Airport ’82: It’s A Disaster
Sue: Peter Grimwade again? So he writes and directs at the same time, does he? Excellent.
Let’s see how long it takes her to work it out, shall we?
The story begins with Concorde in flight…
Sue: Bloody hell, it must have cost the BBC a small fortune to film inside Concorde. Unless this is stock footage from an old British Airways training film. I can’t tell.
Suddenly, the plane disappears into thin air.
Sue: (singing) Bermuda triangle, try to see if from my angle…
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Tegan is back in uniform.
Sue: No wonder they all look so depressed. It’s the stench of BO.
The crew is actually mourning Adric’s death.
Sue: Oh, yeah… Sorry, I forgot about him.
Me: Forgot?! We only watched it last night!
Sue: I am so over it. Move on.
Tegan and Nyssa want to know why the Doctor won’t save Adric.
Sue: No, don’t do it! That would break the laws of time and common sense. And is it just me or is Nyssa still trying not to laugh?
The TARDIS crew take Sue’s advice and they make a conscious decision to get on with their lives.
Sue: At least they mentioned it, I suppose. It would have been a bit weird if we’d joined them sipping cocktails on a beach after the last episode.
The TARDIS is heading for Earth when it buffeted by time turbulence. Despite this, the Doctor still manages to get them to Heathrow airport.
Sue: Hey, if that’s Heathrow airport, that means they can get rid of Tegan as well!
The TARDIS has materialised over a runway. Its appearance perplexes air traffic control, which is staffed by one man and his boss (and whose moustache reminds Sue of Ron Swanson from the sublime Parks and Recreation). The TARDIS dematerialises before anybody can get hurt.
Air Traffic Controller: It’s gone. It must have been a light aircraft.
Sue: Well that’s alright, then. It’s only Heathrow ****ing airport, we always let light aircraft stray into our flight paths. Jesus!
The TARDIS makes a short hop…
Tegan: You’ve landed us right in the middle of a Terminal building!
Sue: She’s never bloody happy, is she? She doesn’t want to go. Not really. Well, that’s tough – just push her out the door and go!
The Doctor and his companions loiter in the Terminal instead.
Sue: How brown is this airport? Are you quite sure they haven’t landed in 1972?
When questioned, the Doctor uses his UNIT connections to ease his way into the plot already in progress.
Sue: Excellent, we haven’t had a UNIT story for ages. It’s good timing because we had one in the new series on Saturday. It must be fate or something.
A telephone call later, the Doctor and his chums have full security clearance.
Sue: Makes a nice change to being arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. I feel as if we’ve been spared an episode.
Concorde is so beautiful, Sue’s EastEnders detection alarm fails to go off when First Officer Bilton and Captain Stapley approach it.
Sue: It’s a design classic. Everyone I know who has travelled on it has told me how amazing it was. I wish I’d flown on it too but, unfortunately, I didn’t have more money than sense.
Me: I remember owning a die cast toy Concorde when this story went out. I loved it to bits, but then I broke its nose off and it literally ended up in bits. A wheel fell off it as well, I think.
The TARDIS is transported to the plane’s hold.
Sue: If Adric was still here, he would have landed it inside without all this faffing about.
Tegan is overjoyed when she is confronted by a supersonic icon.
Sue: Why is she still here? Why didn’t she head straight for the Qantas check-in desk as soon as they arrived at Heathrow? She definitely doesn’t want to leave. It’s all a big act.
Time-Flight’s direction fails to impress Sue.
Sue: Peter Grimwade must be having a bad day. The direction is OK but it’s nothing special. It’s very flat.
Me: Peter Grimwade didn’t direct this story, he just wrote it. The guy who directed Black Orchid directed this.
Sue: You can tell. It’s workmanlike at best.
The Doctor jumps into the TARDIS console room so he can flip it the right way round.
Sue: I can imagine Matt Smith’s Doctor doing something daft like that. I really liked that.
Concorde passes through some time turbulence and the TARDIS instruments tell the Doctor that they are travelling backwards through time. However, when the plane lands, everything appears to be normal.
Sue: Oh, that was a bit of an anti-climax. It’s not very often that the Doctor is wrong.
But something isn’t quite right – Nyssa can see decaying corpses for a start.
Sue: Were they waiting for their luggage to turn up?
The location suddenly takes on an unreal hue…
Sue: Their flight has been diverted to the capital city of Chromakey. This is not good.
It’s here that Sue’s EastEnders alarm finally goes off.
Sue: Oh, it’s Barry’s boyfriend, Colin!
I’m sure Michael Cashman will be flattered with that extensive summary of his career.
The abrupt shift in tone from a beautiful location to a fake studio set fills Sue with disdain.
Sue: It’s all gone pear shaped. And it started so well.
We cut to a control room where an oriental sorcerer is chanting over a white globe…
Sue: Am I supposed to think that’s you-know-who?
Me: Does it look like him to you?
Sue: How should I know, he’s always in disguise!
I’m sure we’ll return to this later.
Sue thinks she has the sorcerer’s plan sussed.
Sue: So he’s hijacked a plane and he’s hypnotised all the passengers into thinking they are all having a wonderful time in the Times Square, when in reality they are probably mining for something. It’s always ****ing mining.
The Doctor tells his companions that Heathrow airport won’t be around for another 140 million years.
Sue: I’ve heard of the hotel not being ready on time but this is ****ing ridiculous.
Concorde’s wheels almost buckled when it landed on the prehistoric plain.
Me: My toy Concorde had the same problem with our carpet.
Sue: What rubbish. How do you hypnotise people so they don’t suffer from whiplash? Why didn’t all the alarms go off? It’s nonsense!
But wait! Another Concorde has landed here as well.
Me: Look! There’s my toy!
The episode concludes with, well, I’m sure Sue can explain it…
Sue: A shower cubicle is assaulting the Doctor.
The credits roll.
Sue: How could they follow Earthshock with that?top
The Plasmatons envelop the Doctor again…
Me: (singing) You’re in the colony of Slippermen…
Sue: Very funny.
Me: I can’t take credit for that. Patrick Sanders on Twitter pointed out the similarity between this lot and an old Peter Gabriel Genesis routine. He’s right – it’s uncanny.
Sue: It’s the wrong song anyway. It should be (singing): Workin’ at the car wash…
Kalid transports Bilton and Scobie to his lair. The look he gives them is priceless.
Sue: (as Kalid) Yeah, I’m dead clever, me.
One of Concorde’s passengers is an academic.
Hayter: Professor Hayter, University of Darlington.
Sue: WHAT? The University of Darlington? Is he having a laugh? This really is proper science fiction, now. The University of Darlington? Ha!
Professor Hayter’s specialist subject is hypnosis.
Sue: You’d have to hypnotise yourself if you lived in Darlington. Apologies to Mark Gatiss, but seriously? The University of Darlington??!
They see a strange building in the distance, but when they approach it, Nyssa has a panic attack.
Sue: No one is rushing to help her, even though she is displaying all the classic signs of a heart attack. How very odd.
Nyssa is possessed by an alien force. She warns our heroes not to approach the citadel.
Sue: That was Nyssa’s best moment in the series so far. And it wasn’t even her.
Tegan volunteers to stay with Nyssa while Captain Stapley accompanies the Doctor to the citadel.
Tegan: You’re more use to the Doctor. I’ll stay with her.
Sue: Another blow for feminism. She’s much more handy than the captain anyway. When was the last time he shot a Cyberman in the chest, eh?
The Doctor rounds on Professor Hayter for his willingness to abandon his fellow passengers to their fate.
Sue: What I want to know is how could the University of Darlington afford to fly their staff on Concorde? It doesn’t make any sense.
Sue isn’t very impressed with Kalid’s make-up.
Sue: Now that we can see it in a close-up, it looks as if a pigeon has shat plasticine all over his head. His teeth are minging as well. And is it just me or does he sound like Chris Eubank? I can’t take him take seriously.
In the sanctum’s chamber, Concorde’s passengers are hard at work, probably for the first time in their lives, which may explain why they are making such a pig’s ear of it.
Sue: What is that thing they are banging on? Is it a giant tortoise? Look at the guy who’s trying to use the palm of his hand as a mallet! What is he doing? Give them some proper tools!
Captain Stapley finds Bilton but the poor man believes he is flying a plane.
Sue: I’d pretend I wasn’t in this episode if I were him.
Stapley jogs his First Officer’s memories:
Stapley: Remember Tegan?
Sue: (as Stapley) Yes, the Australian with the BO problem. We had a good laugh about it, remember?
Kalid continues to monitor events on his globe.
Sue: He keeps having to waft his own farts away. And when he’s chanting, he sounds like he’s singing Shaggy’s Mr. Lover Lover.
Nyssa and Tegan enter the citadel, but when they turn a corner…
Sue: Eh? What?
Thankfully, Adric is just an illusion.
Sue: That was some of Matthew’s best acting. Has he gone for good now? Was he contractually obliged to appear in all the episodes or something?
I tell her how Matthew Waterhouse appeared so they could keep his departure a secret. This way, his name wouldn’t be missing from the cast list for this story in the Radio Times, which would have been out when Earthshock Part Four was broadcast.
Sue: I don’t care what anybody says: JNT was a genius.
Sue: It’s the Melkur! Hey, is it…? No, it’s just another illusion. Ha! I had you going for a second there.
I’m just surprised she got the Melkur’s name right.
Sadly, she drops the ball when a Terileptil appears.
Sue: Oh, it’s one of them. You know, the android shoppers.
When Stapley and Bilton make it to Kalid’s lair, a two-headed snake keeps them at bay.
Sue: That doesn’t look anything like the Mara!
And then something happens. I can’t remember what exactly, and I didn’t jot anything down in my notes. I may have nodded off. Anyway, whatever happens, Kalid ends the scene vomiting all over himself in the corner of his cave.
But it isn’t Kalid! It’s… go on, have a guess.
Sue: NO WAY!
Sue: Well, I didn’t see that coming. I’m shocked. Not in a good Earthshock way, but in a “Oh no, here we go again” sort of way. It just doesn’t make any sense. Why did the Master throw up on himself like that? And why bother dressing up at all? What was the ****ing point? There had better be a bloody good reason for it…top
Sue: Shall I tell you what the best thing about Time-Flight is? It’s the theme music. Not the incidental music, the theme music.
Grimwade’s writing credit appears again. Sue sighs.
Sue: Peter should stick to directing. I don’t think even he could have saved this script.
The Master is back!
Sue: (as the Master) So, after I escaped from Castrovalva, I thought to myself: I know what I’ll do – I’ll steal a couple of planes and then I’ll dress as a racist pantomime villain. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do…
The Master admits that the planes were accidentally trapped in his time contour.
Sue: Well of course they were. It was silly of me to think he could have done it on purpose.
The Master threatens Stapley and Bilton with his tissue compression eliminator.
Sue: Be careful, lads. He could turn you into a pair of collectible figurines.
The Master uses the Doctor’s TARDIS to travel to the sanctum’s chamber.
Sue: Why not just walk there, you lazy bastard!
When Stapley and Bilton infiltrate the Doctor’s TARDIS behind the Master’s back, it feels like we are watching a very camp episode of Benny Hill.
Sue: I think I’ve finally worked out why this is Glen Allen’s favourite story.
Stapley can’t work out how to pilot the TARDIS.
Sue: This is very funny. Just imagine the spin-off if he manages to hit the right button.
In the sanctum’s chamber, the passengers have stopped hallucinating…
Sue: They’ll be writing very stern letters to Watchdog as soon as they get home. This was not in the brochure! Having said that, they seem to be taking the news that their flights have been delayed by a few million years in their stride. I’d be livid.
Me: They’ll all revert to savagery when the complementary nuts run out.
Meanwhile, Captain Stapley passes the audition to be the Doctor’s next companion with flying colours.
Sue: He’s great. He likes to get stuck in, he’ll believe just about anything, and I bet he’s handy with his fists.
Stapley sabotages the TARDIS but the Master isn’t bothered.
The Master: I now have all that I require. The TARDIS, for what it’s worth, is yours.
Sue: Exactly! Why would he want that heap of shit when he’s got his own. His TARDIS can sit in a chair and fire laser bolts from its eyes. The Doctor’s TARDIS just confuses people.
Inside the sanctum, which Sue compares to an up-market toilet, her mind begins to wander.
Sue: Peter’s celery is a bit limp. He really needs to sort that out.
Professor Hayter decides to make the ultimate sacrifice for the gift of ultimate knowledge.
Sue: Just think of all the modules he could have taught at the University of Darlington. What a waste.
Scobie bumps into Angela, a flight attendant he has probably slept with (ask Sue), and he manages to break her conditioning.
Sue: British Airways took a risk when they agreed to be in Doctor Who, don’t you think? That scarf is blatant product placement. It would be hard to distance yourself from this if it went wrong.
Me: What do you think British Airways thought when they saw Time-Flight for the first time?
Sue: Somebody probably got fired.
A Xeraphin materialises in the middle of the up-market urinal.
Sue: His suit is very tight. Just saying.
And then Sue begins to lose the will to live.
Sue: This is crap. I’ve stopped paying attention to it. I just don’t care anymore. Rub my feet, this is torture.
The episode concludes with the Xeraphin transferred to the centre of the Master’s TARDIS. Or, in short:
The Doctor: It means the Master has finally defeated me.
Sue: Yeah, right… For ****’s sake.
As the credits roll…
Sue: I was really looking forward to Peter Davison but this series is all over the place. Please tell me that it gets better. I don’t think I can stand it anymore.top
Sue: Come on, let’s get Shite-Flight out of the way. Let’s get rid of Tegan and let’s move on.
Stapley and Bilton take the TARDIS back to the Doctor with the help of Hayter’s ghost.
The Doctor: My dear Captain, you really are the most remarkable man to pilot the TARDIS, and with such precision!
Sue: Are you joking? Any idiot can fly it these days. What’s the big deal?
Sue falls silent for a good five minutes.
Me: You’re not saying very much.
Sue: I know. I can’t be bothered. What can I possibly say about this? The plot involves a plan where they have to dig a hole for Concorde to sit in while they change the tyres. And then they have to build a runway. It’s bollocks. It’ll take them months! And even if they did take off, where are they going to go? Prehistoric New York?
The Doctor does a deal with the Master: his temporal limiter for the safety of Concorde’s passengers.
Sue: Are they still hallucinating? They look like they are hanging around a MacDonald’s in Heathrow airport. They aren’t reacting like they’ve been kidnapped by aliens.
They change the plane’s tyres.
Sue: No ****ing way! They aren’t Concorde tyres! That’s the tyre from a Mini Cooper! They are definitely taking the piss, now.
Cue a rant from Sue involving alloys and measurements that mean nothing to me.
Sue: And another thing – where are the stairs, eh? How are they actually getting in and out of the ****ing planes? Give me strength.
Tegan is given the job of ushering the passengers back on the plane.
Tegan: Ladies and gentlemen, we do apologise for the delay. Your flight is now ready for boarding. Would you care to proceed to your aircraft immediately?
Sue: (as Tegan) I hope you can all jump – the door is miles away.
Incredibly, Concorde manages to take off, runway or no runway.
Sue: Un-****ing-believable. You can even seen the Terminal buildings in the background!
When Concorde is back in the air, Sue is even more damning.
Sue: The plane on the ground had silver engines but the plane in the air has black engines. Oh, why do I even care?
The Doctor programmes the flight computer and the plane enters the time contour. It vanishes and reappears.
Sue: It’s like that film with the Navy in it. You know, when their boat goes back in time…
Me: The Philadelphia Experiment.
Sue: This is more like The Philadelphia Light Experiment.
Back at Heathrow, Tegan thinks about her future.
Tegan: It’s not exactly dull travelling with the Doctor.
Sue: Yes it is! Even the Doctor fell asleep on the TARDIS floor during this episode. Leave while you still can!
The Doctor manages to trap the Master on the planet Xeraphas.
Sue: That makes no sense. None whatsoever.
The Doctor hopes it will be for good this time.
Sue: It never bloody is, though, is it?
Tegan wanders through the airport.
Sue: Doesn’t she have a funeral to go to?
And then Doctor and Nyssa do a runner before Ron Swanson can launch an official investigation. In the confusion, Tegan is left behind.
Sue: I feel sorry for her. She deserved a decent goodbye scene at the very least. She looks very bitter, actually. Be careful what you wish for, chick.
The credits roll.
The Final Score
Sue: I’d like to give the captain one.
Sue: The rest was crap.
No extras tonight, Sue just wants this story to go away. But I can’t untie her before I’ve shown her this:
Sue: That was a 1000 times better than Time-Shite. Thanks.
The experiment continues…
Next update due: Tuesday 2nd October.
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