State Of Decay: Doctor Who: Season 18
State Of Decay SYNOPSIS:
Still trapped in E-Space the TARDIS lands on a feudal planet. Travelling to a village that is presided over by three lords living in a tower who annually take young people from the village for the wasting. The Doctor and Romana find advanced technology among the villagers and are taken to a secret rebel base and wonder why the society seems to be evolving backwards.
It is not long before Romana and the Doctor are captured and brought before the three ruling lords. The travellers realise the tower is actually a spaceship and upon finding vats of blood and wasted humans near the ship's engines that the Lords may not just be descendants of the original ship's crew but the crew themselves. Realising they are vampires the Doctor believes one of the great vampires may be controlling them.
Romana discovers that Adric had stowed away on the TARDIS and was captured in the Village, she frees him from the Lords trance who intend to turn Adric into a new chosen one. The Doctor and K-9 muster the rebels to attack the tower and the Doctor has to figure out how to kill the great vampire that is reviving beneath the tower and rescue his friends.
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State Of Decay DETAILS:
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State Of Decay CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Lalla Ward (Romana II)
John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
William Lindsay — Zargo
Rachel Davies — Camilla
Emrys James — Aukon
Clinton Greyn — Ivo
Rhoda Lewis — Marta
Dean Allen — Karl
Thane Bettany — Tarak
Iain Rattray — Habris
Arthur Hewlett — Kalmar
Stacy Davies — Veros
Stuart Fell — Roga
Stuart Blake — Zoldaz
Production Staff for Serial 5P:
Writer - Terrance Dicks
Director - Peter Moffatt
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
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State Of Decay REVIEWS
Much like the review schedule (SWIPE!) State of Decay is one that fell behind and almost never got made when Tewwy Dicks submitted it for the Season 15 opener. But that was because the BBC bosses decided to have a vampire based Dr Who would be taking the piss out of their beloved 'faithful' adaptation of Dracula in the same year. Who remembers BBC's Dracula now huh? Being in the actual Gothic horror era it would have complimented it rather than made light of it.
Anyway now State of Decay seems to be almost out of place, it's nice to have a throwback to the gothic horror type of story but can't help feeling it would have been better back in the vintage era, it's not the same with electronic 80's music and the 80's style, seems a bit blander than what it would have been and Tom would have been acting in deadly earnest being at his peak around 1977.
That said it's still a nice nod to the recent Gothic past with all the trappings. A village full of dull peasants, a dark forest populated by bats, three lords who rule with pale complexions and mysterious origins and vampiric tendencies and a hidden threat. The Vampire stuff has the neat Who twist that the 3 rulers are really three astronauts who are possessed by the last great vampire - an ancient enemy of the Time Lords, which expands their mythology and is a nice nod to the whole Dracula and vampires myth.
Tom tries to get deadly serious despite looking very pale and sick, even accidentally being belted with a door being opened too quickly on one occasion. Romana is the perfect foil for him and Adric pops up wearing a wig and acting a lot worse, but that's because State of Decay is Waterhouses' first recorded story . The three who rule obviously have done a lot of Shakespere and this actually compliments their overly theatrical acting. The pace isn't particularly dynamite , it's as slow as Full Circle and the set design and dark location filming give it atmosphere.6.7/10
So while the script has packed its bags and won't be back until next week, the production team have pulled their finger out and do some lovely location work at the local park and there is some nice spooky (if kooky) acting from the three who play the vampires. So, I guess in this case its not what it is but what you do with it. At times they are quite menacing - particularly in their throne room scenes where they wake up and want Romana's blood, but on the other hand they have more ham in them than the local deli. Of course its a pity they didn't draw straws and suck the redness out of Adric's ass and save us the hassle that was his acting ability.
However, if the vampires make the most of their roles, the peasants certainly didn't. I guess there is only a limited scope in a peasant from an actor's perspective (I played one in our school nativity play so I speak from experience. And even then I managed to add a really long scarf into the costume). Quick word on the two leads; Tom does a very dark and mesmerizing speech about vampires in Time Lord history but Lalla has reverted back to her screamy self from before. State of Decay is an okay story but everything is going in different directions. 6/10
I think the only thing that holds this one back are the less than inspiring cliff hangers. Episode one is full of everything - an interesting medieval sort of society… with computers, a new stowaway on the TARDIS and some different (and excellent) direction - the scene where we fade from Aukon into the bats (almost flying out of his beard) is excellent - welcome Peter Moffat. Then we get a very uninspiring cliffhanger of bats flying into a cave… sure they're in a nice formation, but it's no cliffhanger.
Second part is a bit of a gabfest, but the discovery of the spaceship is interesting (and both Tom and Lalla are really at their best during this episode), and the ongoing heart beat in the background is great - and the cliffhanger isn't too bad I suppose… the realisation of the heartbeat in the ground works very well.
Part three we get the history of the Great Vampire - which I found enthralling. I was thinking that maybe this could have been a better showdown for Tom's regeneration as the legendary battles with the Great Vampires, coupled with the ominous feel of the setting all build to a nice crescendo… which is spoilt by a cliff hanger that, if they went an extra 30 seconds to where Romana was about to get killed, would have been much better. Part 4 has a lot of great ideas too - but they are very difficult to realise, and the story suffers a little because of it… although the realisation of the Great Vampire (and only seeing his hand appear from the ground), works well… better than the realisation of other large monsters (ROBOT, Kroll, Skaarsen).
The bits that were added to State of Decay, which I'm guessing were the Adric bits, work well… and for the first half of the story, they are possibly the most interesting part as we really get a feel for this young kid looking for adventure, but finding himself in all sorts of strife, first as a replacement son for a couple who have lost their son to the cause… and then as the next to be harvested. He does it well - and in his scenes with K9 shows that he can act… anyone who can crouch and talk can act… that takes talent goddamit!!
Casting wise there isn't much that lets State of Decay down either - the 3 to rule are all played well, Aukon has the right mixture of scary and crazed while Camilla is just a little bit hot… like all chick vampires should be. The leader of the bad beard brigade (some of the worst fake facial hair you'll see this side of Journey's End here!) has a tendency to go all Zastor from Meglos (you feel that he might just doze off at any second), but doesn't… and there's also the obligatory Neil Barnett in his posse! Tarak's pretty shit though.
All in all, an enjoyable vampire tale… let down by some lacklustre cliffhangers and a difficult ending to realise, but enhanced with some excellent direction and performances.