Monday, May 6, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Visitation

Doctor Who 
The Visitation 
By Eric Saward

“Call yourself a Time Lord? A broken clock keeps better time than you do. At least it's accurate twice a day, which is more than you ever are.”

Trying to get Tegan home The Doctor misses Heathrow Airport by a mere 300 years.  As you can imagine Tegan is not very happy by this and storms out of the TARDIS.  While there they discover that there is something alien going on.  It seems a ship carrying a group of Terileptils has crashed landed on Earth.  Seizing their chance to use the villagers fear against them the Terileptils disguise their robot as death.  A pretty good tactic and very effective considering all the superstition of the time but this ruse is quickly deduced by The Doctor. 
It appears the Terileptils want Earth for themselves and have been developing a poison that will wipe out everyone on Earth.  This act will allow them to take over Earth and make it their own planet.   The Doctor realizes the nearest town is London which coincidentally is already being terrorized by the plague.  The Doctor must free Tegan and Richard Mace from the Terileptils controls and then hunt down the Terileptils in London.  Of course they have to wait for Nyssa to get rid of a certain robot that seems to relish its role as the grim reaper.

The Visitation has a historical value to Doctor Who.  For in this story The Doctor's sonic screwdriver is destroyed and never seen again in the Classic Series. John Nathan-Turner thought it was a gimmick and a crutch for the writers to use and decided to get rid of it. So they wrote it out of the show by having the Terileptils destroy it. It would not be seen again until the new series when the 9th Doctor uses it in Rose.

The Visitation isn't a bad story as it is a pretty decent monster story.  If it had a fault it would be the fact that there were too many characters.  One of the many pitfalls of the 5th Doctor era is his many companions at one time.  Someone would always be left out but in The Visitation this is handled pretty well as everyone has ample things to do.

It’s true as Nyssa is sent to build a vibration device to destroy the robot, Adric gets captured a couple of times and Tegan is enslaved by The Terilptils.  Even though it seems like some are being pushed aside the writer does a good job of giving everyone a role to play.  What is funny is that Richard Mace played by Michael Robbins steals the show and is a pretty interesting character. He is one of the better characters in the series and definitely during the Davison era.

One of the pitfalls of The Visitation is how whiny and arrogant Adric is.  For some reason he is pretty annoying in this story more so than usual and that is too bad as he wasn’t that bad so far in season 19.  There were just moments where he was way out of character and just didn’t seem believable with the way he was acting and saying. It was funny though seeing him trying to stop the robot though.

The Visitation is a favorite of mine, well, being a 5th Doctor story I am biased about that as most of you know Peter Davison is my favorite Doctor.  I just like the whole story basically and how they tie in historical events within the story.  Plus how could you not like Richard Mace who I think steals the show.  I believe he would have made an interesting companion for the 5th Doctor. 

 With that being said The Visitation is a simple story to enjoy with a monster on the loose and a basic plot and simple solution at the end.  It was a pretty good idea to use the  Great Fire of London as a way to get rid of the plague and the Terrileptils. Pretty clever when Doctor Who uses history in their story indirectly sometimes I wish they did more of it.  Sometimes the simpler and basic stories are good to watch from time to time and help you relax from a stressful day.
Grade B

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