S6: The Dominators: Feels like "that's good enough" was the guiding principle of this very average serial
The last serial of Doctor Who I was "Web of Fear" in season 5 – a really great serial with a lot to commend it for. Season 6 opens with a full serial (which is itself good news) but not only that it opens with the title The Dominators, which sounds tough and exciting. We then get a spaceship attacked, innocent young people killed while frolicking on the beach, a tough race of people with powerful robots – lots of action and real danger. Or at least it seems this way. The plot is essentially a peaceful race and a much more aggressive race and this forms the body of the plot with lots of talking about whether or not the Dulcians should get off their cans and do something.
On the face of it this can still be interesting because good dialogue well delivered can be great, but here we have the very basic sci-fi ideas trotted out without a lot of innovation or discussion. So our peaceful race is about as typical as you can get (everyone lounging around in silly white costumes enjoying art and peace – as if peace somehow removes the need for work etc), while the "not-peaceful" race is also your standard "gruff face, dark costumes" types. When even the characters are so black and white it is perhaps no surprise that so much of the material is equally digital. Action sequences lack teeth due to the very simple setups and silly little square robots bootling around all over the place. The discussions and debate around the central ideas represented by the two races is simplistic and quite dull and I did find myself increasingly distant from the story.
I don't completely agree with the criticism of the overall design for the serial because it is not too bad. For sure it lacks the atmosphere of Web of Fear, but the futuristic sets are fine and I think that part of the reason they seem a bit obvious to me is that I have about 40 something years of seeing it since this was made. The costumes are mixed and I totally agree that the dresses of the Dulcians are silly and also lazy shorthand for "peaceful", but I did like the Dominators' costumes as a mix of armor and imposing presence. The cast are mostly so-so because the two races are so poorly written. The actual cast of the Tardis are solid though; Troughton remains on good form and I am starting to like Hines now that I have gotten used to him. Padbury joins the parade of "blink and you'll miss them" companions – mostly caused by how many episodes have been lost; she seems OK but I'll see if this young woman stands out or if she just blurs into one memory with all the other cookie cutter female companions in the last season or so – in hindsight Carole Ann Ford really called the direction the show was going to go.
The Dominators is fairly basic and dull – a deadly combination. There are decent ideas and themes here but it does little with them, while everything seems pretty generic and "good enough" in the delivery. Troughton remains a good Doctor but I do hope this is just a blip at the start of the sixth season.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this