Doctor Who: Vengeance On Varos by Philip Martin (DVD review).

January 24, 2014 | By | Reply More

After receiving a massive power loss, the Doctor (actor Colin Baker) takes the TARDIS and Peri (actress Nicola Bryant) to Varos to find a supply of Zyton-7 as it’s the only place to get it. You would think a commodity like that which is principle to time travel would have been under the protection of the Time Lords. Then again, considering the fuss over mercury in the fluid-link in earlier regenerations, the Doctor is hardly known for carrying spares.

DWVengenceOnVarosDVD

However, in the time period they arrive, Varos was a former prison planet and the mining for Zyton-7 has been monopolised by Zil (actor Nabil Shaban) from the Galatron Mining Company who has the human inhabitants over a barrel forcing the Governor (actor Martin Jarvis) to tightly ration food as he tries to unsuccessfully raise the price of the precious mineral. To find a way of making money elsewhere, he has the executions of rebels filmed and sells them off-planet. Although it isn’t called as such, they are essentially selling snuff movies, although as the example of Arak (actor Stephen Yardley) and Etta (actress Sheila Reid) shows, they don’t really believe it’s for real. I should also point out that the Governor rules by decision by the population on if his decisions aren’t like then he has to survive a molecular blasts and no one expects him to survive a fourth one.

The Doctor and Peri rescue the leader of the rebels, Jondar (actor Jason Connery) and together with his wife, Areta (actress Geraldine Alexander), they flee the military force and run a gamut of obstacles, aware that they are being filmed. When all but the Doctor is captured, he succumbs to a heated desert illusion and seemingly dead.

However, he only faked his own death to escape and a further danger of being thrown into acid to destroy his body. After that, it’s a game of capture, escape and chase, more so as Peri and Areta from being temporarily transformed into animals. How they win is for you to watch.

In many respects, ‘Vengeance On Varos’ is a deadly Orwellian-based planet, hardly surprising when it was filmed in 1984, where the suffering of the few is seen as entertainment for the masses. If anything, our current reality is catching up with it with reality shows, although death by laser beam hasn’t quite got here yet. I suspect many of you would enjoy the prospect of our leaders suffering death by progressive disintegration as a means to obey popular demand. However, as pointed out here, the decisions made are not always for the good and the Governor is more a figurehead than having the actual power his deputy has.

I did wonder if Sil’s two human guards weren’t the two guards for Aslan in the BBC ‘The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe’.

The audio commentary is split between actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nabil Shaban. Reveals are them pointing out that this was Jason Connery and Owen Teale’s first TV appearances. Sil’s peach based diet was an extreme laxative. There is much discussion about the violence and how much Mary Whitehouse attacked the programme. Likewise, how much this story mirrored the reality shows of today came up as well. Likewise, how heavy the show was for make-up and how little time the make-up artists are given on the studio floor to modify things when needed as they were pretty low in the pecking order. Something, I hadn’t realised until now that the Doctor’s trousers was mattress cover material. I can see fans, tearing up old mattresses to match it now.

The extras, in some respects, are rather light on the ground. Much of it is showing behind the scenes and deleted scenes which is insightful.

It’s quite interesting to see this story again and a rarity for that time in that it was all shot in the studio. Unlike my original watching back in the mid-1980s, I didn’t find the Doctor’s multi-colour texture coat so off-setting. Must be an age thing.

GF Willmetts

January 2014

cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Martin Jarvis, Nabil Shaban, Jason Connery, Forbes Collins, Stephen Yardley, Shelia Reid, Geraldine Alexander and Owen Teale

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Category: Doctor Who

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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