5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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TERROR OF THE ZYGONS
' "The Duke - the real Duke - is president of of the Scottish Energy Commission!" "That's right, I am!" '
Terror Of The Zygons is apparently a generally highly regarded adventure, but for the life of us we can't see why.
There's very little that's original here. The Zygons are the bastard children of the Silurians and the Sea Devils, right down to the humans held prisoner (Silurians) and the whispery voices (Sea Devils). We've seen the organic technology before in The Claws of Axos. And as for the nearly dinosaur, we saw dinosaurs used to do someone's bidding in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and we also saw something looking very like the Skarasen in Carnival of Monsters. What with all of that and UNIT, the whole thing reads as if it's been shuffled together from stray Pertwee script pages that had fallen behind the filing cabinet.
As for the plot, it's a mess. It starts well: the oil rig destruction is mysterious and chilling, and the Something Nasty in the Woodshed atmosphere in the village is well evoked. And the Zygons taking over the humans' bodies is an effective idea, although it would be nice if people who were possessed, taken over or generally replaced didn't immediately start acting like depressed cardboard.
But it's easier to start stories than to finish them, and the plot of Terror Of The Zygons degenerates into a welter of inconsistencies, loose ends and general preposterousness. Just why do the Zygons destroy the oil rigs, again? A test of the Skarasen's power? Huh? And exactly how do they plan to use one, count 'em, one Skarasen to conquer the entire world? Given that the Duke belongs to the Scottish Energy Commission, didn't anyone find it just a teensy bit suss when he started railing against oil companies? And why do the UNIT staff trail all the way back to Scotland with the Doctor at the end, only to turn straight round and go back to London again?
It's quite a nice-looking show: the location work is effective and atmospheric, and although the Zygons' ship seems rather too familiar, it looks pretty in an ooky kind of way. We rapidly get tired of the Bacofoil doors, though, although they're good for a giggle when they wobble or get stuck. The Zygon ship with all the little people running about behind it is also well done.
The Zygons themselves are your bog-standard Who villain, complete with evil plans to take over the world, a tendency to carefully explain themselves to their enemies, and the kind of full-face latex mask that moves when the actors speak, with the regrettable effect of making it look as if their eyes are jumping up and down. (See also the Sontarans.) They also suffer from an unfortunate tendency towards cuteness. About the Godzilla nightmare that is the Skarasen, the less said the better.
As for the humans, it's a nice story for the UNIT staff, with the exception of Harry, who's very poorly served in his last adventure. It's a fabulous moment when he's shot, it's a ho-hum moment when he does his Zygon zombie bit, and for the rest of the time he's either absent or peripheral. And his goodbye is incredibly low-key. He deserves better. Sarah gets to do a bit more in this, bravely sneaking into the Zygons' ship and saving Harry, although we don't buy her being catatonic with fear for a minute. The Doctor, needless to say, is excellent.
Whatever potential this had is crushed by rehashed monsters and an incoherent plot. Legendary? We say it's less a hit than a myth.
MORAL: Let Zygons be bygones.
WELL REALLY, DOCTOR
What's the Doctor saying as he pulls the transmitter thing out of his pocket? We're sure it's not actually "Fecking thing!"
There are some nice artistic bits in this - we like Harry's "No, no, no!" immediately followed by a scene change and the Doctor's "No, no, I'll be right over...", and there's some pretty camerawork as the Doctor runs away from the Skarasen.
AT LEAST HE DIDN'T BREAK HIS COLLARBONE
The Doctor falls over himself as he races up the stairs out of the cellar.