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< Time And the Rani
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Paradise Towers

Rating Votes
10
6%
5
9
10%
8
8
6%
5
7
22%
18
6
22%
18
5
23%
19
4
6%
5
3
1%
1
2
1%
1
1
1%
1
Average Rating
6.4
Votes
81
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Writer:

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
3
Plot Rating:
2
Acting Rating:
4
Replay Rating:
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Effects Rating:
4
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 2/10/19 1:20 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This 4 part story does not have a great reputation but is not as heavily criticised as some other stories which I find surprising because I think this is one of the worst TV stories. I would put this alongside The Twin Dilemma, Timelash and Delta and the Bannermen as rock bottom Doctor Who TV stories. Indeed Part 2 of this story is a leading contender for worst episode ever. The premise of the story is good but it is executed poorly.

The idea of the story is the best aspect as it seeks to present a dystopian society where everybody has turned on one another. The Doctor and Mel arrive in a run down tower block in a future world where teen girls maraud the corridors in gangs ('Kangs') and have developed their own dialect. They have never heard of boys as no males under 20 exist in the block. Senior citizens hide away in their apartments turning to cannibalism. The block is run by 'caretakers', over officious police men types overseen by the chief caretaker. One young man 'Pex' remains but other the majority of the population have gone to war never to return. Robot cleaners are attacking people and a menacing villain is secretly planning to take over. It sounds a decent story, similar to such stories as Gridlock that came many years later. However, the story is done in such a way that it is illogical and the production is totally inadequate and cheesy with a hugely uneven tone.

The block itself is reasonably well realised but the costumes, the music and the robots are really cheesy and poor. The dialogue and acting give the impression of a pantomime or comedy for infants and yet there is a dark, menacing feel at the same time with scenes of violence, horror and cannibalism. Not only is the tone jarringly uneven it also therefore is too dark and horrific for a kids comedy but far too silly and cheesy to work as a dark, dystopian sci-fi drama. The acting of the Kangs, the Ressies, Pex and Mel are all like amateur dramatics and the silliness of many scenes of ridiculous, badly delivered dialogue is cringe-making.

The plot does not make any sense. Supposedly the population went to war leaving just the caretakers, the young girls and the pensioners but the girls are still teenagers and none have grown to adulthood and yet references are made to a very long time having passed. If a long time has passed where are the teens or children who would have grown up and why are the pensioners still alive? If it has only been about 10 years or so how can the Kangs not remember what boys are, how can new dialects have developed, where are all the children including the male children, did every adult of both genders and all types go to war and how have all the things in their society become such entrenched, apparently very long established situations?!

Richard Briers is a fabulous actor and he almost appears as a Monty Python character - over the top, comedic and silly but sinister and subversive. However, it is all too cheesily put together and his character is taken way too far, especially once he is transformed towards the end into 'the great architect'. The two old ladies are a good idea in that they are twisted and creepy but they are too cartoonish and their attack and death scenes are very badly done when they could have been really scary.

I fact, the sad thing is this could have either been a fun adventure aimed more at younger viewers or, even better, a scary vision of a collapsed society with horror and thrills. It manages to have moments of both but they do not gel and it is all done in a very disappointing and nonsensical way.

If I give credit for the good ideas of a grim future society, the Doctor heroically finding a way to bring people together, moments of subversive humour, efforts at scary scenes which at times are a bit creepy and a satire of over officious local government then it still cannot overcome the negatives enough to make this anywhere near the standard expected.

My ratings: Part 1 - 4/10, Part 2 - 2.5/10, Part 3 - 3.5/10, Part 4 - 3/10. Overall - 3.25/10.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
5
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 4/9/18 3:50 pm
0 out of 2 found this review helpful.

With the new Doctor ready for new adventures, we move into the first real adventure for Seven and honestly it's a rather surprising one and a major step up from its predecessor. This is the first Seventh Doctor I had never seen before in the course of this rewatch (though not the last) and I honestly hadn't heard much about it before going in so I really had no idea what to expect with it. The Doctor and Mel land in a luxurious 22nd century sky rise complex known as Paradise Towers looking for a swim and a rest and expecting some peace and quiet. What they find is far from the case as it seems that the building has not only gone to hell and been seemingly abandoned by the general public but an entire dystopian world has been developing inside the complex. Bands of raving wild girls known as Kangs roam the floors, police-like caretakers stalk the highest offices, cannibalistic old ladies hide in plain sight, and killer robots kill and disintegrate everyone in sight. As the two are seperated and engage in their own journeys and adventures, building in the basement is a dark and mysterious evil lurking that poses a threat to everyone in the complex. It's an interesting and clever concept that I can now see will become a trend with this Doctor and team (thinking of Big Finish's "The High Price of Parking" which has a similar premise except in a parking complex) and for a first story it works surprisingly well. It's not really great and there are certainly better examples of the trope out there in Doctor Who but for what it's trying to do, I actually found myself rather engaged and enjoying it. This is a world that actually feels real especially in the smaller details such as each group having their own language and mythologies, strong connections between everyone, and a real sense of heightened atmosphere that really makes it stand out. But yet there is also a strong element of subversive comedy here that you aren't expecting going especially in the rules of the Caretakers and how the different groups of Kangs interact with each other that really make you laugh and enjoy yourself. It's a dystopian story all the way and it goes all the way with the premise especially in the dark secret behind what's going on but it's the fun kind even if it's not perfect or good by any means. It's still a Season 24 story and in that sense it has many problems that can't be ignored. Tonally, 'Towers' is all over the place and many elements give you not only tonal whiplash but don't work in terms of the story. It rapidly goes from light to dark in the span of minutes and conceptually can't really stay focused throwing so many new ideas and concepts at you that its hard to really concentrate on one especially on the darker mysteries that keep your interest but aren't really surprising. It's also super cheesy like other 80's stories especially in the bad effects and the robots (though thankfully they aren't as bad as they could've been) and some of the hokier moments do serve to bring the story down considerably. The acting is also a little bit uneven from all points some of which work and some of which don't. Sylvester McCoy is still working hard with his Doctor but he still isn't quite there yet with who he's meant to be although you do start to see one or two glimpses of it here. The way he works to trick and escape the various groups in the complex and especially in his interrogation with the Chief Caretaker played by Richard Briers is pure Seven and his acting continues to hold up well. Bonnie Langford is fine as Mel and a little bit better even if she still doesn't have much to do except wander around searching for the swimming pool and get captured over and over. Thankfully, she gets to pair up with a cowardly lunkhead mercenary named Pex who is not only played well by Howard Cooke but also gets the dramatic journey / denouement at the end which serves to ties things together really well. Most of the rest of the cast are fine but the other major standout is again Richard Briers as the head Caretaker. Granted he's played so over the top as a dictator to the point where he even resembles a certain historical figure that it's really distracting but his performance is really enjoyable when it counts and it made me laugh if not scare me. Outside of that while some of the smaller moments and aspects do works such as a surprisingly decent score and some smaller moments here and there, there isn't too much else to talk about. The key work for "Paradise Towers" as a story is 'interesting'. It's not great (hell I wouldn't even call it good) and it's a very standard "first" story for a Doctor and team especially as it feels like McCoy hasn't arrived in his Doctor yet but it's still a somewhat surprisingly memorable and decent enough tale that will draw you in if you can handle all of the disjointed cheesy moments. I really enjoyed it for what it was especially after "Time and the Rani" and it was a nice middle of the road story to enjoy before we dip back into the god awful with the next adventure. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
2
Plot Rating:
2
Acting Rating:
2
Replay Rating:
2
Effects Rating:
3
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/9/17 4:20 pm
0 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Paradise Towers is one of those stories that is often ridiculed by the Whovian fanbase - and it's not hard to see why. But I'll come to that later. The story was the result of a falling out between producer John Nathan Turner and script editor Eric Saward; John Nathan Turner was determined to find a writer who had never worked on the show before. He came across writer Stephen Wyatt at the BBC's script unit and asked him to submit a story for the show. That story was, of course, Paradise Towers.

Paradise Towers starts with the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) planning to visit a luxurious residential complex called Paradise Towers. Mel watches a promotional video for the towers that shows it as a beautiful complex, complete with a massive swimming pool. However when they arrive, they find it in a state of disrepair. The residents have become primitive tribes with no idea what a vending machine is and the place is run by the Caretakers; a group of people who keep surveillance on the towers and worship 'the Great Architect'. Their boss, the Chief Caretaker (Richard Briers) is secretly feeding the population of the Towers to the robotic Cleaners and the 'Great Architect' himself.

The premise of a luxury complex becoming run down to the point where it creates a tribal civilisation is a strong one that unfortunately doesn't follow through. The performances are too over the top to be taken seriously, especially those by the Red Kangs and Blue Kangs. The teenage actors who play the Red and Blue Kangs are annoying and come across as though they are in an amateur theatre production of Doctor Who rather than young professional actors. Many complain about Richard Briers but I actually didn't mind him so much; he at least seems like he belongs in a Doctor Who story. Perhaps he went too far when the 'Great Architect' (otherwise known as 'Kroagnon') possessed the Chief Caretaker's body but in my view if anybody can be accused as too camp the real culprits are Tabby (Elizabeth Spriggs) and Tilda (Brenda Bruce). I found myself rolling my eyes at every one of their scenes; they are too over the top as the stereotypical 'sweet old ladies'. Even when they reveal their real nasty intentions they still continue to ham it up.

The mention of these two ladies brings me onto my next point: Mel is too gullible. She meets Tabby and Tilda once in the story and already she trusts them when they offer to give her tea and cake. Had she never learnt when she was little not to talk to strangers? Even so, you would have thought travelling with the Doctor would have opened her eyes a bit not to be tricked so easily by offerings of food and drink. If I were in an unfamiliar environment and two old ladies randomly invited me round for a cup of tea and cake, flowering me with praise despite it being the first meeting I would be more than a little suspicious of what they were up to. Yet Mel acts as if it's normal.

But it's not only Mel who acts like an idiot in this story: the caretakers are pretty stupid too. The seventh Doctor may be the king of manipulation but it doesn't take him much to manipulate them to let him go when they're holding him prisoner. He literally takes their rule book (basically a book of the law of Paradise Towers) and fabricates rules up that say 'After you have been guarding the condemned prisoner for 30 minutes, you must stand up...move five paces away from the prisoner...close their eyes...put their hands above their head...for a minute and a half'. They don't even bother to snatch the rule book from the Doctor and check it themselves.

This all leads to the story feeling devoid of danger and peril. The caretakers pose no threat to the Doctor precisely because they are bone-dead stupid. Even the cast of The Only Way Is Essex would do a better job of guarding a prisoner for execution than these lot. Even the crab toy that attacks Mel in the swimming pool doesn't pose much of a threat. It just grabs her whilst she frails around in the water screaming. In the time it takes for Pex (Howard Cooke) to chuck her his weapon, it could have ripped her legs off or done something equally as horrifying. But no: instead it just holds her legs.

As for Pex, this character can be summed up in two words: useless and annoying. Pretty much every time he is onscreen they remind you that he's a coward yet when it gets to the pool gathering near the beginning of episode four all of a sudden we are supposed to sympathise with him when the Kangs call him a 'cowardly custard'. Well, sorry Paradise Towers: I may love Doctor Who but you have to earn the right for me to care about a character being called a 'coward'. He quite simply deserves it. Pex makes Mel look brave in comparison and she was never one of the Doctor's bravest companions (even if I personally don't mind her). There's an odd moment in the serial where Mel congratulates him for saving her but he doesn't even do anything. One of the Cleaners takes the old ladies instead. Why not give credit to the Cleaners instead?

The Cleaners are the literal heroes of this otherwise bad story, in the sense that they are the only good thing about it. I like the Cleaners a lot; their design is the kind of satiric look that the story of Paradise Towers should have had. The idea of evil cleaning robots in a tower block that's supposed to be a paradise is nicely ironic by Stephen Wyatt and their scenes are generally better directed by Nicholas Mallett (especially the scene where one of the Cleaner's hands comes through a rubbish chute and pulls one of the old ladies down). The rest of the direction falls flat, as if Nicholas Mallett didn't know what to do with the story either. The Cleaners are pretty much the only enemies here that feel like they are a danger to the characters of the story. Funnily enough, for robots that don't communicate and are basically just serviceable machines they are probably the most intelligent characters in the story bar the Doctor.

Overall, Paradise Towers is probably Doctor Who's biggest missed opportunity. It has a strong premise that is woefully executed with over the top acting and dumb characters who make Kevin from the 2016 Ghostbusters movie look like a genius in comparison. The story as a result of the Caretakers' dim behaviour has a lack of danger and peril; only the Cleaners seem remotely menacing in this story. Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford clearly try their hardest to sell this story and neither are to blame for Paradise Towers' failings; both give good performances as the Doctor and Mel but it's not enough to save the story when you have strange scenes that hail cowardly Pex a 'hero' and make Mel come across as way too gullible than she has any right to be. Paradise Towers is definitely a Doctor Who story you should skip, unless you want to deafen yourself with the Kangs' awful shouting.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
3
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 6/3/15 1:33 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Season 24 is probably the worst Season of Doctor Who's history. I mean really none of the stories can be taken seriously with Time and the Rani probably being the worst of the worst. Paradise Towers is the only story that we can really call good if it is looked as a sort of dark comedy. Even with the viewpoint it still has a lot of problems, but first the good stuff.

Sylvester McCoy has transformed in between stories and while he isn't the manipulator, he is well written in a Troughton-esque way. This is mostly due to the fact that Stephan Wyatt didn't have to undergo rewrites like Pip and Jane Baker did for Time and the Rani. Wyatt's script is another high point full of macabre ideas, like elderly cannibals and gangs of women who were all left in an apartment complex while a war wages on. The character of Pex is also a great idea as the coward who wants to change, but really can't. Also the caretakers are a great idea as always having to stick to protocol and the chief keeping a brain in a jar in the basement. Even Bonnie Langford's Mel is able to have a purpose for screaming while still being an active character, even if her reasons for exploration are vain.

Now on to the bad. The way that the production team decided to take the story into isn't a good one. Wyatt deliberately was trying to say something about war and its effect on those kept in areas where total war is in place, but this isn't explored much and is forced way into the background of the story. Also the music by Keff McCulloch is extremely annoying to listen to and tries to lighten the mood from a possible darker tone. The direction is also very bland. Yet with these large flaws the story is still enjoyable.