‘This is no time for games. The future of Paradise Towers is at stake. We must all work together.’ Some of the themes of the McCoy years emerge as the Blue and Red Kangs have to overcome their enmity, pawns joining forces to combat a once-repressed but now resurgent evil. The beast in the cellar is Kroagnon – the Great Architect imprisoned, like Freddy Krueger, by the Kangs’ parents and now getting his revenge on the children. This reveal gives Paradise Towers a haunted house vibe as it begins turning on its unwelcome inhabitants.
McCoy’s performance is much more surefooted than in Time and the Rani. His scene with Richard Briers is excellent as he physically swaps places with the Chief Caretaker, twisting from being interrogated to becoming the one asking the questions. I wonder, perhaps, whether Briers’ hamming has the same effect on McCoy as Joseph Furst’s did on Troughton (in The Underwater Menace): rather than rising to it, they find new subtleties in their own reactions. The clowning is dropped now he’s realised the seriousness of the situation, and there’s an undercurrent of menace which only really recalls Tom Baker’s Doctor at his coldest.
The problems with this episode largely boil down to its reach exceeding its grasp. The pool in the sky needed to be more spectacular than the damp stockbroker belt one we get: Mel’s effusiveness sounds absurd when it’s describing mossy concrete and plastic garden furniture. Similarly, Kroagnon needed something better than two pink neon lights: better to have just had a voice in the mist. And Richard Briers’ performance is very broad. I think it’s easy to overstate how problematic this is, though, as the whole piece is very stylised. Perhaps the exception is Tilda’s knife violence, which would never make it to screen in the modern series.
Next episode: Paradise Towers – Part Four