Sue: Is there anything I should know?
Me: No, it’s just a regular four-parter.
May I rot in hell.
Sue: This had better be good. We’re due a good one. Who’s David Agnew?
Me: He doesn’t exist.
Sue: Is it because they were embarrassed with the script, or were they getting around the BBC’s rules and regulations again?
Me: It’s co-written by the producer and the script editor.
Sue: Right, so this story should sum them up nicely, then.
The Doctor is negotiating with three aliens on a spaceship.
Sue: They look like giant slugs. If slugs could stand upright, that is.
Me: They’re chairs.
Sue: The aliens this week are talking chairs?
While Leela anxiously waits for the Doctor to return to his TARDIS, she takes her frustrations out on K9. Again.
Sue: A dog isn’t just for Christmas, Leela.
The Doctor signs a contract with these mysterious aliens.
Sue: That was a quick signature. I bet he signed it ‘Who’.
The Doctor returns to his TARDIS and tells K9 to shut Leela up. And he isn’t joking, either.
Sue: Ooh, it looks like some serious shit is going down this week.
Meanwhile, on the planet Gallifrey, a guard named Andred is alerted to an unidentified time capsule approaching the planet’s airspace.
Sue: He’s wearing gold Wellington boots. That’s nice.
Me: Do you know where we are?
Sue: Yes, it’s Gallifrey. I know it’s Gallifrey because this guard looks like a Beefeater.
The aliens monitor the Doctor’s progress.
Sue: They look like giant bullets.
Me: They’re chairs!
When the TARDIS materialises in the Panopticon, half-a-dozen guards arrive to intercept it.
Sue: The direction is pretty good, the sets look better than they did the last time we were here, and they’ve spent a small fortune on those guards. You can see where all the money went this year. Still, it is Gallifrey. You have to pull out all the stops for Gallifrey.
The Doctor tells Cardinal Borusa he’s returned home to claim the Presidency of the Council of Time Lords.
Sue: Ooh… that is interesting.
The Doctor refuses to take no for an answer, and at one point he even screams at Borusa.
Sue: Scary stuff. The script is excellent and I’m definitely intrigued.
The Doctor wants to access the Matrix, which we last saw in The Deadly Assassin.
Sue: Does this mean we’ll get another episode in lots of surreal locations?
Me: Oh yes, we’ll definitely get one of those.
The aliens monitor the Doctor.
Sue: They look like giant runner beans.
Me: They’re chairs, woman! CHAIRS!
Sue: And why is Dudley Simpson playing the theme tune to Zelda?
As Sue parps away on her imaginary trumpet, the Doctor enters the Panopticon for his induction ceremony.
Sue: The set is definitely better this time. It’s cleaner. The hall isn’t exactly packed, but I bet the ceremony was a rush job and they didn’t send the invites out on time. These things happen.
At least Leela was invited.
Sue: Hang on, why is Leela here? Sarah Jane wasn’t allowed to go to Gallifrey, so what makes Leela so special? Sarah Jane will be furious if she ever finds out. She’ll scratch Leela’s eyes out.
The Doctor is handed the Sash of Rassilon, the Rod of Rassilon and the Great Key of Rassilon.
Sue: Are they resting on the pink pillows of Rassilon?
The Doctor is crowned with a circlet, but as he accesses the Matrix, he falls to his knees in agony.
Me: It’s not that bad.
Sue: No, he looks like Jesus. Jesus crossed with Noddy Holder. Those ginger sideburns are a bad idea. Anyway, that was a good start. I definitely want to find out what happens next.
The Doctor isn’t very happy when Leela threatens to fillet a guard.
Sue: Here’s an idea, Doctor – take the ****ing knife away from her!
Sue wrestles with the Doctor’s increasingly erratic behaviour.
Sue: So, is the Doctor evil? Or is he just pretending to be evil? Or is someone, or something, forcing him to be evil? Which is it?
Me: Wait and see.
Sue: He must be bluffing. He has to be.
The Doctor tries to gain access to a secret passageway in Borusa’s office, and when his sonic screwdriver doesn’t work, he turns to the audience and complains about it.
Sue: Dock his pay. It’s the only way he’ll ever learn.
When the Doctor isn’t talking to himself (and us), he’s talking to an empty chair.
Sue: So the aliens are talking chairs? They can look like any chair in the universe?
She’s joking. I think. Anyway, the Doctor hopscotches down a corridor.
Sue: Tom Baker almost took the camera out with his elbow. Has he completely lost the plot?
The Castellan (who Sue recognises as the man with the eyepatch from The Android Invasion and not much else) monitors the Doctor’s movements with technology that’s clearly based on tiny balls.
Sue: Not only is he talking to a gobstopper, he’s sucking one, too.
Sue is great when it comes to noticing incidental details like these. Oh, and this…
Sue: Andred’s pants are very tight. He’s got the male version of camel toe.
The Doctor locks himself in his TARDIS, and when Leela begs to be let in, he put his hands over his ears and blocks her out.
Sue: It’s all gone a bit dark. And I don’t just mean the lighting.
And then Sue asks a question that’s so complicated, I have to pause the DVD.
Sue: Is everyone on Gallifrey a Time Lord?
Sue: Are all the guards Time Lords?
Sue: Can the guards regenerate?
Sue: So how do you become a Time Lord? Do you have to take an exam? Are you born into it? Is it like the House of Lords? How does it work? It isn’t fair if only a select few can become Time Lords and the rest of them are nothing more than glorified slaves. And that’s the impression I’m getting.
Me: Wait and see.
Back on Gallifrey, the Doctor discusses his plans with K9.
Sue: Could you rewind that, please? I’m a bit lost.
I play the scene again.
Sue: Thanks. But I’m none the wiser. I know they want to blow something up, I just don’t know what or why. The Doctor is very militaristic in this story. That thing he’s wearing around his neck…
Me: The Sash of Rassilon.
Sue: It makes him look like Chewbacca.
Leela ducks into a corridor to avoid a patrol.
Sue: She’s walked into a Sure Start Centre. The children have painted these murals on the wall. Do Time Lords have babies?
Leela encounters a woman named Rodan.
Sue: Big radiators.
Sue: Gallifrey’s radiators are very big. Why haven’t they worked out how to hide their plumbing yet? It seems a bit daft when they can travel in time. Anyway, is this woman a Time Lord or what?
Rodan explains to Leela that she’s basically a glorified air traffic controller.
Sue: Look at the state of her desk! Has somebody vomited all over it? Has it ever been cleaned? I wouldn’t touch that with yours, Neil.
Meanwhile, back in the Panopticon, the Doctor offers a jelly baby to Andred. Sue leans in as the Doctor removes his hand from the bag.
Sue: It’s a real jelly baby! Finally! They’re really pulling out all the stops for this one.
The Doctor locks the TARDIS door behind him, but a guard arrives with some spare keys.
Sue: He’s been down to the stores. I bet it took him ages to find the right box. And I bet he had a tea break while he was down there.
The guard tries several keys with no success.
Sue: I could watch this all night.
The Doctor gives Borusa a ruddy good bollocking, which is amazing. But if you’re Sue, the episode’s most exciting moment occurs when K9 navigates his way through a very narrow pathway in Gallifrey’s basement. She was on the edge of her seat when he got stuck. And then the episode concludes with the Doctor introducing us to Gallifrey’s new masters.
Sue: They must be having a laugh. BacoFoil? BACOFOIL?
The Doctor laughs his head off.
Sue: Yeah, I don’t blame you for laughing. Jesus! As in – Jesus Christ, this is pathetic!
Sue: Is this the big one?
Me: The big one?
Sue: Is this the one where the Doctor kills all the Time Lords? I’ve been dying to see this.
I’ve given up trying to tell her the Time War takes place off-screen.
Me: Wait and see.
Sue: Sorry, the what?
Me: The Vardans.
Sue: Never heard of them. They’re just CSO that’s gone wrong. They look like something you’d put in as a placeholder if you didn’t have the real effect ready.
The Doctor examines his new lead-lined quarters.
Sue: It’s an interesting set.
Me: I’d love a study like that.
Sue: Don’t tempt me. You know I like a challenge. It wouldn’t be real lead, though, but this isn’t either.
The Doctor confides in Borusa.
Sue: I knew he wasn’t the bad guy. I knew he wouldn’t let me down.
The Doctor insists Leela be banished from the Capitol.
Sue: The Doctor wants to protect her. He doesn’t want her in the city when he blows it up and kills all the Time Lords. He could have dropped her at a nice beach resort before any of this started, of course, but there you go. He was probably worried the TARDIS wouldn’t find her again, and she’d end up killing half the tourists.
Leela and Rodan leave the Capitol.
Sue: I was hoping it would look more like Dune and less like Rhyl. Gallifrey is one disappointment after another.
They immediately run into Gallifrey’s Outsiders.
Sue: They’re very posh for a bunch of savages. I bet the only clubs this lot are familiar with are book clubs.
The Vardans start throwing their weight around on Gallifrey.
Sue: It’s a shame, this. It would have been okay if the monsters were up to scratch. It should have been the Daleks. Or the Cybermen. I mean, just look at them! Just scrunch ’em up and chuck ’em in the bin. They’ll scream, “Foiled again!” Geddit? Foiled. Foil. Tin foil. No?
The Castellan reminds Sue of somebody (besides Leonard Rossiter, that is).
Sue: He’s Gallifrey’s Nick Clegg. He’s dressed in yellow, he’s obsequious, and he’ll do anything for a whiff of power. Oh, and I want to punch him in the face.
The Vardans expect the Doctor to dismantle the quantum force field that protects Gallifrey.
Sue: Even their voices are rubbish. They sound like continuity announcers. No offence, Glen.
The Doctor asks his allies to trust him and materialise.
Sue: They can’t do that because they’re still in the oven… Because they look like tin foil, and you use tin foil for cooking…
Me: Yes, Sue, we get it.
Sue: Hang on, if they haven’t materialised yet, they may look okay in a minute. There’s still hope.
The Castellan loves nothing more than rooting out potential troublemakers from the Time Lords’ ranks.
Sue: This one could be William Hartnell’s brother. Hey, maybe it is the Doctor’s brother.
When this particular Time Lord is escorted outside, he asks the guards to slow down because he’s in his 10th regeneration.
Sue: David Tennant seemed to manage okay. Just saying.
The episode concludes with Andred barging his way into the TARDIS.
Sue: The cliffhangers have been pretty good in this story. If only the monsters were better.
Sue: The Vardans have changed. Is this what they really look like?
Me: No, these are new CGI effects. I thought you could do with a break.
Sue: They are marginally better, I suppose. Marginally.
The Doctor mocks Andred’s failure to stage a palace coup.
Sue: Maybe the Time Lords start out as guards or air traffic controllers? Or maybe’s there’s a prequel series to be made where a young Doctor is a Time Lord cop.
The Doctor tells Andred that Rassilon’s mind lives on in the APC Net, and he may be able to help them.
Sue: What is Tom staring at? Why can’t he look at the person he’s talking to? I’m sorry, but Tom Baker is beginning to get on my tits.
Leela rustles up a (very) small army.
Sue: What a motley crew. I wouldn’t bet on this lot taking over a small shop, let alone a city.
The Doctor returns to Gallifrey’s basement to mess with its transduction barriers.
Sue: Gallifreyan technology isn’t all that impressive. I thought it’d be made of crystals and stuff like that. It’s… ordinary.
When Gallifrey’s barriers are deactivated, the Vardans finally reveal themselves.
Sue: WHAT WAS THE POINT?
Even the Doctor is disappointed.
Sue: Disappointing? DISAPPOINTING? Understatement of the ****ing century. All that for that? How shit must Gallifrey be if it can be threatened by these losers?
Leela and her rag-tag army advance on the citadel.
Sue: So, can this lot regenerate or not? I doubt they’d want to, but you never know.
It finally dawns on the Vardans that the Doctor has betrayed them.
Sue: They act like henchmen. I can’t believe they’re supposed to be all-powerful alien conquerors. They look like extras from another story who have wandered into this one by mistake. I mean, Gallifrey has basically been invaded by chartered accountants. This is so embarrassing.
K9 works out where the Vardans hail from (“They’re so shit-hot, no one has ever heard of them”), and the Doctor promptly places them in a time loop.
Sue: What an anti-climax. That was dreadful.
The Doctor has triumphed once again.
Me: So what mark are you going to give that?
Sue: The ending was rushed, the villains were rubbish, and the subplot with Leela and that tribe went nowhere. It started out well – the script was pretty good – but they didn’t do it justice.
Sue: **** me, it’s the Sontarans!
Me: I know!
Sue: So this hasn’t finished yet? You lied to me?
Me: Yes, but it was worth it, wasn’t it? Isn’t this an amazing cliffhanger? It knocked my socks off when I was eight years old. It was the most shocking thing I’d ever seen on television.
Sue: Okay, it’s a pretty good cliffhanger. Big round of applause. But it also means the last three episodes were a complete waste of time. How many episodes are left?
Sue: Sod that, let’s put Dallas on.
Sue: Cor blimey, guv’nor… Apples and pears… Stone the crows… Is that Sontaran actually a Cockney?
Me: Well, he’s definitely more Cockney than you are. That sounded Welsh.
Borusa returns to his office and squeezes a tiny ball.
Sue: Gallifreyan air freshener. The Doctor must have reeked.
Borusa pipes the sound of bells into the Panopticon, and everyone legs it when the Sontarans are temporarily disabled. Everyone except the Castellan, who stays behind to help his new overlords.
Sue: Why isn’t Nick Clegg running in the opposite direction? And why is he wearing welding gloves?
Leela slaughters a Sontaran with a knife to the probic vent.
Sue: It’s a bullseye!
The Doctor and his friends make it back to Borusa’s office and lock themselves in. The Sontarans start to batter the door down.
Me: (As a Sontaran) Open the door, you slag. You’re nicked!
Our heroes escape through a secret passageway. But before they leave, the Doctor unlocks the door for the Sontarans.
Sue: Why did he do that? He could have stalled them for ages. Seriously, why did he do that?
Another Sontaran is killed.
Sue: Why don’t they cover up that hole of theirs with a flap? Why do they walk around with it unprotected like that? Oooh, K9 can go backwards!
The Doctor asks Borusa for the Great Key of Rassilon, and after a lot of persuading, the Cardinal finally hands over an ordinary looking key to his former pupil. The Doctor throws it away.
Sue: I didn’t think so. I was expecting a big gold key with diamonds encrusted in the…
Borusa hands over the real key.
The Sontarans bring their weapons to bear on the Doctor and Borusa, but thankfully our heroes are protected by the Cardinal’s personal force field.
Sue: The Sontarans aren’t coming out of this well. I like the relationship between the Doctor and his old teacher, though. I knew he’d come good in the end. It’s quite sweet, really.
Unfortunately, Borusa’s batteries are about to run out.
Sue: Take them out and give them a little rub. Trust me, it works every time.
Upon reaching the safety of his TARDIS, the Doctor sends Leela, Borusa, K9 and Andred to the VIP suite. Then he teams up with Rodan to repair Gallifrey’s transduction barriers.
Sue: These two work well together. She’s a lot more capable now she’s back in the studio. She’d be an interesting companion, actually. But Leela has settled in nicely now, so you can’t get rid of her. And if the Doctor travelled with two women at the same time, it would look a bit suspect.
The Castellan reverses the TARDIS’ stabiliser banks and the Doctor declares they’ll be thrown into a black star.
Sue: Dock his pay!
Sue: It’s as if a bunch of fans got together to make an episode of Doctor Who at ICI Wilton.
The Doctor, Leela and Rodan head deeper into the TARDIS.
Sue: Where are we now?
Me: The TARDIS.
Sue: This is the TARDIS?
Sue: The TARDIS?
Me: Yes. Have you gone deaf, love?
Sue: No, but this DVD seems to be on a loop.
These corridors really do look the same.
Sue: I don’t know what I expected the rooms inside the TARDIS to look like, but it definitely wasn’t like this.
The Sontarans enter the console room.
Sue: It doesn’t feel right seeing this lot in the TARDIS. It feels like she’s being violated, somehow.
Our heroes are still traipsing through the TARDIS’ interior.
Sue: Why would the Doctor programme his TARDIS to look like a disused hospital? Why is that even an option?
Andred and K9 decide to kill some time in the TARDIS workshop.
Sue: And why does the TARDIS have windows? And why black them out with bin bags? This is so cheap, they must be taking the piss. I just don’t buy it.
Commander Stor is confident that he will defeat the Doctor.
Sue: He can’t even put his helmet on straight. How will he see a thing out of that? Do you want to try that again? No? That will do? Are you sure? Oh, all right then.
As the Sontarans pursue our heroes through a swimming pool area, one of them is incapacitated by a sun lounger.
Sue: Attacked by an alien that looks like a chair. I can’t believe he didn’t fall into the water. Cheap!
And then it’s wall-to-wall questions.
Sue: Why is there a small secondary school in the TARDIS? And why does the TARDIS have stairs? Don’t the lifts work? And why does the place look like it smells of urine?
I stop jotting these questions down after a while. And then it’s the scene that breaks the camel’s back, as Stor’s peripheral vision lets him down BUT he still manages to shoot Andred in the arm.
Sue: Can I give this a negative score?
Leela and Borusa end up going round in circles.
Sue: Déjà poo.
The Doctor manages to entice a Sontaran into the maw of a giant plant with nothing more than a birdsong impression. Yes, you did read that right.
Sue: They could afford to make a giant plant that’s on-screen for less than 30 seconds, but they couldn’t make a corridor with some circles on it? And who waters these plants, anyway? Does the Doctor have to come down here every night before he goes to bed?
The Doctor puts the finishing touches to his demat gun.
Sue: Nice cupboards. I’d love to give them a coat of Farrow & Ball.
The Doctor tests the demat gun on an advancing Sontaran, who promptly vanishes.
Sue: The Doctor shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun, let alone use one. This is terrible.
Commander Stor threatens to destroy the galaxy in a fit of pique.
Sue: With a hand grenade? Piss off!
So the Doctor kills him.
The Doctor is knocked unconscious, and all that remains of the demat gun is the Great Key.
Sue: It’s a shit gun if you can only fire it twice.
Rassilon has wiped the Doctor’s memory.
Sue: I wish he could wipe mine so I didn’t have to remember this.
The Doctor returns to his TARDIS with the sound of jubilant Gallifreyans ringing in his ears.
Sue: And now the Daleks turn up…
The Doctor opens the TARDIS door and he ushers his companion inside. But Leela wants to stay on Gallifrey.
Sue: What? WHY?
Leela reaches for Andred’s hand.
Sue: **** OFF!
Even K9 wants to stay behind.
Sue is gobsmacked. And furious.
Sue: I know Andred’s pants are tight, but this is ridiculous! Leela would never do that. Never in a million years.
The Doctor finds a box with ‘K-9 MII’ stencilled on its side.
Sue: Where did he get that from? Is there a shop that sells K9s?
The Doctor turns to the audience at home and smiles.
Sue: DOCK HIS ****ING PAY!
Sue: Oh dear. When the Sontarans turned up, I thought to myself, ‘They can still pull this out of the bag’. But then it got worse.
Me: But what about the first episode?
Sue: If it wasn’t for the first episode, I’d probably give it minus-two.
Me: I’ll lock the doors.