18x4. State of Decay
Writer: Terrance Dicks
Director: Peter Moffatt
Script Editor: Christopher Bidmead
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Synopsis: Still trapped in
E-Space, the Doctor and Romana discover a planet where the inhabitants
are living in medieval conditions despite the apparent presence of
advanced technology. Adric, who has stowed away in the TARDIS, becomes
part of the mix when he's caught by servants of the Three Who Rule -
former space explorers from Earth who have attained eternal life by
doing the bidding of the Great Vampire, an ancient enemy of the Time
Lords who may soon return.
Review: "State of Decay"
actually has something in common with its predecessor "Full Circle,"
despite being about as stylistically different as two serials could be.
Both serials are structured around a society that is being held back by
its rulers, with a critical juncture of its history being shaped by the
arrival of a now-inoperative spacecraft, and both give the Doctor a
chance to display his usual irreverence towards the regressive
establishment. (My favorite bit might be when Aukon asks the Doctor if
he can "feel the power" surrounding them, and the Doctor responds by
sticking his finger up in the air and matter-of-factly telling him no.)
The difference is that while "Full Circle" was clearly very much in the
mold of the new style of Season
18, "State of Decay" is more of a holdover from the
"Gothic horror" approach that was typical of the earlier era of Tom
Baker's run as the Doctor. Where the Deciders of "Full Circle" were
well-meaning but flawed, the Three Who Rule are pretty much
irredeemable fiends, more than willing to murder and to become vampires
themselves in pursuit of eternal life. They're effective villains in
context, but neither they nor the rebels who eventually take up arms
against them are especially memorable. The one element of
unpredictability, actually, is Adric in his relatively limited role -
though his apparent betrayal of Romana is a ruse, we're left wondering
at first if maybe it's for real. Still, "State of Decay" has enough
going for it in pacing, atmosphere, and solid writing of the leads to
make for a successful installment.
Rating: *** (out of four)
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