Monday, 6 August 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Paradise Towers

Seven and Mel meet the Red Kangs.
Doctor Who - Season 24, Story Two - Paradise Towers
Written between 8th and 9th June

It must be said, Paradise Towers as it first appears is an odd story. But that's a bigger facade than the story would like to let on, and the truth about Season 24's second serial is that it's a very good story masquerading as a bad one. The story's initially light and fluffy style of Red Kangs and Blue Kangs gives away to a story filled with fairy-tale style scares - monsters coming to drag people away, and old ladies trying to gobble people up. While the story does feature some inopportune silliness, it ultimately contributes to what is a pleasurably dark and dangerous four episodes.
     The Doctor and Mel arrive on Paradise Towers, a constructed city complex that has fallen into disrepair. The rule-obsessed Caretakers, led by the Chief Caretaker (Richard Briers, The Good Life), send out the unintentionally murderous Cleaner robots, who have been dragging away the cannibalistic Rezzies (residents) and the tribalistic Kangs, groups of young girls seperated into primary-coloured gangs. As The Doctor and Mel delve deeper into the Towers' collapsing society, they have to bring together the groups and fight a common enemy that has been living in the Towers since they were built...
    The setting itself is perfect for what the story is trying to do - dark corridors and dingey warehouses. The lighting gets it spot on and the story has the best atmosphere I've seen in Doctor Who since Revelation. The story feels very much like the sort of hardcore dystopian fiction that seemed more commonplace in earlier eras. However, it was very much translated into a children's show, despite keeping all of those more adult themes. Paradise Towers deals with genocide, cannibalism, fear of criticism, racism and economic segregation, and yet it still manages to feel like a traditional Who format.
Creepy laaaadies.
     There are a few moments of laugh-out-loud silliness. The musical cues for the Cleaners aren't spookey at all, and last far too long - these machines, meant to strike fear into the hearts of young children, plod along to a cheery little melody. Clive Merrison's Deputy Chief Caretaker has some really strange line-reads, and later on in the story Richard Brier's possessed Chief Caretaker is absolutely hysterical. Worst of all are the Kangs - they become endearing later on, but when they're first introduced their loud, obnoxious shouting in unison is downright scary. And the scenes with the two cannibalistic Rezzies? Downright creepy.
     I had a lot of fun with Paradise Towers, both for the right reasons and the wrong. It's a beautiful mix of genuinely interesting standard Who fare and just enough crazy to keep it interesting. It's not perfect, and it's not as a hilarious as Time and the Rani, but Paradise Towers is still bloody good fun and continues my love of Season 24. The experiment continues.


NEXT WEEK: Hi de hi!We go to Butlins and meet Delta and the Bannerman.

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