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Doc and Mel B dodge senior citizen cannibals and team up with colour-coded girl gangs against the fascists standing in their way of a swimming pool

In a desperate bid to finally witness something of interest in the universe and enable her character arc to culminate in something even remotely meaningful, Mel B compels The Seventh Doctor to take her to a block of flats with a rooftop pool. The titular Paradise Towers, however, is less Pleasantville, more Heavenly Haven, and instead of opulence and leisure, our two time travellers are met with graffiti and grime.

Residents of Paradise Towers include colour-coded badass lasses, cannibal Golden Girls, cowardly Rambo and neo-fascist caretakers employing oversized murder tanks as cleaners. Did I just say murder tanks? You betcha, because gigantic white death machines with nary a feather duster but an abundance of drills patrol the carrydoors in search of human vermin to feed to a pair of smokey neon eyes in the basement.

Instantly separated, Doc and Mel B gung-ho their way through this overacted Dredd prequel, team up with the least likely or deserving of locals, and/or saunter into obvious traps. Wherever they turn, they’re either assaulted by geriatrics, analphabets or bureaucrats. Nowhere is safe in Paradise Towers! The noblest of goals propel them on their adventure, though, for Doc will not rrrrrrrrrest until he rrrrreveals the villainous arrrrchitect in the crrrrrrypt, and Mel really wants to go for a swim. Allegory ensues

Here's what we think of C149 Paradise Towers

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.8

Drew | @drewbackwhen

3.0

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what we think of C149 Paradise Towers

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.8

Drew | @drewbackwhen

3.0

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what you think 12 Responses to “C149 Paradise Towers”
  1. Oli Raven | Insta: @FoggyDrWho

    Hi there, futuristic dystopian architecture fans!

    Cheesecakes and indeed, smokearoonies of holiness! Long-time listener (three orbits of Sol-3 around its star or so), first-time reviewer. This is the era where Classic Who ends with a bang, so if I’m gonna contribute, it’s now or never, I suppose.

    Anyway, as with one of your hosts, being sat in the living room watching this is one of my very earliest memories. Not just memories of Who, or of TV as a whole, but of anything. I vaguely recall being scared at the time but also enjoying it. Not rewatched it recently as I’m yet to pick up this season on Blu-Ray, but I remember subsequent viewings of this first on UK Gold and then later on the DVD having revealed further nuances, such as:

    • That swimming pool that was so totally part of the same set as everything else!
    • The killer frog bath toy special effect!
    • The superb casting of Pex which was totally in line with how his character was written!
    • The understated and subtle performance by Richard Briers in the final episode!
    • The rest of the acting being absolutely unlike something out of a Lower Sixth Form play!
    • The pun around “being taken to the cleaners”!
    • Heavily implied cannibalism!

    What a masterpiece!! Build high for happiness!!!

    Overall: 4.7 Yellow Kangs

  2. Ed Corbet

    Doc indulges a mad-woman’s pool obsession; she must go for a swim and it must be at Paradise Towers; none of the 10 million pools on Earth (thanks Google), nor the one in the TARDIS are good-enough. Nothing will dampen her obsession, not gang-warfare, killer-robots, cannibals, not even repeated warnings that no-one comes back from the pool alive (this is the one where I gave up on Mel; Ace can’t get here soon enough).

    Paradise Towers grants us an insight into a middle-class man’s view of how gang-culture works. Family-TV favourite Richard Briers simultaneously gives us a villain performance, while also exploring what Blakey from ‘On the Buses’ would have been like if he’d converted to fascism. We also meet Pex, a character with an arc that made his death as predictable as when a character in a war film holds up a photo and says “This is my girl; after the war we’re gonna get married”.

    The world of Paradise towers isn’t massively explained; there’s a war; we don’t know how long it’s been going-on. It can’t have been that long as the Kang’s don’t know any residents aged 20-60, so there’s not been enough time for the original children to have reached that age, which means Paradise towers must have degraded faster than Homer Simpson when Marge left him.

    2.2 Ridiculously slow-moving and unthreatening robots out of 5 (Seriously, they have so little articulation, you can just sit on them and they can’t get you.)

    Ed Corbet

  3. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Urgh, this is a terrible serial from start to finish. A very amateur production, and a hodge podge of good ideas and bad cliches, that might have worked in another era of Doctor Who.

    McCoy tries his best with this garbage, with glimpses of promise and Mel is actually good with not too much screaming. When she did, it was warranted ( If I was given this story, I’d be screaming too )

    Costumes, robots, writing and music ( especially the music ) all terrible. And the acting…were they actually directed to act like this? I do know Richard Briers can act.

    If so, then the Directing was also terrible.

    The Promo video for the towers looked better than the actual serial.

    Part sitcom, part kindergarten show, I couldn’t work out if it was a satire, and if so, a satire of what?

    It wasn’t all bad. The idea behind the Kangs was solid. I like when a TV show develops a separate language and culture for a serial or episode that shows imagination and thought.

    The concept of the towers itself is also interesting and had huge potential

    But sadly the sum here is way worse than any good parts.

    This is my second time viewing this, and my last…

    FAIL!

    Rating 0.8 Old cannibal ladies

    Cheers

    GP Haynes
    Australia

  4. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Aw no did I miss it??
    Well if you haven’t gone to bed yet, I know you’re just going to shorten this anyway so I guess I’ll just observe that once again this is fantastically scifi, weird, and dystopian, but I liked it.
    Rating: ??

  5. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    How you do Chaps!

    This is the one where with all of time and space to explore Mel wants to visit……a fucking swimming pool???

    Likes
    The Kangs! Their mode of speech, phrases and names all wonderful.
    The scene where The Doctor escapes brilliant
    Tabby and Tilda – so dark and menacing

    Beefs
    Richard Briers as the Chief – did the director not actually direct him? He’s awful as is Howard Cooke as Pex
    The cleaner machines great idea on paper shockingly badly realised
    The music! Oh, dear god the music it’s awful.
    After all the death and destruction, she’s seen why is Mel so desperate to get in to that pool?

    Overall, it’s a really good story and while there’s many flaws it is in the end enjoyable. Sylvester is clearly growing into the role, but it’s a shame Mel’s character is further reduced to screeching damsel in distress.
    I award this 3.9 illuminated neon Kroagnon eyes out of 5

    Build high for happiness

  6. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    For point of reference I watched the extended version included on the BluRay season 24 boxset.

    Crack open a can of Fizzade and let’s go, it’s time for another standout Doctor who story! The Doctor and Mel attempt to take some time off and relax. As you can expect by now things do not go as planned.

    This story doesn’t really feel like a Doctor who story and usually that’s a bad thing but for this story it’s unique ideas make it stand out as a masterpiece. This story feels like quintessential late 1980s punk Sci Fi.

    This story also has excellent atmosphere, very unsettling in some moments. Cannibal old ladies? Who’d have thought of that, pure genius.

    The world building is excellent, the society feels relatively realistic and fleshed out. All the slang makes it feel like a PG version of a Clockwork Orange. My only complaint is the broken English of the Kangs; it’s less punk and more tribe of Gum.

    The effects are also very good especially compared to the last story.

    McCoy has seemed to have settled into the role at this point. He just spews Doctorish energy. He’s very skilled with comedy but when it’s more subtle i think it works better.

    Overall this story earns 4.8 “wait is that Hitler?”s Out of 5.

    Steven from Canada

  7. Peter Zunitch

    This story is pure schlock in the truest 80’s sense of the word, and I totally love it. The wacky world building achieves perfection status. Accents and embellishments are added simply to make things more colorful, and all of the characters are just so wonderfully performed. You can tell everyone had fun making this. It works perfectly, almost. Unfortunately several seemingly trivial production flaws compound and distract.
    Sylvester’s doctor has become “Almost Alice”, but they still haven’t fleshed out his entire personality yet. Second, I both love and hate the cleaning robot. The giant screw drill and circular saw blade are utterly absurd. If I saw that on the tour, I might just re-consider moving into that complex. The Great Architect is the weakest part of the story. The machine version is admittedly awesome neon lights sitting on a plain white box, lazy. More design and detail was needed for it to live up to the rest of the amazing sets. The possession portrayal is totally pants. Next, The darts shot at Mel are so small they weren’t visible on a standard definition TV of the day. Also, how did Mel not see the bright yellow pool crab in a crystal clear body of blue water? I understand how insanely irrelevant these points sound, but honestly during each and every of the 50 times I’ve watched this, they all took me out of the moment every time, and that’s a problem.

    One foot short of a perfect fit. 4.5

  8. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    A little cheap looking. Yes, that’s a bit of an issue this season. And Andrew Cartmel was struggling to find scripts suitable as well. So we get this one. It’s not very good but has some fun moments to it.

    This is Doctor Who’s take on High Rise, a J. G. Ballard novel about society breaking down in an apartment block. Lol, a bunch of cannibal lesbians trying to feed up Mel, ready for later. And one of the old women plays Daisy in Keeping Up Appearances. Well that’s a little weird. The naming for the Kangs is fun but I suppose can come across as a little too silly. Why is Mel so determined to get to the pool? It doesn’t even look that nice in the promotional video. Her and Pex are very over the top together but at least it gives Mel a lot to do. While she might not be the best, she is a fairly active companion. Pex is a bit wet but I suppose that’s the point of his character. He overcomes his cowardice to save the day at the end, something he probably wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t met the Doctor and Mel.

    Richard Briers is very over the top in this one. And probably too much but oh well. It’s a silly story but is definitely watchable.

    So it feels a little weird giving it this score but 2.0/5 Pex Lives!

    Cheers
    Kieren

  9. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Behold this glorious piece of grindhouse ultra-violent trash. A satire on 1980s Tory rot – entirely relevant today: after the last 12 years, we aren’t far off Mad Max Kang warfare, geriatric cannibals and Kafkaesque caretakers. Yes, the luxury-apartment-gone-to-hell concept wasn’t new – High Rise slipped in there in 1975. But that book didn’t have killer cleaning robots and Hitler-impersonator Kroagnon tallying genocide with strikethroughs of his red marker pen. The Great Architect’s motivation is understandable: who wouldn’t want to keep their magnum opus nice and shiny. On top of that we have Pex’s sacrifice (I weep every time). And the Seventh Doctor, teasing his manipulative traits that in a few stories time will level entire civilisations. Build High For Happiness!

    5/5 Kangs, rezzies and caretakers carted off to somewhat needless deaths given Kroagnon wanted a live host. His requirements were obviously lost in translation. Happens to me all the time.

  10. Neil | @neilandrozani & @neiljamesactor

    Hi guys, Build high for happiness. x

    Paradise Towers:
    Ahh here he is! I feel that the SEVENTH Doctor really comes to life from this story onwards and I love watching McCoy start to settle into the role. Sadly, the rest of the cast truly believe they are in a show aimed predominantly for 6 year olds and it’s such a shame that this panto vibe sticks around for most of this season. But there already signs of the darker era that’s just around the corner.

    The cleaners scared the bejeezers out of me when I was a kid, and this serial put me off visiting nice old ladies regardless of the cookies on offer! Also, the Kangs are kind of hot (possibly). It’s all a bit daft and the swimming pool monster is hilarious, but I can’t help liking it.
    Rating – 3.1

  11. Ben O'Neill

    I loved the Kangs and their wild 80s big hair! Curiously, most of the Kangs, including Bin Liner (Annabel Yuresha) and Fire Escape (Julie Brennon) had very little TV work, with this serial being the highlight of their careers. The only exception was the Blue Kang Leader (Catherine Cussack), who is still acting and has appeared in a number of shows (Doctor Who was her first TV job).
    Also, according to IMDB, Howard Cooke, who played Pex, got a Doctor Who best actor nomination, and his own fan club. He left acting 1989 to become a theatrical agent.
    The story was inspired by the 1975 novel “High Rise” by J.G. Ballard about a 40 story self-contained luxury condominium in London where the tenants of the lower, middle, and upper floors stratify into groups, and the climax of the story is when they arrive at the penthouse suite of the Architect himself.
    The cleaners were apparently added in late, as the script didn’t have any monsters as written.

    Personally, I didn’t like the music, but the rest was okay.
    2.8
    Build High for Happiness!

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