Saturday, September 15, 2012

Doctor Who-The Androids Of Tara
                        In this fourth segment of The Key To Time series the Doctor and Romana have traced the fourth segment of the key to the medieval civilization on the planet Tara. While Romana is convinced that this will result in quicker work at tracing the key than the previous voyages,the doctor just wants to go fishing. Things work opposite as planned when,upon quickly recovering the key Romana is intercepted by Count Grendall at his Castle Gracht-believing her to be an android. The doctor meanwhile is intercepted by the guardsmen of Prince Reynart,who apparently is about to become kind by marrying Princess Strella whom,as Romana soon discovers is identical in appearance to herself. So Romana is imprisoned by Grendall while he creates an android copy of Strella to kill Prince Reynart.

                   What actually happens is that Reynart's guardsmen are building an android of the imprisoned Prince Reynart to trick Grendall by having the princess wed to the android and retake the Castle Gracht. Of course Grendall's main ambition is to wed Strella himself and retake the throne once the Prince,his only competition until the arrival of the doctor,is compromised. Meanwhile Grendall's chief scientist Lamia is very interested in the composition of the key. Romana is twice captured by Grendall,in the end in order to trick the actual Prince into marrying her instead of the identical Strella. In the end it's the doctor and K-9 on a row boat the save the day. The doctor ends up in a dueling match with Grendall,wins and leaves Tara with Romana,K-9 and the key.

                    While there's many entertaining aspects to this story,including some witty banter with K-9 and Tom Baker's dueling match in the end,two story elements stand out. Though the character of Strella has little dialog,Mary Tamm does an excellent job portraying the identical characters.  This also showcases a softer side of Romana,as she admits in the end she has mixed feelings about leaving. One key element I like to this story is Lamia and the androids themselves. It's a great metaphor for anyone whose technology has progressed beyond their cultural wisdom. The people of Tara have electrical swords,androids and advanced technology. However their cultural thinking is still,by Earth standards,hundreds of years out of date. One can see this in the way the villainous Grendall uses the androids at his disposal,to manipulate others and wage war rather than for changing their society. But in the end,perhaps because of the doctors influence,there was a chance at that changing.

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