High Rise Horror I remember watching Sixth and Seventh Doctor serials when they were first aired, and not liking them much, especially the start of the Seventh Doctor’s reign. I haven’t seen them again until the DVD releases, and in general (Time and the Rani, Vengeance on Varos etc) I have reassessed my opinion and found lots to enjoy. This however was just as bad as I remember and time has not improved it.The set up is interesting – The Doctor and Mel try to go to the fabled Paradise Towers for a holiday. When they get there they find instead of a gleaming modern tower block, the place is a dump. The occupants, who were sealed inside, have split up into various societies and gangs, all warring with each other. It’s a fascinating set up, and a really great idea. But that’s where it ends. Having had this great idea the script writers then had to find some problem for the Doctor and Mel to resolve, and, frankly, the mystery at the heart of Paradise towers is pretty incomprehensible and pointless. It really feels shoehorned in.There are a few fun ideas – the officious `Caretakers’ and their strict adherence to the rule book, the way the caretakers are all named after regulations and the Kangs all named after wall signs, the `Rezzies’ and their strange dining habits. But there is not enough here to flesh out the series. Added to which is a misjudged performance from Richard Briers as the main bad guy, it is just too camp and silly to make him seem like a real threat. The main `monsters’, the cleaning robots, are just badly constructed and again so laughable that they give no sense of menace, which this overly humorous series badly needed. And there’s Mel. Mercifully her stay with the series was a short one, and this series shows just why she is one of the series least liked companions. It’s a shame really, as Bonnie Langford has shown how good the character could have been in her work on the Big Finish audio range. Finally there is the rather disturbing scene with the knife wielding grannies – I found this disturbing as an 11 year old, and I still do today.Sylvester McCoy is still trying to get to grips with his Doctor’s character, and generally does a good job with the material given to him. His performance is pretty much the high point of the series, his physical timing is great and leads to some genuinely humorous moments.In all an interesting set up which has no room for the Doctor, so goes nowhere. Poor monsters and villains, too much humour and Mel at her worst. Sorry, but I have long considered this to be the worst of all the classic Dr series, so can only give the story 1 star.On the upside, the DVD from 2Entertain is a great job. The usual informative production subtitles, and a host of special features which are well thought out, interesting, and have a relevance to the story. It’s quite a package. The picture and sound have been very nicely restored and presented, someone has put a lot of thought into this package. SO another star for the overall presentation, two stars in total.
High-rise nightmares Paradise Towers is one of the least popular classic Dr Who stories, however it’s far more worthy than it’s ever given credit for. It’s main problem, like an earlier story “Nightmare of Eden”, is that it has a clever and intriguing storyline with some very dark themes but these are negated severley by some pantomimish performances and poor and silly production designs. I love the concept of the Tower and it’s bizarre residents and it’s themes of cannibalistic old ladies, girl gangs, beauractically insane caretakers and murderous robots. The design work of the Tower itself is pretty good with (for once) some dark and moody lighting and a good sense of scale is achieved, you often do feel as if the characters are in an enormous tower block rather than just the usual studio set. Sylvester McCoy is vastly better here than in his debut, toning down the pratfalls and comedy schtick drastically. As I said, there are some rather hammy and pantomimish performances on display (Richard Briers, the deputy chief caretaker and some of the Rezzies) -just imagine how sinister this would be if everyone played it dead straight. The music is a little too strident at times, although on occasion it is quite moody and atmospheric.For me this story is easily the best of Sylvester McCoy’s first season, it’s clever, dark, sinister and funny, only really let down by a few “overenthusiastic” performances and a few design faults. Build high for happiness!
You must be logged in to post a comment.