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Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos

Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos (1985)


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Sep 25, 2000

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Forced into an emergency materialisation on the planet Varos, the sixth incarnation of the Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion, Peri (Nicola Bryant), encounter a society based on the principles of it's founding penal colony.

Executions are televised, torture is applauded and even the Governor himself is under sentence of death by vote.

But when the Doctor's arrival interferes in the negotiations for the planet's mining contract, he finds that he not only has to contend with the Varosians but also with the evil plans of the slug like Sil.


This story from Colin Baker's first season was basically an allegorical tale regarding television violence and it's ironic that not only does the lead character, an often self referenced "pacifist" engage in violent acts but the series was to face a trial period a year later due to it's supposed acts of violence.

If they were basing the series' then uncertain future on the case of this story then I believe the producers were missing the point of the story.

The culture of Varos live on a diet of bread (in the form of reduced rations) and circuses (in the violence that perpetuates in the planet's society which is akin to a homicidal version of Big Brother).

The script by Philip Martin (who created the classic 1970s British television series, "Gangsters") is clever by showing this amongst the laser executions, mutation experiments, acid baths and deadly Governor's votes through the points of view of two ordinary citizens who watch the various television programmes transmitted to them.

Colin Baker is on good form in this story as the Doctor. However, this story was made early on in his all too brief tenure in the role and we still get elements of an unlikeable version of the character.

Nicola Bryant fares less well as the strong character she established in her first two stories is forced to give way to a whiny version of the character.

This story is famous for the son of 007 himself, Jason Connery, being one of the guest characters prior to him taking up his role in Robin Of Sherwood as Robert of Huntingdon.

However, he is overshadowed by two other leads in the form of Martin Jarvis as the beleagured Governor and Nabil Shaban as the wonderfully repulsive Sil.

There are better Doctor Who stories out there, but if you want to see an allegory into 1980's TV violence, give this story a try.
April 2, 2011
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