Doctor Who #513: City of Death Part 2

"Ah. Well, you're a beautiful woman, probably..."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.6 1979.

IN THIS ONE... Captured by the Scarlionis the Doctor, Romana and Duggan uncover six Mona Lisas in the cellar, all real, so the Doctor goes back in time to talk to da Vinci.

REVIEW: When all the characters are thrust together, it's magic. The Doctor and Romana are both wonderful, taking control of every situation, whether it's playing with puzzle boxes (I think Romana was being facetious when she said she was never any good at geometry in Part 1), reversing the captor/hostage dynamic (everyone is so damn charming), or using their imprisonment to learn all about Scarlioni's plot (it's a doozy). And this despite the Scarlioni's immense screen presence and charismatic power. The only thing hindering the Time Lords, it seems, is their ALLY, Duggan, a man who can only interact with the world by hitting it. On the surface, he's a funny cartoon character. Ironically, he's a man paid to protect art from thieves who routinely breaks (or tries  to break) priceless works of art over their heads. And thematically, he's that violent element that is anathema to the Doctor's method, personified. Every time the Doctor gets somewhere in a conversation, someone gets knocked out.

The plot the Doctor uncovers is really loopy, beautifully so. Somehow, Scarlioni/Scaroth has bricked up no fewer than six Mona Lisas, copies made by Leonardo himself, for him to sell to unscrupulous private collectors... if only he can steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and make them all "available". We even get a demonstration of the high-tech devices he'll use to do it. This will finance his time travel experiments which apparently have nothing to do with the Mona Lisas themselves... or do they? When the Doctor pops back in time (I guess the randomizer can be switched on and off) to talk to Leonardo, he meets Captain Tancredi who appears to be Scarlioni as well. This is getting timey-whimey before the term was ever invented!

Take out the fun characters, the great actors, and the satisfyingly complex plot, and you'd still have the wonderfully funny dialog. I was tempted to replace with review with a list of quotes, and it would have worked just as well as a recommendation. I hope you'll appreciate my restraint. And none of that running through Paris stuff in Part 2 either.

REWATCHABILITY: High - I'm usually very fond of set-ups, then get disappointed in the later chapters, but City of Death Part 2 is noticeably better than Part 1. And Part 1 was really good.



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