Doctor Who #214: The Dominators Part 3

"Resistance will only lead to violence." "And submission leads to slavery."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.24 1968.

IN THIS ONE... Zoe and Cully become slaves of the Dominators and the Doctor eats his first jelly baby.

REVIEW: You know what? Jamie is our audience identification figure, and when he grows impatient, so do we. Apparently, it's the Dulcian way to argue and debate everything, avoiding, if at all possible, making any kind of decision. If that's your culture, fine, but it doesn't make for very good drama and just seems obstructive to the plot. The Dominators aren't any better, though their arguments are much simpler and more polarized, with Toba finding any excuse to kill and destroy and Rago stopping him from wasting energy. Can you imagine if this had been a 6-parter as originally conceived? They say they cut out a lot of "old men arguing" by shrinking it down, for which I'm grateful. It could have been a 4-parter and I'd have been even happier.

It's not the first time a companion has had to grumble at an alien race's paralyzing brand of pacifism and/or general lack of military ability. It's been going on since Ian and Barbara met the Thals, and once forced Vicki to become a rebel leader (The Space Museum). This episode's unlikely militant is Zoe, who proves superior to the Dulcian work party in every way. Brave little soul, she even lies down on a rock begging Cully to fire at the Quarks, but of course, he misses his opportunity. Some people are beyond helping, you know? The Dulcians are such useless creatures, you almost want them to get conquered. And when a Quark finally gets shot, his cuteness means you feel sorry for the little guy. It's a good thing the Dominators are douchebags who lack imagination, because this is a story that makes you root for the monsters, and want to see bad things happen to the victims.

While Zoe does acquit herself very well as a heroine (the Dulcians fail her, of course), the Doctor and Jamie are up to a bit of slapstick comedy on their way back to the Island of Death. In attempting to change the course of the capsule, the Doctor starts fiddling with the open circuits much in the same way I used to with my old Atari 2600 joysticks when they gave out. When we cut back to them later, the Doctor's feet are sticking out of the flooring. It's crazy, and it's fun, and the boys are doing their best to make this snorefest of a story entertaining. And as mentioned above, this sequence also features the historic first appearance of the Doctor's bag of sweets, which we'll find out later is full of jelly babies. Fourth Doctor trademark, sure, but as I've previously claimed, the Second Doctor IS the most influential of them all.

THEORIES: Is Zoe so strong because she was genetically engineered? The pieces of rubble she lifts right up to her face are HUGE, and she's the last one to collapse from exhaustion (faking it). It could be that Dulcian building materials are relatively light-weight, or even that their gravity is below Earth-normal, but I'd rather like to think Zoe's genetic gifts aren't all concentrated on her brain.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Great stuff on the part of the regulars, I just wish they weren't forced to overdo it just to keep the mind-numbing SF plot afloat.


Anonymous said...

I've always read Zoe outlasting the Dulcians as an indication that their culture was entirely intellectual and didn't set any store by physical fitness -- whereas no doubt everyone on the Wheel followed a comprehensive exercise programme. But the idea of an actual super-strong Zoe (probably delighting in beating Jamie at arm-wrestling) is too good to ignore.

Siskoid said...

Zoe vs. a superhero is only days away.


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