Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 8/10/17 2:30 pm
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In some ways, this is an extremely unusual "Doctor Who" story. There's no violence, or even a threat of violence. It's a straight time-travel drama, if that makes sense. The only threat is that the "villain", Henry, wishes to for Mel to marry him. "Doctor Who" has always been an adventure series, and that means action, danger, and violence. Even stories that de-emphasize these elements usually don't leave them out entirely. I can understand people who don't like this story, or who find it boring, but I think it's a lovely change of pace. I certainly wouldn't want "Doctor Who" to be like this all the time, but it's a very nice change of pace.
On the other hand, the story is actually extremely similar to "The Marian Conspiracy", broadly speaking. Both stories give us a history lesson in Part One. Specifically, both stories give us the family history of the companion. Then, both stories proceed to involve the Doctor and companion in that history directly. If you're not convinced, look at the cliffhangers to each story's third episode. They are the same. In both, the threat is that one of our leads is actually part of that history already. In "The Marian Conspiracy", it looks like the Doctor is one of Evelyn's ancestors, and that he's destined to be executed by Queen Mary. In "Catch-1782", it looks like Mel is the mysterious Eleanor Hallam, who will live in Hallam Hall until her death in 1811.
To be clear, I don't mention this as a criticism. Similarities like these are inevitable in any long-running series, and the two stories are quite distinct in every other way. It does annoy me just a little bit that we now have two sixth Doctor/Mel stories in a row where the Doctor leaves her stranded for several months. If I were Mel, I might have stayed with Uncle John in 2003 after all that.
Anyway, I find this to be a very enjoyable story. I can see why some people don't like it, and there are some plot issues I could bring up if I were in a less generous mood, but overall I find this to be a charming and delightful story.