The Doctor takes Romana on a school trip to Paris. No, not really, but that’s what it looks like. As they actually went to Paris to film this one, there is an awful lot of on-location scenes, running around the city while jaunty music plays, presumably in an effort to get their money’s worth! Well, that’s fair enough, and the 1979 Parisian setting does lend a certain contemporary style to the proceedings.
It’s fortunate that the Doctor and Romana decide to take a holiday then and there, because it’s precisely the location where an ancient alien survivor is plotting to build a time-travel device to go back 400 million years and destroy all life on Earth in an attempt to stop himself from being fractured across time. It’s a big idea, but it’s woven into a very silly premise in which said alien is planning to steal the Mona Lisa and sell a load of copies, having convinced Leonardo Da Vinci to paint six duplicates. That doesn’t really make sense, but it’s just one of those things you have to go along with.
It’s a fairly breezy story in all, with temporary ally Inspector Duggan playing the amusing roles of confused outsider and convenient muscleman. While I can see that there is an element of silliness developing in Doctor Who, at the moment it is still within the comfortable realm of light humour, and in this case I think it’s appropriate and effective. I found City of Death to be very enjoyable, with a good (if ridiculous) premise and an entertaining cast of characters. I’m still not sure about the new Romana, but the Doctor continues to be the star.