Doctor Who #675: Delta and the Bannermen Part 3

"Ready to rock and roll."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.16 1987.

IN THIS ONE... Delta's baby becomes a new princess, Billy turns himself into a spaceman, and the Bannermen are defeated.

REVIEW: You'd think telling this story in only three parts would keep the padding down to a minimum, but there's an awful lot of racing around on motorcycles in the finale. And yet, it also feels like there's an act missing. Gravok lets the Doctor leave with the hostages much too easily. You keep waiting for the double-cross and it never comes. Sure, he booby-traps the TARDIS, but that's just to prevent the Doctor from giving Delta and her little princess a means of escape. And then Mel kind of just disappears as every other character, including some pretty secondary ones, are given all the lines and bits. So, yes, the story would have benefited from a fourth episode (or at least from cutting down on the driving scenes).

One such secondary character is the beekeeper, who's mostly there to talk about the bees' life cycle, because it mirrors the Chimerons'. It worked in Part 2, but it's a bit on the nose when he's saying these things while Delta is in the room feeding her daughter royal jelly from a tube. Still, the beekeeper is an enigmatic character, his head so far in the clouds you can steal the table he's sitting at without him noticing, and the knowing look he gives after the TARDIS dematerializes seems to say he's more than he let's slip. Another Time Lord in hiding on Earth? Regardless, he's due for a nasty surprise when he finds decades of fine honey smashed in his shed, courtesy of the Doctor's trap for the Bannermen. They could have done more with the character, and left the silly Americans out. They don't add very much to the story. As for Billy, he's so taken with Delta, he starts taking royal jelly to turn himself into a Chimeron so they can restart the race. Sadly, this love story has no spark, and Billy just comes off as creepy and/or deranged. Ray's better off without him.

Fun musical cues once again (mostly covers of 50s songs), and the story kind of ends like Grease, with the lovers flying off into the sunset while people on motorcycles wave goodbye. It should be noted that they did win the day with song, though not rock'n'roll, just rock'n'roll speakers. I like the look the Doctor gives Ray at the end, as if he's thinking of inviting her to join his travels, but thinking better of it when she fails his test. See, when the Doctor says your bike could be improved, don't sing the praises of the status quo. That's a sure sign that you're happy where you are and aren't TARDIS material. I just now noticed this is the first appearance of the 7th Doctor's question mark umbrella, replacing the ordinary one he had in the previous two stories, but though I've seen this story maybe four times now, I also only now noticed the Bannermen were called that because a lot of them carry war banners on their backs. I guess I'm a little slow. Because it's a story about rock'n'roll, I never looked beyond the title sounding like a band's name (Echo and the Bunnymen, most obviously), I guess.

VERSIONS: The Target novelization features an epilogue in which Delta and Billy reach the brood planet which is covered in hexagons (i.e. honeycombs) and the Bannermen are taken to galactic court. The Bannermen are a whole species, not a simple mercenary band. The two Americans have been posted to Wales as a demotion, explaining why they're pathetic and desperate to get in the White House's good graces. The book is most famous for two misprints, the spine calling it Delta and the Bannerman (singular), and the Doctor "peeing over a shelf" (actually, "peering"). Good times.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A fun romp with some action and music, but padding in a three-parter is almost inexcusable and the romance element is the pits.

- I like the whimsy and atmosphere, but it never quite comes together. There's just too much happening, not always keeping to the story's tone, for it to really rock my socks off.


Jayunderscorezero said...

Or Echo and the Bunnymen...

Siskoid said...

That's what I should have said, but I was fighting a coma when I wrote that. Told you - slow.

Madeley said...

Haven't watched this story in years- certainly pre-new-Who. The only thing I really remember about it is the usual annoyance at the inclusion of the Stereotypical Welsh, and the holiday camp setting perpetuating the idea of Wales just being somewhere that the English go on holiday.

Of course, we're the home of the show these days, so that lessens the sting a bit.

Siskoid said...

I know your pain, given the terrible Quebec productions that fob off Quebeckers as Acadians and always make stories in New Brunswick about fishing villages and nothing else.


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