Monday, February 8, 2010
Ah, ok - NOW I'm starting to see why Terminus isn't as highly regarded as, well, pretty much every other story of the Peter Davison era. Things really take a quick, sharp turn downwards in terms of quality in Episode Two.
Let's start with Turlough and Tegan, easily the most ill served characters in this story. In order to escape from the advancing Lazars at the end of Episode One, both Turlough and Tegan retreat into an underground passageway, a passageway which they virtually spend the entire rest of the story trying to get out of. It's not a unique solution for writer Stephen Gallagher to keep a companion character busy. He did a very similar thing in Warriors' Gate, keeping Adric out of harm's way by having him wander around the void, flipping coins everywhere.
But putting Tegan, and especially Turlough, well out of reach of The Doctor is off putting because it completely undermines the "Turlough's trying to kill the Doctor" arc that carries through this story and those on either side of it. There is never any threat on The Doctor's life from the Black Guardian or his servant. A companion with ulterior motives is a very cool idea, but it is one that is being handled very poorly. The only positive of this "sub-plot" (is it a plot if nothing actually happens?) is that, due to production difficulties caused by strike in the BBC studios, all the underground passageway scenes were shot on film at Ealing Film Studios, and the results look fabulous.
Other less than successful aspects of this production are introduced in this episode - specifically the Garm and the Vanir - but there will be plenty of time to dissect their inadequacies after I mention the infamous skirt incident where Nyssa, for no real reason, drops her skirt and carries on for the rest of the story in her underwear. It's gratuitous, and a limp way of tipping The Doctor off that Nyssa is in trouble. Plus, looking ahead a bit, Nyssa never comes back to collect any of her clothes from the TARDIS before deciding to stay on Terminus for good. Is confining herself on a space station in her underwear with several grubby men who haven't seen a healthy female in years really a good idea?
Posted by Steven at 3:08 PM