Doctor Who: The Dominators Review

“Shall we destroy? Shall we destroy?”

One of the great tragedies of Doctor Who is the loss of numerous episodes from the show’s monochrome days due to the BBC’s insane junking policy during the 1970s (cheap gits wouldn’t fork out for new tapes so they just recorded over all the old ones). Patrick Troughton certainly came off the worst. To date only six of his stories still exist in their entirety. Eleven are incomplete and four are completely lost, unlikely to ever be recovered. Season six (Troughton’s last as the Doctor) is the only Second Doctor season that remains more or less intact with only two incomplete stories. ‘The Dominators’ was the opening story of that season and by Rassillon’s beard is it dull.

I’ve seen Doctor Who at its absolute best (‘The Caves of Androzani’), its unforgivable worst (‘The Twin Dilemma’) and everything else in-between but even all that wasn’t enough to prepare me for how relentlessly dull ‘The Dominators’ is. How lacklustre crap like this can have managed to survive unscathed while so many great stories are lost in limbo is surely definitive proof that the Almighty must’ve preferred The Tomorrow People

Everything is dull. The bad guys, the Dominators, are dull. The Quarks, their robotic sidekicks and one of the last major attempts to duplicate the massive success of Dalekmania, are dull and rubbish. The spineless pacifists they’re picking on are dull not to mention annoying as they waste five episodes bickering over whether to surrender now or debate further. The costumes and the sets are drab and uninspiring while the plot moves along at the pace of a geriatric snail stuck in line at the Post Office.

One thing ‘The Dominators’ does have in its favour is the magic trio of Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury as the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, unquestionably one of the best TARDIS teams there has ever been and one of my personal favourites. By this point the Second Doctor and Jamie were an indispensable double-act, each perfectly in-synch with the other. The addition of Zoe, a smug and utterly adorable smarty pants, was just the icing on the cake.

Notes and Quotes

--This story was originally supposed to be a six-parter but was heavily rewritten by then script-editor Derrick Sherwin and reduced to five episodes.

--The Dominators possess the most epic shoulder pads in existence.

--Writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln weren’t happy with Sherwin’s rewrites, nor the BBC’s plans to merchandise the Quarks. In response they had their names taken off and the pseudonym ‘Norman Ashby’ was used instead.

--Apparently the Quarks were operated from inside by three small boys. The BBC was notorious for its use of child labour back then.  

Toba: Primitive architecture.
Rago: Every culture develops, Probationer Toba, never base an assumption on the past examine the present.

Toba: We’re meant to be obeyed! 
Jamie: Not by me you’re not.  

The Doctor: An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie.
Jamie: Eh?
The Doctor: Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?
Jamie: Oh, aye, it's eas...

Jamie: Oh, no, you're not thinking of what I think you're thinking of, are you?
The Doctor: That, I think, Jamie, depends upon what you think I am thinking!

Rating: 2/5

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