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< 3.4 - The Guardians of Prophecy
3.6 - The First Sontarans >

3.5 - Power Play

Rating Votes
10
5%
3
9
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3
8
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9
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17
6
21%
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5
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Average Rating
6.6
Votes
58
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User Rating:
4
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 1/21/16 4:55 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

'Power Play' written by Gary Hopkins involves the Doctor being chased by the space police before eventually landing in the middle of an anti-nuclear protest which, old friend and companion, Victoria Waterfield happens to be a chief component of. This invites the inevitable comparisons between this and 'The Green Death'.

Victoria could just as easily have been Polly, Zoe or Dodo; in fact, Zoe might have perhaps made the sudden anti-nuclear interest of the character would have made a bit more sense. Most of the Time Victoria doesn't remember The Doctor or is under the influence of the lizard-like space policemen, so this isn't really the Victoria we remember. Victoria was never a particularly fascinating character anyway. We learn nothing of what the character has been up to or who she is now. The Doctor and Peri are back to their original bickering and sniping at each other pre-'Trial of a Timelord' selves, but outside of the two regulars, the remaining characters are terribly bland.

The music fails to evoke the feel of eighties 'Doctor Who' and the directing is mediocre. The story will leave you paralytic with boredom and lacks any real threat with no deaths or anybody going missing until quite late on; it's all bark and no bite. It also lacks any humour and is totally unengaging.
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User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
6
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8
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 10/29/15 9:33 am
2 out of 3 found this review helpful.

I found Power Play to be a very entertaining piece. It's a multi-layered story with a mystery over why space police are pursuing the Doctor and another over what exactly is going on a new nuclear reactor with a mysterious power source.

While the production had its issues, there's a lot I enjoyed. There were some fairly clever plot twists throughout the tale. The characters are interesting and well-drawn. This is helped by very solid acting all around. While this is hardly the first time Doctor Who has dealt with an evil power plant, thridee story was less strident than has often been the case when dealing with nuclear energy.

While the story wasn't trying to be comedy, it was chock full of amusing moments such as when the Doctor asked one of the protesters if he'd really just called him dude. The story poked fun at genre conventions as three captured nuclear protesters realized that their hope of escape from the alien ship orbiting the planet depended on them being able to use weapons they didn't know how to operate as well as speaking an alien language.

The story did have its share of faults as there were some plotholes and it was disappointing that the Ultimate villain behind the plot is someone we've never heard of and know nothing about other than that they're "terrible." Only the first half of the story was originally written in the 1980s, and that was rewritten before being produced, so I think this had less of a period feel than most other lost stories, particularly with mobile phones being used which was a big thing in 1984.

The decision to bring back Victoria is odd and according to the extras, the idea behind it would be that it would be interesting that someone born in the age of steam and steel would be a nuclear protester However, I don't think ultimately followed through on that idea or explored Victoria as a character, what her life since leaving the TARDIS, or what made her decided to become a protester. She was just there.

Overall, despite some weak points, this was still a fun story to listen to.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
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NR
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Reviewed By: jolyonReview Date: 10/7/12 10:39 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

I enjoyed Victoria Alcock's performance as Marion, David Warwick as Dysart and Miles Jupp as Dominic. Deborah Watling's return to Victoria is quite a fun older lady, whilst Colin and Nicola put in the usual good performances as the Doctor and Peri. Despite nice characters and a fairly interesting plot, there is something not quite right here. I agree with Eiphel's comment that the play is extremely flat. Would have preferred this one to have stayed lost.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
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NR
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Reviewed By: EiphelReview Date: 6/29/12 2:32 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Last month's Guardians of Prophecy didn't excite me, but I give it credit for a pitch perfect evocation of the period. Certainly anyone whose prime motivation in buying this range was to experience stories that felt exactly of their periods, Guardians would have served them well. Alas, Power Play is to me less exciting than Guardians even was, and at the same time, does not really manage to evoke any era of Who at all. Most off-key is Victoria hanging around in contemporary times allied with a coterie of protestors you'd expect to find with Jo Grant, in a way that doesn't really evoke the era of the second or sixth Doctors. But even the other aspects of the play, such as the nuclear power focus, which on paper seems like it ought to fit, just don't make me feel connected to any era of Who. Ken Bentley mentions in the extras he didn't really direct it as such, believing that it was down to the sound designer to evoke the mood, and whether he's right or not, the sound design alone doesn't achieve it. Nothing does.

Everything else about the story affected me much the same, which is to say, not a lot. I just found myself nonplussed throughout, waiting to be engaged. So little is done with Victoria I'm not sure what the point in her return was. Deborah Watling plays what's written, but what's written is a rather dull old woman whose history with the Doctor is barely utilised.

The plot is split into a few distinct strands, and that doesn't accomplish much either. The individual threads of the story aren't in any way additive, failing to enhance one another or really synergise at all. It just feels like three or so rather mundane bits of story progressing in relative isolation. In fact, for more than half the story, it doesn't feel like they're going to tie up at all; it seems like the story really just hinges on a lot of random happenstance and there's no narrative momentum suggesting eventual coherence. When things finally do pull together in episode four there's a bit of a step up in excitement, but it follows three episodes of rather underwhelming trundling. Even then, the tying up of the various strands falls back on an old and lacklustre excuse for the convolution of events.*

Aside from a rather superfluous Victoria, Colin and Nicola Bryant do their best with a bland script, but they have no great moments. The squadron of protestors are featureless and unengaging, except for David, who is actively annoying with his ineffectual whimpering and refusal to believe anything.

At least David Warwick's Dysart is good value. The only character of notable depth, it actually takes some time to traverse the layers of his nature, and Warwick makes him engaging and real. I only wish there was more of him to take up the slack. His boss Dominic, played by Miles Jupp, is suave and charismatic, and wins you over with the power of his performance. Credit to Jupp, because Dominic's a bit cardboard in the writing. (I do at least like the idea of his line of work.)

Lizardy alien cops Weska and Leiss are the most classic Who feeling element of affairs, but not really. Leiss is about as compelling as 'lizardy alien cop' would make you imagine, but Weska is at least engaging in part four. Howard Gossington and Andrew Dickens manage to summon up a fair bit of interplay in the scenes between the two.

Ultimately, I felt this play was extremely flat. The writing seemed mundane and without spark. The most amusing moment was a little pun on 'The Invisible Enemy'. Other than that, very little was remotely memorable. (And the 'Nothing. Nothing will happen' line is becoming a clich?.)

Boring, I'm afraid. And a distinct shame that Victoria's return was so pointless. 4/10


*SPOILER:

When Peri specifically asks the villain why he hasn't done something much simpler, he tells her he tries to keep himself amused. I always find this a tediously weak excuse for a plot that's been complicated to add 'interest', because it means the only reason it's supposed to be interesting is because the writer has complicated it.