Doctor Who #576: The Visitation Part 2

"Shush! Shush, shush, sir! Thievery is a matter of stealth, not hearty greetings."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.16 1982.

IN THIS ONE... Adric and Tegan are captured by the Terileptil, while the others find its life-pod and face mind-controlled villagers.

REVIEW: I'm unhappy to report the things I didn't like about Part 1 are still prevalent in Part 2. Slow-paced house exploration and running through the woods, and Richard Mace's irritating quips among them. The latter especially. I don't believe his fear at all. He puts on a brave front to hide absolutely nothing. What's unfortunate is that over these mild annoyances, the episodes adds an extra dollop of terrible. We're used to Adric giving up too much information to villains, of course, but it's still stupid and, by now, tired. The Doctor running off abandoning two companions to their fates is shockingly craven. And there's the Terileptil's life pod whose exterior doesn't match the interior no matter how you try to explain it. Giving the sequence the benefit of the doubt, I thought maybe the large room (though a life boat, it still manages to be the biggest set in the show) was down a hatch or corridor past the entrance, but no, that awful backdrop in the doorway is meant to be the woods outside. Then primitive arrows start getting stuck in metal that can withstand multiple hits from an axe. What a mess.

There are saving graces, thankfully. The Terileptil makes it's first on-camera appearance and it's a nice reptilian design. I like how this guy is disfigured, either from the crash or as a clue that he wasn't a crew member on the doomed prison ship, but rather a prisoner who was once tortured. It means he's not quite as cookie-cutter as he might otherwise have been. Terileptils (great name) don't breathe the same atmospheric mix we do, but it's close enough that we can co-exist, and the flower-shaped machine that dispenses the soliton gas is another good design. Not sure the consoles and bejeweled robot look like they come from the same culture (the green lighting helps the sets, at least), but the robot as grim reaper is at least a strong image that fits the pseudo-historical. Typically, these kinds of Doctor Who stories prove to be the origin or reinforcement of some folk tale, myth or legend.

Other good bits include the Doctor showing faith in Nyssa, even if it does relegate her to technical TARDIS scenes in the next episode, and her willingness to contradict him when she thinks his plan is flawed. The large number of companions in this era means the Doctor is surrounded by dissenting voices (very similar to the first Doctor's travels with Barbara, Ian and Susan). The Doctor responds to this with exasperation, notable for making his voice rise a few octaves. And there's amusement to be had by the controlled peasants communicating telepathically only with great difficulty. The cliffhanger, with the Doctor on his knees facing execution, is a cliché from barely two stories ago, but the Doctor at least has the wherewithal to say "Not again". Not the last time either.

- I find myself profoundly ambivalent about The Visitation (an experience common to every time I've ever watched it). I find a lot of good in it, but it also annoys the hell out of me.



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