FOUR TO DOOMSDAY

Part One

Four to DoomsdaySue: I’m sorry but I missed the title. I was distracted by Tegan.
Me: Tegan isn’t in the titles.
Sue: The cat, you idiot. So what’s this one called?
Me: Hang on, I’ll rewind it.
Sue: No, just tell me.
Me: Four to Doomsday.
Sue: I beg your pardon?
Me: Four to Doomsday.
Sue: Numbers or letters?
Me: Both.
Sue: Anything to do with Douglas Adams?
Me: No.
Sue: Strange title.

The first thing Sue notices about Four to Doomsday is the length of TARDIS crew’s hair.

Sue: They’ve all had their hair done. I wonder if they did it themselves? Or maybe they went to a special planet. If I were Adric, I’d ask for my money back.

Tegan’s had more than her hair done.

Four to DoomsdaySue: She’s caked in make-up. She’s trying to look like Sheena Easton, I think. But no one has changed their clothes, which is odd. They’ve all had some beauty treatment done (the Doctor has definitely been on a sun bed), but no one has bothered to change out of their dirty, sweaty gear. Especially Adric. He should be ashamed. Tegan, I can understand – she’s going to start her new job. Like anyone would be in a rush to get back to work when they could explore time and space like this. It makes no sense.

Unfortunately for Tegan, the TARDIS has landed on a spaceship instead of Heathrow Terminal 4.

Sue: The set is nicely lit. That’s half the battle won.

The Doctor decides to explore while his companions whinge.

Sue: He loves to poke around, doesn’t he? One of these days, he’ll press the wrong button and blow himself up.

The Doctor’s progress is monitored by a floating monopticon.

Four to DoomsdaySue: It’s a Toclafane from The Sound of Drums.

Of course she didn’t really say that. She actually said:

Sue: It’s one of those floaty ball things from that David Tennant episode.
Me: Oh yeah, so it is.

Meanwhile, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan are bickering about mathematics. As you do.

Adric: That’s the trouble with women. Mindless, impatient and bossy.
Sue: Steady on, Adric.

Tegan is in a very stroppy mood, and when Nyssa and Adric decide to follow the Doctor outside, she doesn’t want to be the odd one out.

Sue: She only did that to spite Adric. You can cut the sexual tension with a knife. And Peter Davison isn’t even in the scene!

Their helmets fascinate Sue.

Sue: I could make a nice replica of a TARDIS helmet, if you like. They’d be dead easy to do. I’d just need some washing-up liquid bottles, some 15mm flexible waste pipe and a 1970 motorcycle helmet. Simple.

The Doctors finds a machine that goes ping.

Four to DoomsdayThe Doctor: Yes! An interferometer.
Adric: What’s that?
Sue: It’s for interfering with things, stupid. I’m going right off Adric. He was a boy genius in the last episode, but now he’s a thick, whining brat.

Sue recognises the voice of Monarch, which surprised me a bit.

Sue: He’s famous. Whoever he is.

Adric continues to get on Sue’s wick.

Sue: It must be his hormones. He can’t understand these strange feelings he has for Nyssa and he’s trying to overcompensate.

We meet Monarch, as played by Stratford Johns.

Sue: How the **** am I supposed to recognise him under all that? And why are the aliens playing Prize Board Bingo?

The Urbankans question Tegan about her clothing.

Enlightenment: Are you fashionable, Tegan?
Sue: For about 15 minutes in 1981, possibly. Just thank your lucky stars you didn’t ask Adric.

Four to DoomsdayTegan sketches some contemporary Earth fashions.

Sue: If the air hostess job doesn’t pan out, there’s always a future for her as a cartoonist. That’s quite a good likeness of Paul McCartney and Jerry Hall.

Monarch sets Adric a maths problem.

Sue: Nicol should be watching this. The programme is obsessed with maths at the moment. Is there going to be a test at the end of this episode?

And then we meet Bigon.

Sue: If there isn’t a “let bygones by bygones” joke in this episode, I will write to Points of View.

The Doctor and his companions are given some refreshments and Adric asks someone to pass him the sodium chloride.

Sue: This is very educational. You’d happily let your kids to watch this story.
Me: Yeah, but only if you wanted to turn your kids into irritating, obnoxious freaks.
Sue: Jealous!

An Australian Aborigine arrives at the feast and Tegan has to translate for the Doctor.

Sue: Why can’t the Doctor understand him? He can understand everybody else in the universe. I thought the TARDIS translated all this stuff for him? Have they never heard of continuity? I’m a bit annoyed by this.

Whatever you do, Do NOT give Sue the address to Gallifrey Base.

Four to DoomsdayTwo humans, dressed in green velvet, suddenly appear. They have walked straight out of Tegan’s drawing.

Persuasion: We’ve already met. This is Enlightenment, and I am Persuasion.
Me: It’s Sapphire and Steel’s brother and sister. Jade and Aluminium.

The credits roll.

Sue: So this it like V, then? Lizards pretending to be humans so they can invade the Earth? They’ll be eating mice before you know it. I have to say, I’ve seen better first episodes.

 

Part Two

Four to DoomsdayAdric doesn’t understand how the Urbankans can transform themselves into new forms.

Adric: How did you do it?
Sue: For ****’s sake, Adric. It’s probably block transfer thingy! You created a whole society last week, this is a piece of piss compared to that. Seriously, the lack of continuity in this story is really starting to annoy me.

Three billion Urbankans are stored on this ship. Once again, Adric can’t get his head around the concept.

Sue: They’re probably just tadpoles. I bet you could store a lot of frogspawn on that ship.

The Doctor decides to explore the ship. Adric and Nyssa get separated from the Doctor and Tegan.

Sue: They are really ramping up the sexual tension, now. How will they resist each other in that dimly lit storage room?

The Doctor and Tegan are given VIP seats for a very special performance.

Four to DoomsdaySue: This balcony reminds me of the video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax.

Meanwhile, Nyssa and Adric are exploring a hydroponic garden centre.

Nyssa: The light on the plants converts carbon dioxide into carbohydrate.
Sue: Seriously, is there going to be a test at the end of this?

Tegan and the Doctor watch Chinese dragons dancing. They don’t even have any popcorn.

The Doctor: Try to look as if you’re enjoying yourself.
Sue: Tegan is like the Queen at the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Smile, you bitch! Smile!

Adric is still struggling to put two and two together.

Adric: Not enough oxygen.
Sue: Not enough action, you mean. This story is just people wandering around rooms and chatting. It hasn’t been like this since the 1960s!

Four to DoomsdayNyssa starts poking one of Monarch’s workers. He pushes Nyssa away and Adric flies off the handle.

Sue: Adric is so blinded by lust, he sticks up for Nyssa, even though she was clearly in the wrong. She was prodding the poor sod. What was he supposed to do?

The Doctor pretends to have a dizzy spell, so Bigon can talk to him.

Sue: It’s Peter Davison I feel sorry for. When he read the script for this, he must have thought, what the **** have I let myself in for. This is crap!

A gladiator is stabbed in the stomach. Adric and Nyssa watch as he is repaired. And then a very familiar penny drops:

Sue: It’s bloody Westworld again! Every few weeks, they wheel this out. And if they are making robots for entertainment purposes, and this is the best they can come up with, then their technology must be shit. Invent the Playstation 3 instead, you morons. Or make a mechanical Derren Brown. Anything but this.

An aboriginal dance troupe are on stage next.

Four to DoomsdaySue: Here comes Kate Bush.
Me: No love, that’s next week.

The episode concludes with Bigon opening up his chest to reveal that he too is a robot.

Sue: We’re seen it all before. Several times, in fact. It’s getting boring.

 

Part Three

When Adric decides to side with the Urbankans, Sue isn’t all that surprised.

Sue: They do have a point. Humans are total shits. And this lot are very charming.

Four to DoomsdayBigon tells the Doctor that Monarch plans to wipe out humanity with a deadly poison. He gets quite worked up about it, actually.

Bigon: With this he will conquer Earth!
Sue: It’s just a shame he doesn’t come with an acting chip.

Adric tells Monarch all about the Doctor’s greatest archenemy, the Master.

Sue: He’s not in this one as well, is he? That would be tedious.

Sue likes Monarch, though.

Sue: As far as villains go, he’s very affable. You could easily get around him with some flattery if you really had to. I’m not frightened of him at all.

Adric reels off the TARDIS specs.

Four to DoomsdayAdric: The interior’s in a different dimension.
Sue: Kick him, Nyssa.
Adric: It’s got a power room, it’s got a bathroom. It’s even got cloisters.
Sue: He recited that like a proper little fan.

Tegan can’t stand it any longer and she freaks out.

Sue: Whenever Tegan speaks, I feel myself getting stressed. She’s like an excitable dog that won’t stop yapping.

Nyssa is hypnotised so she can be turned into a synthetic copy of herself.

Enlightenment: Your eyes are getting heavy. They are getting heavier, and heavier, and heavier.
Sue: Tell me about it.

The Doctor distracts a monopticon with a cricket ball and his sonic screwdriver.

Sue: I liked that. That was a very Doctorish thing to do. He’s quite a bouncy Doctor, isn’t he?

Four to DoomsdayLin Futu monitors Nyssa’s conversion.

Sue: If they turned Nyssa into a robot for the rest of the series, would anybody notice?

Adric can’t stop apologising for Monarch’s wicked ways.

Sue: Adric is a pushover when it comes to powerful, older men. We should have seen this coming.

Lin Futu checks to see how Nyssa is doing.

Lin Futu: Two minutes.
Sue: Thanks for the running commentary, Cato.
Me: You finally recognised Cato, then?
Sue: No, I was just being racist. Sorry. Is it really Cato? Honestly?

Four to DoomsdayTegan finds her way back to the TARDIS.

Sue: If Tegan ends up flying the TARDIS, I may have to kick something.

Bigon tells the Doctor that Monarch punished him once by locking him in a drawer for 100 years.

Sue: At least he was spared the Chinese dragon dancing for a bit.

I hate to break to you, folks, but Sue is starting to have second thoughts about Adric.

Sue: I am going right off Adric. From genius to git in three episodes. It’s either his hormones or the writer is a ****ing idiot.

Tegan is still freaking out in the TARDIS.

Sue: Take some Valium! Look at me – I’m biting my nails. She puts me on edge. How long does Tegan stick around for?
Me: Not long.
Sue: Good. My nerves couldn’t take much more of this.

Incredibly, Tegan dematerialises the TARDIS.

Sue: Bullshit. And where does she think she’s going, anyway? She just left her friends behind to die, just so she could go to her boring little job. I hate Tegan. I can’t believe you made me name one of our cats after her.

The episode concludes with the Doctor facing a beheading.

Adric: No! No! No!
Sue: Oh, shut up, Adric. It’s too late for that now. Good cliffhanger, though. If in doubt, threaten to chop somebody’s head off.

 

Part Four

Four to DoomsdayMonarch orders Persuasion to spare Adric’s life.

Monarch: Do not harm the boy. The boy has great courage.
Sue: And I fancy the pants off him. Ribbit.

Adric begs Monarch to spare the Doctor’s life, too.

Sue: He’s a pushover. Buy him some chocolates, then he’ll definitely change his mind.

Monarch questions the Doctor’s actions.

Monarch: Was it scientific curiosity which caused you to interfere with my monopticons?
Sue: Would you like me to interfere with your monopticons, Neil?

The Doctor pretends to take Monarch’s side. Adric laps it up.

Sue: What a ****ing idiot. Why is Adric being written as a moron? Has the writer never seen Castrovalva? Jesus.

We are treated to some more dancing.

Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.

Four to DoomsdayThe Doctor gives Adric a bollocking for being such a dick.

The Doctor: Look, he wants to use you. His subjects are all synthetic. You are flesh and blood.
Sue: It’s not even a subtext any more.

Monarch will use Adric as his emissary on Earth.

Sue: And Earth will piss their pants laughing.

Meanwhile, Tegan is still struggling to fly the TARDIS.

Sue: With any luck, the next button she presses will result in the TARDIS landing on top of that dancing dragon, and then they can all just piss off. This is ridiculous.

Monarch and Persuasion are watching this performance with keen interest.

Sue: They must be bored of this channel by now. I know I am.

Persuasion is especially pleased when Topless Male Wrestling Hour begins.

Sue: This is her favourite programme. She’s got all of these on tape.

Four to DoomsdayThe Doctor must take a spacewalk to reach his TARDIS, which has materialised outside the ship.

Sue: All this all because Tegan is a ****ing idiot. This has nothing to do with the villains. If it wasn’t for Tegan, this would be over by now.

Sue is becoming increasingly frustrated with the Doctor’s companions.

Sue: The Doctor should ground them for a month when this is all over. He should have three adventures on his own while they are locked in their bedrooms. That will teach them.

The Doctor arranges for the ship’s “entertainers” to perform simultaneously.

Sue: It’s like a YouTube mash-up. Or maybe it’s the Closing Ceremony. You know how shambolic they can be.

The Doctor launches himself into space. Persuasion tires to intervene and, brilliantly, the Doctor has to come all the way back to the ship again. The Doctor switches the synthetic weirdo off.

Four to DoomsdaySue: Why is he stuck in a camp waiter pose?

The Doctor tries again. This time it’s Enlightenment’s turn to mess things up and the Doctor is set adrift in space. He uses his cricket ball to save himself.

Sue: I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure that’s bollocks.

But it’s not all bad news.

Sue: Having said that, it doesn’t look too bad. They are really trying. It’s a nice special effect.

The Doctor enters the console room and Sue can’t believe he doesn’t give Tegan a slap.

Sue: William Hartnell wouldn’t have put up with this crap from his companions.

The TARDIS materialises on Monarch’s ship and the Doctor rushes off to save Adric and Nyssa.

Four to DoomsdaySue: SHUT THE ****ING DOORS! The next thing you know, a pogo-ing Aborigine will accidentally dance into the console room and fly it away. Because any ****er can fly the TARDIS now, can’t they?

Aside from a scene where Peter Davison’s heavy breathing gives Sue palpitations, the final episode drags terribly. The Doctor passes Monarch’s poison to Adric to look after.

Sue: Is he insane? I wouldn’t trust Adric with a flask of tea.

Monarch is killed by his own poison.

Sue: What a load of old shit.

The synthetic entertainers on the ship decide to stay where they are.

Sue: (As Bigon) We are going on tour of the galaxy together. All we need now is some Arts Council funding.

Four to DoomsdayAnd just when we think it’s all over, Nyssa faints. Cue credits.

Sue: What?
Me: Sorry, love, it’s a six-parter.
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.

 

The Score

Sue: What tedious bollocks. Seriously, what the **** was that? Whoever wrote that one should never be allowed to write for the programme again. What the **** was Adric playing at? And the title makes no sense.

1/10

 

Coming Soon

 

75

Comments

  1. Leo  September 15, 2012

    Regarding the comments about Castrovalva, it might be worth mentioning that that story hadn’t even been written when this one was recorded. The original plans for Davison’s first story were abandoned, so they got on with recording his second, third and fourth stories while Bidmead wrote a replacement, which was recorded after those.

    • Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

      Still doesn’t explain what J-NT thought what the **** THE SAME WRITER OF K-9 AND COMPANY AS IF THAT WASN’T APALLING ENOUGH was doing, characterising everyone like that – there’s no way that could possibly have sat well between any first and third stories in the world ever. But at least you also know why Torchwood season one was so unbearable, and why no two writers of that abomination were never on the same page for EXACTLY the same sort of reasons.

      • Leo  September 15, 2012

        No, but it does explain how Castrovalva couldn’t have been a factor in anything that was written for this one.

        • Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

          But Logopolis – same writer, same companions – should have been, even if the Doctor had changed hands, two companions were finding their feet, and the third was woefully inexperienced anyway. It’s almost as if Terence Dudley’s whole brief and attitude amounted to, ‘See those guys over there? Let’s fuck with them and see how they cope’.

          • Frankymole  September 17, 2012

            Who changed whose hands and feet? Or had Morok arms fallen into Xeron hands? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

          Oh, and there’s also Black Orchid, later in the season. There’s no way anybody can give the same writer the same benefit of the doubt for the same bullshit in that one.

          • Leo  September 15, 2012

            I’m not interested in talking about how good or bad a writer Terence Dudley is, or, if you really want me to be frank, in reading your opinions about him. I’m saying nothing about him at all, just pointing out that anything relating to Castrovalva can’t possibly have any application to this story because of the circumstances they were made. Your apparent assumption that this is an attempt to defend him is your problem, I’m just making that one point and that one alone. What you think of him as a writer is totally uninteresting to me, so don’t waste any more of my time foisting your unasked for arguments about him onto me.

          • Leo  September 15, 2012

            Just as a final note, insofar as I do have any opinions on any of Dudley’s works, they are mostly not very strong ones, and there’s little that I’ve any wish to say about them. I won’t be reading or responding to any possible further replies to this particular exchange, as there’s nothing I’ve any desire to add to it.

          • Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

            You’re right of course. Excuses don’t count for much on the internet I know, but I’ve had an utterly wretched number of weeks on a very personal level, and it manifested here with my fanboy opinions coming out in one great abrasive and obnoxious lump. For that, I can only apologize.

  2. Gavin Noble  September 15, 2012

    Glad Sue finds Tegan as annoying as I always have! Your cat is much more affable.

    Don’t disagree with the review too much. Just not enough of interest going on – though Stratford Johns is good.

    • Simon Harries  September 15, 2012

      His insistence on recording all his scenes in one recording day (or whatever it was) is understandable. The less time spent in that costume and make-up, delivering that *****y dialogue, the better for him.

      • Leo  September 15, 2012

        Only his throne room scenes were all recorded on one day, his appearances on the other sets were recorded separately. Probably because the make-up couldn’t be removed without it ruining the mask and wig it was applied to, so every time it was put on it had to done from the start, with new appliances, so they’d have wanted to keep those to a minimum.

  3. Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

    How vapid is Four To Doomsday? Try this little experiment. After the TARDIS lands, skip to Bigon’s introductions at the end of part one, stopping just before Enlightenment and Persuasion come in. Then go straight to Bigon again at the start of part three and subject yourself to the crassest infodump in the entire canon of Doctor Who that doesn’t involve sandwiches. After that little five minute chunk, jump to the same-sized ending of part four, right after the TARDIS comes back. In terms of plot, you will have missed NOTHING.

    For all its cultural pretentions and profoundities, Four To Doomsday is exactly what they mean when critics complain about the Davison era being a soap. Terence Dudley and his well-documented low opinion of Doctor Who have so little faith in the viewers or the Doctor to solve the mystery of the ship that like Mulder in The X-Files, he doesn’t get to; it’s dropped straight into his lap in the same way that show became shit later on after the consipracy novelty had worn off (and this is an X-Files fan talking here). Everything else is fannying about with colourful but pointless setpieces, or whatever spurious ‘issues’ the TARDIS crew have spontaneously generated this week. Tegan turns out to be right, but the story treats her like shit for it, and the more said about Adric the better – preferably in the loudest collective whine we can muster so they never ever do anything like that again. Except, oh shit, they already have, haven’t they? That’s why I found Dinosaurs On A Spaceship unsatisfying and impossible to care about, because it was essentially Four To Doomsday taking the utter piss out of its own wretched character dynamics.

    Plot: “Am I here yet?” Bigon: “Shut up and I’ll turn this ship around.”

  4. Simon Harries  September 15, 2012

    Hahahahahaha! I was guffawing all the way through this superb review, a review which really says it all about ‘Four to Doomsday.’ I didn’t mind it at the age of 10, but thirty years on I’d rather watch, er, Paul Shelley in ‘Secret Army’ or Burt Kwouk in ‘The Pink Panther Strikes Again’. I have absolutely no desire to watch ‘Four to Doomsday’ ever again, but will gladly resume following your adventures with the next story.

  5. Avocado Pear  September 15, 2012

    I’m glad Sue pointed out how nonsensical the title is! Having watched this for the first time recently (two days ago) I have to agree that it’s not at all good. But I do like the set design.

  6. Adam Birch  September 15, 2012

    I generally found Adric to he as welcome as diarrhea in a pressure suit.

    Four to Doomsday was one of the moments in that season when I thought “Uh-oh!”, but on the whole, I don’t think it’s representative to any great degree.

    • Adam Birch  September 15, 2012

      Sorry about the typos – Saturday Morning here and I’m not quite focused yet…

  7. Mark Postgate  September 15, 2012

    That’s bought a little joy to my day. “Any ****er can fly the TARDIS now, can’t they?” may be the first candidate for a Peter Davison mug slogan.

    • Simon Harries  September 15, 2012

      Just add “…with an Equity card” onto that.

  8. Lewis  September 15, 2012

    Does Sue know this had the same writer as K9 & Co?

    I agree with her, though. Utterly awful after Davo’s introduction (and this was the first he filmed!). My god.

  9. Merric Blackman  September 15, 2012

    Yes, the episode where Adric, er… has a writer who hates him. I like the concept of Adric a lot (it helped that I was a young boy very good at maths when this was shown), but you can see here what happens when a writer really has no idea of what to do with him.

    With Adric (brother dead) and Nyssa (entire people dead), you have characters that really cry out for exploration, but this isn’t New Who, they hadn’t planned for extra companions, and so it’s far more “shove them into whatever role we can think of each week”.

    Oddly, there are lots of great concepts in Four to Doomsday, but it doesn’t make use of them anywhere near effectively. I’m very much looking forward to Sue’s take on the rest of this season; it’s certainly a challenging one for a Doctor Who fan…

  10. Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

    By the way, the Nostalgia Critic character (“I remember it so you don’t have to”) got retired a few days ago. I’d like to think he saw Sue coming and knew he couldn’t compete any more.

  11. Herris Tyder  September 15, 2012

    Unbelievably, this is the story which got my own wife into Doctor Who! She was hooked after this.

    I liked it when it was originally on. The cliffhangers to 1 and 3 were especially powerful, I thought. Watching it as an adult, it is pretty rank.

    • chris-too-old-too-watch  September 16, 2012

      Of course, the beheading cliffhanger has other connotations, not immediately obvious now…

  12. Wholahoop  September 15, 2012

    Not sure why but the words “fescinine bag of slime” and “stinking offal” just don’t do this justice. Some nice ideas and I can definitely recall giving the programme some slack with the Bigon reveal. Unfortunately on the whole this story was awful, dreadful and not very good at all. Maybe we are spoilt these days?

  13. Roderick T. Long  September 15, 2012

    I believe it’s spelled “Kato.” Unless you mean the Roman senator. Or the libertarian think tank. Or the clothing store.

    • Neil Perryman  September 15, 2012

      It’s Cato.

      • Glen Allen  September 15, 2012

        It’s Yamaouchi. WOMEN BOW!

        • BWT  September 16, 2012

          Just call him Bruce.

          • Dave Sanders  September 16, 2012

            PLACE BETS NAO – which companion get written out next? If you bet Nyssa, YOU A WINNAH! BANZAI!

          • Dave Sanders  September 16, 2012

            And then next week it’s ‘Mister Richard Todd man like to shake Adric’s neck for LONG TIME!’

    • Matthew Marcus  September 17, 2012

      Kato’s the guy who hangs out with The Green Hornet. I find it all a bit confusing too.

  14. Wholahoop  September 15, 2012

    Just thinking about it, if it had been called “Four Days to Doomsday” would that have made it any less awful? I think not

    • Dave Sanders  September 15, 2012

      A much better title would be ‘Far Too Dumbed Down’.

    • Matthew Marcus  September 17, 2012

      I always assuming that “Four to Doomsday” was also referring to the fact that only the Doctor and his three companions stand in the way of this month’s diabolical schemes coming to fruition. Either that, or implying that the era of Doctor Four has been replaced by the apocalypse.

  15. Warren Andrews  September 15, 2012

    Why do the companions come over so incredibly badly in this story?

    Terence Dudley was copying their character outlines to the letter. That scene in the TARDIS between Adric, Nyssa and Tegan feels totally like that.

    Davison saves this story for me. He brings such a fresh feel to the story. I like his rather uncertain chaotic performance. It’s far more interesting than anything he does in season 20 when he’s bored and can’t wait to leave the series.

    John Black’s direction doesn’t help carry the story – and oh look he directed the last time Sue had some serious complaints (Keeper of Traken, K9 and Company).

  16. Marty  September 15, 2012

    Four to Doomsday to me always feels like a 6 or even a 7 or 8 parter.
    It’s just tedious with as Sue says lots of people wandering around talking. Sweet FA happens during the story. It’s community arts show with a bit of science fiction thrown in.
    It is like a 60s story, but I think a 60s story would be more interesting than this story.

    While I am willing to give Adric some leeway in some stories, this is one where he reverts back to State of Decay era Adric.

    The character I do like in this story is Tegan.
    She totally freaks out. Which is kinda natural for a person thrown into a weird and strange situation, and it would make complete sense. Had she not seemed totally capable in Logopolis and Castrolvalva (where in her first story she travels in 2 TARDISes, seems to cope with CVEs, people from other planets, bits of the universe being eaten by entropy, the Master, regeneration).
    Yet in this she totally flips out. It’s nice bit of characterisation, but totally misplaced I suppose it could be a delayed reaction, she’s been running on adrenalin for the past (however much time has passed since Logopolis) and now it just becomes too much.

  17. Richard P  September 15, 2012

    I love all of these early Peter Davison stories. I love Tegan she’s my favourite companion ever. This story reminds me of being 5!

    • chris-too-old-too-watch  September 16, 2012

      Yes, I used to play games like this when I was five…..

  18. Melvin  September 15, 2012

    My thing about “Four to Doomsday” is that I always enjoyed the riffs on their concept of “flesh time.”

    Persuasion: Are you not well, Doctor?
    Doctor: Quite alright, thank you. Just a dizzy spell; must be the altitude.
    Enlightenment: What a fatuous remark.
    Monarch: Ah, the flesh time!

    Monarch pretty much gives himself away whenever he talks – from what I recall, he’s supposed to be a robot like everyone else, but he has such a wistful, nostalgic longing for flesh times.

    • encyclops  September 15, 2012

      I love that exchange. I think the Urbankans are terrific characters, honestly. I also like “You may keep the pencil.”

      I’m starting to want to watch this again. It may not be objectively “good,” but you guys are reminding me of all the reasons I watched it over and over as a kid.

    • Dave Sanders  September 16, 2012

      There’s actually a much bigger ‘flesh time’ giveaway than that, and it’s not the hydroponic centre; it’s the poison, which the Urbankans secrete from a gland. Somebody has to be still making that stuff. How would a robot do that, and to what purpose if it’s surrounded for thousands of years by nothing but other robots? Ergo….

      That’s also a hell of a lot of poison for just one frog, too.

      • Frankymole  September 17, 2012

        Wasn’t it stated that the frogs in the science lab have been modified to produce the same glandular toxin?

  19. encyclops  September 15, 2012

    This story is indefensible, and you just have to read this review to know why. But I’m sorry to report that I loved it as a kid, and I still find it entirely watchable once I’ve accepted that it’s where they really just gave up on Adric, and that all the stuff about it that sucks will still suck. I still love how colorful it is, how much is going on in terms of imagery and concepts, even if it doesn’t really fit together. Quite honestly I usually enjoy this more than stories like “Earthshock,” not because it’s better-written or more exciting but because it strives for something beyond mere space opera (key word: “strives”). That said, 1/10 seems entirely fair.

    As hopeless as Adric is here, Tegan still manages to be the most abrasive thing about the story, and that’s saying a lot. She at least is putting some energy and commitment into it, and it’s not Fielding’s fault that the writers directed her energies in such obnoxious directions. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my three favorite stories of this era — three of my favorites of all time — are among the ones that actually give Tegan something interesting to do.

  20. DPC  September 15, 2012

    Nothing about the bit where Adric gets Enlightenment on the floor, reaching inside the blouse to get at her silicon implant? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Yeah, in ways this is a naff story and I’ve rarely ever put in continuity between stories the way Sue had.

    I found the ideas and some of the baddies’ dialogue to be engaging, and I’m a fan of 60s WHO (snail pace and all), but it was most refreshing to read her opinions.

    Adric and Tegan to suffer the most – Adric does side with the baddies too readily and often for no reason, and for this story Tegan just grates. But the writer didn’t have a proper feel of the characters, rendering both of them bad, Doc5 like Tom Baker at times, and Nyssa gets sidelines.

    Despite that, Tegan wanting to get to Earth, and even try to tinker the TARDIS, isn’t out of character… just some of her uber-grouchiness is.

    I do dig the educational, cultural, sci-fi, and environmental stuff – even if our technology is almost 5x smaller that of 100nm (22nm)

    Annd “Four to Doomsday” (FtD) came about 2 years before “V” (the 1983 original, not the braindead 2009 regurgitation, which makes FtD seem like a well-polished Shakespearean manuscript by comparison…

    But it is a mixed bag. For the ideas, set design, and baddies I’d give 9/10.

    For the good guy dialogue and inconsistency in the story, 2/10 with ease.

    5/10 would be my overall vote.

    • Broton  September 17, 2012

      I find this too tedious to watch, but it does have the excellent line “Relieve him, Nyssa!”.

      Maybe it’s just one big innuendo fest and we haven’t noticed?

  21. Smith  September 15, 2012

    Not a lot of people like Four To Doomsday, and that’s really unfortunate because I absolutely adore it.

  22. Jazza1971  September 15, 2012

    The Queen REALLY didn’t seem to enjoy the olympics, did she? ๐Ÿ˜€

  23. John G  September 15, 2012

    โ€œIf they turned Nyssa into a robot for the rest of the series, would anybody notice?โ€

    Ouch, probably the most cutting remark in a very cutting post. It makes me wonder if Sue will notice Nyssa (or lack thereof) in the next story..

    Four to Doomsday is one of those stories that everyone seems to hate, but I think it’s OK, if a bit mediocre. Conceptually it is quite interesting, and I don’t even mind Adric – it is Tegan who really gets on my wick in this one, not helped by another of Janet Fielding’s rather shambolic early performances. It’s quite fun watching Peter in his first recorded outing, as he is visibly trying to work his way into the role, and is rather more hyper than he would be later. Given Sue’s comments about the different hair, I’m a bit surprised Neil didn’t mention this was recorded first.

    Anyway, will Sue kinda like or hate the next story? Time will tell…

    • BWT  September 16, 2012

      Yes it is mediocre, this one. For me, it fits nicely into the same bracket as “The Celestial Toymaker” and “The Dominators”…

  24. Glen Allen  September 15, 2012

    My thoiught on this one can be summed up as “Meh”
    Appropriate score.
    Now, moving on… )

    • Glen Allen  September 15, 2012

      as can also my “thoughts”. Damn keyboard

  25. Ian Marchant  September 15, 2012

    Would it be churlish for those of us who warned Sue about Adric to go “told you so” in a loud and irritating way?

    • encyclops  September 15, 2012

      I think you’ve answered your own question. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Mister  September 15, 2012

    “Sue: I am going right off Adric. From genius to git in three episodes. Itโ€™s either his hormones or the writer is a ****ing idiot.”

    It is indeed the writer. For some reason, Season 19 is very inconsistent with Adric’s character. New writers who apparently didn’t know how to write the character. Some were spot on with keeping up with Season 18 Adric, others butchered his character.

    I hate seeing everyone complain about Adric siding with the bad guys like Adric ACTUALLY meant to be evil or a dick. Now, I’ve only seen this once, but I remember catching very early on that the enemies tricked/persuaded Adric that their intentions were good and misunderstood or something like that.

    • encyclops  September 15, 2012

      As much as I like Adric, my take on him is that he’s drawn to authoritative men. Probably when he was growing up, his teachers liked him more than his classmates did. Even in “Full Circle,” where he’s trying to join the outsider gang, everyone quite rightly questions his suitability (he’s still proudly wearing a school award). He’s nowhere near anti-authority enough to let Decider Draith drown without trying to save him. He’s drawn to the Fourth Doctor, who for all his anarchic tendencies is still the most dominant figure in any room, and clearly doesn’t care for the Fifth, who’s a much smaller presence physically and charismatically, and is as often petty as paternal.

      In a quite unrelated note, I cannot WAIT for the next story.

      • Dave Sanders  September 16, 2012

        The only explanation that really makes sense about the later Adric is that he becomes jealous and resentful once he realises he’s gone from being an only child to having two big sisters.

  27. Perry Armstrong  September 15, 2012

    Given Sue’s comments, it’s interesting to note that ‘Four to Doomsday’ anagrams into: Toad Sodomy For U

    • DPC  September 16, 2012

      LOL!

  28. Thomas  September 15, 2012

    I rather like Sandifer’s read on the story:
    http://tardiseruditorum.blogspot.com/2012/02/because-we-dont-quite-fully-understand.html

    I wasn’t looking forward to it at all when I got to it, but surprisingly rather enjoyed it. Monarch and his cronies are probably the best part, though I think there are some interesting things here and there. Not a great story by any means of the imagination, but I liked it well enough.

  29. John Williams  September 16, 2012

    There are so many great lines in this entry that I hardly know where to start, but I laughed loudest at “Not long.”

  30. P.Sanders  September 16, 2012

    Like other folks I still have a soft spot for 42DD (the story, not the bra) despite its very obvious flaws. Sue’s observations make it clear just how much this is a true follow-on from Logopolis: a bickering crew who don’t know each other; Tegan’s performance still a little hysterical, etc. Plus Adric is written like an arsehole and is played in that way when the actor knows their character is being an arsehole. I think in the book it suggests Monarch may be a bit hypnotic which at least explains it a bit. Whereas Castrovalva has a maturity to the whole crew that leaves you looking forward to seeing them in action (particularly a practical and mature Tegan).

    But still I enjoy this more than I should. There are plenty of big (some stupid) ideas, some great lines (“frog with a funny hairdo”) and for some reason I love it when classic-Who does pure SF in space – even though it’s the historicals’ poor relation. In this case the spaceship is moodily lit and mysterious and I enjoy the Hartnellesque exploration of the first episode. I know it’s balls but I can’t help myself. It’s the same thing that makes me often pick a Williams over a Hinchcliffe.

    However I still wouldn’t argue with Sue’s score. It’s great reading the experiment with Sue’s more immediate sense of continuity. Looking forward to Kinda.

  31. Silent Hunter  September 16, 2012

    Interesting review.

    Have you ever heard of the Doomsday Clock? Four minutes to midnight was its setting when this story aired.

  32. chris-too-old-too-watch  September 16, 2012

    Great review Sue with spot-on score
    At the time, I was tempted with the idea that Adric’s changes of heart were because of his genetic background – as a survival measure from his fast evolution, but then I changed my mind and decided it was just bad writing.

  33. Paul Mc Elvaney  September 16, 2012

    “The Doctor gives Adric a bollocking for being such a dick”

    I love this line. That’s all I have to say.

    • Robert Dick  September 17, 2012

      I was less keen on it.

  34. Christopher Pittard  September 16, 2012

    I much prefer “Four to Doonesbury”, which involves a cartoon Adric and Nyssa wryly discussing the Republican policy on abortion.

  35. Davisons batman pants  September 16, 2012

    “Me: Sorry, love, itโ€™s a six-parter.”

    I hope inside you were cackling like the master ๐Ÿ˜€

    i wonder what that writing on the dragon means, was hoping Sues keen master spotting eyesys would spy it and say it just means made in Hong Kong or somin. I guess it on the dvd extras which alas i have not seen. Can’t say i am going to rush out and buy it tbh, probably one day though (through this site of course :)).

  36. John Callaghan  September 16, 2012

    I like the thoughtful and gentle atmosphere of Four To Doomsday. There are a lot of stories about concepts this series, and I approve.

    I like the Discontinuity Guide’s take on Tegan’s gift: the Doctor is playing a practical joke on her (perhaps to instil a sense of wonder at the adventure she’s taking) but never gets around to the punchline.

  37. Sparklepunk  September 17, 2012

    You know it’s been a long time and I liked this ep when I was a kid and I mostly like Tegan enough, I mean she’s got problems and she’s not a favorite, but I think she’s okay. I’m sure, from what I remember I probably even today wouldn’t have given this such a low mark, but having said all that this was thoroughly entertaining! It was hilarious to read just how angry Sue was getting at it all and I’m also completely behind how irritated she was with certain parts of the episode.

  38. Frankymole  September 17, 2012

    Although it is valud to criticise the portrayal of Adric here, one can’t really have a go at the writing for Tegan, the Fifth Doctor, and to some extent Nyssa, since there was nothing but Logopolis to go on when this was put together and Nyssa’s role in Keeper of Traken was fairly unusual, not a Doctor’s companion role at all really. Itcould be argued that Eric Saward’s take on the characters was off, or that Anthony Root (the script editor for the first few stories) didn’t take control of the thing properly (not impossible if he was essentially filling-in as a “temp”).

  39. solar penguin  September 17, 2012

    I’m another of those with a soft spot for this story. It’s one that tries to pack in lots of potentially good ideas, but doesn’t know what to do with them all. And I’m a sucker for stories like that. They’re my guilty pleasure.

    But yes, you’re right that the companions are badly characterised, which ruins the whole thing. So, I’d give Four To Doomsday an appropriate 4/10.

  40. Herris Tyder  September 17, 2012

    I love the Bill-themed Next Time, by the way.

  41. William Keith  September 29, 2012

    As someone who temps or locums [almost literally: time and space] for a living, I consciously model myself on Doctor Who, turning up in a mercury swamp on Vulcan or a Transylvanian castle on Peladon, and taking command of the situation, solving everyone’s problems with as little bloodshed as possible, and then fucking off while I’m still appreciated.

    (If you want a locum solicitor, please get in touch.)

  42. Broton  October 2, 2012

    Has it been decided once and for all if the cricket ball trick would work? I rather think it would