Thursday, March 21, 2013

7L2 - The Happiness Patrol 2

The same contemporary British press and public that lauded Remembrance of the Daleks as a long-awaited return to glory for a fading icon were the same group of people who then immediately decried the Kandy Man's appearance in Doctor Who as the final nail in the coffin for the show. How could a pantomime villain that looks like Bertie Bassett ever be taken seriously? For that matter, how could a television programme with an evil Bertie Bassett be taken seriously?

I love the Kandy Man, especially for the reasons I just stated, not in spite of them. In a place where everyone is required to be happy, but the people who are the least happy are the eponymous Happiness Patrol, how could you not have a robot made out of candy that makes sweets that kill people? The Kandy Man is such a wonderfully subversive idea that it borders on brilliance. I am so glad the original scripted description of the Kandy Man, a typical scientist in a white lab coat, was tossed out in favour of the design we get here. The Kandy Man succeeds where the possessed Croagnon in Paradise Towers fails - an obviously ridiculous force of evil, but this time with actual, real menace. It doesn't hurt that the Kandy Man is brought to life by a wonderful performance by David John Pope. The Kandy Man's repartee with Gilbert M is like that of an old embittered married couple ("What time do you call this?" is one of my favourite lines), and Pope's outlandish delivery veers from wild ranting to his almost sensual descriptions of what goes into his deadly sweets; he is excellent.

And then there's the scene where The Doctor stares two snipers down and not only talks them out of shooting innocent protesters but practically dares them not to. The two gunmen start out the scene as macho misanthropists, wishing for better guns to help them mow down their fellow man. During their encounter with The Doctor, they back down, unsure - almost scared - of the task they have been ordered to do, and become better people because of it. It is a scene full of righteous anger on the part of Sylvester McCoy, who is superb in this story, as he perfectly portrays his Doctor as someone who abhors any and all violence because he is so confident in his abilities that he knows he will never need to use it.


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