Doctor Who Reviews: The Visitation


The Visi­ta­tion is still in Peter Davison’s first season as the Fifth Doctor, but by this point the new status quo is firmly estab­lished.  This is a point in Doctor Who history when not only was I a regu­lar watcher, but at around 10 years old, I actu­ally still retain some memo­ries of that orig­i­nal view­ing.

I actu­ally haven’t seen The Visi­ta­tion since it orig­i­nally aired and some scenes imme­di­ately jumped out at me. I retained a fond­ness for reluc­tant high­way­man and verbose thes­pian Richard Mace and Michael Robbins portrayal of the char­ac­ter remains one of my favorite things about this story.

What I had not remem­bered was how much time this partic­u­lar TARDIS crew spent squab­bling with each other. Boy was that tedious.

In terms of story this is a pretty basic Doctor Who setup. The Doctor and co stum­ble upon an alien inva­sion (this time in England during the Black Death) and contrive to stop it. I was struck through­out though at how hapless Davison’s Doctor often seemed to be. Very much a victim of circum­stances rather than driver of them. He was also strangely petu­lant and while let’s face it no one actu­ally likes Adric seemed to be outright mean to him on more than one occa­sion.

imagesThere wasn’t a lot of tension in this story unfor­tu­nately, not least because the suppos­edly unstop­pable android consis­tently failed to hit anything it was aiming at. But the design work here was great. The android for exam­ple was not only distinc­tive but effec­tively repre­sented what we are told about Terrilep­til culture.

Even better though is the design of the Terrileptil’s them­selves. Unfor­tu­nately due to the limi­ta­tions of the actual taping of the show they are very obvi­ously men in suits, but purely in terms of design the reptile/fish hybri look is bril­liant. And the anima­tronic elements of the mask make them more convinc­ing than some of what came before.

The other event of note is of course the destruc­tion of the sonic screw­driver. This was the last appear­ance of that device in clas­sic Who and it didn’t reap­pear until the 1996 tele­vi­sion movie. Given how it is used almost as a magic wand in modern Who, I do find it ironic that it was removed from the show because it was felt at the time that it was being used too much as an easy solu­tion to all the Doctor’s prob­lems.

I like the sonic screw­driver… but I kind of wish it was destroyed again.

Outside of that though the episode seems resolutely aver­age. There’ noth­ing terri­ble here but also noth­ing you haven’t seen before in Doctor Who many many times.


About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?