Thursday, March 18, 2010

6V1 - Vengeance on Varos 1

Season 22's downward turn in quality continues with Episode One of Vengeance on Varos. The first impression of this story is that it feels cold, dark, and empty. It looks far too much like cheap scenery flats in a television studio to be believable, and this story isn't clever enough to be parodying the fact that the story is set in a cheap television studio. The prison dome is also far too quiet a place for such horrible acts to apparently take place in. The info dump scene between Rondel and Areta is painfully quiet and dull, despite the beams of search lights flashing across the scene giving the impression of something much more exciting happening nearby.

Unless, of course, Varos IS clever enough to be this meta-textual. If it was, then it's crowning glory would be to poke fun at people trying to act on reality shows by casting people who couldn't act in real life. Enter Geraldine Alexander as Areta and Jason Connery as Jondar, both trying to outdo each other in the shoddy acting department. Connery just wins out, displaying his vivid impression of a birch tree that somehow won him the job of Robin Hood a scant few months after Varos.

But Varos has been used as a lightning rod by those who criticize the apparent decreasing standards in taste and decency that were dragging Doctor Who down at around this time, and they may have a case in regards to the actions of the show's lead character. The Doctor is immediately sullen and defeated upon learning that the TARDIS is out of the vital (and, until now, unheard of) mineral Zeiton-7. It's left to the sarcastic Peri to try and berate The Doctor into doing something about their situation, at least when the two aren't bickering about burning dinners and other such trivial matters. These scenes not only show off The Doctor in a terrible light, but they prevent him from properly entering the story (not for the first time, and certainly not for the last).

When The Doctor does finally arrive on Varos, he and Peri rescue Jondar from certain death, but then The Doctor rigs up a laser cannon to fire blindly on anyone who comes around the corner. He doesn't even know what the situation is, and yet his first step is to kill random (and potentially innocent) victims, and to do it casually. The infamous acid bath sequence that occurs in Episode Two is nothing compared to this. 45 minutes of the worst elements of The Doctor we've seen in some time.


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