Doctor Who #535: The Leisure Hive Part 2

"His scarf killed Stimson." "Arrest the scarf, then."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.6 1980.

A murder is pinned on the Doctor who is sentenced to test Romana and Hardin's temporal rejuvenation equation.

REVIEW: I didn't mention the new question marks on the Doctor's collar in my review of Part 1, but I really should because they seem somewhat at odds with the new way of doing things. The Leisure Hive seems an attempt at making more subtle television, less reliant on exposition. It is full of inferences. Look at the relationship between Mena and Hardin, for example. They only briefly mention that their relationship must change because of her new position, but it isn't explained further. And yet, it informs Hardin's second thoughts about defrauding the Argolin. It is crucial to his motivation and makes him open up to Romana about the whole scheme. Similarly, his business partner Stimson's skulking over to Brock's room infers he's the mastermind behind all this, and Klout's skin suit in the closet goes even further, telling us these are likely Foamasi who shop at the same store the Slitheen do. (The green lightning in Brock's quarters were probably the first giveaway.) And when Mena talks about the sterilization of her entire species, we might come to understand something about young, headstrong Pangol. The very youngest of his race? And this is all INFERRED, SUGGESTED, not explicitly said (as yet).

Now look at those question marks again. The show is called Doctor Who, a title that asks a question, but the characters don't know this. It's an all-too-knowing inside joke and more on-the-nose than anything else in the program. It's also part of the visuals for visuals' sake aesthetic of JNT's new Who. They don't make sense, but neither does a man being split apart or turned into a wizened Greek philosopher in a special effects booth. Or colorful alien controls that entail sliding various gems into slots. But it's all very interesting too LOOK AT. And for better or worse, that's the point. Pure television, if you will. There are some flubs on that score, of course, in particular everyone commenting on Mena's growing decrepitude when the make-up really doesn't warrant it. We know they can do it, just look at how Tom Baker's been aged. Ah well.

On a plot level, The Leisure Hive is really just a big real estate scheme (where's Lex Luthor when you need him?), but the Argolin do bring a certain pathos as the victims of this vicious land grab. The length of their war - 20 minutes - is a point well taken about mutually-assured destruction scenarios, and no Argolin eyes will ever see the planet free of radiation (in 300 years). Not unless tachyonic rejuvenation is made a reality. The Doctor being framed for murder is a case of having been down that road before, though I like how Stimson is made to look like an important baddie only to be killed the next scene over. A good twist, and the lighting hasn't been this low in ages. And hey, he's sentenced to be aged or de-aged 10-12 years, which shouldn't make a difference to a Time Lord, except that Romana's scientific arrogance has once again reared its ugly head. The experiment isn't over until the fat lady explodes, Romana.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I'm enjoying the added subtlety, and it's certainly colorful, but the nonsense science will always be a problem for me.



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