Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 8/6/17 4:12 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
I really enjoy this story a lot. I'm not entirely sold on the idea of Naxi, a "sport" that consists of nothing more than two teams of players trying to kill one another in an uncontrolled free-for-all, but the story is sufficiently engaging that I'm happy to go along with it. Let's just say that there's a lot about Naxi that doesn't much sense if you think about it, so perhaps it's best not to.
There's really a lot to say about this story. Let's start with William Russell, who is an absolute joy. He's given a very good character to play, and he nails it. The script does a really masterful job of handling this character. The Doctor sets expectations extremely high by telling Nyssa that he considers Lord Carlisle to be a personal hero. Obviously, he has to be pretty impressive if the Doctor considers him a hero. Then we meet him, and he turns out not to be particularly impressive at all. Then it seems like he's hiding something sinister, and he might turn out to be a villain. But the truth is better than any of these possibilities.
The story is in six-parts, which is highly unusual. The script makes use of the old 4/2 trick, where you structure a six-part story as a four-parter followed by a two-parter (or, in the case of "The Seeds of Doom", the other way around) in order to prevent the story from getting stale. In my opinion, the final two episodes of the story are quite a bit weaker than the first four (with the exception of the resolution of the Carlisle storyline, which is beautiful), but the structure basically works. Just as the Naxi/peace conference storyline runs out of juice, the story introduces a whole new villain to take us the rest of the way through.
There's also a real confidence to the script. Just listen to the second episode, for example. The main focus of the episode is the Naxi match, and the script maintains a lot of tension and a fast pace throughout. Without interrupting the flow of the action, the script also lays the groundwork for subsequent developments in the story. It sounds effortless, but it's extremely deft.
I've dropped my score a little bit because, mainly because the story really does lose focus in those last two episodes, and the resolution is perhaps a bit too easy. Even so, it's a highly enjoyable story overall.