Four To Doomsday: Doctor Who: Season 19
Four To Doomsday SYNOPSIS:
The Tardis lands on a spaceship that is fours day journey from Earth. The crew get separated, the Doctor and Tegan reaching the bridge and meeting the Command crew of leader, the Monarch and his two subordinates Enlightenment and Persuasion. They have left their destroyed home planet and now wish to settle on Earth carrying with them the race banks for their entire species.
They are also carrying representatives of four distinct Earth Cultures they have collected in their last four visits to Earth. However the Doctor finds out they are not descendants of the originals but android replicas of the original people. Enlightenment and Persuasion has also converted to human android forms. Monarch plans to destroy humanity with a deadly toxin rather than peacefully co-exist.
Despite Adric being influenced by Monarch's ideals and Tegan getting panicked into flying the Tardis, the Doctor stirs up a rebellion in the human android replicas and sets about overthrowing the Monarch before he reaches Earth.
Return to top of page
Four To Doomsday SERIAL DETAILS:
Return to top of page
Four To Doomsday CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Stratford Johns — Monarch
Annie Lambert — Enlightenment
Paul Shelley — Persuasion
Philip Locke — Bigon
Nadia Hammam — Villagra
Burt Kwouk — Lin Futu
Illarrio Bisi Pedro — Kurkutji
Production Staff for Serial 5W:
Writer - Terence Dudley
Director - John Black
Script editor - Antony Root
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Return to top of page
Four To Doomsday REVIEWS
Once you know Four To Doomsday was the first one filmed for the season you can sort of grasp why suddenly the cast's performances are not on a par with the previous story. Davison is about the only one who gets close to his Castrovalva form but still his 5th Dr. seems somewhat different. More short tempered and crotchety perhaps, he even has short hair all of a sudden. So obviously the first thing he did was get back on board and demand a haircut from Nyssa!
But must agree Four To Doomsday is his first time out so you have to forgive a less defined portrayal. It's so obviously Janet Fielding's second time out as Tegan because she not only looks over make-uped but is back to showing she isn't relaxed playing the character and overacts being panicked,loud and annoying a lot. Adric acts arrogant and annoying or is that Waterhouse? He is clearly now a different character to how he started out but suppose his artful dodger routine became useless after Baker left.
Ok now we've covered all 2 chapters of Goldby's book on acting critique let's look at the story. Yep imaginative set design for the spaceship and not a bad story about a bunch of alien frogs who worship their leader and agree that the best thing for humanity is to be freed from the flesh time so they can live forever as androids. They are looking to preserve all aspects of Earth's culture as well. So far having grabbed the Miyans, Chinese, Abo's and the Greeks. Let's hope they didn't pick up some bad Greek habits as well. But can you imagine what he'd be grabbing around 1982? Probably the American culture, which means installing a McDonalds & Hungry Jacks on board, a few cinemas and some horrific fashions. More likely he'd not bother about collecting any more cultures and just kill the human race outright. Still the Monarch was well played and is very memorable as a baddie because he's so arrogant and almost reasonable at times. His lieutenants are well realised too, as is old Biron the Greek and Kato himself from the Pink Panther movies playing the Chinese guy, pity you can tell the other race leaders are non speaking extra's.
Four To Doomsday is also the second to last time the sonic screwdriver is put to good use disabling the security camera's. But there's quite a few bad points in this one, yep the crap spacewalk, didn't buy it, if the Dr. can survive in a vacuum then why have there been so many instances where he's worn a space suit even for brief walks? The bad CSO of the Biron actors face on his android mask, the drawn out, boring Recreationals used to fill in time, Adric mouthing off and being so taken in by the Monarch he decides to tell him everything about the Tardis and again Tegan's carry on and kidnapping of the Tardis combined with Fielding's unbelievable histrionic acting. That aside like the fight music when the Dr. & Adric take on Monarch's lieutenants in the airlock. Still it's not bad, just average and for that this story gets a 5.3/10
Four To Doomsday is an easy one for Doctor Peter to ease into. Spaceship setting, lots of corridors, lots of technology, a few frogs that like long distance travel and some Abos. It does have a seen-it-all before quality (minus the Abos and the frogs) and it will soon have a seen-it-all-again quality for the next few years but it is still reasonable entertaining. The spaceship sets look inspired for what is essentially the same bits of wall and floor reassembled, redressed and shot in a different angle. The monopticons also are a novel invention; floating security cameras that spin round and round at the first sight of a sonic screwdriver.
Four To Doomsday is the first time out for Peter so we'll forgive his broad portrayal of the Doctor. Most of the time he is saying his lines and hoping for a character but he does do some nice scolding of his companions, even if it does seem weird that he refers to them as "children". He even does a bit of flirting here too. Meanwhile the companions are just the same as ever, although Tegan gets even more annoying and Adric seriously needs to be kicked in the balls for yapping about the Tardis to Monarch. Speaking of the King Frog, Stratford Johns does a great job as Monarch. Very authoritative and he makes the most of his lines under his amphibious makeup. For once, the villain of the piece isn't after the univeral takeover - he just wants to free his people of physicality. The other characters like Bigon, Lin Futu and Fingerbone Bill aren't really up to much. Full points to Nyssa though for telling Adric to shut up and for wearing what will soon become a long line in silly hats. What else? The spacewalk was a bit fake wasn't it? And imagine sitting through those dreadful recreationals more than once. I'd be tearing my eyes out.
So what do we have? Four To Doomsday looks impressive, but on the plot and character side it doesn't really deliver. It's a bit of a standard space opera really. I also don't think having three companions is helping matters cos you have to find something for all of them to do PLUS something for the Doctor and the assorted guest characters. One or two of them should go. I chose Adric and Tegan. 6/10
I reckon Four To Doomsday is one that's a bit under-rated. It's quite a cracking story - aliens that can transform into human form, an awesome set (complete with bowling balls that follow you around and report back to HQ - and HQ can report back to the bowling ball), 3 billion Urbankans stored on microchips to be transplanted into androids when they get to earth and invade, people from earth's history planted into the androids to do the work around the ship along the way and a poison that will wipe out the entire earth's population in no time. There's a lot there!
But there are 3 things that let the Four To Doomsday down. The first one really effects the pace of the whole story... the bloody dancing. I fell asleep 3 times during the re-watching of this, each time was during those bloody boring dancing scenes. And I don't get why they even need to have them - who are they entertaining? Other androids? They just kill the pace. The second one is the glitch in the show's internal logic. I can almost take that Tegan can speak fluent Aboriginal (cos all Aboriginals speak the same dialect of course) - but why the hell can't the TARDIS translate it for them? Apparently the TARDIS can translate languages from other planets in E Space - but it can't quite get a language from outback Australia? Well, at least our Aboriginal friend brings the total black fellows with speaking roles on the show to 3. The third one is two... but they are pretty picky so I'll just make them one! Apparently the Doctor bowls a mean chinaman - a weapon he used when taking his 5 wickets for New South Wales. A "chinaman" is a left arm wrist spinning wrongun... in the bit where he's outside the spaceship using a cricket ball to push him back to the TARDIS, he clearly throws with his right arm... I've got a feeling he bowls with his right arm in Black Orchid too - I'll check that when we get to that next week. The other nit pick is when Tegan tells the Doctor that they should be going to earth to warn them, and the Doctor says "who's going to believe us?"... um... has he forgotten about the people that employed him as their "scientific advisor"?
OK, so apart from that, I quite like Four To Doomsday. Part one especially sets things up nicely, and despite the dancing in the middle of part 2, the ending is full of intrigue - I like the de-masking of Bigon, I think the green screen on his face works a bit better than the dodgy cutaways they had to use in Android Invasion. And the ending of Part 3 is great - the TARDIS is gone and the Doctor is about to get his head cut off... great stuff! The ending though is a bit rushed - if only they'd spent a bit more time on that than they did on the bloody dancing.
As mentioned above, I think the sets are fantastic - possibly the best for the season. The cast are all pretty much spot on too - I like the multicultural theme on the ship, and the three main "baddies" are nice and cold - and Enlightenment is pretty hot which helps! For his first crack at the Doctor, Davison is pretty good - you can see where he's going with it (which we know he achieves!). The whole nurturing, caring, instinctive cocktail starts to develop nicely, and his helped ably by his 3 companions. Apparently Nyssa was going to be written out in this one, but Davison asked if she could be kept in as her character was the most in tune with what he was trying to achieve. I think he was probably right, as there is a bit of a spark when the two of them are together at the end of part 3, start of part 4 - there's a trust and understanding that comes across well.
So anyway, I don't have as many gripes as most do with Four To Doomsday... a little bit more care in the writing would have helped with both the logic and the pacing - but I still enjoy it. 6.9/10
Return to top of page