Monday, 17 April 2017

Big Gay Longcat and Scary Cat review Doctor Who: Paradise Towers Part Four

"I am Kroagnon, the Great Architect, and I will put an end to you and everyone in Paradise Towers!"

Part four picks up the plot from this point, which is good because it lays out the situation nice and simply. Then the Doctor gets caught by the Cleaner, oh noes!

The Doctor has form for gurning when he is being strangled, so it could be that this is entirely in character and not Sylvester McCoy overacting at all.

Exhibit A.

The Kangs help the Doctor get away from the Cleaner and they run away. Richard Briers comes out possessed by Kroagnon, with a silver face and an even sillier voice. His overacting is completely out of control.

Also his moustache looks less Hitlerian now, for some reason. Kroagnon has control of all the Cleaners and is now going to use them to wipeout all of the mannys in Paradise Towers.

Mel is in the water where the robot attacks her. What a silly manny, choosing to get wet like that! Mel shoots the robot with Pex's pewpewpew gun when Pex gets scared of the robot. The Doctor and the Kangs arrive at the roof and meet up with Mel and Pex.

The Kangs troll Pex for being scared, calling him "a cowardly cutlet" which is a much worse insult than "scaredy cat" since it does not contain the word "cat." For all that Richard Briers is doing his best to ruin this story, there are still good bits in it, such as the witty way that "taken to the Cleaners" is a Kang euphemism for being made unalive.

The Doctor sees this trolling of Pex and he recognises that, as long as all the groups of Paradise Towers are divided, trolling each other and noming each other, then Kroagnon can defeat them separately.
"That's Paradise Towers in a nutshell, I'm afraid. The Red Kangs didn't trust the Blue Kangs, and none of them trusted the Caretakers. And the Rezzies, from your account, prey on whoever they can and trust no one either. And all of them despise poor old Pex. Oh, the Great Architect must be delighted. How are we going to unite the people of Paradise Towers to defeat him?"

The "Rezzies" (residents) join them in the roof, as they understandably don't want to be nomed by Cleaners like Tilda and Tabby were. Like the Doctor, they have realised that they need help, and the Kangs agree to team up with them.

Kroagnon meets the Deputy Chief Caretaker, and the Deputy realises that it is not the Chief Caretaker any more (perhaps because his moustache is wrong) so he runs away. The Caretakers soon also arrive at the roof and team up with the Doctor, the Kangs and the Rezzies. Well that was easier than the Doctor thought it was going to be two paragraphs ago!

Kroagnon is alone in the Caretaker base, but even by himself he is still overacting. Nobody is offering any competition to him and it seems that nothing in Paradise Towers can stop him now!

The Deputy Chief Caretaker knows where explosives are kept, and the Doctor begins to formulate a plan. He wants to lure Kroagnon out from the Caretaker base, but he will have to use himself as bait - he knows Kroagnon will not be able to resist the chance to settle the acting contest once and for all:
"Well, you see, Kroagnon is undoubtedly a very clever and very proud being, and like many clever and proud beings likes to be appreciated by his equals. Now, I think if he had the chance to meet such a person, he would leave his lair to do so."
"Doctor, you're not going to go and..."
"I've no choice, Mel. I mean, in all honesty, I am the only obvious candidate."

Pex volunteers to help the Doctor so he can prove he is brave really. The Doctor 'phones Kroagnon up and trolls him over the TV screen, while the Rezzies and Kangs work together to destroy Cleaners with the Caretakers' explosives.

Pex pretends to betray the Doctor by telling Kroagnon where he is. Kroagnon suspects a trick but he goes along with Pex anyway, because by this stage he is supremely confident in his superior acting ability.

The Doctor tries to push Kroagnon into a hole in the wall, a callback to when the Doctor fell through it back in part two, but Kroagnon is too strong and his overacting too powerful for him to be pushed. Pex runs away at first but then manages to be brave and goes back to help the Doctor, knocking Kroagnon into the hole with the explosives but falling in himself as well.

Richard Briers has one last moment of overacting overkill (by this stage nobody can possibly be in any doubt that he is the winner) and then, just like that, it's all over. The story ends with peace in Paradise Towers.

Paradise Towers is a whisker away from being a good story, but in the end all the good bits that are in it are spoiled by Richard Briers playing the baddy about as wrong as he could have. In the end, nobody is left a winner by that.

The other actors are, for the most part, not outstanding, but they play their parts properly and don't let the show down. The exception to this is Howard Cooke as Pex, who is great and makes Pex a really sympathetic character. Scary Cat liked Pex a lot and, even though he is the bravest cat evar, he still managed to empathise with Pex trying to be brave when he was scared really. We were sad when Pex died but happy when, at the end, it says that PEX LIVES after all. Maybe he is a cat and has nine lives?

Paradise Towers contains a lot of good ideas in the writing. It is a satire on different kinds of mannys in the real world, such as the juvenile delinquent violent girl Kangs of the 1980s and '90s, the elderly mannys who are housebound Rezzies and may or may not be cannibals, and the bureaucracy-obsessed civil service Caretakers who do everything literally by the book. And then the plot is about what would happen to them if the mannys who do proper jobs and W-word for a living went away and left them at the mercy of their Hoovers. As you can see, this is a very clever idea for a story and not something Doctor Who had done before, so a big departure from the somewhat safe and formulaic nature of the previous story.

Paradise Towers has less obvious use for SFX than Time and the Rani, with most of its sci-fi setting being demonstrated in the sets themselves. While obviously not up to Hollywood movie standards, and unable to compete with the likes of Flash Gordon, Blade Runner, or Superman 3, they do the job they were designed for quite satisfactorily.

The most memorable aspect to Paradise Towers (in a good way, so not counting Richard Briers going way, way over the top) are the unique monsters: the Cleaners. They may not have the timeless, elegant design of the Daleks, but then they are not supposed to. These are not metaphors for the stylish and stylised Axis tanks, invading your country and exterminating your doods. They are boxy, cumbersome and noisy, and as such are scary not for what they look like but for what they can do... one moment they lie silently in the corner of the kitchen, then the next they roar into life and pursue you round and round the room, mew! And it can't be bargained with, and can't be reasoned with, and doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, evar, until you are NOMS!

Paradise Towers presents us with a terrifying world in which there are many Hoovers, clever enough to hunt in packs (several years before Jurassic Park would borrow that idea for its dinosaurs), and then shows us that the way to deal with them is to work together, all cats and doggys and bunnys and monkeys together, and then blow up the overacting Queen Hoover that lives in the basement controlling them.

At least I think that is the message of Paradise Towers.

No comments:

Post a Comment