Doctor Who #685: The Happiness Patrol Part 3

"There are no other colours without the blues."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.16 1988.

IN THIS ONE... Helen A's regime topples and the Kandy Man is killed.

REVIEW: Part 3 is when the tables are turned on the villains in every possible way. When the Patrol walks into the Forum, the Doctor laughs at them and presents an overly happy front, after which the drones bring the party led by Earl Sigma, turning the PATROL into the killjoys in comparison (zealot Priscilla P turns on them). The Kandy Man tries to escape down a pipe and the Pipe People turn the syrup on, smothering him, a real taste of his own medicine. But it's Helen A whose fate is most interesting. Abandoned even by her closest associates (chief engineer Gilbert M and kept man Joseph C), she's accosted by the Doctor who debates the value of a happiness existing without sadness, a life without contrasts. His contention is that she can never escape sadness because she can't escape herself, and when her poor Fifi crawl towards her and die, it's revealed how deeply she does feel. This was the story of a woman who repressed her own feelings and forced a similar repression on others. Amusingly, the climax is a polite, "happy" affair, full of smiles as people betray one another, and the Doctor thanking Daisy K for training Susan Q so she could get the drop on her. It's emotional as well as social chaos. I think the Doctor's second incarnation would have been proud.

Of course, while the story is on the cusp of being a whimsical classic, it doesn't quite get there. Oh, there are some nice moments like the Doctor singing "As Time Goes By" and Fifi's creepy running through the pipes, but then, I can't quite believe such a small animal would be that much of a threat to an armed group of Pipe People. The Kandy Man's eulogy is rather lackluster and could have used a pun or two. And we can't seem to get away from the redundant escape-and-capture rhythm established in Part 1 (though of course, now it's the villains doing the escaping and getting captured).

VERSIONS: The DVD includes a number of deleted scenes and trims, a lot of them featuring the Kandy Man (thanks!). The most important are Ace and the Doctor exploring Terra Alpha (the Kandy Kitchen, the party room), Trevor Sigma trying to interview the Kandy Man and discussing the 500 new committees his bureaucracy has just opened, Susan Q bonding with Ace and mentioning her illegal blues collection (and later coaching her on the auditions), and the Doctor being required to have a permit to hide in a particular location. In the Target novelization, Patrol vehicles chime like ice cream trucks, only Helen A has a distinctive hair style, the Kandy Man is sticky and gooey but otherwise seems to be a normal-looking person, the "disappeared" killjoys have back stories, and Ace wants to go after the fleeing Gilbert and Joseph. The deleted scenes are in the book's narrative as well.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - I like how things are thematically resolved. Shows more thinking than the structure would otherwise indicate.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I'm not entirely sure The Happiness Patrol can ever get out from under the shadow of its silly monster, or away from its padded structure, but it's a fun satirical romp nonetheless, with some great bits for the Doctor - Agent of Chaos.


Unknown said...

Even though the Kandy Man is silly, He is still an Iconic villain. Every Whovian knows who he is! *snickers*

Brian Geers said...

I thought he was more licorice allsorts than Snickers... (*rimshot*)

Bill D. said...

I only ever saw this one once, and I don't think I've even seen the whole thing, but I always liked the idea that the Doctor can be such a force for change that he could topple an entire regime in one night if he was of a mind to do so.

Really tempted to go back and revisit one of these days, Kandy Man and all!


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