Doctor Who #672: Paradise Towers Part 4

"The whole place is polluted with flesh. Living flesh."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.26 1987.

IN THIS ONE... The Chief Caretaker is possessed by the Great Architect and everyone bands against him.

REVIEW: The Great Architect's possession of the Chief Caretaker creates what may well be a career low for Richard Briers, forced to walk around like a zombie and growl out lines while wearing slightly metallic make-up. The Architect's ability to do this, or indeed the revelation that he's a mind trapped inside a building, comes out of nowhere and has no real justification. The Doctor makes all the leaps in logic necessary to explain the action, but we have to take these improbabilities on faith. I can certainly empathize with the plight of people who have to live in a building not really designed for people, since I personally work in such a place. Some architects don't seem to realize people will use the spaces they design and that's a truth. My satisfaction at the destruction of their avatar, the Great Architect, is hampered by the comical backwards fall Briers does. Sorry Pex, Briers' mugging makes your predictable sacrifice ridiculous as well. The bright and cheery musical cues don't help matters either.

That's not to say I hate everything about Part 4. I get some joy from the anarchic Doctor bringing the different parts of Paradise Towers society together and making them the instruments of their own liberation. It's even amusing how the Kangs reject every new partner at first then concede to allowing them to help. We can all forgive a sweet granny her occasional cannibalism, can't we? The moment when they make Pex an honorary Kang is kind of sweet even if they won't swallow their pride and do it themselves. "Pex lives" makes for a bitter-sweet final shot, no matter how obvious his sacrifice was. That was the only trajectory open to this cowardly cutlet.

And the regulars? With her red hair and blue outfit becomes the total Kang, fighting off a silly lobster-bot (silly, but I really like it) where Pax failed. The Doctor becomes an honorary Kang too, gifted with a red and blue scarf at the end. I was intrigued by a quick breaking of the fourth wall, with McCoy pulling a Tom Baker and somehow not making it look like he's sending the show up. Shades of the darkly mysterious Doctor he will become rather than the clownish jokester he was in his first story. Of course, everyone ELSE is sending it up so...

VERSIONS: The DVD features some deleted scenes, including a creepy flirtatious moment between the Doctor and the Rezzie known as Maddie (she may just be hungry though), and an alternate score. The Target novelization is fairly close to the broadcast episode, though there are a few more details, mostly related to the location and the Kang lingo.

- While the restrained McCoy Doctor is quite good, and there are some sweet moments, the villain and climax are total pants.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The story creates an interesting satirical society right out of Brit comics, and McCoy shows he doesn't HAVE to be a spoon-playing clown, but everyone else's comedic performance nearly sinks the whole enterprise.


Unknown said...

I have always enjoyed the evolution of Sylvester McCoy's Doctor. He ended on a higher note than where he began.

Siskoid said...

That's true. I'm finding out the curve may be steeper than expected.

Anonymous said...

For all its many flaws, I quite like Paradise Towers, perhaps for what is implied rather than what is realized.

Siskoid said...

I like that qualification. It fits.


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