Monday, April 18, 2011

7E1 - Paradise Towers 1

The second story of a new Doctor is always interesting. An introductory story is always full of the usual post-regenerative tropes that are habitually relied upon to distract the viewing audience while they, and the actor playing the title role, warms to the idea of a brand new Doctor. Not so with the second story. Those crutches are now gone, and it's now up to the new Doctor and the production team to set the different course that the show will take for the next foreseeable future.

Colin Baker is the exception to this rule because of the fact that his first story closed a season, and, in order to produce a big impact at the start of his first full season, the Cybermen were brought back amidst a flurry of ill-advised continuity references to coax the Sixth Doctor through his sophomore adventure. Paradise Towers is miles removed from this approach. Episode 1 feels like such a fresh start for the series, building on the same feeling that pervaded through Time and the Rani. It's back to The Doctor and his companion, traveling the universe looking for fun and adventure.

In this case, it's Mel wanting to find a decent swimming pool. Trite stuff to some, perhaps, but it's the innocence of Mel's intentions, as well as The Doctor's desire to explore what he hopes to be the impressive Paradise Towers development. Of course, what the two find in the Towers are squabbling factions of young women who are behaving like school children, living in their own innocent world of schoolyard games while members of their various factions are "made unalive" and "taken to the cleaners".

The divergence between the two tones is jarring in this first episode, and could be seen as extremely off putting. The intense opening sequence of the last Yellow Kang meeting her end is totally at odds with the dances and chants of "Red Kangs! Red Kangs! Red Kans are best!" later on. The two tones collide in the "How You Do" sequence that is merely two people saying hello, but is treated as a dramatic, almost violent sequence by the Kang actresses and Sylvester McCoy, punctuated by Keff McColloch's energetic score. Once you throw in the bumbling caretakers, led by Richard Briers, the first of list of primary guest actors in Season 24 who play their parts almost entirely for laughs, you don't know where things are headed.