Doctor Who #343: Frontier in Space Part 4

"I mean, they think I run around all day with terrific looking James Bond style going to suave dinner parties."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.17 1973.

IN THIS ONE... The Master springs the Doctor from jail and puts him in another jail. He almost escapes via spacewalk.

REVIEW: Are you kidding me?! The Doctor and Jo have been escaping from one jail cell and ending up in another (or the same one) for three episodes straight now! What is going on?! The Doctor's about to escape Lunar prison, but it's a trap. He escapes it, but gets thrown into solitary for having tried to escape. The Master's on the Moon to reclaim him, and the villain has to convince the prison governor that he should give him up. So he springs the Doctor out of that cell and throws him into one on his spaceship, this time, with Jo. He escapes THAT cell, but the Master takes control of the situation by putting Jo in the airlock (the last time a companion was trapped in one, it didn't end too well, if you remember...), but she's saved by the Draconians boarding the Master's ship and taking EVERYONE prisoner. The episode ends on the Master calling his Ogrons to spring them out. So here we go again.

All this padding has me questioning if there's actually a story here. Not that there's nothing to see. The central escape attempt is well executed, with the Doctor sawing himself out and communicating with Jo with double meanings. She then starts a campaign of wearing on the Master's nerves by going on and on about her role at UNIT until he lowers the volume. It's a proper distraction, and maybe a little insight into Jo's character (but very little). The Doctor goes on a spacewalk and almost loses the ship when it makes a sharp course correction, and that's all rather well done, tense and exciting. Really, as far as action goes, there are plenty of fun bits. It's just that it's obvious padding, is all. During the escape attempt, the Master reads Wells' War of the Worlds, which has some cheek, but while fun, it doesn't add a whole lot to the plot. Where is this going, and why should we care? Those are the only questions I need to see answered.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Fun set pieces in terms of action and character, but the plot has been standing still for three episodes now. Bizarrely so.


Matthew Turnage said...

There is a lot of going in circles in this story with the repeated capture and escape, but for some reason it doesn't bother me with this one. Maybe it's because the arrival of the Master spices things up halfway through, maybe it's just the fun of seeing how many times they can repeat the same idea across six episodes. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I love Frontier in Space.

Siskoid said...

And I'm with you on that. The characters, the set pieces, the world-building and the designs are all quite fun and/or interesting. Just missing a plot to string them on, is all.


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