In Four to Doomsday, the four-strong Tardis crew meets four people from four cultures in Earth’s history on a spaceship and the story lasts for four episodes. It doesn’t end in doomsday, though.
The spaceship is one of the more lavish I’ve seen in Doctor Who. I suppose it should be expected that production values gradually improve over time (it’s been nearly twenty years since The Sensorites), but this one is particularly spacious, multi-storeyed and detailed with sliding doors, lights and functional-looking equipment. I dare say, if shot on film, it would look almost movie-quality. Its leader, the green-skinned Monarch of Urbanka, is also made-up with well-realised prosthetics for the show’s time. He’s also quite a charismatic presence, despite his tyranny.
His devious plan does rather fall apart under scrutiny. Going back and forth between his home planet and Earth, to pick up figures from history and turn them into robot slaves or androids, seems like an awful waste of resources. Admittedly, the android reveal is a good one, the nightmarish imagery of a face being lifted up to reveal a hollowed out head and a circuit board can never fail to have impact – but as a concept, this is starting to become a little overdone. What a nice surprise, then, that the Monarch turns out to be a fleshy after all, and foiled by his own poison.
Special mention must be made about this Tardis crew, because frankly I’ve not encountered such a tiresome bunch as this. Adric is especially irritating in this story, and it pleased me greatly to see him get his arse kicked by Tegan. Tegan is hysterical, and to be fair, that’s to be expected, as she grows frustrated with the predicament she’s in and everything that’s happened to her. Sadly, seeing her flustering about the Tardis doesn’t make for enjoyable viewing. Nyssa is actually okay, but much like the others, she’s not particularly good at acting, or the part is just woefully underwritten. She faints at the end of the story, probably because she’s bored and wants something to do.
The Doctor, thankfully, is likeable. He’s retained his wits, his cunning and his curiosity, but now he’s just so… pleasant. He’s more of a positive role model for the companions, I suppose. Less of a nutter. I don’t have any problem with his performance at all. I could grow to be quite comfortable with him as the leading man. The space jump sequence at the end of part 4 was quite utterly ridiculous, though. Let’s ignore for a moment the problem of surviving in a vacuum… the Doctor is saved by a cricket ball, really? Hmm, maybe that’s ingeniously funny; it just didn’t bowl me over.