Doctor WhoTV

Doctor Who: Four To Doomsday by Terrance Dudley (DVD TV series review).

Want to be confused? Although this is the second story of the Davison Doctor, it was actually recorded first to give Peter Davison a chance to settle into the role. Back in the day, this was never revealed. The BBC liked to keep their secrets. It also has the distinction of Davison also being into two other series being recorded at the same time.

Anyway, attempting to get Tegan Jovanka (actress Janet Fielding) back to her own time, magnetic flux has the TARDIS arrive on a generation starship preparing to colonise the Earth. This is their fourth visit to Earth and each time they have taken humans as ‘guests’.

The Doctor (actor Peter Davison), Tegan, Nyssa (actress Sarah Sutton) and Adric (actor Matthew Waterhouse) are observed for some time before they split and the first two meet the alien leader, Monarch (actor Stratford Johns) and his two companions, Persussion (actor Paul Shelley) and Enlightenment (actress Annie Lambert) who later change their appearance to resemble sketches by Tegan showing clothes and appearance typical of her time. However, things are not what they seem. If people can’t live forever, download their personalities and put them in new bodies. If you can do it to them, then whole populations aren’t a problem. Time for a revolution methinks.

The worse thing about this story is the companions don’t obey instructions. Tegan’s desire to warn the Earth is commendable even if she messes up the TARDIS’ controls. Adric is just gullible and should have been dumped on the nearest planet. It wouldn’t have been so bad had he been replaced by an android. After all, there had been opportunity for that to happen. The biggest puzzle is these Urbankans have been to the Earth kidnapping population four times, so why hasn’t the TARDIS deposited the Doctor at one of these events to stop it earlier?

Stratford Johns does a superb performance, varying from being nice to tyrant at a drop of a hat. The reasonable danger. You want to believe him but shouldn’t. It does make me wonder if the Doctor might have been taken in for a time had he not been given a less than guided tour of the spaceship.

The audio commentary, recorded in 2010, is between director John Black and the cast, Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse. Topics include hair styles, Davison basically being asked to play Tristan Farnham from ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ and the companions as irritating functionaries by the directors. It’s also pretty obvious none of them had been allowed to watch the story before hand. Actors should only lie about everything except riding a horse. Interestingly, they all recognised how gullible Adric was in this story. Janet Fielding also wanted the Doctor’s lapel celery to talk and actually be another companion.

Oddly, there aren’t as many extras as with other ‘Doctor Who’ stories. The main one here is 27 minutes following Peter Davison and the cast in their first day together. If you want to see how boring and repetitive filming is, then get the truth here. The ‘Saturday Night At The Mill’ from 1980 interviews Davison but there is little about ‘Doctor Who’ in the quarter of an hour. Much of the time is devoted to ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ and making chocolate milkshakes.

GF Willmetts

January 2018

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 100 minutes 4 * 25 minute episodes with extras. Price: £ 6.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD2431)

cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.