Doctor Who: Paradise
Towers (Story No.
Picture: B- Sound:
B- Extras: A Episodes: C+
Sylvester McCoy’s second story as Doctor Who takes
place in a futuristic high-rise that’s gone to hell in a hurry. A curious homage to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil
mixed with a dash of J.G. Ballard, Paradise Towers never
quite works. Mr. McCoy is still clearly
trying to find his way with the character, and companion Mel (Bonnie Langford)
provides uneven support as the pair get separated then try to survive the
horrors of roving gangs of color-coded women, cannibalistic senior citizens,
and marauding cleaning robots.
The core elements of a good Doctor Who episode are there, but new writer Stephen Wyatt and
director Nick Mallett never quite put those elements together into a cohesive
whole. The Caretakers, a group of
security agents who “manage” the towers sport bizarre Nazi-like uniforms, and
their leader, the Chief Caretaker (gamely played by Richard Briers) appears to
be channeling John Clease as Adolf Hitler.
Every era of Doctor
Who contains flourishes that reflect the time in which it was made, but Paradise
Towers screams 1980s.
Many sequences look a lot like the sort of videos you might have seen on
MTV in 1987. This inability by the
show’s creators to more cleanly escape the trappings of the their era hampers
the long term enjoyment of episodes from this period in the show’s
Good moments still occur in this four episode story. The robots possess a certain zany character
that makes them endearing. At one point
McCoy’s Doctor gains the confidence of one of the all-female gangs by figuring
out how to run an old soda machine. Mel
almost gets eaten by cannibals. These
moments are too fleeting, however.
Strong extras save this disc, and the featurette on the
making of this story will inform Who
enthusiasts about just what went into them, or in some cases, did not go into
them. At one point during an interview,
Mr. Wyatt confesses that he little to know planning in writing the episodes,
and in fact cranked out the last three in two weeks. It shows.
Aside from reading a bit of the aforementioned Ballard, Wyatt also
possessed little experience with science fiction.
Paradise Towers is a
disc for Doctor Who coollectors and diehard Sylvester McCoy
fans. Less focused enthusiasts should
wait for the next Tom Baker or John Pertwee disc.
- Scott Pyle