‘You may keep the pencil.’ And after criticising Nyssa’s inaction in the previous episode I’m immediately proved wrong by the way she leaps to the Doctor’s rescue. Her evident delight when he tells her she’s brilliant is lovely, and you can see why Davison thought she was a better fit for the fifth Doctor than Adric, who needs to be talked round into not siding with the baddies, and Tegan, whose weepy impetuousness has now put the TARDIS and its crew in peril.
Like Castrovalva, Four to Doomsday’s second half is much better than its first, by virtue of including some action and stakes. It isn’t a very good story – again, the lack of an experienced script editor leaves it feeling a bit first draft, a bit fuzzy and out of focus. However, it has some funny moments – much more obviously funny, in fact, than JNT would normally allow (‘I wouldn’t dream of interfering with your Monopticons’; the Doctor making a yah-boo face at Monarch).
Stratford Johns is very good as the corpulent villain, ironically fleshy and venal given his distaste for the ‘flesh time’ – I particularly enjoy the scene of him watching the wrestling on the telly. His fate, though, is one of the unfocused bits of the script – the Doctor hurls a huge flask of poison at him, and he seems to shrink. Is he dead? Did the Doctor just kill him (in self defence), or has he been left to the androids to deal with? The music, by Roger Limb, has Box of Delight-ish moments, which is very pleasing. In Who’s Next, Mark Clapham, Eddie Robson and Jim Smith praise this one as ‘a hundred minutes of captivating television’. I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far, but I definitely warmed to it as it went on.
Next episode: Kinda