Wednesday, 25 June 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - THE LIGHTS OF SKARO (SPOILER-FREE)
"There aren't really guidebooks to Skaro. A paragraph into 'Getting there and Away' they generally come to a screaming halt."
Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield comes to a cracking conclusion as the Seventh Doctor teams up with Ace and Bernice Summerfield to take on the universe's greatest menace in this last installment which proves to be a fitting end to the great series!
Or at least that's what I would've said had it turned out that way - only it didn't! Despite my best wishes, The Lights of Skaro wasn't the smash hit I was hoping for. It was certainly far better than Random Ghosts, but still too far from being a 9 or a perfect 10. It was average. This is partly thanks to what we get in this last installment.
We finally get an explanation of what happened to Ace and why Benny needed to come find her. This aspect I feel should've been handled much sooner as opposed to padding the boxset so much. Don't drag the series out so far. Audience deserve at least some answers. Not all of them, but some! In reality, this box special could've easily functioned as a three-parter. All they needed to do was drop Good Night Sweet Ladies completely even though it was - from a narrative perspective - a beautiful story for Benny, it didn't really add much to the arc. As for Random Ghosts, I believe that story would've been an easy 7 or 8 out of 10 had they not used that silly out-of-sequence format.
I was hoping for a story with a lot more Seventh Doctor and Ace in it (finally!), but as with all the others, it's mostly just Benny. This becomes a bit of a personal hiccup for me. This series was released under the 'Doctor Who' brand name with The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield acting as the umbrella title. This means that the stories will concern Benny and her struggles. It doesn't mean that it should just be her 90% of the time. The title means that it's 'mostly' Doctor Who with a Benny 'guest star' - not Benny with a Doctor Who guest star. That's not what the label said. One of my disappointments with this series is the shameful amount of screen-time given to the Doctor who is meant to be the star of it all. Not to mention Ace. Dear god where do I start! I find her treatment in this story utterly horrible. I don't mind a series about Benny. I like Benny. No I love Benny, but I expected a 50:50 split, not a 80:10:10 divide when the top label reads Doctor Who. I will admit that this attitude would have completely vanished if this series had been released as a Bernice Summerfield boxset under the Bernice Summerfield brand name.
I credit this portion of the review to Ace for coming up with the single most brilliant and intelligent resolution (remember I can't mention the plot) in all of Doctor Who concerning the Daleks. She earns so much respect points that I actually have to steal some from the other companions just to cover the bill. Her plan is so clever, yet so simplistic that I look down on the Doctor (and the Time Lords) for not coming up with it sooner. It really shows that all those years working under the Seventh Doctor has really paid off. And then she is treated like garbage!
This story also explains what happened to Ace after parting ways with the Doctor. It's not much of a spoiler as it was given a throwaway line in UNIT: Dominion which was released in 2012. She entered the Time Lord Academy. Yet the treatment Ace receives from both the Doctor and Benny for her creativity is abhorrent! It's like she's this pup who is scolded at for not making it outside in time. From the Fifth Doctor or Eighth even, I would have expected this sort of behavior, but not from the Seventh. This plan is right up his alley. As for Benny, I lost so much respect for her character after she...oops! Almost had me there, didn't you?
Now we get to the Daleks. It's an interesting premise in that this story is set shortly after the Fourth Doctor failed to stop their creation. It was interesting hearing a much more naive and vulnerable Dalek (that's the best word I could come up with, but they're still so extremely dangerous and psycho). It really helps create this idea that this is them right at the beginning - before they laid waste to the universe.
Rating this episode: 6/10. Not perfect, but not really finale quality.