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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Dominators (BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Dominators (BBC DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: A     Episodes: B



Patrick Troughton’s three year stint as Doctor Who lasted from 1966 - 1969, and included some truly memorable stories.  A goodly number of these tales have been lost forever due to the BBC’s lack of archival foresight during the period they were made.  It simply never occurred to them that future audiences might want to see the episodes they were currently producing, and tapes of the shows were literally taped over, or so carelessly stored that they became damaged and unusable. 


Fortunately, “The Dominators” (story no. 44) survived this period and although it is not regarded as one of the finest Who stories of Troughton’s run on the show, it still has its moments, and its message. The story opens with the alien Dominators arriving on the peaceful planet of Dulkis, there to destroy the planet and take its energies, and also perhaps enslave its pacifistic populace. Of course, the Doctor and companions Jamie and Zoë (Frazier Hines and Wendy Padbury) arrive shortly after for a bit of a vacation and find themselves thrust into a struggle between the Dominators and the peace-loving Dulcians. 


Originally conceived by writer Norman Ashby as a commentary on the foolhardiness of unwavering pacifism, a direct shot at the hippie culture of the late 1960’s, “The Dominators” manages to stick closely to its sci-fi tropes of evil aliens threatening planetary destruction.  The BBC creative crew overcome on-set production issues to present uniquely quirky visuals, including the wonderfully campy Quarks, robot servants of the alien Dominators. Perhaps a precursor to the wonderful robots in the 1972 film Silent Running, the Quarks make suitably dangerous robot menaces for the Doctor and crew to overcome.  Special mention should also be made of actress Nicolette Pendrell, who shines in a bit role as the Dulcian maiden Tolata.


As with most of the discs in this amazing series, the BBC has loaded this one with extras, including commentaries from cast and crew, several featurettes, and a wonderful photo gallery. “The Dominators” acts as a milepost of sorts for the Who franchise, a marker of the show’s early development and attempts to move away from pure action-adventure and into the realm of social commentary.  The results are mixed, but no less important for the trying. 


-   Scott Pyle


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