Doctor Who #279: Inferno Part 6

"Do you want to end your lives fighting like animals?"TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.13 1970.

IN THIS ONE... Earth-2 blows up!

REVIEW: This story's monsters might be scary if you couldn't knock them out by blasting them in the crotch with a fire extinguisher. They might not even be much of a threat if their simple touch didn't turn you into one of them. And in this crazy apocalypse scenario, they're really the least of the Doctor's problems. We've got earthquakes and explosions approaching a nuclear reactor, a stuffy heat represented very nicely by a golden filter, and the Brigade Leader getting more and more hysterical. I can't be sure if the constant background sound forcing me to listen more closely to the actors' voices, almost drowned out at times, is an annoyance or actually contributing to my feeling the tension. In any case, this episode is doing what the show can't easily do, and that's an Earth-bound end of days story. The lava bursts are well integrated into the final sequences, and though the Doctor will escape, it looks grim for then parallel universe's cast of characters are that CSO tomato paste tsunami flows towards the shed.

After being sidelined and/or uni-dimensionalized, Liz Shaw finally gets a little more play. Though she didn't become a scientist in the parallel universe, we shouldn't forget she had the brains for it. Here, while the Brigade Leader rants and raves, she keeps her head, and even gives her some of her trademark lip. And she's the first to resign herself to her fate and in the end, saves the Doctor by shooting the Brig. Petra and Sutton show their noble sides as well, redeeming their world in our eyes just as it's about to end. We've been shown a darker world, yes, but it's not good riddance to bad rubbish when Armageddon comes. Alt-Lethbridge-Stewart is the one who freaks out, losing all the composure that made him cool in his first appearance, and it's very satisfying to see Sutton punch his lights out.

Back on our world, Stahlman prepares for penetration zero and it seems like there's no one who can stop him. In this calm before the storm, our versions of the UNIT gang get some fun character moments. Benton and the Brigadier are a fine double act, the former reporting the exact words of an insult, and the latter dressing him down and sending him off before sharing a slight smile with the audience. Caroline John gives an odd performance as the "real" Liz, playing coy with Sutton to the point of seeming sinister. Perhaps she doesn't trust him, and certainly doesn't want to tell him about the TARDIS, but the way she does it, toying with him, is quite a bit strange. And of course, we have to smile when Stahlman calls Benton an "ape-like minion" given what's going on through the looking glass.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- Light humor in our universe balances the apocalyptic gloom of the other very well, thanks.

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