor and co commit arson on a massive scale. I like this serial. First almost historical for ages, with strong characters (particularly the actor Richard Mace), fantastic spaceship sets, the Terreleptils a one-off monster that I like, and their robot. The companions all get something to do. Adric is almost bearable.
Tegan still hasn’t been taken home (‘call yourself a timelord’). Nyssa is actually in this one. The plot works, is well paced and believable in its 17th century setting. I like the crashed alien mystery and this held my interest. Good from Davison. A respectable 3.4
Hello there Leon and Jim,
Looking forward to this podcast making a VISITATION to my ears. God, I’m sorry.
Adoring your fine work as always. Here’s my mini:
The Visitation (249 words):
I love this cold opening! A 17th century home invasion by a glam-rock android! AWESOME. It’s great how the characters are all given different personalities – the grumpy alcoholic father, the dreamy daughter and the sensible (but gun-loving) son. Gutted the poor old servant gets zapped – goes to show this android ain’t fucking around.
Then we join the TARDIS crew and Tegan is back to her moaning, joyless self. Unsure why they don’t just dump her somewhere at this point. She’s such a dick.
The location work for this story is gorgeous. Love me some woods and a quiet village manor house. The quartet then gets into a terribly choreographed fight with some locals. Adric’s cry of pain is hilarious when he trips up while running away – really want that noise as my text alert.
Richard Mace is really fun (even though the actor told Matthew Waterhouse that Doctor Who was the worst job he’d ever had!), and I enjoyed the music throughout. The pace is slow and gentle but Davison keeps the energy up.
It was always going to look like a bloke in a costume, but they made a good effort with the Terileptil suits. Love the gross face-popping shot at the end.
Other highlights include the android stalking the woods dressed as Death, the impressive exterior of the escape pod on location, the sight of villagers randomly up trees, and the lovely Pudding Lane set for the finale
I always enjoy this story and RIP sonic screwdriver.
The Visitation’ is not a very spectacular serial, but does provide some good elements. Though the historical setting allows for some great scenery and excellent realisation of the period, I think the plot leaves a lot to be desired, with each action seemingly taking hours to take place – most of the serial is spent with the main characters traveling from location to location. The tereleptils are a little shaky at points, but it was an ambitious design.
The destruction of the sonic screwdriver will provide for some more tricky situations (and more convoluted plots) in the future for the 6th Doctor, however Nyssa was left in the TARDIS for a large part of the serial… again. Overall, I think that, despite some memorable moments, a vibrant setting and Davison’s ever flourishing portrayal, they can’t make up for the sluggish pace of the actual plot, rounding out to a steady score.
After a mixed bag of stories this season, The Visitation feels like a big step up. I love the character of Richard Mace – he has some great lines, makes an entertaining temporary companion, and provides a good route for exposition. Nyssa holds her own as well, designing and building the anti-android device. It’s bad luck for Tegan though as she gets taken over once again! However, I did enjoy her dig at the Doctor being worse at keeping time than a broken clock.
The fact that the Terileptils are prison escapees (and victims of torture) affords them a degree of sympathy – like the Sea Devils and Silurians they have more to them than just trying to exterminate or convert everyone in sight.
The final touch of making the Doctor responsible for the Great Fire of London was great too – I love when his adventures tie into moments in Earth’s history.
As always, there are some unanswered questions. How does Nyssa recognise Soliton gas by smell, when she is unlikely to have encountered it before? And how is the Doctor such a crack shot – he says he never misses, but he’s also told us many times that he dislikes guns and ‘never’ carries them. But these are trifles for Whovians to ponder and don’t spoil the story.
Overall, I really like The Visitation and it’s my second favourite story featuring this TARDIS team. 4/5
I quite like the spooky beginning bit with the house being invaded. All very atmospheric.
Aren’t any of the companions going to change their clothes? Tegan was asleep for two days in a jungle?!
Why does the Doctor, upon discovering he’s going to be decapitated say “not again”? Has he got previous?
It’s fantastic that Nyssa gets to deal with the android herself. Adric does nothing but complain about being useless.
Look behind them as they’re standing in the doorway of the terileptil escape pod. It’s just a drawing. Like someone scribbled the background on the wall behind in pencil.
Is it me or does the Doctor seem in a bloody great grump the whole time?
The end bit where the terileptil leader’s face is bubbling in the fire…yeech. Turn the camera away! Get used to things that. The writer of this serial will become the script editor.
The best part of this by far is Michael Robbins as Richard Mace. Like Todd from the previous serial why can’t we just have him as a companion and ditch the others? Every word out of his mouth is pure gold.
Really good in some parts, kinda boring in others.