Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Dominators - "Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that? "

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Dominators - Details

Season 6, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #44) | Previous - Next | Index

This sums up the experience of watching "The Dominators" as well as anything.
Image via The Nixon Tapes

I watched it beginning to end because that's what I do. If you want to say you've watched every bit of Doctor Who made for TV, you'll have to do the same. If that's not one of your goals, then don't do it.

The things you'll read over and over about this one are: it's boring, it's reactionary, the Quarks were a pathetic attempt by profit-minded writers to cash in on a successor for the Daleks after Terry Nation locked them up in the movies, the Dulcians' garb looks ridiculous, the Dominators' only slightly better. Correct on all counts. So, what else is there to say?

Sandifer: "If I sound pissed off at this story, it's because I am. It is an overt attack on the ethical foundations of Doctor Who. Not only is it an attack on the entire ethos that underlies the Doctor as a character, it's an attempt to twist and pervert the show away from what it is and towards something ugly, cruel, and just plain unpleasant. The sheer sickening stench of this story is enough to turn one off the program entirely. Especially coming off of the long turgid slog of pointless and cynical bases under siege we've seen over the last year."

Graham: "I'm very tempted to feel that everything else about the story is so bad it goes all the way round and comes out at good again. The Quarks are so ridiculous they become charming, the Dominators are so extravagantly unpleasant and stupid that they become an unwittingly great pisstake of all fascists (using the term loosely, in the manner of Rik from The Young Ones), the Dulcians are so hilariously rubbish they become endearing, the plot is so aimless and repetitious that it starts to look like a deliberate tactic to make a statement about the futility of all action. So bad it's good? It's almost so bad it's Sartre!"

Looking for a contrarian opinion? Matthew Celestis offers one: "[The Dulcians] A boring bunch of tedious pacifists. True. Which makes it fun to watch them getting slaughtered by the Dominators. Not the most edifying entertainment, but you can't say it makes viewing a dull experience."

I'd argue instead that where it's not dull, it's because Jamie and Cully seem to be having fun picking off the Quarks, and the squabbling between the two Dominators shows a species that calls themselves "Dominators" aren't happy unless they're dominating someone all the time, even if it's one of their own.

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