City of Death part 4

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  janetteB 1 year, 5 months ago.

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    Craig @craig

    The final part and another brilliant episode. The Count demands Romana help him go back in time to stop himself ever taking off and being splintered in time. If he does so it will change all history.

    The Doctor is determined to stop the Count as the entire human race will cease to exist. He tries to turn the Countess by revealing to her what the Count really is. Duggan gets to be a hero (by punching).

    I hope you’re not making a time machine, I shall be very angry.

    Features a brief cameo from John Cleese and Eleanor Bron just because they happened to be hanging around the studios that day.

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    A little nefarious excitement
    Primordial soup

    Did the Doctor and Romana fly down the Eiffel Tower?

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    This is probably the only time in the shows history where the day is saved by a punch to the face.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Today is Lalla Ward’s birthday!  Happy birthday, Lalla.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Talking about continuity snarls, exactly how many causes are there for the beginning of life on Earth? Are we to presume that if the Jaggaroth ship hadn’t exploded, a crashing Cybership would have provided the necessary jump start?

    Obviously some redundancy in the life department. Perhaps it’s a fixed point in the sense that something will bloody well explode at the right time, even if Time itself has to crash an entire Cyberfleet onto the blasted planet…

    What else? Well, the cameo by Eleanor Bron and John Cleese just adds to the whole ‘classy’ feel of this story. Now that Doctor Who is in the Premier League rather than the Championship (copyright Peter Davison), it’s difficult to remember those days when it didn’t have any money, never got further than the BBC quarry, and certainly couldn’t afford famous actors (unless they were doing it as a favour for an old Footlights mate).

    City of Death is the story where everything, weirdly, came together. The writer who was just about to hit the big time, the grudging release of some cash for an actual foreign location, the up-market cameos and finally, the ITV strike.

    Oh, and the wobbly set (that was last week). There is an actual wobbly set, with a clear and obvious wobble. This story has everything!

    Except, thankfully, details on the Count and Countess’ sex life … 😈

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Gosh – Episode 4 came round quick didn’t it? I think that was always my immediate thoughts when watching these originally. I could tell my engagement in the story by saying after four weeks, “was that it? Surely we have another episode of this?”.

    Really enjoyable rewatch, reminding me just how good Lalla (who should have a Happy Birthday, thanks @wolfweed) and Tom were together. Throw in a few good guest stars, a script with some decent lines, and watch them go.

    Duggan is on top bemused form, “Mad, insane, inhuman!!” – well quite. So Scaroth was split into 12 parts (“poor lamb”, mocks Clara) and has spent his time advancing Earth. Not only that, but the original explosion helped start life on Earth. As @bluesqueakpip says, we’ll add you to our list of aliens we have to thank for our genetic makeup (Daemons, Fendahl also take a bow).

    Shakespeare had nothing to say?! The Doctor is obviously a liar and outrageous namedropper. We couldn’t shut the bugger up in The Shakespeare Code!

    It can’t end well for the Countess after the Doctor plants the seeds of doubt in her mind. “How discrete. How charming.” Well, you would be discrete wouldn’t you? She’s hardly about to parade being married to a bloke who really looks like an explosion in a squid factory.

    All hail the Fourth Doctors sense of irony. “I’m a professional”. Even as a kid, you can see the laughs in the one.

    Duggan really is the man to have around. Who needs a Sonic with him around to open doors for you? I’m increasingly drawn to @arbutus s comment last week about keeping him around. I’ve imagined every stupid thing Adric did, and Duggan would have been so much better. Hypnotised by Vampires? Duggans thick head is impervious to hypnotism and he thumps them. It could have been awesome, let’s face it.

    I love the John Cleese Eleanor Bron cameo. “The art lies in the fact the art is here”. Oh no it isn’t. “Exquisite.“

    Duggans so on the ball “That’s a spaceship.” And he finally gets to punch someone to good effect.

    Alas, for the Count. Back to the future to meet the devoted Herman. Not blind love on the his part then?

    No very good. I can understand why some people are resistant to its charms, but for a show that can go anywhere, be anything, you have to accept it may tread paths you don’t particularly like at times.

    I love it. It’s slightly knowing about the limitations of the format, but it’s a corking script delivered under difficult circumstances due to the original writer (David Fisher) having to step back due to personal difficulties. Adams said himself he was never good with the day-to-day grind of being a Script Editor. What he regularly lacked was pressure, and when this story went tits up, he had real pressure. I think he rose magnificently to the challenge. I think the modern era (and the back end of the eighties) does owe his tenure something. The show shouldn’t be afraid to be irreverent and absurd on occasion.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Great fun, and has has been said, sharply written and directed, with great performances from the leads. And Paris looks great. Well worth the money!

    Duggan’s like a big puppy, and I agree, he would’ve been so much better than Adric (I might not have missed so many of Davison’s episodes 😉 ). Though I think his wee brain has had about all the time travel and alien encounters it can handle by the end of this episode!

    Love how Scaroth is finally done for by his doting manservant who doesn’t recognise his master’s tentacley real face. And I love that the Countess is convinced by the Doctor’/s arguments that her husband is an alien by the image on an ancient Egyptian parchment. Well you would really, wouldn’t you?!

    @bluesqueakpip and @phaseshift – Yup, agree – something exploding on Earth to kickstart the primordial soup (LOL @wolfweed‘s can) would seem to be an extremely fixed point in time and the universe (as per Ms BSP’s diagrams) is making double and triple sure it happen!

    Whisht @whisht

    I probably need one of Bluesqueakpip’s wonderful diagrams, but its just occurred to me that they didn’t have to run.
    As long as they were successful, they had all the time in the world. But then again it would’ve been less fun (for us and them!).

    Must admit I liked this one. I also liked the digs at the Art world – both low (the pompous critics) and subtle (the idea of ‘fakes’).

    And Duggan does get to save the day as @thekrynoidman says – not only the punch but I loved it as trapped in the cell without a way out, the Doctor says:

    “I’ve got an idea.
    We’ll ask Duggan”

    Arbutus @arbutus

    So brilliant. “That’s a spaceship!” Possibly the best line of the episode.

    Tom Baker really sets the bar for me. Watching this reminds me of why, although I have enjoyed all of the AG Doctors in different ways, this restrained, non-shouty version, moving effortlessly between cheeky and quietly ominous, will always be my measure of what the Doctor should be. I loved the scene with the Countess. I even enjoyed his brief rendition of Hamlet, in his lovely rich low voice. It’s always a pleasure to listen to him. I am reminded of the end of Day of the Doctor, when we hear his voice from behind Matt Smith, instantly recognizable. It sent a chill down my spine!

    @phaseshift‘s dreams of Duggan replacing Adric in the TARDIS were very tantalizing, until @scaryb‘s comment reminded me that it wouldn’t have been Duggan and Four, but Duggan and Five, and I’m not sure if that would have worked as well. I loved the Doctor’s impatient but fond treatment of Duggan throughout.

    @scaryb     If the beginning of life on Earth isn’t a fixed point in time, then nothing is!  🙂

    janetteB @janetteb

    Wonderful stuff. If I had a make a list of favourite Dr Who stories City of Death would still be on top. We watched eps three and four together so I withheld comments last week in case of accidental spoilers. Watching this alongside Hitchikers made me realise just how much D.A. is stamped all over it. (Such a pity Shada was never completed.) The art critics reminded me of Arthur Dent and Ford critiquing the Vogon captain’s poetry. D.A. really disliked art critics. In fact I think he disliked pomposity and pretension wherever he encountered it and so does the Doctor, especially in this incarnation. Douglas Adams writing style is perfectly suited to Tom Baker’s performance. As has been said above, all the elements work to perfection here, the writing, the acting, the setting. Paris really deserves its own credit in this story.

    I think Duggan would have worked as an occasional character, (like Strax) rather than as a regular Tardis traveller.

    A few years ago when listening to Richard Dawkins talking about the origins of life I wanted to shout out, “but your wife saw it happen silly man”.




    Anonymous @

    Apologies for the lateness on this one but I actually found it quite hard to write about City of Death. It’s so familiar to me now that I think I can no longer be really objective it. It’s all tied up in other formative memories too. Vividly remember seeing the Jagaroth in his cockpit at the Blackpool exhibition that year and being blown away by it.

    I think it’s real effectiveness comes from Adams’s realisation that if you adopt a certain tone then the lack of budget and shonky effects really don’t matter. It works a treat here, as it does on Hitch-hikers. In fact, the script can undercut production limitations. As in Stuart Fell’s delightfully, inappropriately cockney Renaissance stooge in episode two.

    This script sparkles and everyone engages with it delightfully. To me, the Doc and Romana 2 create the best Doc/companion pairing, bar none. I really do wish Lalla had stayed longer. I think pairing her with Davison might have worked well. Oh, and amen to the lost opportunity of not having Duggan join the TARDIS crew. He would have been great too.

    The whole issue with Romana’s costume entirely passed me by, by the way. I can see why in hindsight it might have just the slightest undertone of ‘dodgy dirty weekend’ to it but I think it’s possible to overstate that.  For me, I think it says more that this incarnation of Romana has a greater sense of humour and understands irony so well that she can use her costume to make a wry comment on who the Doctor views their relationship.

    It’s also interesting to note once again the entirely timey-wimey nature of the plot. Just a stone-cold classic. But it is so because it’s so quirkly out of the common run of things. I cant’ quite decide whether an entire season done in this style would have been brilliant or would perhaps have got a bit wearing after a while.

    zeitgeis @zeitgeis

    I must say that this is the most amazing forum I have ever stopped by to take a look ar. I started, of course, with the most recent activity but am pleased that early doctors are not ignored.  I am a little intimidated by experienced Whovians who know so much more than I about the Doctor.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Hi. We discussed this final episode of the story in the recent Classic Cult TV Club podcast. Link here.



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