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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Who: Earthshock: Part 4 starts as the Cybermen's plans to crash
the cargo freighter into Earth to destroy a peace conference that has
been called to unite the heads of several planets in an attempt to join
forces against the Cyber race is revealed, since the bomb didn't work
crashing the freighter will do the job just as well. Everything on
Earth will be destroyed, unless the Doctor (Peter Davison) can stop
them that is...
Episode 22 from season 19 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during March 1982, directed by Peter Grimwade Earthshock is one of the show's finest stories certainly during the 80's. The script by Eric Saward has finally reached it's conclusion & one has to say if you think about the plot too much the Cybermen's plans are flawed at best. If they could plant a bomb on Earth in secrecy why didn't they planet more than one? There are other plot points which are dubious to say the least but in the world of Doctor Who it works & makes more sense than a lot of stories. This is one of those stories where the Doctor is revealed to be responsible for a major event in Earth's history, it's a good one though it comes quite quickly after The Visitation (1982) & the great fire of London a mere two stories ago. Now the big issue with Part 4 is that Adric dies at the end, this was the first time a regular companion had died since Sara Kingdom at the end of The Dalek's Master Plan (1966) & quite frankly it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. I'm sorry but I have really disliked Adric in every story I have seen him in & feel no pity at all, in fact I was rather pleased he was killed. The idea behind his death was that the production team knew three companions were too many, initially Nyssa was going to be written out at the end of Four to Doomsday (1982) four stories ago but producer John Nathan-Turner decided against it after Davison spoke out & said he didn't like the idea. Turner than realised that Adric was the one to go after almost all the reaction to his character was negative & people found him unlikable, hence he was the one who made way in a memorable final scene that just makes Earthshock even better & strangely downbeat & emotional for Doctor Who which usually go for the happier than happy ever after type endings.
Overall Earthshock has had pretty good production values & it looks OK, even better when you switch on the optional CGI computer effects on the DVD. I must admit the directing at the end of this episode didn't impress me, the way the Cybermen never seem to want to shoot the Doctor, the way the other Cyberman walks into the TARDIS control room & just lets Tegan shoot him without firing back. It just looks silly & slightly spoils what had been a well made & directed story until this point. I spotted another goof here, about 11 or 12 minutes in as the Cyber leader is escorting the Doctor & Tegan down the cargo bay steps at the bottom he stumbles forward & almost falls over as if he missed one of the steps! The end credits on this one are different than normal too with the names running over a silent background of Adric's broken star badge.
Earthshock: Part 4 is a great end to a great story, some of the plot doesn't quite come together as well I'd hoped & the final Cybermen scenes in the TARDIS are just sloppy but not enough to spoil it. I'll give Earthshock a healthy 8 stars out of 10, a must for fans & anyone who likes good sci-fi action.
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