The Doctor: We learn by our mistakes.
Story Code: C21.2.
Production Code: 6M.
Story Number: 131.
Countdown week: 11…
This story is in many ways a model for the Nu-Who style of 2 decades later: not just in the way a complex story is told over 45 minutes.
Like a lot of Nu-Who stories, the plot is not the main thing; characters, imagery, and atmosphere are just as important. The Doctor only fully explains the alien “machine” at the end of the story, and even then only vaguely. (In many ways this is like that other two-parter Inside the Spaceship). If this was Star Trek there would be much more “explanation” of the “science” of all of this, but as this is Doctor Who the story focuses more on atmospheric imagery and great lines for the characters – this story in particular bringing these Doctor Who traditions very much to the fore. That’s not to say the plot does not make sense – just that it’s lightly sketched. The story also recalls The Daemons (a “devilish” alien in a small village) – it is very much its own story though.
Amongst the magnficent outside filming and production design, the superb imagery (the Malus revealed and the smaller version clinging the to column of the TARDIS console room; the ghostly projections), a metaphor is spun. The Malus is the irrational momentum of War – “Just obeying orders Colonel”, “That’s what they all say” – a delirium that has happened in the past and will happen in the future unless (to use the Doctor’s phrase) “We learn by our mistakes”. The small village represents the world, and Sir George every tyrant swept up with notions of power.
As stylish as any DW story, a rare 2 x 25 minutes for Classic Doctor Who, though with less running-time one with even more ideas and content than “regular” ’80s stories.
The BBC have recently put the whole story on YouTube, click through for Episode 1…