"Call yourself a Time Lord?"

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It's not as if The Visitation's mind-crunchingly bad. It's just so, so unoriginal. An alien stranded on Earth? Like we haven't seen that before. (Time Warrior, anyone?) Still, at least he's a really friendly alien who can't wait to start making friends with all the nice Earthlings. Whoops, cancel that. He actually wants to kill everybody and take over the Earth, just like all the others. And even more unforgivably, he's going to do it in a comedy rubber suit.

So that's the story, and pretty simple it is too. Not a lot, you might think, to stretch out over four episodes. And you'd be right. To fill up the time, The Visitation is crammed with totally pointless escapes, recaptures and general dull wandering around. Let's look at the fate of dear little Tegan, for example. First of all, the Doctor runs away - actually runs away! - leaving her and Adric in the hands of an evil monster. Hey, maybe he's not so stupid after all. Anyway, the plan is that he and Nyssa are going to build a vibrator to shake said evil monster to pieces. No hurry, though. After all, it's only Adric and Tegan. So the Doctor takes his time wandering around the countryside enjoying the scenery, eventually deciding that the whole vibrator thingy is just too boring to contemplate and sending Nyssa off on her own to build it. Not that she knows what she's doing, but never mind. Remember, it's only Adric and Tegan.

While the Doctor's getting himself captured, we get to spend an astonishing amount of time watching Nyssa fluffing about in the TARDIS, moving furniture and trundling equipment back and forth. And the end product of all this earnest labour not only looks as if was cobbled together from old crystal wireless sets, it's also about six times too big to carry. Oops.

Just as well for Adric and Tegan, then, that they've decided to take their fate into their own hands. Adric gets away, winning his way through despair and danger to the TARDIS, where he promptly leaves again having accomplished nothing and immediately gets captured. Well, that was fun. As for Tegan, she's given up by this time and started cooperating with the villain to bring about the end of humankind. And who can blame her?

Luckily for Nyssa, the evil monster makes house calls, so she gets to use the vibrator after all. All very dramatic, but we can't help thinking that if only she'd had the brains when running away from the evil monster to shut the door behind her, we could have been spared the monumentally dull vibrator plot altogether. And what about Tegan? Well, eventually the Doctor gets around to giving her a hand, but considering that for all he knew Evil Dude could have killed her hours ago, it's not exactly an impressive effort.

So it's not rich in thrilling plot. But that's not the worst part. The thing that gets right up our noses is the way the Doctor comes across as a complete wuss. First of all, he meekly stands there and takes it while Tegan rips strips off him. Then he actually apologises! Can you imagine any of the other Doctors apologising to a companion? Then he flees the scene leaving two of his companions in the clutches of the villain - has there ever been a more unDoctorly scene than this? And he caps it all off by repeatedly standing around waiting for his enemies to rush up and capture him, not to mention being singularly crap at getting out of captivity. He even lets the villain destroy his sonic screwdriver, and what Freud would say about that we don't even want to think about. Urgh. Who is this guy? Take him away and bring us a real Doctor.

As well as these giant stumbling blocks, the story has a few saving graces. Michael Robbins chews the scenery magnificently as Mace, and it'd be a bloody boring story without him. The Doctor's scenes with Nyssa are as always a highlight. And we thought the family at the beginning had potential, despite their stilted acting - shame they disappeared after one scene. And that's about all the good stuff we can think of. The rest of it's strictly by the numbers.

Rubber suits, recycled plots, mountains of filler and a girly Doctor. Undistinguished.

MORAL: If you see a comet, go out with a shotgun.



Why do the Terileptils make humanoid androids? Even more weirdly, why are the androids wearing cricket gloves?


Adric: "I must admit I'm not entirely convinced she likes me."


Tegan: "I know I haven't always been the best of companions..."


Adric: "I can't do anything for anyone." Well, he certainly does nothing for us.


That line of Tegan's about the Doctor's origins ("He talks a lot about Guildford...") is a cracker. Hilarious.


How does Mace know the TARDIS crew aren't carrying the plague?


Why when the Doctor runs away from the villagers into the escape pod does he yell "Run!"? Mace and Nyssa are inside - he's the only one there!


When Adric bangs on the TARDIS door, why does Nyssa open the door without checking to see who it is on the scanner?


In Tegan's fight with the Doctor, how exactly is she planning to kill him? By hugging him to death?


Why is the Doctor suddenly worried about his presence at the fire causing "too many questions"? It's never bothered him before or since.

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