Doctor Who #671: Paradise Towers Part 3

"Two of my next door neighbours have just disappeared down the waste disposal chute. I wouldn't wish that on anybody."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.19 1987.

IN THIS ONE... Mel finds the pool. The Doctor figures out the Great Architect is still in the building.

REVIEW: Mel survives her encounter with the cannibals thanks to an absurd deus ex machina - because I can't see how the Cleaner robots can get a woman of Tabby's girth through the triangular window of the the waste disposal - and then spends the rest of the episode pretty going up and down on the lift until she finds the pool. It's the usual Part 3 shenanigans, wasting time waiting for the conclusion. Still, there's a pretty fun submarine robot waiting for her in the pool, and Pex gets to rescue her at least once, which surprises even him. It's padding, but entertaining enough. Though yeah, I am sort of getting annoyed at Mel, or rather, at Bonnie Langford, whose performance might work on a stage, but not on the small screen. Badly play-acting unless she's screaming.

Thankfully, the Doctor has a much more eventful time figuring out what's going on at Paradise Towers, leading the Kangs, and confounding the Chief Caretaker. It's not perfect, since he's turned into an exposition delivery tool at one point, somehow knowing all about the Great Architect and how the guy turned psycho after building Miracle City. The Doctor intuits that the guy has been trapped inside Paradise Towers, though I'm not sure it would make sense for a society to lock their kids and seniors in there with him if they'd done it on purpose. Nevertheless, the Doctor is actively putting the pieces together through stories and marketing videos (which game the Towers a little more scale, though the penthouse pool does too). Fun note: The video is on a DVD, so the episode scores points for predicting an actual future medium (though of course, DVDs are not likely to reach the time frame presented). Viewers afraid this new Doctor was just a clown can be relieved he's also a thinking man, and one ready to sacrifice his own safety to protect the Kangs.

And the Kangs really are turning out to be the best thing about this story. Their lingo is fun, and you can very well imagine them as abandoned young girls, slowly turning their games into the only reality they know. When the Blue Kangs find the Reds' "brainquarters", they "win the game", making them the most benign street gang in all of space and time. They've probably been playing it since they were toddlers. And their strange vocabulary was largely created by mangling adult words they misunderstood, like carrydoors and alleviators. In a way, they're kind of prototypes for Ace. Bonus: One of the gangs "scrawls" on the TARDIS. Not the words "Bad Wolf" however.

- While there's some charm to the proceedings, we just can't escape the dreaded Part 3 padding syndrome.


Anonymous said...

Curses! You're making me want to watch and re-evaluate Season 24. If I do that and end up charmed by it even a little, it will be a long slow word-eating tour all over the internet.

- Jason

Siskoid said...

If the bar is set at "even a little", then I think you may have to admit defeat, yes.

Anonymous said...

We shall see. IIRC, "Delta and the Bannermen" is the first and only Doctor Who story I actually switched off in disgust. I still don't think I've ever seen the end and didn't even try "Dragonfire" until years later - when I found it the most barely tolerable of the four.

Now this was in the late 80s of course, people do mellow and tastes do change. I have always preferred my sci-fi hard and serious unless the whole idea is to play it for laughs, like Hitchhiker's or Red Dwarf. But I may be more open-minded than I used to be.

- Jason

Bill Doughty said...

I'm sure Langford made a wonderful Peter Pan on stage, but I wish someone had told her here that she didn't have to play to the "back row" on television nearly so much. But given JNT's unabashed love for panto, he probably encouraged that for all I know. Wouldn't have been the only questionable decision of his tenure, that's for sure.

But when she's reigned in, she can be quite fun... I listened recently to the Big Finish audio The One Doctor and was shocked how much I liked the way Mel came off in that!

Siskoid said...

The Mel audios are pretty good, as if that brand of whimsy and silliness works without a hitch on audio. (I also quite like Bang-Bang-a-Boom! for example.)


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