The Visitation: Doctor Who: Season 19
The Visitation SYNOPSIS:
Attempting to get Tegan back to Heathrow airport to start her new job, the Doctor lands three hundred years earlier than intended. Investigating 17th century England they are attacked by villagers and meet highwayman / thespian Richard Mace and find the local Manor house deserted.
Investigating inside the crew find a holographic wall and Tegan and Adric are captured by a be-jewelled android and interrogated by it's Terileptil master. The others find the remains of the terileptil ship and have to flee from villagers now controlled by the aliens. Nyssa returns to the Tardis to build a sonic booster to destroy the android.
The Doctor and Mace are eventually captured by the android and delivered to the terileptal leader who reveals the four terileptals are escaped prisoners and the visitation they are planning is using genetically engineered plague rats to wipe out humanity and have Earth to themselves.
Adric escapes and Assists Nyssa in disposing of the android while the Doctor frees mace and Tegan of terileptil mind control and now must find the terileptals in London before they can release their rats.
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The Visitation SERIAL DETAILS:
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The Visitation CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Michael Robbins — Richard Mace
Michael Melia — Terileptil Leader
Peter Van Dissel — Android
James Charlton — The Miller
Neil West — The Poacher
Eric Dodson — The Headman
John Savident — The Squire
Anthony Calf — Charles
John Baker — Ralph
Valerie Fyfer — Elizabeth
Richard Hampton — Villager
Production Staff for Serial 5X:
Writer - Eric Saward
Director - Peter Moffatt
Script editor - Antony Root
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
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The Visitation REVIEWS
Quite an enjoyable romp the Visitation, though a bit bland. A tale of alien infiltration in middle age England. The first pseudo historical story of the Davison era and is made pretty well and looks nice, is well cast and the dialogue is good and it's obvious a fair bit of the season's budget has been spent on the Visitation but hmmm something seems to be lacking.
The Visitation strengths seem to lie in the setting which is well realized and well represented, the BBC doing what it does best - period costume drama. All the members of the Tardis team seem to have ample to do in the story, even if much of what Nyssa and Adric are doing is running around avoiding an android and it's proved a bunch of dumb, angry peasants aren't a match in the fisticuffs stakes for the time travelling quartet. The idea of terileptils is extremely good, a bunch of aliens who are actually escaped prisoners of their own race and who enjoy culture and beautiful things, hence why they have an android covered in sparkles and fine jewels to do the dirty work for them.
Nice that they have an identity but what are they actually getting up to again? They land on a nice planet and decide to wipe out humanity with the black plague…didn't get this…was it for a laugh or something? There's only 3 of them left and terileptils think they're superior so they decide they can wipe out humanity. Oh they also decide they can pilot the Tardis just like that as though it's a car and pick up other androids or maybe some tereleptil chums. Get a bit lonely without some terileptil women around wouldn't it? Maybe it's because this story didn't engage me as others in the season do that I find all these instances annoying.
The actual terileptil suits are appalling. They look just like they're made of hard rubber which the actors can barely move in and even the animatronic masks to make the features move don't hide the fact they look so unconvincing. Why have them nude too? Why not at least cover these terrible suits up? Why not get that costume designer back in who came up with the zygons? It's obviously the same twit who came up with the Marshmen the previous year. The terileptil leader is the one that puts paid to the original sonic screw driver and thus it's last appearance in the classic series. One wonders why it took the doc so long to build or buy another one? But this is the bit I most remember for some reason. Pity it had to be destroyed by an unconvincing lizard / fish.
Oh thought that guy from On the buses was good too as the highwayman Richard Mace, a nice cowardly out-of-his-depth portrayal. Plus the effects of the aliens being burnt in the end were pretty gruesome despite the rubber suits. Ummm hard to rate the Visitation but will give it 7.1/10
You were right Tim, parts 2 and 3 were boring! And this is what got Eric Saward his job as script editor?
Nothing to see here. Seriously, there isn't. The Alien stranded in England's Past has been done before with The Time Warrior, even down to the spaceship in the countryside and the funny android. And, like Time Warrior, the Visitation is just really, really slow. Honestly, not a lot happens here.
The Doctor and his companions spend a lot of time wandering the countryside, do some break and entering, get captured, escape, get captured again, meet the alien on the run who wants to (yawn) take over the planet for whatever purposes, defeat said alien and go home. Of course, add to the mix a few diversions such as Richard Mace who has no doubt come from the Eric Heyes School of One Dimensional Acting and the scenes in the Tardis where Nyssa builds a giant vibrator and the Visitation is....well....its still pretty dull. I have a problem with the whole lone-alien-taking-over-the-world type plots.
The Terileptil is hardly a threat when all it will take is one disgruntled villager with a gun to blow the lizard's other eye out and you got your problem solved! And you would have plenty of opportunities - the guy just loves to stand around and have a jolly good chin-wag! "let me tell you about our plans!" "let me tell you about our species!" "let me tell you about mind control!" Christ; give us SOME sort of a surprise! Besides, the aliens have escaped from prison so what do they want the earth for? They're going to kill everyone off so if they are going to be left with a world that contains three Terileptils then what? Sit back and eat crumpets?
Meanwhile back with the star of the show, the Doctor is seriously rubbish here. Firstly he lets Tegan blast him into pieces with her constant whining about wanting to get back to Heathrow. Can you imagine Tom Baker's Doctor putting up with her shit? He'd deck her for a start then piss on her unconscious body. And for the rest of the story he just wanders about. Doing nothing. He even let Adric and Tegan get captured!! Although that is a pretty good thing. Nyssa meanwhile still looks dead sexy, especially when she is making her Build-By-Numbers mechano vibrator in the Tardis corridor. She looks even hotter when she is trying to PUSH it forward and PULL it across the floor. I better shut up before Tim wets his keyboard.
Production-wise the Visitation is all reasonably serviceable. Peter Moffatt the director does an okay job but that's all. There isn't any flash camera work or suspenseful build-up to anything. He's just a point-and-shoot man and doesn't improve as the series continues. I think JNT hired him cos he was a mate and not for any type of artistic merit. Most likely propping up the pension fund there, Mr Moffatt. Monsters are once again of the rubber suit variety and - yes - look worse than the marshmen. Our guest actor is Michael Robbins from On The Buses and he is pretty one-note in the acting stakes. Just a wayward rogue and that's about all. No depth or anything, which sadly is like the story itself.
Like The Time Warrior that inspired it, I give thee a three. 3/10
I believe the Visitation is the first real earth "period" piece since probably Fang Rock? Unless you count the visits to Leonardo in City of Death. The Visitation works well too, although there are a few things that aren't consistent with Kinda - probably cos this was the second story filmed. The main inconsistency is Davison. I don't mind his Doctor here, but it's very "old man crotchety" compared to the caring and nurturing Doctor from Kinda… thankfully we go back to the caring Doctor, otherwise we could have ended up with another Hartnell! Adric's back to being a little bit shit in this one too - but he tries so hard! His Sarah-Jane ankle stumble in part one is… is… um… not good… lucky he heals quick.
The story itself is a pretty good one. One advantage of having so many companions I guess is that you can keep 4 different stories going at once no problems - and for a lot of this one we do get all 4 regulars in their own storyline… although Adric's story seems to be just looking for something to do! I guess the main story is pretty stock standard - aliens fall to earth and then develop a plan to take over the Earth… but this is quite a nice plan, especially with the way they tie it into the black plague - and they even develop an android that they can dress up to look like Death… they've gone to a lot of work here… I mean they've also got the bedazzler out and jazzed up some cricket gloves for their Death robot!
The android is pretty effective though, and the opening POV scene works very well. The terileptils aren't too bad - I mean I know they're rubbery as all getup, but they're not as bad looking as swampmen from Full Circle. And this is the first usage of animatronics in a rubber mask - and that works OK. The character is an interesting one though - and really well written. The thing I like the most about the writing is the way that Saward always asks "why?"… we are really left with no doubt as to why the Terileptils are there and why they are taking over the earth… I wonder if this is the reason they were keen to make him the script editor so quickly?
But perhaps the best part of his script is Mace. Now he would have been an interesting companion! Apparently Saward wasn't that happy with the portrayal - too cowardly he thought - but I think this is what makes him work. Yes, he's cowardly, but he covers it with bravado. You can really picture him treading the boards at the globe theatre just around the corner (although it is about to get burnt down… so maybe not for a while!). Mace and the Doctor bounce off each other beautifully and when Tegan chimes in by the 3rd part, they make an interesting trio.
The Visitation cliffhangers are all pretty good here too - although the resolution to the first one is kind of lame. So all up, it's a pretty good, reasonably paced tale. For some reason I'd always thought that it was the sonic screwdriver that started the fire of London - so when I watched this the other day I was a bit disappointed when the "sonic device" was destroyed in part 3! Apparently the original plan had the Doctor going to a big cupboard in the TARDIS with a whole heap of screwdrivers to get another one, but JNT wanted rid of it as it provided too many easy solutions.
Anyway, that's enough waffling… I enjoyed The Visitation, but it's not brilliant… 7.4/10
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