‘What is the one thing that stands against entropy, against random decay? Life.’ Everyone seems to have been obsessed by entropy and the decline of Western Civilisation in the late 1970s – hence, I suppose, the White Guardian, the Logopolitans and now Skagra. It says a lot about the defining mood of the decade.
This continues to be a very talky story: Skagra has kidnapped Romana and the TARDIS to take her somewhere else for a chat; the Doctor and Chris rush to Think Tank and the Doctor borrows Chris’ mind to let him have a chat with Caldera; Chronotis returns from the dead for a cup of tea and a chat with Clare. It’s all very witty (I love how all the academics are known by their initials), and the monstrous Krargs (silicon life forms, apparently) are something for the kids, but essentially the first four episodes boil down to Skagra needing the book to get into the Time Lord prison planet Shada and free the master criminal Salyavin.
Fortunately, this again means the animation isn’t too taxed: even the attacking Krarg largely stands still while K9 shoots it. Instead, marvel at the very turn-of-the-millennium “organic technology” designs (very Farscape, very Babylon 5).
As the story continues, the differences between versions reduce, and the changes in dialogue are minimal. This includes a couple of interesting touches (Chronotis returning dressed like Scrooge; some really nifty shots of Skagra’s ship leaving Cambridge), and necessarily needs to more closely match the animated and live action designs of the Krargs, which are more clomping than in the broadcast version. Think Tank and its inhabitants look more suitably dilapidated.
Next episode: Shada – Episode Five