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Every day is like Survival Jun 23

It was one of the ironies of the end of the original run of Doctor Who in 1989 that the final serial should be called Survival. Watching the first couple of episodes this evening, I couldn’t help reading into it similarities with the new series that began 16 years on.

Survival has that very down-to-earth feeling that the current series pursues, trying to ground adventures in the real world. Ace returning to visit her friends in Perivale has strong parallels with Rose’s trips home. Sergeant Patterson even mentions that Ace’s mum reported her missing – just like Jackie Tyler in Aliens of London.

Superificial similarities between the Cheetah People and the Cat Nun Nurses in New Earth aside, there’s also a more refined portrayal of Anthony Ainley’s Master, who finds himself at one point in a London council flat: very Russell T. Davies, and very New Who.

Like all Doctor Who stories, it has its weaknesses, but the script is so strong that these are easily overlooked, resulting in probably the best story of Sylvester McCoy’s run. As is often noted – because it’s true – Survival is the pacifist antithesis of the “stand up and fight” message of the second Doctor Who serial (which introduced the Daleks), and as such can warm the cockles of wishy-washy liberals everywhere.

3 Responses

  1. 1
    Hywel ap Dafydd 

    “…probably the best story of Sylvester McCoy’s run.”

    Sorry Will but I have to take exception to that.

    Curse of Fenric is a far superior story (especially in it’s extended version) both in production, writing and acting. There are superb performances both from the regulars and the guests. Sophie Aldred’s performance is never better & Sylvester McCoy nails the 7th Doctor’s chilling darkness.

    The plot is equally astounding: The genius of 6th Centuary Viking Runes acting as a computer language, Cold War politics in a WWII setting, the Chess game figuratively acting as a metaphor both for the story as a whole and the style of the McCoy Doctor. And lets not forget the Heamaphores which gave me the most intense nightmares for months afterwards!

    Compare that to some very dodgy costumes, shody blue screen work on the alien planet and Anthony Ainley chewing the furniture yet again!

    No contest.

  2. 2

    Wow, pick me up on something from 4 years ago, eh? 😉

    I still love Survival but I certainly think Fenric gives it a run for its money. With Remembrance and the much under-rated Happiness Patrol, those last two years have some very strong stories.

  3. 3
    Hywel ap Dafydd 

    LOL – In my boredom I hadn’t noticed the date!

    I certainly agree with you about those two seasons acting as a blueprint for the shows revival. I remember thinking it at the time although admittedly I didn’t think Billie Piper was as good as Sophie Aldred but I suppose I have to be honest and admit that there’s some nostalgia at work there.

    I agree about the Happiness Patrol. I love that story and technically it was the first one I watched from start to finish (I have vague recollections of the Five Doctors on it’s repeat). The Doctor’s conversation with the sniper really made an impression on me at the time. Sheila Hancock is great and the Candyman is pure genius.