THE ANDROIDS OF TARA

Part One

The Androids of TaraSue: The Androids of Tara. I used to think that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was an android if that’s any help. Oh, David Fisher’s name definitely rings a bell.
Me: It should. He wrote the last one.
Sue: Excellent.

The story begins with the Doctor and K9 playing chess in the TARDIS.

Sue: I love the banter between these two. I could watch them do this all day. I also like the way the Doctor drapes his scarf over K9. It’s very affectionate.

Romana lands the TARDIS perfectly.

Sue: If you want it done properly, let the woman do it.

They have arrived on the planet Tara; they use the TARDIS scanner to have a good look around.

Sue: I don’t remember seeing the Doctor moving his camera around like that before. I bet Romana installed that feature.

Romana decides to change into something more appropriate.

The Androids of TaraRomana: Well, how do you like it? According to our records, it’s what everyone on Tara’s wearing this year.
Sue: It’s ghastly. I think I preferred the Tahitian dress she was looking at earlier.
Me: I wouldn’t have complained.
Sue: She suits the hat, though. She’s turning into the Doctor.

The Doctor would rather go fishing than search for the Key to Time, so Romana sets out on very her own adventure. As she moves through a forest, we can hear strange birdsong; it sends one of our cats, Tegan, mental.

Sue: That bird doesn’t sound right to me.
Me: Well, we are on an alien planet, remember?
Sue: Yes, but it sounds artificial. Is everything on this planet an android? Is that it? We’ve seen this before, haven’t we?

A wild animal is stalking Romana.

Me: Rhubarb!
Sue: What?
Sue: It’s hiding behind some rhubarb. It sounds like a wolf.

The Androids of TaraThe tracer leads Romana to an ancient stone statue and she immediately transforms part of it into the fourth segment of the Key to Time.

Sue: Excellent. Job’s a good ‘un. Straight back to the TARDIS, love. The End. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Right on cue, the Taran Wood Beast turns up to spoil the mood.

Sue: Oh my goodness. What is that? I have no words for that.

Romana is saved by a knight in shining armour.

Sue: Is it the Master? Don’t look at me like that. Look at his beard! Well, if he isn’t the Master he’s definitely famous.
Me: It’s Peter Jeffrey. He’s an excellent actor. You probably recognise his voice –
Sue: No, it’s his nose that I recognise. You don’t forget a nose like that. He’s very smooth for a man with such an enormous nose.
Me
: You liked him in The Macra Terror as well.
Sue: The Macra what?

The man in question is Count Grendel. He offers to fix Romana’s swollen ankle, even if she is in a rush to get away.

Grendel: An hour, no more. What’s an hour out of your life?
Me: That’s what I say to you every time we do this.
Sue: Yeah, but this guy is a lot more charming. You do have a very large nose, though.
Me: Thanks for that.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is snoozing on a river bank when he is attacked by a man with an electric rapier.

Sue: That was a bit dangerous. He could have burnt his lip. Well, what’s left of it.

Sue doesn’t recognise Paul Lavers at first.

Sue: He looks like a young Robert Redford.

The Androids of TaraPaul will be pleased.

Sue: So is this planet like Westworld? Is it a theme park for robots in medieval costume?

Grendel takes Romana to Castle Gracht on horseback.

Sue: That establishing shot of the castle is very impressive. It’s a subtle but effective special effect. How can they do something as good as that and still have crappy monsters running around the place? Those monsters are going to ruin this story, aren’t they? I can suspend my disbelief as much as the next person but that thing was pushing its luck.

I put her out of her misery and I tell her that we won’t be seeing any Taran Wood Beasts ever again. I even promise her that I’ll never buy a toy version, if one should ever be released.

Sue: Not even if it’s part of a set and it’s the only way you can get your hands on Romana? It’s just the sort of thing they’d do, you know.

Did I mention that I took Sue to Forbidden Planet while we were in London?

Sue: So why bother having a monster at all if it’s only going to be in it for a couple of minutes?
Me: It’s Doctor Who. You have to have a monster.
Sue: It never used to be like that. Who says that Doctor Who always have to have a monster? Where is that written down? Why can’t the villain be some bloke?

Grendel places Romana on a high-tech bed in his castle.

Sue: He’s very dashing, isn’t he? I wouldn’t mind being rescued by him.

But Grendel is too good to be true, as Romana discovers when she is restrained to the bed with retractable straps.

Sue: Oh, come on! She could slide out of that! He could trap a really fat woman with that, but that’s about it.

The Androids of TaraGrendel instructs Madame Lamia, his surgeon-engineer, to cut Romana’s head off.

Sue: They must be having a laugh. With an electric bread knife? Seriously? They were all the rage in the 1970s, mind. They were always on the conveyor belt at the end of The Generation Game.

The Doctor is escorted to a hunting lodge, and when he tries to leave, Paul Lavers slices away part of his scarf. Sue actually gasped in horror at this point, but luckily Prince Reynart intervenes before any more damage can be done.

Sue: I like Errol Flynn over there. The acting is very good in this one. That’s why Tom is bringing his A-game this week. I like it. Why can’t David Fisher write the rest of the season?

Back at the castle, Grendel and Lamia finally realise that Romana isn’t an android after all.

Grendel: You can keep your head, my dear. I may have a better use for it.
Sue: Yeah, I bet, you dirty perv.

Romana is drugged.

The Androids of TaraSue: And I bet that’s rohypnol.

Back at the lodge, Reynart employs the Doctor to fix his android double. He wants to use the double as a diversion when he ascends to the throne. The Doctor immediately recognises the plot.

The Doctor: Well, it has been done before.
Sue: Have I missed something important?
Me: The plot is loosely based on a very famous story. It will probably come to you later.

The Doctor and Reynart drink a toast to their cunning plan. Paul Lavers pours the wine.

Sue: I know where I recognise him from now. (as Paul) This magnificent set of four golden goblets, available at a special QVC price of just Β£99.99, which you can pay in three easy installments. Just look at the stem on that. Lovely.
Me: I’m impressed. Do you remember his name?
Sue: Paul somebody or other. He was one of their first presenters, wasn’t he? Didn’t it pan out for him as an actor, then? What a shame. He was a bit of a looker in his youth.

The Androids of TaraThe wine has been drugged and the episode concludes with everyone slipping into unconsciousness.

The Doctor makes it as far as the door but he collapses at the feet of Count Grendel.

Sue: I bet that’s not the first time Tom Baker has fallen down after a glass of wine. There was definitely some method acting going on there. Good cliffhanger, though. I like this one so far.

 

Part Two

During the episode reprise, Sue awards scores to the actors for their falling over skills.

Sue: The guy with the beard was the best one. He’s an old pro. Paul shouldn’t worry, though. There isn’t much call for falling asleep on QVC, even when you’re demonstrating a really comfortable bed.

I try to steer her back on track.

Me: I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the carpentry yet. What about that staircase over there?
Sue: Nah, it’s a bit naff. I do like the costumes in this one, though. Even Romana’s purple outfit is starting to grow on me. The production design is very good, but just because something is made from wood, it doesn’t mean that I instantly fall in love it. I do have some standards, believe it or not.

The Doctor summons K9 with his dog whistle.

Sue: I ****ing love K9. I hate it when he’s left in the TARDIS. You should never leave your dog locked up in your vehicle. Especially on a sunny day like this. Everybody knows that.

The drugs wear off and Romana wakes up.

Romana: How long have I been unconscious?
Sue: (As Grendel) Long enough, dear. Long enough.

The Androids of TaraGrendel takes Romana on a guided tour of his dungeons, where he is holding Prince Reynart and Princess Strella captive. Strella is the spitting-double of Romana.

Grendel: Aren’t I a lucky man to have two such beautiful women as my bride?
Sue: You dirty bastard.

The Doctor fixes Prince Reynart’s android double so it can attend the coronation at the allotted hour.

Sue: I like his gold lame suit. Very Elvis.

But something is bugging Sue:

Sue: How come they have all this technology and yet they act like they are in the middle ages? How can you have electronic weapons and lifelike androids but still ride around on horses? I don’t get it. Why hasn’t this society invented Facebook yet?

A curious Lamia attempts to drill into the Key to Time, with no success.

Sue: Get Paul from QVC to do it. She’s making a right pig’s ear of Diamonique Hour.

Sue is very taken with the locations featured in this story.

The Androids of TaraSue: Which castle is this?
Me: Leeds.
Sue: Yes, you can tell. It has that Yorkshire look to it.
Me: Really? I didn’t know you were an expert on castles.
Sue: You can just tell.
Me: Shall we get in the car and visit it then, since it’s just down the road?
Sue: If you like.
Me: It’s in Kent!
Sue: Is it really? that’s a bit daft, isn’t it? Call it Kent Castle, your morons!

When we resume, the hour of the coronation is rapidly approaching.

Sue: Lots of extras milling around. I like it. There are some nice details in this, like the clock with the extra hours. A lot of thought has gone into this. It’s a nice blend of sci-fi and history. It doesn’t make any sense, but it looks great.

The Prince is nowhere to be seen and it looks as if Grendel will be crowned in his absence. But when Grendel enters the throne room, he is astonished to find Prince Reynart already seated there.

Sue: Brilliant.

Grendel is not amused.

Sue: I know which story this is like, now.
Me: Good. It took you long enough.

The Androids of TaraSue: It’s Weekend at Bernie’s.

I hardly ever laugh out loud when Sue delivers one of her barbs, but here I am, still giggling several hours later.

The Doctor stops the android Reynart from slumping over mid-coronation, and when the Doctor switches on his speech circuits, Sue is as tense as I’ve ever seen her.

The android gets through his speech and Sue breathes a huge sigh of relief, when, suddenly, another character played by Mary Tamm enters the throne room. The Doctor immediately decides to smash her head in with a sceptre.

Sue: What a strange cliffhanger. If she turns out to be the real Princess, the Doctor is going to look very stupid (and a bit bloody). But we know that isn’t going to happen – this story is full of androids – you’d have to be an idiot not to work it out.

 

Part Three

The Androids of TaraSue: I don’t know why the Count doesn’t suggest that the Prince sitting on the throne is an android. He’s got the real one locked up in a cell, so what else could it be? And it’s acting very suspiciously, too. What is he waiting for?

Grendel returns to his castle to plot and scheme. At one point, he introduces Romana to her android double.

Grendel: If only she were real, I’d marry her.
Sue: This guy is unbelievable. Just how life-like are these things supposed to be? Are they like the Cylons in Battlestar? Can they… you know?

Grendel leads Romana’s double away.

Grendel: Come, my dear.
Sue: He’s going to take her for a quick test drive.

The Androids of TaraLamia lets it slip to Romana that she has a sadomasochistic crush on Grendel.

Sue: So much for women’s rights on this planet. I can’t believe that anyone would enjoy being abused by a power mad sex pest.
Me: I wouldn’t bother with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ if I were you.

Romana escapes from the castle and steals a horse, all without being seen.

Sue: Security at this castle is even worse than the Olympics.

The Doctor encounters Romana’s android double, which has been designed to kill him when he speaks (instead of on sight).

Sue: It’s not suspicious at all, is it? Not even a smile or a wave from his best friend. She should appear as natural as possible for this threat to really work. They aren’t putting their hearts and souls into this.

The android fails to assassinate the Doctor, thanks to a shoddy design flaw, and Lamia runs outside, where she is accidentally gunned down by Grendel’s men.

Sue: The idiots! I hope the Count cared about her after all.

He didn’t.

The Androids of TaraSue: It’s turned into Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I’d take my chances and make a run for it: this lot can’t shoot straight to save their lives. They only shoot the things they’re not supposed to. They probably can’t see a thing with those helmets on.

The Doctor pokes his head outside the pavilion tent and it’s almost shot off.

Sue: How is it that the gunfire sounds louder inside the pavilion than it does outside? How is that possible?

K9 uses his laser to cut a hole in the rear of the pavilion.

Sue: Take your time, K9. There’s no rush. The weapons they are using don’t seem to have any effect on cloth. They might deafen you after a while, though.

The real Romana comes to the rescue on her horse, but no one can figure out a way to include K9 in their great escape.

Sue: I can’t believe they left K9 behind.

K9 stands his ground and successfully neutralises Grendel’s men.

Sue: So they didn’t need to run anyway after all. They should just let K9 off his leash. He doesn’t muck about.

The Androids of TaraAfter this kerfuffle, Grendel arrives at Reynart’s lodge under a white flag.

Sue: Shoot him in the head! What are you waiting for?
Me: This planet is steeped in tradition and ceremony.
Sue: Sod that. Shoot him in the head.

Grendel offers the kingdom of Tara to the Doctor, and Sue loves how he is egged on by the Time Lord before he is dropped straight in it. Grendel responds by throwing a spear into Reynart’s android’s chest.

Sue: That was pretty good. That would have shocked the kids.

In the ensuing confusion, Grendel’s men kidnap Romana.

Sue: That was a very weak cliffhanger. But another solid episode. I’m really enjoying this.

 

Part Four

The Androids of TaraSue’s silence speaks volumes once again, and it’s only when the Doctor plans to enter the castle via a rowing boat and a complicated tunnel system that she has anything to add:

Sue: There’s one thing I don’t understand. Now that they can fly the TARDIS properly and they can land it on a sixpence, why doesn’t the Doctor use it in situations like this? He could just materialise inside the castle without all this carry on.

Grendel has moved to Plan B, which involves two weddings and two funerals.

Sue: He’s such a great villain. He’s so blatant. He’d have been a brilliant Master. There’s no getting away from it.

The Doctor arrives at the castle as night falls.

Sue: This looks great. Like a proper drama. Or a feature film.

The Doctor and K9 arrive at a hatchway beneath the castle. The Doctor instructs K9 to cut a hole in the wood with his laser.

The Doctor: Do hurry up. A hamster with a blunt penknife would do it quicker.
Sue: I love it. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like K9. What’s not to love?
Me: Some people think he’s a bit childish.
Sue: What do they think they’re watching? I, Claudius?

The Androids of TaraThe Doctor interrupts the wedding between Reynart and Romana and Grendel challenges him to a sword fight.

Sue: The Doctor doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s very funny. The lack of music and the hand-held direction is great.

The Doctor lulls the Count into a false sense of security before he strikes back with some ferocious swordplay.

Sue: This is great, but I think I preferred it was he was taking the piss.

Sue is annoyed when the Doctor allows Grendel to retrieve his fallen sword (she has no concept of honour), and when the King’s men storm the gates, she’s even less forgiving.

Sue: There are only six of them. Why didn’t they just get a bigger boat and follow the Doctor in that way?

The Doctor corners Grendel on the battlements and the Count bluffs it out.

Grendel: Next time I won’t be so lenient.
Sue: Glen Allen’s trailer finally makes sense! Very funny, Glen.

The Androids of TaraThe Count dives into the moat below.

Sue: So he won’t surrender but he’ll happily run away like a coward? Nice dive, though. I’m pleased that he got away so he can fight another day. He should definitely come back.
Me: Maybe he could team up with the Daleks?
Sue: Yeah, that could be interesting.

The Doctor rushes to rescue Romana and Princess Strella from the advances of Grendel’s right hand man, little realising that they took care of him ages ago.

Sue: That is very funny. And the Doctor not knowing which one of them is the real Romana is a lovely touch, too.

The crisis averted, Princess and Reynart fall into each other’s arms.

The Androids of TaraSue: A full-on kiss on the lips. The kid’s wouldn’t have liked that.

The story concludes with the Doctor falling about laughing when he realises that K9 has been left in his little boat.

Sue: That look of joy on the Doctor’s face sums this story up nicely. It was very amusing and a lot of fun.

 

The Score

Sue: I really enjoyed that. It looked gorgeous and the direction was very good, too. I don’t think there was a bad performance and the script was witty and engaging. I can’t really fault it. Okay, the monster at the beginning was completely pointless, and the society didn’t really make a lot of sense, but I can overlook that.

9/10

 

Coming Soon

 

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Comments

  1. Dave Sanders  July 19, 2012

    Yaaaaaaay, I knew it.

    “My life is starting to feel like a pitch for a really bad sitcom…”

    Or an episode of Rhoal Dahl’s Tales Of The Completely Arbitrary. πŸ™‚

    • PolarityReversed  July 20, 2012

      I’m getting a weird sort of Reggie Perrin vibe myself…

      The point about some people thinking K9 is childish. Well, yeah, but Who never really succeeds unless it embraces its inherent daftitute. My problem with little trundle-chops was that he meant the writers and principal characters didn’t have to think or use their imagination so much.

      “Be a good little bowwow, old thing, scoot off into the corridor, stun the guards and keep the meglomaniac computer chatting while I sit back and flirt with this gorgeous supporting actress here.”
      “Affirmative.”

      Now I think of it, wasn’t K9 Tom’s longest-running companion? Even allowing for upgrades to the new K9-4s with 3G roaming capability and episodes when he was kenneled…

      I like Androids, particularly the witty twist that the mission proper is over in 5 mins flat and the rest is about rescue and escape. Lighthearted and fun.

      • encyclops  July 21, 2012

        I don’t remember ever disliking K9 as a kid, though that might just prove your point. I actually kind of enjoy him more now, especially when he displays a lot more emotion than he “ought” to have and gets snippy with people.

        What I don’t like is that he very very often is nothing more or less than an adorable gun.

  2. Gavin Noble  July 19, 2012

    Totally agree with Sue’s score. Before I saw this on VHS (I couldn’t remember it from when I first saw it as a four year old) all I ever heard from Who fandom was how pants this story was. I loved it then and I love it just as much now. For me it’s the highlight of the Key to Time season.

    I think I’ve lost a few days though because you said the next update would be the 23rd July – what have I been drinking? Pretty, potent stuff I think!

  3. Dave Sanders  July 19, 2012

    “It never used to be like that. Who says that Doctor Who always have to have a monster? Where is that written down? Why can’t the villain be some bloke?”

    And now Sue’s channeling Robert Holmes. and right in the nick of time.

  4. Cliff Chapman  July 19, 2012

    Nice to see the love for this. I recently worked with Paul on a rehearsed reading, and would like to say he’s an absolutely lovely chap, more than happy to chat Who, and he’s very much keeping his hand in the acting – including a recent stage run and a movie. Top bloke. πŸ™‚

  5. Ryan Hall  July 19, 2012

    Loving sues luv for K9 , looking back now it was crazy how the production team treated k9 in terms of stories and his well being considering he pretty much was more popular than Doctor who itself back then, the writers used to always moan that he was used to much as a way to get the doc out of situations ( but that kinda contridicts the new show with the sonic screwdriver used pretty much like a magic wand ) but thats just lazy on there part , sometimes it felt he was never treated as a proper assistant, shame really.

  6. Glen Allen  July 19, 2012

    Oh so Sue us hearing the trailers first? I must be careful not to give major plot points away…although luckily she’s no idea of whats coming up. “Us professionals notice, Joe Public doesnt clock a damn thing” πŸ™‚

    • Neil Perryman  July 19, 2012

      Don’t worry. She isn’t allowed to listen to them until after the story from now on. She loves them, though!

  7. Jazza1971  July 19, 2012

    Best. Review. Ever!

    I loved this, from the exciting news before the review started to the many funny moments throughout. I’m so glad Sue loves K9, because I have to admit I feel the same about him (at least when JL is involved), fan wisdom be damned!

    So many funny bits from this review, my favourite is probably:-

    “Right on cue, the Taran Wood Beast turns up to spoil the mood.

    Sue: Oh my goodness. What is that? I have no words for that.”

    And thankfully it isn’t enough to spoil the story for Sue, you go girl!

    A great score for this story. I personally would have given it a 7 or an 8, but overall I have always loved the “Key to Time” season and I feel that some of the poorer stories still don’t bring the season down – it is more than the sum of it’s parts.

    Loving your work! πŸ˜€

  8. encyclops  July 20, 2012

    Great commentary. The last four stories, love them or hate them, have all had a great sense of fun and I think Sue’s responding to that, and why wouldn’t she? Is it generally the case that non-fans respond better to this season and the next, perhaps because fans really want something they can take seriously and non-fans never WILL take it seriously, so it might as well be fun?

    That said, I don’t find this story much fun. In small doses, yes, but somehow I just can’t care much whether this place I know nothing about is ruled by the guy who kidnaps people and keeps them in his cellar or the guy whose guards are ready to stab his houseguests at a moment’s notice. I don’t quite understand what use Romana is to the Count, either; what can she really offer, either as a model for an android or a coerced bride, that Strella herself couldn’t be forced to do with the same methods? I was also horribly disappointed by the swordfight. It’s pleasant to see Doctor Who doing something this low-stakes and in this general spirit, but somehow most of it just makes me think I’d rather be watching a better adaptation of the source material and let Doctor Who get on with doing something that doesn’t remind me of something better.

    Not to be a big wet blanket. I personally think the next two stories are underrated, but I’d freely concede that they’re comparatively joyless, and that’s as good a reason as any to prefer The Androids of Tara. I commented earlier that I’d never watch this again, but let’s face it — of course I will. And next time I’ll probably be more lenient.

  9. jsd  July 20, 2012

    Great commentary as always. I’m not as sympathetic to the charms of this story, but I’m glad Sue enjoyed it so much!

  10. David  July 20, 2012

    I’ve never seen this episode but I could tell straight away it was based on the Prisoner of Zenda. Did Sue work it out in the end?

    By the way, what did Nicol think of all the flattering comments and marriage proposals from people like me? πŸ˜‰

    I request that, from now on, we have a Nicol pin-up with every update. πŸ˜€

  11. David  July 20, 2012

    By the way:
    β€œIt never used to be like that. Who says that Doctor Who always have to have a monster? Where is that written down? Why can’t the villain be some bloke?”

    I knew Sue would eventually regret the terrible score she gave the Massacre and my other beloved Hartnell historicals…

  12. Tom's Scarf  July 20, 2012

    “Why hasn’t this society invented Facebook yet?”

    Well, with trashy sites like Facebook and Wikipedia finally starting to fall out of fashion, maybe this is a glimpse of a better future. I’d trade them both for a pet Android in a heartbeat! πŸ˜‰

  13. P.Sanders  July 20, 2012

    Good for Sue. Fingers crossed for Kroll, though after reading this review the lack of K9 may work against it…

    • SparkyMarky  July 20, 2012

      Yeah but we get the man himself!!

      • Dave Sanders  July 20, 2012

        Not exactly Blake’s 7: Gambit though, is it?

        Phillip Madoc is the best thing in Kroll and he gets relegated to ‘supporting actor’ status without much actual support, which the man regretted until his dying day. At least John Leeson actually gets to do something – no wonder Fenner is visibly in a massive sulk in every second of screentime he gets.

        • P.Sanders  July 20, 2012

          Kroll is the best thing in Kroll, and I don’t mean that in a “and if Kroll’s the best thing in it, how bad is the rest!” kinda way.

          • encyclops  July 21, 2012

            I agree: I love the Kroll design, and all things considered it’s shocking how much worse he could have been.

            Madoc might have been right that he was the best actor in the production, but that visible sulk didn’t make me sorry he got screwed.

  14. chris-too-old-to-watch  July 20, 2012

    More I watch them, the more I enjoy the individual stories of the KTT season. It’s so refreshing to be able to watch stories where the fate of the entire universe isn’t being decided week after week (yes I’m talking to you, Moffat). This has always been one of my favourites: the way the reason for being there is dismissed within 10 minutes, and the rest of the story is just dealing with a simple, provincial problem – one man wanting to be king over another isn’t much really. The care given by all the cast and production crew give us a fun, enjoyable time.
    Unfortunately only one story to go before Armageddon (outa here).

  15. BWT  July 20, 2012

    You know… I think I saw this one back in the seventies but I can only recall the Taran Wood Beast – meaning, that I probably saw it and promptly switched off as I have no memory of anything else of it. Hmmm… Oh well…

    I think Sue’s got relatively good taste as last time I watched this – and it wasn’t too long ago – I quite enjoyed it. I still don’t think much of K9, though, so Sue only gets half kudos. Sorry, Sue.

    Oh, and the T-shirt quote this week doesn’t come from this family. Instead let it be: “Sue is really looking forward to seeing Nicola Bryant’s bits.” Please?

    Oh okay, I guess you’re right. Sorry, Sue. Again.

    I’ll get me coat…

    • BWT  July 20, 2012

      *family* – what was I thinking. I meant *story*. Sheesh – the tribe is over at my place, alright? They’re all talking the top of their voices with my kids in competition with them as I try to cancel them out in order to write this. Families, eh? Who’d have ’em? Or stories, for that matter – or have I got it wrong again?

  16. Ludwig Wittgenstein XI  July 20, 2012

    “Oh, and Sue has asked my ex-boss to move in with us.”
    You know we’re all (deep down) really jealous of you now, don’t you …?

    and, yes, “The Androids of Tara” is indeed one most excellent story – Madame Lamia will always be a favorite …

    cheerio …!

  17. Roderick T. Long  July 20, 2012

    Did Sue ever twig to the source?

    • Neil Perryman  July 20, 2012

      Nope. Sad as it is to admit this, she has no working knowledge of the Prisoner of Zenda at all.

  18. Scott Edwards  July 20, 2012

    “Security at this castle is even worse than the Olympics” on a mug, please!

    Great as always, and I too fully agree with the score – it is one of the highlights of Key to Time, and so I’m pleased – although goodness knows what Sue’ll make of KROLL! KROLL! KROLL!

    • John G  July 20, 2012

      By coincidence, the Olympic torch arrived at Leeds Castle last night!

  19. MerseyMal  July 20, 2012

    Hey! Don’t dis the Wood Beast! πŸ™‚

  20. John G  July 20, 2012

    “Call it Kent Castle, you morons!”

    I live just down the road from Leeds Castle, and it has the name because it is situated next to a pretty (if sadly traffic-plagued) village called Leeds. Not sure if it pre-dates the Yorkshire Leeds or not, however. Tom used to live locally, and I have often wondered if it was the location shoot for this story which encouraged him to move to the area.

    Nice to see that Sue enjoyed this so much, although it is one of those stories that I don’t like as much as I want to. Production and acting-wise it is pretty faultless (Wood Beast excepted), and it is a nice little twist that Romana finds the fourth segment of the Key in the first 10 minutes. I think my main problem with the story is Grendel – you get the impression David Fisher wanted to make him a charismatic and likeable villain in the Master mode, but he just comes over to me as a thoroughly nasty piece of work who deserved a proper comeuppance at the end. There is nothing wrong with Peter Jeffrey’s performance, but he is arguably a bit too effective at the villainy! This of course makes it very annoying for me that Grendel never appeared again, as we never do get to see him receive proper retribution.

    Good luck with trying to finish the experiment by the Anniversary – I hope this and the ex-boss coming to live with you (I won’t ask why) puts no undue strain on your marriage! I suppose Sue meeting Nicola means there won’t now be any “is she really an American?” comments during Planet of Fire…

  21. Mike  July 20, 2012

    I have to admit, I haven’t seen any of this season, but reading these positive reviews makes me sorely tempted to pick up the box set…

    From reading the comments I gather The Power of Kroll may not fare as well as the rest of the season. Looking forward to some classic Sue disdain.

    • SparkyMarky  July 20, 2012

      You know I actually quite like The Power of Kroll, it’s one of my guilty pleasures, along with stories like Timeflight and Timelash!

      • P.Sanders  July 20, 2012

        I <3 Kroll .

      • Jazza1971  July 20, 2012

        Me too, but I’m waiting to say more. Go Kroll!

  22. Neowhovian  July 20, 2012

    See, this is why I love reading both the blog and the comments. Being a recent convert myself, I hadn’t really been exposed to much of the “fan wisdom” before seeing pre-Hiatus (“Classic”) Who for myself, so it’s fascinating to read both about what I was “supposed to” think of a story, and what Sue thinks of it. Sometimes I line up more with Sue (as in this case, though I probably wouldn’t have gone as high as a 9), and sometimes more with the mythical Fan Base, but it’s always lovely to get a different perspective. Wonderful.

  23. Tim Cook  July 20, 2012

    A strong condender for the blandest Who story ever. Peter Jeffrey is great, and there’s some good location work, but that’s about it. The fact that Anglia TV’s ‘Mr Midnight’ plays a swashbuckling hero sums it up.

  24. Thomas  July 21, 2012

    I think this may have been better placed as the fifth story of the season rather than the fourth. That way it reads more as a pleasant little run-around before things get serious and they have to go find the sixth segment.

  25. Simon Harries  July 21, 2012

    I love The Androids of Tara and I always did, despite the silly painting of Tom on the book cover.

  26. Suzysue  July 21, 2012

    Yay! Glad Sue enjoyed this – I love it too. I even have a soft spot for the Taran Wood Beast – it’s so utterly rubbish it’s hilarious.

  27. aofjays  July 22, 2012

    Sorry Sue, Romana didn’t upgrade the camera, the 2nd Doctor moves the scanner camera in The Seeds of Death (about 8 minutes in to the first episode), he even moans that the controls are stiff (probably because he never uses them).

  28. Brendan Jones  July 24, 2012

    Thank you, Sue, for giving my favourite story a 9/10. Everyone is indeed on fine form in this one, and if there is ever a Romana action figure, I want her in this outfit.

    Oh, and maybe a Ribos one. And a Pirate Planet one.