The Androids Of Tara: Doctor Who: Season 16
The Androids Of Tara SYNOPSIS:
Tara is where the fourth segment of the key to time is located. The Doctor rests while Romana finds the key but she is abducted by Count Grendel of Gracht. The Doctor is taken to Prince Reynart for trespassing on his lands. The Prince is heir to the Taran throne. The Doctor repairs the King's android replica and the Prince fears his cousin Count Grendel will prevent him from attending his coronation and the crown will pass to Grendel.
The Prince is soon captured by Grendel's men and Romana is imprisoned with Princess Strella, the Prince's future Queen and Romana's physical double. Reynart's men Zarak and Farrah have the Doctor repair the King's android replica and despite attempts by Grendel to stop them, The android prince substitutes for the real one and is crowned King Of Tara.
To expose the King as an android the Count first moves to eliminate the Doctor. His android maker Lamia constructs an android of Romana to kill him with. The ploy fails but the android King is destroyed by Grendel. Now he plans to marry Romana to the real King, kill Reynart and marry Romana himself. The Doctor, Farrah and Zanak's only chance is to storm Castle Gracht and effect a rescue with the assistance of K-9.
Return to top of page
The Androids Of Tara SERIAL DETAILS:
Return to top of page
The Androids Of Tara CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Mary Tamm (Romana I)
Neville Jason — Prince Reynart
Peter Jeffrey — Count Grendel
Simon Lack — Zadek
Paul Lavers — Farrah
Lois Baxter — Lamia
Martin Matthews — Kurster
Declan Mulholland — Till
Cyril Shaps — Archimandrite
Production Staff for Serial 5D:
Writer - David Fisher
Director - Michael Hayes
Script editor - Anthony Read
Producer - Graham Williams
Return to top of page
The Androids Of Tara REVIEWS
Ok have now seen the Androids of Tara again and it isn't exactly memorable, even after just watching it but aside the worst realised monster ever (see below) its a good bit of harmless fun which I didn't really mind. Being a fan of the old film swashbuckler, it was nice to see this genre given the Dr. Who treatment. Tom is at his quickest and quipping-est best - "do you mind not standing on my chest, my hat's on fire". Romana looks stunning even when wearing a lot of clothes and manages to perform 4 roles as herself, Princess Strella and android doubles of both.
The guest roles aren't played by memorable actors but they fill the stereotypical characters of a high adventure type of film, the trusted old adviser & the young whipper snapper supporters of the king and the ugly servant and gorgeous, evil woman - supporters of the main villain - Count Grendal and it seems Peter Jeffrey has sourced every tape featuring Delado's Master to perform his role and does a passable impression but is a watered down, moustache twirling version. The location filming around Leeds castle gives it that fairy tale quality too.
The Androids of Tara drags a lot around part 3 with silly sub plots and people escaping and being re-captured and the guy who played the King not only managed to do a good impression of the types of Kings from old movies but plays his android double well. And for the second time the 4th doctor proves he can handle a sword just as well as Pertwee with a big sword fight at the end against the count. It's not much of a plot but then the old films didn't have much of that either basically being the standard "rich bad guy wants the throne of the kingdom." Also for once the key to time doesn't really figure in the story. 6.2/10
Its the Taran Wood Beast and he's from Tara. And someone in the BBC allowed him to be broadcast on national TV. Go figure.
The Androids Of Tara is a rip off of the story The Prisoner of Zenda. Heard of it? Nope, neither have I. I wonder if its as bad as this story. Taran Wood Beast aside, I remember that this story was very dull, exceptionally slow moving, had actors in it fresh from some of the more shoddier amateur theatre companies in Melbourne and some really bad looking sets. And it just went on and on and on. And on. Mary Tamm plays four roles in this story; Romana, Princess Strella, and the robotic doubles for both of them. God, what was the rest of the plot like?
There's a mixture of modern technology and old fashioned swashbuckling sword fighting. And ummmmmmmmm...... well that's it. The central villain Count Grendell played by Peter Jeffrey is incredibly dull and for such a central character that is a real crime. The guy is in the Androids Of Tara so much of the time and everything hangs on him and yet he is just so boring and un-involving.
And that is about all I can say.
Particularly for a story I;ve seen three times.
The opening 5 minutes of TARDIS action is gold - it's both Tom and Mary at their best... The chess stuff is great and the fishing stuff is gold. Romana looks like she's ready to be something more than the token girly assistant. And then she finds the 4th segment after only 12 minutes... wow, that's a quick end to a story! And I guess it's a nice way to frame a key to time story a bit differently - rather than getting in to trouble before finding the key, how about getting in to trouble after finding it... or because of finding?
Unfortunately for Romana she then twists her ankle - and in that instant she becomes a silly "always getting into trouble" girly assistant.
But, the rest of this episode, and the next work brilliantly. OK... except for the Taran wood beast - but that was hardly a big part of the story.
And the story that sounded so stupid in writing, was really quite straight forward and interesting when realised - especially in the first two parts. In part 3 we get a bit of obvious padding when they make a fake Romana to try and lure the Doctor to kill him - that bit was stupid, as if the Doctor would get sucked in... he should have trusted Romana to escape, which she did, and then by having the stupid wild goose chase, she just got captured again. It did result in the only death in the story - the peasant girl with the whack hair. Is this the lowest death count of the original series?
Part 4 picks up again though, and all the bluffing and double bluffing gets wrapped up with, well, sorry I thought the sword fight was kind of a bit lame... especially at the start. It needed some background music or something to fire it up. The end of it was good though - although letting Grendal (played brilliantly by Neil Barnett) swim away was interesting... I thought the Doctor might have thrown in the electrified sword after Grendal jumped - but he's not that kind of Doctor at all. In fact, this episode has Tom at his wise cracking and manic plotting best. His banter with the Prince's swordsman is gold, especially when it comes to K9... and then when he does finish off Grendal and Ferrah compliments him in amazement, he simply retorts with a "oh, was he good"... great stuff!
All the performances in the Androids Of Tara are really spot on - the only thing that is out of place is an extra wearing tracksuit pants at the coronation! K9 is possibly at his best in this one - nothing can burn through MDF like K9 can!
It's a good fun, good paced political swashbuckler - with a bit of a dodgy part 3.