Doctor Who #278: Inferno Part 5

"There's never been a bore like this one." (A dangerous promise made early in the episode.)TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.6 1970.

IN THIS ONE... Penetration zero causes the start of the end of the world. Stahlman and his hairies convert alt-Benton. And the Doctor tells alt-Brig and alt-Liz they can't come to the happy universe.

REVIEW: This is where it all goes to hell for the characters, and yet, I find the episode lacking. I should like it a lot more than I do, as there are memorable scenes in it. Benton turning into one of Stahlman's primeval dog-boys is shockingly swift. Stahlman infecting technicians but shoving their faces into super-hot goo definitely has a high creep factor. And I do like seeing the alternate version of Sir Keith's car trouble in our universe, which could easily have become as sinister as Earth-2's. (And look! The UNIT era has to be in the future, or did they have car phones in 1970?)

Unfortunately, much of the episode is devoted, lack the previous one, to the Doctor trying to convince pig-headed people that they're in danger. Alarms blaring, steam rushing out of the ground, heat rising, and still they're arguing with him. By the time they accept it, it's just more arguing about why he can't take them with him when he leaves their dimension. The Doctor is certainly over-stating the danger of a "dimensional paradox" in light of the Mickey/Ricky situation closer to our time, but he'd probably say anything not to have an evil Brig on True Earth. The Doctor might have been smarter to let them believe in the possibility, then ditched them at the last minute. There was little chance that these fascist versions of the regular cast would be swayed by the whole "let's save another universe" argument anyway. So more shouting then, and when it's not in anger, it's to be heard over the loud drilling/steaming background noise. It's an episode to watch with some aspirin handy.

Stahlman was never very interesting, but as an animal man, he's even less so (and explanation for which is still forthcoming). The steaming model is at odds with the location, where there are no eerie pink skies and alt-UNIT personnel finds the time to lounge lazily around as the earth supposedly splits open from the pressure. Petra jumps into Sutton's arms because she's frightened as their subplot cranks it up to clichéed matinée melodrama all of a sudden. And the only bits of action are awkwardly staged fights.

- Terribly noisome, most of the time, it's more annoying than compelling, but there are bright spots.


Bully said...

Chewbacca, no!

Anonymous said...

Mitchell Craig said...

This episode bears out my earlier point about why "Inferno" should have been a four-part adventure.

And as silly as the green thermal men look, they're not quite up to the Myrka in "Warriors of the Deep", but that can wait a bit.


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