The Edge of DestructionBookmark and Share

Saturday, 19 March 2005 - Reviewed by Karl Roemer

The third story of Doctor Who ever made, the Edge of Destruction is one of the most bizarre and surreal stories produced during the Hartnell era, and pales into insignificance compared to the adventures surrounding it (The Daleks and Marco Polo), however one should be more forgiving of it’s shortcomings, considering that it was made with virtually no budget and was an rushed script by season one story editor David Whitaker. It also delves into the fear and mistrust emanating between the alien Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, and the human school teachers Ian and Barbara, and as such it does add some much needed character development and exposition, as well as proving that the Doctor is an hero with faults, and that he is not always right.

Having said that, the plot for Edge of Destruction is shallow and superfluous and features some incredibly poor acting from the cast (main offender being Carole Ann Ford as Susan). 

There are still many things from the plot to me, that doesn't make sense to me, such as the short term memory loss that occurs at the start of the serial, to why an intelligent rational person such as the Doctor could honestly accuse Ian and Barbara of sabotaging the TARDIS without any real tangible shred of evidence ?

It could be argued that the only villain in this serial is the Doctor, he is extremely rude and arrogant to his travelling companions on Earth (in a similar vein to the 6th Doctor to Peri in Twin Dilemma), at one point threatening to eject them out from the TARDIS, and drugging them with sleeping tablets. Susan has some incredibly inexplicable moments, such as the infamous scene with the scissors in episode one. And Ian, normally such an stoic and reliable figure, is prone fits of irrationality. About the only character who remains consistent is Barbara, except for that scene with the melting clock (which again isn't satisfactorily explained) which causes her to go into uncharacteristic hysterics)

The main reason this story fails, is because of the ludicrous explanation at the conclusion, the fast return switch being stuck, is an cop out, and frankly still doesn't explain why the characters (and the TARDIS for that matter) have acted so indifferently throughout this short saga. It would have been a far better resolution to this story if there was indeed an invisible alien presence in the TARDIS, and that the four crew members worked together to flush the entity out of the TARDIS. 

The story only serves to alienate the audience away from the main hero (the Doctor) whose brusque and unfair treatment of his companions is unsettling, although it is perhaps redeemed in the ending, where it’s nice to see the likeable Ian Chesterton being so forgiving of the old time traveler, for all his eccentric ways, and showing the depth of Barbara’s hurt and anger at the Doctor’s earlier behavior was well displayed by Jacqueline Hill, and it is a nice moment when the Doctor finally manages to mumble his way uncomfortably to an apology, and the coldness of Barbara melting in the light of the Doctor’s sincerity. 

At the end of the day though, this serial can only be adjudged as the only real weak link in an otherwise excellent debut season of Doctor Who.

Regrettably, the biggest highlight of Edge of Destruction, comes at the end of the serial with the sole surviving footage of Marco Polo as the cliff hangar to Roof of the World.





Mawdryn UndeadBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2005 - Reviewed by David Osbiston

Having re-watched this recently after a couple of years, it is a cracking way to introduce Turlough, bring back the Brigadier and encompass all the plots/ subplots in a good story.

Although the story has some weaknesses including the bizarre costumes for Mawdryn and the gang plus all the time line nonsense, which mucks up continuity, the pluses outweigh the negatives. 

Turlough is extremely well acted by Mark Strickson and is a shame that the potential in this story isn’t really enlarged upon until his final story. Peter Davison too excels as the Doctor with breathless enthusiasm – especially in parts three and four where he is willing to give up his remaining lives to save his friends. 

Although Nyssa and Tegan are bound by the TARDIS, they are effective in their roles and helpful as a plot device in the Doctor’s decision to help Mawdryn. 

And then there is Nicholas Courtney who is brilliant as the Brigadier and nice to see him mellowing as a schoolteacher and not as the baffoon he did during the later Pertwee stories. 

Peter Grimwade does write a very complicated story, which is very different to most of the stories surrounding it. It is a million times better than his last story (Time-Flight). However you do just think the Black Guardian is pure evil and can kill and destroy if he wants. So why doesn’t he just kill the Doctor himself? 

This is on the other hand a minor detail and does not really deter from a really good story, which is sometimes a forgotten gem in Davison’s era. 8/10





Warriors of the DeepBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2005 - Reviewed by Alex Boyd

It’s rare in Doctor Who for one of the Doctor’s companions to get the best line. But it’s Turlough in Warriors of the Deep that has a throwaway line that is actually one of the few outstanding ones, asking what it is that makes humans think “a futile gesture is a noble one.” I think this line sums up a worthy effort in the history of the program, even if it is a set of episodes some fans just can’t stand. 

Fans tend to hammer on about how the Silurians or Sea Devils looked wrong or walked too slowly (doesn’t that add menace, to be slow but unstoppable?). And they tend to complain that darker sets would have worked better, and hidden some of the flaws in the design, like a giant foam horse called the Myrka we’re all supposed to be afraid of because it can electrify you on contact. I can really only agree with the second part, that a story about a sea base invasion should have had darker, more claustrophobic sets. But you’d think Doctor Who fans would be used to imperfect sets by now. And while fans, ironically enough, allow mild inconsistencies to ruin their enjoyment of the show, it has to be remembered that most people don’t care. 

Here’s the biggest flaw as I see it: there are too few sympathetic characters. I don’t know what it was about the fifth, and in many ways most civil Doctor, but somehow he was increasingly dropped in situations where he and companions were the only people around that didn’t have closed minds and hostile attitudes. In a story that’s going to leave the viewer with a huge body count, and the Doctor left standing to say “There should have been another way,” (the second best line), the viewer needs a reason why the human race or the invaders should have been saved. The Doctor pays lip service to the idea that the Silurians are an ancient and noble race, but we only see them plodding through corridors killing everything in sight. And among the humans, there are a couple of sympathetic characters (mostly Maddox) but we can’t be said to really get to know them. Writers do this time and time again: introduce characters and fail to give them a single really human idiosyncrasy or memorable characteristic (something that isn’t cliché), then expect viewers to care when they’re killed. We feel for Maddox, as someone young and forced to perform horrible things, but he’s relegated to a mostly passive role. Vorshak the base commander does little more than act dense, threaten the Doctor, and finally die. And since he’s the example of a human from this era we see most often, I think it’s arguable that if he’d been better written, or performed by an outstanding actor rather than a wooden one, it would have gone a long way to save this story. We’d have had a reason to care if the earth goes boom. Even the Silurians spend the entire story reaching the bridge, then just swagger around and absolutely refuse to change their minds about provoking war. 

As the Doctor, Davison is absolute class, he’s like someone desperately trying to bail out a rowboat. After the death of Adric he’s willing to literally pounce on anyone about to go after his companions, and starts a scrap with some guards at the end of episode one. But everyone else seems to have decided they’re in a crap story. Even Janet Fielding as Tegan delivers a line to the Doctor about how billions could die as though she’s mildly annoyed. It’s a shame, because I don’t think every Doctor Who story tackled something like this, and perhaps it’s because fans can see the heights the story aspired to that they’re so frustrated and attack it with such venom. I love the idea of the Silurians employing the Myrka, a giant plodding organic creature, as their main weapon. And the idea they need send nothing more than the equivalent of a horse to wipe out most of the human population does suggest that they have fairly amazing powers we’ve not seen, and add to the tragedy of it all. Yes, I think it’s simultaneously a flawed production and a flawed script, but it’s still worthy Doctor Who. Finally, I think this story is an excellent candidate for a special edition on DVD, with perhaps darker corridors, and a Myrka that has an unearthly glow and throws off the occasional bolt of electricity, not just a bright flash when it sends people to the other side. I write this quietly and desperately knowing that I shouldn’t care about such things, but I do.





Warriors of the DeepBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2005 - Reviewed by John Hoyle

In an attempt to vent some frustration, (I’m feeling slightly down at the moment) I come to review the utter, utter crap that Warriors of the Deep is.

I say utter, the script is actually adequate. That is that the ideas and plot are adequate. The dialogue is shite. It could have been the next Earthshock. At least if it had a semblance of the atmosphere conveyed by Earthshock it might become somewhere near tolerable.

The problem is that in every way Warriors of the Deep appears on screen, it fails. The re-dressed Silurians and Sea Devils look truly, truly dreadful. The Sea Devils have been hibernating for many years but it looks like they’ve slept badly and awoke with pains in their necks. Why the f*** else would they walk around with their cheeks touching their shoulders? I don’t want to mention the Silurians’ voices but feel obliged to point out their particular crappness too.

The acting is terrible. In every way. The regulars put in admirable performances but their jokes fall flat. “What have you been eating?” Oh tee hee, my aching sides! Davison in particular acts his heart out but with crap lines can you be anything other than crap? Mark Strickson does the best with his script but it’s a shame Turlough has suddenly become a heroic, gun-toking Prince Charming as opposed to the unlovable coward he usually is. Tegan is as Tegan as ever. Enough said.

All the guest cast make me fume. Ginger tosser annoys me. What a completely inept character he is. One finds it difficult to feel sorry for this young idiot, when really we should be. Ingrid Pitt is equally diabolical. She exudes little to no menace whatsoever and her kung-fu with the Myrka is perhaps the definition of unforgivable.

Ah, yes, the Myrka. Well a pantomime horse was always destined to fail but did it have to fail so acceptingly awfully? Could no-one have said “Guys, shall we turn the lights down?” No. Obviously not. In fact, everyone involved in the production decide “Let’s paint all the walls bright white and shower the sets with light before letting an unconvincing rubber pantomime horse stagger about like a drunkard and ask our audience to take it seriously.” Well, in the words of Blackadder there was only one thing wrong with their plan…it was bollocks.

I want to stop writing this. I really want to. The story isn’t even ‘so bad it’s good.’ It’s beyond that. It’s dire, dire television and god-awful Doctor Who. To think that this was a season-opener too! Jeese-Louise! My heart bleeds!

I can see why Eric Saward commissioned it. On paper one can imagine how magnificent it could have looked, but the end result…

Too awful to even waste another word on …





Remembrance of the DaleksBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2005 - Reviewed by John Anderson

"That would be... another Dalek?" asks Ace.

"Yeeeessss," mutters the Doctor darkly, his eyes darting momentarily deeper into the cellar.

The Dalek in question emerges from silently from the darkness. Spotting the intruders it screams in metallic rage.

"Stop! You are the enemy of the Daleks! You must be exterminated!"

"The stairs!" calls the Doctor, Ace ascending two at a time. The Doctor, in his haste, trips on the first step, which eats up valuable seconds.

At the top, Ace collides with the sinister Headmaster. He brings up his knee, winding her.

The door to the cellar slams shut.

The Doctor bangs on it desperately. "Ace!" he cries.

The Dalek continues its climb up the stairs, a ring of energy propelling it relentlessly upwards.

"You are the Doctor! You are the enemy of the Daleks! You will be exterminated!" it screams.

The Doctor's terrified expression fills the Dalek's crosshairs.

And then the credits roll.

I'm fairly sure that's not exactly as it happens, but it is the way I remember it.

Every fan has a moment in their life where Doctor Who stops being simply a "programme what I watch," to meaning something more. Well this was my moment. Everything that came after: BBC video collections; New Adventures; conventions; fandom can be traced back to a couple of minutes of television footage broadcast way back in October 1988. It's why I'm here, now, writing this review.

I feel intensely fortunate to have jumped aboard the good ship Doctor Who at this point in its history - just when it was about to get good again. At the time of course, I didn't know this, didn't know that my love affair was about to sink just 28 episodes later and didn't know anything about the 24 years of history. Oh, parents and grandparents would talk about Jamie or William Hartnell or hiding behind the sofa but these are things that are irrelevant when you're 8 years old and the Doctor has just blown up a Dalek with Ace's Nitro-9.

There's a reviewer on these pages, Joe Ford, and I must confess to loving his reviews. (If you're reading this Joe - hello.) He seems to retain the same boyish enthusiasm for Doctor Who that I'd like to think I do myself, but for Colin's Doctor. I'd guess this means he's but a slip older than I am 'cos let me tell all those naysayers who tiresomely bang on about Hinchcliffe or Season 5 all the time that when I was 8 and seasons 25 and 26 were on they were just fantastic.

When Ace gets all excited at watching the military fire grenades into the lean-to I was getting all excited too! Then the soldier gets shot through the air with a fizzy green skeleton effect and the Dalek gets blown up. Hell, even the barrels getting knocked over seemed the height of televisual excellence. But if the Dalek getting blown up wasn't enough, over the course of the next three episodes the explosions get bigger and bigger and bigger thanks to super-powered baseball bats, the special weapon Dalek (which was the coolest thing, like... ever) and remote stellar manipulators. (As a bloke, and I think I speak for most of us here, we like to see things get blown up on screen. I'm not sure why but I suspect it's genetic). And most importantly, to my wide-eyed 8 year old self - it all made perfect sense.

Looking back now, it still makes sense to me. I'm still a little vexed by the brouhaha that insists Remembrance, like Ghostlight, is incomprehensible without repeat viewing. If you'll allow me to digress for a moment, I'm sure I'll eventually get around to my point.

There's a story that is probably apocryphal, about a fan telling Cartmel to look at Talons and a couple of other stories that dear Tim Munro from DWB would consider 'real Doctor Who' and having some kind of Damascene conversion. It's always struck me that one of the first things any incoming script editor/producer/production designer would do is look at some past serials from different eras to gauge relative successes and failures; don't forget that there's now a nine month break between seasons so there's even less reason for Cartmel et al not to do this. What in God's name Saward was doing when he was given eighteen months to have a think is anyone's guess? (I apologise if I use any chance I get to bash season 23 but frankly it deserves it. Saward can have no excuses. I'm still gobsmacked that in the DWM interview he wasn't asked what the hell he did in that enforced sabbatical. Inventing the Trial format on the back of a fag packet it seemed!!! D'oh!!!) But anyway, Cartmel wasn't alone in doing some homework; the break has clearly done McCoy the world of good, while Andrew Morgan shoots the Daleks from the same low angles that David Maloney was using 13 years previously.

But to return to the "incomprehensible" stick that's wheeled out like some batty old relative on day release from time to time, I think that Cartmel's real change is in his approach to the narrative. He effectively junks his part one and starts his narratives from part two. So whilst in previous eras we would have seen the Doctor reprogramming the Hand of Omega or carving the chess pieces from bones in Fenric, here we're as much in the dark about the Doctor's motives as the supporting cast. Don't however think that this hasn't been done before; Williams and Read pulled the same stunt in The Invasion of Time, but that of course has Tom Baker in it so it is almost a "classic" by default. By the same token, imagine Talons where the Doctor (pre-serial) witnessed Greel's escape from the 51st Century to the 19th; the plot wouldn't change but for a couple of lines in episode 5 where Tom would reveal that he was trying to hunt Greel down from the very beginning (much like the Doctor's throwaway line to much that effect in Greatest Show). Come on people, I wouldn't have thought that the watching fan-audience needed it spelled out all the time!

I have no problem with a little bit of innovation and in Remembrance it goes a hell of a long way. I'll happily claim that this is the best serial of the 1980s UP TO THIS POINT. It's practically a Tim Burton-esque re-imagining while at the same time reaffirming the Doctor's position as an outsider. To do this it goes back to where it all started - 76 Totter's Lane. Unlike the TARDIS's last appearance there in Attack of the Cybermen, this piece of continuity does not feel gratuitous, in fact it's there because the Totter's Lane site is integral to the plot and so that Cartmel and Aaronovitch can expressly subvert our expectations of it. Same too is Gilmore's presence a nod to UNIT and the Brigadier, but this isn't the cosy Pertwee set up; the seventh Doctor does not need the army in the way that Pertwee did - by virtue of his exile - and in fact resents their presence.

He doesn't try to get to know Gilmore, appease him or even offer him any explanations (in fact, anyone looking for explanations from this Time Lord should join the end of the queue), all he does is remind him how gloriously out of his depth he is. The Doctor should count himself lucky that Professor Jensen concedes that point at the first sign of 'death ray' because Gilmore seems on the verge of having the wee man shot. This is the 'new' seventh Doctor in a nutshell, a much more dangerous and sinister figure - he doesn't sit everyone round a projector in a darkened pub to talk about "HORNS!" and generally exposit the plot because he doesn't need to. He's not trying to win them over; he just wants them out of the way and despite his best efforts the military find themselves relying on the little Time Lord more and more over the course of the serial.

I love this incarnation of the Doctor. I like having this wall built between him and the audience. The lauded café scene is the only moment in the four episodes where the Doctor actually lets his guard down, and as such seems all the more beautiful and intimate for it. And of course this paves the way for the first proactive companion since Romana. Regardless of Sophie Aldred's acting ability, the character of Ace is a breath of fresh air after six years of Adrics, Nyssas, Peris and Mels. Ace's ability to carry a subplot on her own becomes increasingly important over the next two years as focus shifts ever so slightly away from the Doctor. Don't be fooled into thinking that this incarnation of the title character becomes sidelined in his own series however; he snaps the focus back so quick you can almost feel it across your knuckles.

I love Ace. She leaps through windows. She attacks a Dalek with an atomic baseball bat. And did I mention she blows things up?

I love these Daleks. Regardless of the "cobble-wobbling" the Daleks have not looked this good since Death to the Daleks. The twenty-year-old casings that the Beeb had been re-using ad infinitum looked shabby by Destiny; by Revelation they are absolutely atrocious. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I think there's only one of the battered old casings here and it still sticks out like a sore thumb. But I can excuse the one sh*te casing 'cos in exchange we get the Special Weapons Dalek. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the budget wouldn't stretch to a floating weapons platform really because the Special Weapons Dalek is a joy. Although it begs the question - why don't all of the Daleks look so battle-scarred? For me it makes them far more "solid" and far less like pieces of moulded fibreglass. And it blows things up in a really spectacular fashion. Why aren't all explosions in Doctor Who as good as the one that demolishes the gates to Radcliffe's yard?

If you've got the impression from this overwhelming positivity that this is my favourite Doctor Who serial of all time, you're wrong - it isn't. But it is where my love affair began and as such holds a special place in my heart. Oh, and did I mention the explosions?





The Happiness PatrolBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2005 - Reviewed by John Anderson

More so than any other serial from the final two years of the programme, The Happiness Patrol can be held up as evidence by those who would either champion or deride Cartmel era Who.

On the prosecution bench we have Justin Richards and Verity Lambert who will tell you that The Happiness Patrol is so devoid of merit that fans are forced to assign political meaning to it as justification; it is evidence of Doctor Who straying too far into the realm of camp.

On the opposing bench are Cornell, Topping and Day who proclaim this to be a Doctor Who serial for and of its own generation; a joyful anarchistic satire that we should all take to our hearts.

Who's right? Well they both are really, as I'll try to illustrate.

In the case of the prosecution let me say this first and foremost, the design on this serial is a shambles. It is possible to say that the artificial sets, gaudy costumes and theatrical makeup are there to reinforce the serial's underlying message about the paucity of Helen A's ideology, but really... it's bollocks, isn't it? As a Doctor Who fan you get used to ignoring the programme's budgetary limitations, but here there's no reason for it. The Kandyman looks amazing - a pat on the back is due to Dorka Nieradzik - but for God's sake, if she can produce that costume within the design budget then why does everyone else fail so spectacularly.

Stand up John Asbridge. Doctor Who is NOT art house cinema, a genre even less popular with the general public than science fiction. There are not going to be a load of pipe smoking critics commenting on how 'Fritz Lang' the whole thing looks, or how the design ethic is sympathetic to the underlying message. Doctor Who is a piece of populist entertainment watched by a mostly passive television audience that is not going to take too kindly to a set design that wouldn't look out of place in the theatre, no matter how well intentioned it might be. I can believe that there were a LOT of people who switched on only to last as long as it took for Georgina Hale's mad be-wigged harridan to cock her red and yellow stripey gun.

Take a bow Richard Croft and poor Dorka. Before the dowdy painted backdrops of Terra Alpha stand the gaudy colours of the Happiness Patrol themselves. It's like lurching from one extreme to the other between each celluloid scene. Instead of complimenting the design they simply undermine it further, looking as they do extremely silly.

And last but not least a round of applause for Chris Clough. There's another one of those - probably - apocryphal tales about poor old Chris. Apparently he wanted to shoot it in black and white at weird angles but was vetoed by JNT. In all honesty, does anyone believe that this man has the ability to do any more than point and shoot in a by the numbers fashion? More likely, this approach would have made the final product even less watchable than what we do have.

When Verity Lambert, a woman who can justifiably speak with a lot of authority about television, stuck the knife into the McCoy era on 'The Story of Doctor Who' last Christmas, it was accompanied by a clip from The Happiness Patrol and my heart sank. It felt like an attack on Sylv and Sophie and theirs is a corner I will fight to my dying day. For the reasons outlined above, The Happiness is a very easy target - it looks silly; the people in it are dressed silly; oh look, there's Bertie Bassett, isn't he silly?

But if that's all you've got, then bring it on. Because Doctor Who fans know that deep down, 95% of the programme looks silly.

And so to the defence, or as Justin Richards might say, to read meaning into sh*te in the search for justification.

I'll leave the deep and meaningful discourse on cottaging and gay rights to far more informed commentators than myself. I'm sorry, chaps, but I was still a slip of a boy in 1988 and I have every reason to believe that any such allegory will have gone well over my head. Having read other reviews and insights I think that anything I have to add will seem trite at best so I'll concentrate on the frippery instead.

I am happy to argue that Happiness Patrol is more evidence of Doctor Who spreading its wings in a narrative sense and looking to tell more complex and involving stories, a move that is more successful the following season after this imperative filters down to the writers proper, but can be seen here, Remembrance and Greatest Show. Proof, if any were needed that the upward curve (despite a couple of blips) from the tail end of season 24 is continuing.

I call Sylvester McCoy to the stand. This was the last serial of season 25 to be recorded and it shows. 99% of the time he's on screen, he's excellent; seeking out trouble, wanting to speak to Helen A and the Kandyman almost as soon as he's identified them. It seems odd that the Doctor makes straight for the bad guys at the outset, having spent the 24 previous years seeking out the oppressed and giving them a leg up. It's more evidence of the seventh Doctor's increasingly proactive nature; next year his plan will have been set in motion before he leaves the TARDIS rather than the vague "rumours" and knockabout planning here.

And then there's the scene on the balcony with the snipers. It's the antithesis of the café scene in Remembrance; there it was the Doctor's decision to be made, here it's the snipers. Interestingly of course, we don't know the decision that the Doctor is agonising over in Remembrance - the destruction of Skaro - but he does go through with it, bringing the moral dilemma that troubled Tom Baker in Genesis to an end by wiping out his nemeses. But here he turns the tables; we have always seen the Doctor face down injustice and cruelty before, but never has he done it with such cold detachment. Sylvester is clearly furious here, and his anger proves to the snipers that they are better human beings than they thought they were. Of course, this Doctor did look Davros in the eye and end his life (or so he thought) but that's just part of this incarnation's moral ambiguity, and you know what - I like it.

As a side note, it's interesting to note that as Cartmel was realigning the Doctor's position on the psychological scale by asking what drives this character to seek out monsters and destroy them, Tim Burton was doing the same to Batman, but that's a discussion for another day.

I call Sophie Aldred. "I want to make them very, very unhappy!" Constrained by the pre watershed nature of the programme, Ace the character is incapable of expressing herself with the colourful Saxon metaphors that she needs to carry the necessary weight, but all credit to her - like Sylvester, I think this is her best performance of the season.

David John Pope, next to the stand, please. I've already covered the Kandyman from a design perspective so I'll avoid retreading the same argument here by singling out the actor behind the liquorice. The Kandyman wouldn't be half as much fun without Pope playing him like a cross between surly mass-murdering psychopath and surly teenager. Pope keeps it dead straight and is matched for every line by Harold Innocent as Gilbert M, their bickering hinting at a shared history that remains frustratingly unexplored on screen.

And finally, I call Sheila Hancock. Regardless of her thoughts on the role today, she puts in a great performance here. As much a victim of her ideology as her citizens, she's caught in an unfulfilling and loveless relationship with Harold C to the extent that the only creature she has feelings for is her pet, Fifi. The camera pan as she cries over Fifi's body is majestic and had the programme ended here it would be proof positive that the newfound maturity and confidence of season 25 were here to stay. That Doctor Who could end on an emotional climax rather than a narrative one would have realigned what the programme was capable of, but instead we get a typically trite coda. Oh, well. At least we can take heart that twelve months later, shorn of Clough's less than dynamic direction, Curse of Fenric can pull off what Happiness Patrol cannot.

So, in summing up, Happiness Patrol is a rather schizophrenic serial where the truly awful sits alongside the triumphant. Derided for being camp and tacky, what Happiness Patrol really demonstrates is that although the BBC design teams are still stuck in a inescapable nosedive, Cartmel is championing a script and narrative ethic that if not 100% successful, is still full of promise.

The learning curve continues.








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