Doctor Who episodes 644 & 645: Slipback – Episode Five & The Final Episode (8/8/1985)
‘Your gratuitous use of violence often disturbs me.’ OK, it’s definitely poking fun at the TV show’s cancellation. A schizophrenic computer is revealed as the baddie. Its plan: to use the Doctor’s knowledge of time travel to go back and set all life on a more peaceful course to avoid all the ‘pointless wars, the butchery and self-inflicted unhappiness’. This is quite fun, and much more accessible than, say, the Cybermen tweaking the outcome of a 1966 TV episode. It has a kind of grandeur that Douglas Adams might have approved of.
Meanwhile, the hypochondriac Captain is revealed to be able to infect the crew with the illnesses he cultivates, if the mood takes him. And with a suspicion that Grant has usurped his droit de seigneur to elope with Peri, the Captain is in a very bad mood indeed. The deadly disease he’s currently incubating, mors immedicabilis, sounds like something out of Harry Potter.
The Final Episode
‘You must cease your activities.’ Astonishingly, Saward manages to conclude this with the Doctor being deliberately sidelined and everyone on the Vipod Mor dying in order to bring about the Big Bang. It’s almost gobsmackingly wrong, especially since up until the final scenes the Doctor seemed to be making more of a difference than in most of the Season 22 episodes. I guess it’s meant to be a joke, and in context (this was broadcast as part of a Radio 4 programme aimed at children and teenagers), the punchline that the Doctor ought to spend more time in the library makes some sense. But, no.
Implying that the Doctor’s interference does more harm than good (almost preventing the creation of the universe must count as one of his biggest blunders), and that he’s been drunk throughout the story, leaves a bitter taste to what was shaping up to be one of Saward’s best scripts. Still, his involvement (with references to ‘bastic torpedoes’ harking back to Revelation of the Daleks’ bastic bullets) alongside Jonathan Gibbs’ incidental music, and Baker’s enthusiastic cliffhanger yells (the audio equivalent of all those end-of episode crash zooms) makes this an authentic coda to Season 22.
Next episode: The Trial of a Time Lord