Doctor Who #213: The Dominators Part 2

"An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie." "Eh?" "Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?" "Oh aye, it's easy."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.17 1968.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor plays dumb for the Dominators. Cully and Zoe get no traction with their story with the Dulcian Director.

REVIEW: As far as putting money on the screen, The Dominators continues to do that. The Dominator saucer interior has psychedelic displays and lots of detail, the Dulcian city is pictured on an intriguing matte painting and features cool deco furniture and strange brick-a-brac (what IS that top like thing on the table?), the capsule model flies through the clouds, that of the scientific base gets blown up, and Dominators can magnetically draw you to a wall (obviously done with a camera angle trick, but more fun than simple pantomime). What it's NOT putting on the screen is logic and coherence.

I'm just not sure I buy how dense both the Dulcians and Dominators are. They show a scientist who sees no reason to waste time proving facts (the HOW and the WHY are not important, apparently), and once goaded into checking on the story told by Cully, the Doctor and Jamie, conveniently forgets the story was a warning, and gleefully leads his party into the Dominators' hands. I hope he, especially, gets Quarked, but his students are just as dumb, if not dumber. Over in the city, Cully keeps insisting that asking questions has gone the way of the dodo on Dulkis, but nobody wants to believe him. So they do question, but only when it's least convenient for the protagonists. Cully's own casual reference to not knowing how a travel capsule works approaches a kind of irony, but the script's really not sure-footed when it comes to its own theme. As for the Dominators, their lack of depth is showing already. Rago is "INVESTIGATE" and Toba is "DESTROY" and the buck stops there. Rago's scientific method is up there with the Dulcians though, because he doesn't probe the Doctor after Jamie, concluding that they're the same without checking. Because he buys the Doctor's story about a cleverer caste, he does probe a Dulcian later and finds two hearts and a bigger brain. The former should tweak Whovian interest, but the latter is hard to believe.

Thankfully, the Doctor and Jamie are entertaining as they try to convince the Dominators of their cattle-like stupidity, ironically preparing them for how the Dulcians actually are. The comedy gets a bit Three Stooges in places, but these two have great chemistry and are always good for a chuckle. One does wonder if the Dominators had more difficult tests they could run, because they really start a low level. Handing Jamie a working gun and later setting the two of them loose doesn't speak well of their own intelligence either. Zoe's story isn't quite as interesting, and for some reason, her dialog seems particularly stilted and rote. Children's television style? The thread has an unfortunate moment where Cully telegraphs something that's about to happen, as if we can't follow a simple story, but also Zoe's first ever scream (a good one). You wanted to "feel" things, brainchild? You've got it.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Neither of these alien races are well thought out, but the Doctor and Jamie know how to amuse, and the effects are designs are fun.

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