19 June 2017: The Eaters of Light review added.
11 June 2017: Empress Of Mars review added.
6 June 2017: Extremis/Pyramid At The End Of The World/Lie Of The Land review added.
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"Nothing that 48 hours of induced deep sleep won't cure."
There's no doubt about it - Kinda's a story with a lot more depth and complexity than yer average runaround. The only thing is, just what is it trying to say?
We've sat around and yapped about this for ages, but to be frank we're still not sure. Let's start with the really easy stuff: colonisation is bad, mmmkay? Simple enough, not to mention that we've seen it a million times before. So far, so good. Now, we're no experts on Buddhism, but even we picked up the allusions in Kinda, since you're tripping over them everywhere you go. And it's hard to miss the Christian mythology, too, what with the snake and all, not to mention that forward hussy Todd tempting the Doctor with a forbidden apple and Tegan dropping apples on Mr Seventies Hair's head.
What else? Well, there's all the boxes. Not only the Kinda's healing box, but the dome which boxes off the colonists from the natural world, the prison holding the hostages and that machine thingy that's like a portable dome. Thing is, though, apart from the Kinda doodacky none of the other boxes actually work very well. So trying to isolate yourself from the natural world, then, is always going to be doomed to failure. A theme there? We think so.
And that's about as far as we can get. As far as we're concerned, the rest of it's pretty baffling. If the old couple in need of a sunlamp playing chess in Tegan's dream are her unconscious's view of Adric and Nyssa, what's that saying about her, exactly? Are the Kinda a technologically advanced people or not? There's not much sign of it except for the box, and what's with the DNA necklaces? Is the Mara an evil that must be banished, or an integral part of human nature? Why does the Kinda box make men go all doolally when it doesn't affect women at all? (We've got a few theories about that one, but since none of them are very complimentary, we'll keep them to ourselves.) And just what did happen to those mysterious missing crew members?
You could spend years on this stuff. And that's probably Kinda's strength. We think the unconscious part's the best: apart from that cliched multiple Tegan stuff (a nightmare concept in itself), the rest is genuinely creepy and powerful. And the Kinda bit, if above our heads, has got a hell of a lot more depth than we expect from a children's story. The bit we like least is the story in the dome. Insane villains always bore us into the ground, that bomb stuff couldn't be duller, and while Simon Rouse's hilariously camp performance is good for a giggle ("Mummy!") it's pretty yawnful compared to what's going on elsewhere. Besides, that's where Adric is.
There's some lovely character work going on here. We particularly like the mutually respectful cameraderie between the Doctor and Todd, and the whole "is the Doctor an idiot" schtick is hilarious. (Can you imagine either of these working with any other Doctor?) Todd, the wise woman, her young handmaiden and the Mara as he appears to Tegan in her dream are all excellent. And the TARDIS crew? Overall, Davison's Doctor is adequate if bland; the story was originally written for the Fourth Doctor, and we'd part with large chunks of cash to be able to see what Tom would have made of it. We miss Nyssa. Tegan gets to be all evil, but we weren't convinced. And we'd reluctantly admit that Adric is probably at his least irritating here, although since he annoys us just by breathing that's only relative.
It's got its weak points, but that doesn't stop Kinda in its complexity from being quite remarkable. One, you might say, out of the box.
MORAL: Damned if we know.
It looks as if Changing Rooms has got at the TARDIS - it looks all paint-effecty.
Check out those suspiciously power cable-like tree roots.
ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT
The Doctor urges Tegan to play with the chimy thing, saying "I'm sure it's safe". How the hell does he know?
DO AS I SAY...
The Doctor instructs Adric: "Don't move! Not a muscle!" while simultaneously waving his hand around.
JUST WHEN IT WAS GETTING GOOD
Isn't it fun watching Adric being tortured? What a shame the Doctor stopped it so early.
A LOAD OF COBRAS
It's undeniable that the fx aren't exactly Kinda's strong point. As well as the plainly dreadful rubber snake and the I-can't-believe-they-did-that big snake, there's some very shoddy fx work as the snake transfers from arm to arm.
If the power goes off in the dome, how does the cell door manage to slide open?
IN CASE OF INSANITY PRESS HERE
Oh, no! Not the Big Red Button!
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE END OF EVERYTHING
The Mara joins the enormous group of villains that finds everything hilariously funny. Imagine being hired to do stand-up at the Evil Villains' Convention: they'd be the best audience you'd ever had. You'd be awash in evil laughter.
YOUR SLIP IS SHOWING
As the Doctor is saying "What is Karuna?" he has to pull himself up short before he falls over. Watch him glancing at the ground to get his footing.
ON SECOND THOUGHTS, ADRIC, WHY DON'T YOU TRY AND DEFUSE THE BOMB. I'LL WAIT OVER HERE
God, those Tegan and Adric "There's nothing we can do except wait" filler scenes outside the dome are excruciating. We know the episode was running short, but a brief burst of the test pattern would have been more entertaining.
The Doctor insists that to trap the Mara the circle of mirrors must be unbroken. It's a shame, in that case, that there's a honking great gap in it (to the left of the screen) for the camera to shoot through.
I KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO SAY THAT
When the Doctor calls for the panels to be reversed, the panel at the bottom of the screen is already turned around.