After an epic battle against the mighty Daleks, we settle down to watch an intimate story about a genocidal maniac with a penchant for dressing up and bamboozling young girls.
A Powerful Enemy
Things get off to a pretty good start with some excellent banter in the TARDIS. But then the Doctor accidentally asks Susan to open the doors.
Sue: Ah, bless him. You just want to give the Doctor a really big cuddle.
Barbara feels pretty much the same way and when she carefully places herself in the role of surrogate grand-daughter, Sue is genuinely touched by the gesture.
Sue: That’s really sweet. And I’m glad they are referring to it, too. I was worried that Susan would be swept under the carpet and forgotten.
As the TARDIS crew ponder Susan’s fate, Sue hazards her own guess.
Sue: I bet she’s having really bad sex with David, wondering “What the hell have I done?!”.
When Koquillion looms out of the shadows, Sue’s response (“Oh dear, that’s not good at all”) leads me to believe that she’s correctly identified the villain of the piece, but what she’s really doing is dissing his preposterous costume. However, her sneering quickly turns to anger when he pushes Barbara over a cliff, although she’s back to scathing mockery again by the time he’s set off a rockfall to trap Ian and the Doctor.
Sue: Is he using a monkey wrench? Seriously?
Later, the Doctor describes Koquillion’s weapon as a spanner.
Sue: I like it when they draw attention to how stupid everything looks. It makes me feel like I’m back in the loop again.
Sadly, Bennett and Vicki’s predicament fails to engage my wife (she also fails to spot the Union Jack on the ship’s hull – “You’re making it up”). In fact, she doesn’t say a word about Vicki, save for a throwaway remark about how short her dress is, and I decide not to press her on the character’s potential for the time being.
Of course, when we discover that we are on the planet Dido, Sue has plenty to say.
Sue: Dido? Dido! Are they having a laugh? [joke removed on the grounds of taste and decency].
Speaking of rubber monsters, Sandy the Sandbeast doesn’t impress her much, either.
Sue: It’s like we’re watching Raiders of the Lost Ark in slow motion on a blurry black and white television. The monster looks terrible and the spikes look like cardboard. However, there is some very funny banter between the Doctor and Ian, which is nice; they seem to be really close friends now.
In short, the cliffhanger doesn’t really do it for Sue.
Sue: I suppose Ian might get a paper cut if he’s not careful.top
The first few minutes of the episode pass without comment from Sue. I can’t tell if she’s bored or engrossed, to be honest.
And then Barbara shoots Sandy the Sandbeast in the face.
At point-blank range.
Sue is conflicted by the ramifications of this act. On the one hand, she is devastated by Vicki’s loss. It doesn’t matter if Sandy was a bad special effect yesterday, as soon as he gained “pet status” his death was suddenly on a par with Bambi’s mother. And yet, she loves Barbara to bits (Sue was cheering when Babs pulled the trigger) and she hates to see her this upset. And, unusually, Barbara’s assessment of the situation was entirely wrong (if understandable). It’s a tricky scene for Sue to process.
Luckily, she is distracted by the sight of the Doctor breaking down the door to Bennett’s room with an iron girder, even though he’s been told he can’t come in.
Sue: Bennett could be doing anything in there! What the hell does the Doctor think he’s doing? I hope the toilet doors on the TARDIS have really strong locks.
When Bennett’s insane (but strangely logical) plan is finally exposed, it takes Sue a while to fully comprehend it. Her reactions range from incredulity (“He killed everyone?”) to grudging admiration (“So it was just a bloke in a costume after all”), before finally settling on bewilderment (“Who are these guys? The rescue party?”). When I spell it out to her she’s not sure if the twist is really clever or just plain silly.
As the TARDIS crew prepares to leave, the Doctor talks to the orphaned Vicki (“First her pet, now her Dad”), and Sue finally poses the obvious question.
Sue: Why doesn’t Vicki just go with them?
Me: Are you seriously telling me that you didn’t guess that Vicki was a replacement for Susan from the very beginning?
Sue: I had my suspicions, but only because her face is vaguely familiar. At first, I thought I was supposed to think she was going to replace Susan, but then they would kill her off. So I wasn’t entirely sure, no.
Me: So how do you feel about Vicki becoming a companion?
Sue: Is that what you call them? I thought they were called assistants?
We then get embroiled in a lengthy debate about what constitutes a bona fide companion (“what about Rose’s mum?”) and she doesn’t realise that this question will take on a greater significance in a few weeks time. We eventually get back to the matter at hand.
Sue: She’s a good actress and she seems nice enough. We’ll have to see. I like the way the scene where the Doctor invites her to join him isn’t a million miles away from Matt Smith asking Amy to join him on his adventures. It reminds me that I’m watching the same programme.
Unfortunately, the resolution to the plot asks more questions of Sue than it answers.
Sue: So there are only two Didos left on the planet? How are they going to rebuild it? It’s Adam and Adam!
She is also amused when the Doctor suggests that the Dido People won’t let the rescue ship land and she manages to extrapolate this throwaway line into a full-on intergalactic war. Which won’t last very long given that there’s only two of them left and they’re armed with a spanner.
But before Sue can exhaust the possibilities of that particular scenario, the TARDIS arrives at its next destination before immediately toppling over the edge of a cliff.
Sue: They never get a day off, do they?top
The Final Score
Sue: I didn’t see the twist coming but the plot leading up to that point was practically nonexistent. Still, it could have been worse, we could have spent four episodes on Dido. Dido! Can you believe it? They called the planet Dido!
When she stops laughing, Sue gives The Rescue -
The experiment continues…top
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