Method-acting LARPers seek inspiration in Zardoz’ growing crack
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In an attempt to make good on his promise to return Tegan home, Doc takes Team TARDIS to the English countryside and the possibility of encountering her grandfather. Fat chance, buddy, because though they appear to have landed in the midst of a harmless, if not a little rambunctious, historical reenactment, there’s a Zardoz head inside a church wall and obviously some timey-wimey shenanigans afoot.
This ancient, appropriately named evil has arrived in the little hamlet and may be using emotional energy to create rifts in spacetime or something, not wholly sure about that. We’ll probably get to the bottom of it in this review! In any case, now The Doctor, Turlough, and a damsel in distress we’re certain used to be a capable companion must sort it all out before the world implodes… or something.
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Orwellian- I mean Cromwellian L.A.R.Pers hold a village hostage as Teagan searches for her grandad. Unbeknownst to the Tardis Crew a giant stone head is awakened, but this Olmec doesn’t bring with it legends of some Hidden Temple, only DEATH!
With the merging of time and the use of past spiritual iconography this story feels like a fun ghost story but I think it could have benefited from more atmosphere. Some shadows and cobwebs go a long way. The lighting they had with that bearded fellow and the other grey projections was perfect. Too bad it wasn’t throughout the whole story. If this story had been set at night it’d be an all time classic.
That’s not to say it’s bad though. I quite enjoyed it. The story has a clever pseudo-pseudo-historical plot and great characters. Sets and costumes are excellent (notable as it was Berry Newbury’s final story).
Some of the side characters would have made great companions. I can picture the Doctor traveling through time and space with Colonel Guy, Historian Lady and dirty peasant for at least a season (and no I didn’t learn their names. All this talk of War Games had me daydreaming about a much better and 5 times longer story.)
Overall this story earns 3.9 Turlough-branded bludgeoning bricks out of 5.
Yay, it’s the third Davison two-parter and the best of the three. This has long been a favourite of mine having had the VHS as one of my first fifth doctor stories. It has strong similarities to The Daemons though apparently these are coincidental as the writer hadn’t seen that one. I think this one is often overlooked probably due to it being only two parts but I feel that this is a great little gem. A pseudohistorical with a malevolent ancient force and an exploding church. What more do you need?
Also Eric Saward added references of tinclavic and Raaga which is where the Terileptils had been imprisoned prior to the events of The Visitation. So nice continuity there. Also we have another member of Tegan’s family with her grandfather to add to her aunt and cousin that we have already met. She must be the most fleshed out character we’ve had in classic who.
It’s also nice that the film insets still survive so they look extra nice now on the DVD and will do even more so on the eventual Blu-Ray. So often they don’t survive and we are stuck with the poor original transfers which are soft and washed out.
This is classic classic series Doctor Who 4.5/5.
Doc arrives in 1980s England and runs into the militant-arm of the English Civil War Society, who are going to relive the Civil War for real (although we never see anyone from the other side at any point).
One of the few memories that survived from watching these as a child was the Malus’ face breaking through the wall (presumably for some thrilling climax), the rewatch was somewhat less spectacular, as the villain pops it’s head in for the cliff-hanger and then spends episode 2 indulging its 40-a-day habit.
Normally a Doctor Who story starts with some people in need of help, who provide the initial opposition until the main villain reveals itself and takes over. Here the main villain provides virtually no direct threat to the team because it’s influencing the humans rather than directly attacking them. It never fully takes over as the villain so the people that need saving also end-up being the villains, which makes most of them unlikeable.
So, we have a villain with no animation (so it doubles as a wall-hanging), a big reenactment with only one side and some hammy peasant from ye olde days (I know Doctor Who loves its exposition but importing it from the 17th century for added eccentricity seems excessive.). There have been several stories that could be argued weren’t good, but this is the first I genuinely didn’t like. It would be interesting to see if there’s any love for it out there.
The obvious comparison is with last season’s two-parter “The King’s Demons”. It’s a huge contrast. I love this story. It’s not perfect, but what it lacks in direction it more than makes up for with action. We get an interesting adventure that’s appropriately fitting for a two segment time slot. This is a proper short trip.
Retro rewrites: The doctor is saved from a gunshot because Sir George inexplicably walks out of the room. Maybe he’s conflicted about being controlled? Let’s show that. Also, as much as I love that they tried to justify changing Tegan’s costume, it still doesn’t work as played. Let’s have him come back in and put the bonnet on her. Finally, I think I might have enjoyed Will staying on for an adventure or two as a Catarina-like companion. It would be nice to have it be all magic to someone again.
As for the rest of it, the Malice design is amazing in all of its forms. I want a wall-sized poster. Just imagine the commercial for the Malice playset. The setting is beautiful and well utilized, it all just works. There’s a vague explanation for the monster, and it works but I could wish for just a bit more on the subject. I guess if this were a four-parter they would at some point have gone back in history, but it really just isn’t needed. It’s not stellar, but it’s quite good just as it is, and earns 3.7 obvious Tardis door mechanisms.