Doctor Doctor Who Guide

So, after a patchy start and a much better number two, how was part three? Mixed. We get an alien plot and some emotive companion stuff. Taking those aspects apart from each other. . . . . . .

Nice alien set up in a sinister school. Lovely touch to have the Doctor and Rose already installed and investigating, the sight of Mr Tennant as a physics teacher made that pre-credits teaser for me. The Krillitanes are a well thought out race- here's hoping we see them again sometime. I loved the idea that they absorbed physical attributes from conquered races. They were also further supplemented by Anthony Head's superb star villain turn- if ever RTD or (if things go on) his successor ever bring back the Master, give Mr Head the role- that or the eleventh Doctor. . . . This said, I wasn't altogether convinced by the theoretical algorithm that the Krillitanes were using children to crack. This may be because, unlike LOGOPOLIS, there wasn't time for the concept to breathe, or it may be because there seemed to be a lack of technology to bring the theory into the physical realm. The use of children's imagination for evil is always strong horror material because abuse of children always is, but it was more impacting in REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS. However, the scene at the culmination of this where the Doctor is given the chance to remake history was powerful given all that we learned last season.

The opening scene with Head's headmaster inviting a child into his office to be eaten was a bit silly, despited Head's restrained performance. This was more than compensated for, however, by the impact of later scenes. The bats swarming the corridors, and hanging upside down in the office, were supremely effective. I loved K9's battle with them, and his little farewell scene with the Doctor, but of his self sacrifice I would say this: these 45 minute one parters are getting far too handy at using self sacrifices to advance or resolve the plots. Jabe in END OF THE WORLD, Gwyneth in UNQUIET DEAD, Roses' Dad in FATHER'S DAY (admittedly more in context) half the cast in TOOTH AND CLAW. And now K9. Ok, K9 was remade, but even so, mark III was sacrificed, and sacrifice gets formulaic if we see it too often.

Moving on, the plot generally wound up well. The role played by a small plump boy who then becomes a hero by blowing up the school was nice, a typical touch of RTD's influence- bringing in incidental charcter into a central place where they grow, and making the kind of kid who usually gets picked on a hero. And there wasn't too much running around in the middle taking the place of explanation this time- unlike episode two, everything set-up wise did make full sense and was explained as much as it needed to be. I would just have liked the algorithm bit to be a bit more plausible by having a bit more science given to give it life.

And onto Sarah Jane. Great to see her again - unless I missed something, this flies in the face of books like BULLET TIME which feature her by making this her first adventure since HAND OF FEAR barring the timescooped FIVE DOCTORS. This proves only the TV series is canon- maybe one day the TV show might tell us what happened to Ace so the dreadful Virgin books version of her can be blown out. Understandable that she might resent him never coming back for her, understandable she might resent Rose. Rose's position was kind of understandable too though it isn't really very plausible that neither of knew that there had been, and would be after them, other companions. With this in mind Sarah's crack about the Doctor's assistants getting younger as he gets older didn't work, and their missus-and-ex bitch fighting was tedious. Yes, I can accept that each of them found it hard to relinquish their special place with the Doctor to others, but as I've said they must have known there were others, especially Sarah. Understandable tension didn't have to manifest itself as sexual jealousy and it really didn't work. It could have been dealt with quicker and the time used elsewhere. This said, the Doctor's "curse of the time lords" reason as to why he leaves people behind was magical (though most companions left him , not the other way round!) and the way Sarah was used to demonstrate the aftermath of travelling in the TARDIS and then having to find normality again was deeply poignant.

Altogether, though, a fun and enjoyable story- as I've said, some of the companion stuff rankled and the code that the children were cracking needed more meat on its bones to be plausible, but overall the episode had a good effect. When stories turn on things like the use of the children however, aspects like the said algorithm do need to be allowed to make sense. No amount of emotional realism injected into things replaces solid plots.

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