Reviewed By: Mercury
Review 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.