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More about this serial
This is a three-part serial, first broadcast between 4th - 18th October 1989. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: the Doctor and Ace travel back in time to a haunted house where an alien learns about evolution and Ace meets some ghosts from her past.
It's impossible to discuss this story without spoilers, I'll start with the bits that I can discuss without spoilers.
The good bits:
The potentially less good bits:
When watching this story, there's one piece of advice I can give you:
Right. On to the spoilers.
What's going on - as far as I understand it: there's a spaceship in the mansion's basement. Apparently it has got there by the power of thought, and it can enter and leave without tearing down the entire building. The spaceship has three passengers: Light, a surveyor who's cataloguing the earth's life-forms, and two of his agents. Light sends one of these out into the world to evolve into the planet's dominant life-form, while the other, called Control, is kept inside the spaceship for comparison purposes. In the serial we meet one of the agents as Josiah, the master of the house - as it turns out he's killed the house's owner or, as it's called in this story, 'sent him to Java', and he's brainwashed the real owner's wife and daughter. We first see the other agent, Control, as a madwoman who's being kept locked-up in the basement.
One problem that I have with this story, is that Light's experiment seems to make no sense. The puzzling bits:
And, while I'm at it, I might as well get another puzzling bit out of the way:
My other problem with the serial is that Light and Control work as ideas, but not as characters. I'm not sure whether it's the script, the acting, the costume and make-up or a combination of these that's to blame. Maybe it's just that these characters are impossible to do believably even if you do get everything right. Then again, there's a Neanderthal butler who actually works as an interesting character with several poignant moments, which goes pretty much against all odds.
Another tough call. On the one hand, I'm not quite sure that this serial succeeds at what it's trying to do. On the other hand it has a great deal going for it, and it does show how different and off-the-beaten-track Doctor Who can be. Even though I didn't love this serial right from the start, it's been growing on me.
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Original version of this review:
Behind the sofa
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