Doctor Who #684: The Happiness Patrol Part 2

"I make sweets. Not just any old sweets, but sweets that are so good, so delicious that sometimes, if I'm on form, the human physiology is not equipped to bear the pleasure."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.9 1988.

IN THIS ONE... The Kandy Man gets stuck, Ace hangs with Pipe People, and the Doctor makes with the fast talk.

REVIEW: Ridiculous solutions to ridiculous monsters. The Kandy Man can be immobilized with lemonade, as there's some kind of chemical reaction between the citrus and the sweet robot's feet. Not asking questions, just happy to get away from this thing and back to interacting with proper humans. Regardless of the world's credibility (and it's that of a Paranoia RPG session), the Doctor's interactions with its people are pretty magnificent. I love how he turns galactic census taker Trevor Sigma's officiousness against him, proposing that HE'S higher-up in the Galactic Whatsit and demanding the same blind cooperation Trevor is, and taking that attitude right up to the chain to Helen A. It's one of the greatest (and most extended) feats of fast talk in the canon, and plays perfectly on the idea of a society where everything is classified or forbidden. People aren't trained to ask questions, quite the opposite, and will follow whoever has a notable confidence. The Doctor doesn't stop there. He also goes up to the guys on roof duty and disarms them. Guards like this are usually characterless killers, but while these moan about the better guns the girls get, they've probably never killed anyone, not at close range. The Doctor calls their bluff, asks them to look him in the eye and kill him, but they can't. There's something of the fourth Doctor in this sequence, the same type of goading and maybe a hint of hypnosis, but where Doc4 would have played it for laughs, Doc7 makes it a much darker scene. After this, you just don't know what he's capable of anymore. It's kind of scary.

Meanwhile, Ace is having her own adventures, running through pipes with Morlock types, the true natives of Terra Alpha who live underground and suck on dried candy. Could this planet be rich in natural sugar, which has been co-opted by Helen A's regime? Despite the Pipe People's help, Ace is unfortunately still stuck in a cycle of escape and capture, winding up right back where she started by episode's end. The Doctor having diverted the flow of the Fondant Surprise, Ace and sympathetic Susan Q (in case you didn't get how tongue in cheek this story already was) are sent to the forum for the Late Show, an alternative means of execution.

Ace is making her own friends and enemies - and doing a good job of standing up to authority figures, that's her thing - Earl Sigma stands in as the Doctor's companion, sharing risk and asking questions, and when he's not needed, he blends back into the story's soundtrack, a melancholy blues harmonica that's the true sound of this society. I mean, for a "happy" planet, there sure are a lot of sour citizens, aren't there? Depression is illegal, but anger isn't. And everybody's angry and bitter, except those at the very top. At the bottom, it's reverse-New Orleans with sad parades (illegal) and short tempers (at least decriminalized).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - There's a lot of repetitive back and forth, especially for Ace and (more hilariously) the Kandy Man, but the Doctor is magnificently manipulative.

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