Sue: I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this title sequence. Why does the Doctor have a silver face? I don’t get that at all.
Me: They painted McCoy’s face silver when they took the photograph, even though they needn’t have bothered because they could have done it in post-production.
Sue: I really wish you hadn’t told me that. I hate it even more now.
We open on a drab corridor where a girl is cowering next to a wall. And then the incidental music kicks in.
Sue: Keffing hell. Not again!
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Mel and the Doctor decide to visit Paradise Towers. Mel wants to go swimming there, but the Doctor has other ideas.
The Doctor: Paradise Towers is supposed to be a remarkable architectural achievement, I’m told. Won all sorts of awards way back in the 21st century.
Sue: Ooh, is this story about architecture?
Mel: I can’t wait.
Sue: Neither can I.
The TARDIS materialises inside Paradise Towers.
Sue: What a dump. I can smell the piss from here.
The Doctor and Mel decide to explore.
Sue: There’s some nice camera movement in this scene. The direction is pretty good. I have a much better feeling about this story than I did the last one.
As the Doctor and Mel discuss their next move, a crossbow bolt embeds itself in the wall behind them.
Sue: I could murder a pint of cider.
The Caretakers stalk the corridors in their black leather uniforms.
Sue: Gary would love this story. Just saying.
The Doctor and Mel are surrounded by Red Kangs. Blue Kangs and Yellow Kangs are also known to exist in Paradise Towers.
Sue: Are there any Khaki Kangs? I want some Khaki Kangs.
One of the Red Kangs introduces herself as Bin Liner. Another Kang calls herself Fire Escape.
Sue: Okay, I think I understand what’s happening here. It’s basically Mad Max meets a run-down council estate. I like the idea. It’s got potential.
The Kangs perform a welcoming ritual which the Doctor then has to repeat.
Sue: (Singing) Price Charming! Prince Charming! Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
Me: A good job too, given what he’s been asked to do.
The Red Kangs aren’t impressed with Mel.
Sue: Amazingly, and for the first time in her life, Bonnie Langford’s hair isn’t red enough.
In another corridor, a teenage girl with blue hair is crouching in the dark.
Sue: Is she a Blue Kang?
Me: Nothing gets past you, dear.
And then a robotic Cleaner appears.
Sue: This is horrific.
Me: It’s only a plastic robot. It’s not that scary, is it?
Sue: No, I’m talking about the music! Keffing hell!
The Kangs bring the Doctor and Mel up to speed with the history of Paradise Towers.
Sue: I like some the ideas behind this. It just a shame it looks so cheap. It looks like a fan video.
Me: Yes, it is a bit Dramarama.
Sue: Meets Bananarama.
Meanwhile, one of the Caretakers is terrified by a Cleaner.
Sue: How could you possibly be scared of that?
It’s so rubbish, the Caretaker has to help the robot out when it tries to kill him.
Sue: Hang on, let me put my neck in your claw. There, that fits nicely, thanks. Good grief!
The Kangs have a motto.
Bin Liner: Build high for happiness.
Sue: I’d rather get high for happiness, thanks.
Mel manages to escape from the Kangs and she finds sanctuary in a flat which belongs to a pair of elderly ladies – Tilda and Tabby.
Sue: You didn’t tell me that The League of Gentlemen were in this.
As Tilda and Tabby make Mel feel at home, Sue drops a bombshell:
Sue: This is ****ing brilliant.
Tabby: Mel’s not at all like a Kang. She’s a nice, polite, clean, well spoken girl. Just the sort we like.
Sue: I love the subtext.
Tilda: We’re the Rezzies.
Sue: Did she just say “We’re the Lezzies?”
Me: Rezzies. As in residents.
Sue: I’m not convinced.
She is convinced about something, though:
Sue: This is a black comedy. Now that I’ve accepted that, I have to say, this episode is very, very funny.
And she has a theory, too:
Sue: Okay, so in this tower block, all the girls are lesbians and all the men are gay, right? So it will be the end of civilisation unless they can sort out their differences and organise a surrogacy programme.
A man barges into Tilda and Tabby’s flat. His name is Pex.
Sue: What the hell? Who’s he supposed to be?
Me: He’s Paradise Tower’s version of Judge Dredd.
Sue: I knew this reminded me of something else. It’s not as good as The Raid, though.
And then Sue gets her first look at the Chief Caretaker.
Sue: I’ll get you, Butler!
Me: That was uncanny, Sue. But it’s Richard Briers.
Sue: So it is. That means I was right – this is supposed to be funny.
The episode ends with the following exchange:
Chief: This is the Great Architect returned to Paradise Towers. Bid him welcome. All Hail the Great Architect, all hail!
Deputy: What shall we do with him now then, Chief?
Chief: Kill him.
Sue: That’s one of the best cliffhangers I’ve ever seen in this programme. It’s not often that I get to laugh at the end of an episode. I’m loving this.
The Doctor’s execution has to be postponed when one of the Caretakers is killed.
Chief: An unfortunate accident has happened to Caretaker number 345. I am required by the rulebook to go and investigate. The 327 appendix 3 subsection 9 death will be postponed till I return.
Sue: This reminds me of something else. Something you made me watch quite recently. It was quite good.
Sue: That’s the one. I keep expecting Robert DeNiro to come crashing through a window.
Me: You can safely assume that will never happen.
Sue: I really like this but when Pex is in a scene with Bonnie Langford, I can’t take it seriously any more.
The Doctor is held prisoner in the Caretakers’ HQ.
Sue: It’s relentless, wall-to-wall music. Does this scene really need Sade’s cover version of the Doctor Who theme all over it?
Me: (Singing) Smooth operator, he’s a smooooooth.
Sue: ARGH! Please make it stop!
The Doctor uses the Caretakers’ own rule book against them.
Sue: I like Sylvester McCoy a lot. He’s got potential. He’s actually playing the Doctor now – I don’t know what he was doing in the last one. And he reminds me of Patrick Troughton a lot.
Pex tries to convince Mel that he’s a finely tuned fighting machine.
Sue: Why is there a mushroom tattooed on his neck? And why did they cast this guy? It needed someone like Bruce Willis, not Frank Spencer.
Back at Tilda and Tabby’s.
Sue: Elderly lesbian cannibals. What a great spin-off that would have been.
They appear to be eating a roasted rat.
Sue: Their food chain is even more ****ed up than ours.
Sue: Jesus! How many times can you murder the Doctor Who theme music in 25 minutes? Give it a rest, please!
The Cleaners attack the Doctor, but he manages to evade them.
Sue: Even the robots have limp wrists in this.
The Doctor finds himself in the Red Kangs’ HQ.
Me: Do you like the way the Doctor rolls his Rs?
Sue: I don’t know, I’ll pay more attention to him the next time he’s walking.
The Doctor shows the Kangs how to operate a fizzy drink machine.
Sue: So, instead of giving them the secret of fire, he’s given them the secret of Lucozade?
Meanwhile, the Chief Caretaker heads to the basement to check on his ‘pet’.
Chief: Daddy’s always made sure you get a good supply of what you need. Daddy’s the Chief Caretaker.
Sue: Just when I thought this couldn’t get any weirder, this happens. It’s completely ****ed up. But in a good way.
Pex tries to convince the Blue Kangs that he’s brave.
Sue: I keep expecting this guy to break out into song. I can’t help it.
Meanwhile, the Rezzies have decided to place Mel on their menu.
Sue: But there isn’t an ounce of meat on her! You’d get more protein out of a rat.
Meanwhile, the Doctor has riled up the Red Kangs.
Sue: This is what happens when you give teenagers a sugar rush. Bedlam.
The episode concludes with Mel about to be spit-roasted.
Sue: Wow. That was grim. I’m still enjoying this, though. It’s mental.
Me: Would you like to watch this episode with different incidental music?
Sue: I have a choice?
Me: Well, yes.
Sue: I had a choice and you didn’t tell me? Of course I want to listen to it. DO IT!
I press ‘Play’.
Sue: It’s exactly the same.
Me: They didn’t change the title music.
Sue: Oh. So, is Paradise Towers supposed to be in Paradise City, you know, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty?
Me: Is that a trick question?
When David Snell’s alternate score begins, Sue feels right at home.
Sue: It’s very Dudley-esque.
Tilda approaches Mel with a carving knife.
Sue: NOT FOR KIDS!
And that’s when Tabby is dragged into the waste disposal chute by a robotic claw.
Sue: Wait a minute… How did they fit her through that hole? That breaks all the laws of physics!
Me: Do you prefer the new music?
Sue: Well, it’s more farty than disco. I’m not sure, actually.
When Mel shows Pex the plans to Paradise Towers, Sue draws parallels with another high-rise adventure from the late eighties.
Sue: Yippee-kay-ay-mother****er! Or in his case, Whoopsie-daisy-Betty!
The Doctor interrogates the Chief Caretaker.
Sue: I like McCoy a lot. This is more like it. He’s really good.
The Chief gives his Deputy one more chance not to cock things up.
Sue: If he was working for Darth Vader, he’d be dead by now.
The Doctor passes the time watching a promotional video for Paradise Towers.
Sue: It’s quite political, this. I’m sure social housing scandals were big news back then. This isn’t as daft as it looks. The idea behind it is really strong. They could do something like this today, no bother.
The Chief Caretaker is investigating Tabby and Tilda’s empty flat when he is interrupted by another Rezzie named Maddy. He bribes her to keep quiet.
Sue: It’s a brilliant performance from Richard Briers: entertaining, funny, but still frightening.
Meanwhile, Mel and Pex are trapped in a lift.
Sue: Whenever these two are together, I’m sorry, but the whole thing falls apart. These scenes are unbearable.
The Red Kangs take care of the Doctor.
The Doctor: Thank you, Fire Escape.
Sue: I love their names. Is there a Kang called Condom Machine?
The Red Kangs and the Blue Kangs decide to join forces.
Sue: The Purple Kangs!
Mel and Pex finally reach the Tower’s rooftop swimming pool.
Mel: I just don’t believe it! I really don’t.
Sue: Yeah, it’s rubbish, isn’t it? I thought it would be a lot swisher than that. I’ve seen better designed swimming pools in a Travelodge.
Mel is looking forward to a nice, relaxing swim.
Sue: Right, so with everything that’s going on, she’s going to have a swim? For ****’s sake.
The Chief Caretaker is brought before the evil Kroagnon. It looks like his time is up.
Sue: Oh, I really liked him.
And then, just as the episode ends with a rather lame cliffhanger:
Sue: Can we switch back to Keff’s music, please?
Sue: It suits the story more. This music is far too serious. The music should be wacky and silly for a story like this. Keff’s works better.
She never ceases to surprise me.
Me: We have reached a very important milestone.
Sue: We have?
Me: Not only is this our 650th episode, we are about to beat Steve Schapansky!
Sue: That’s nice. Who’s Steve Schapansky?
Me: He’s a Canadian podcaster from Radio Free Skaro. A couple of years ago, he ran a spin-off blog called The Chronic Hysteresis where he watched and reviewed every single episode – including the recons – until he gave up at Paradise Towers Part Three. Can you believe it? All that way and he chucked it in with only a handful of episodes left.
Sue: You must be joking.
Me: I know! Okay, so he’s currently interviewing all my childhood heroes next to a pool in Los Angeles, and yes, he just married the girl of his dreams on Valentine’s Day at a Doctor Who convention. But is he happy? Can he sleep at night when he knows that he didn’t get any further than Paradise Towers Part Three? I doubt it.
Sue: It’s never too late to finish it. He could ask his new wife to join him.
Me: Don’t give him any ideas. We’ve already got that franchise sown up.
Part Four passes without comment until the Chief Caretaker returns as a possessed zombie.
Sue: Well, if you are going to go for it, you may as well really go for it. There’s nothing subtle about this story. That’s why Keff’s music fits.
Pex has a sulk while Mel goes swimming.
Sue: Do you know what my biggest problem with Pex is?
Me: Where do I even begin?
Sue: He reminds me of someone I used to go out with. Before I met you.
Me: I should bloody hope so.
Sue: He’s the spitting double of him. It’s freaking me out a bit.
Mel’s refreshing swim is ruined by a homicidal pool cleaner.
Sue: What was the point of that? I’m starting to lose my patience with this.
The Doctor reaches the pool and Mel introduces him to her new best friend.
Mel: This is Pex.
Sue: (As Mel) He’s even wetter than I am right now.
The Kangs join the pool party.
Sue: I bet this story will end with Pex re-populating the planet with the help of the Kangs. I don’t know why he’s so miserable about it.
It’s because the Kangs are winding Pex up something rotten.
Kangs: He’s a cowardly cutlet! He’s a cowardly cutlet!
Sue: Do you think the writer has ever met a real teenager? They sound like a bunch of nine-year olds high on glucose.
But just when all hope seems lost.
Sue: Oh look, the Women’s Institute have turned up to mobilise the local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. That’ll show ’em.
Meanwhile, the Chief Caretaker/Kroagnon has taken up residence in Paradise Towers’ control room.
Sue: They must have had some silver paint left over when they painted McCoy’s face.
Deputy: I think you may recall that there are certain cases specified when the rulebook can be overridden.
Sue: Like your boss coming into work caked in silver make-up.
The Kangs and the Rezzies have joined together at last.
Fire Escape: Ice hot!
Bin Liner: With explosives and arrogance we can blow up the Cleaners, no problem.
Blue Kang: Send the Cleaners to the Cleaners!
Sue: It’s a bit… innit?
Me: Yeah, it is a bit. Sorry.
The Rezzies attack a Cleaner with a crocheted tablecloth.
Sue: Okay, it’s starting to go a bit tits up, now. The robot would be able to see them under that. And you could just walk up behind it and shoot it in the head anyway. The Daleks would piss themselves laughing if they ever saw this lot.
Pex sacrifices himself to stop Kroagnon, thus saving the day. All the different coloured Kangs unite to mourn his passing.
Sue: Just look at what he could have won.
The Doctor and Mel leave in the TARDIS. Somebody has painted PEX LIVES on an adjacent wall.
Sue: It must have been a bugger to spray paint that in such a tiny gap. Why would you do that? Pick an easier wall!
Sue: It was an episode too long, and I enjoyed the concept more than the execution, but they are trying to do something different and that’s good. McCoy is really growing me but I’m losing my patience with Bonnie Langford. She sets my teeth on edge.
Sue agreed to watch the behind the scenes documentary that comes on the DVD. I wasn’t sure why until this happened:
Sue: So that’s what my ex-boyfriend looks like now. Interesting.
Aside from this, she spent most of her time agreeing with Andrew Cartmel:
Sue: Its shortcomings are down to a lack of communication. If everybody had pulled their fingers out, it could easily have been an 8.
Glen is very busy this week but he will return soon. In the meantime, here’s a very special song from the wonderful John Callaghan. “Come on bass, we’ve got work to do!”
An instrumental version is also available. That’s the version we’ll be dancing to when we finish a story from now on