Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Doctor Who 'Frontios' Review

The Doctor and the Tardis crew land on Frontios.

The Tardis arrives on the planet Frontios is the far future, where some of the last humans are struggling for survival.  Frontios is under constant meteor bombardment and during one such attack the Tardis and its crew are dragged to the surface of the planet by massive forces of gravity. 

The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough leave the Tardis and attempt to help the colonists wounded in the previous attack.  Unfortunately another meteor shower hits and the Tardis is destroyed stranding its crew on Frontios.  The crew investigate Frontios and discover vast tunnels beneath the surface, inhabited by the Tractators, giant insects with the ability to manipulate gravity fields.

Wanting to enslave the inhabitants of Frontios and use the planet to travel across space in order to pillage and destroy other worlds the Doctor must find a way to stop the Tractators and save some of the last of humanity.
The Doctor and a Tractator in the ruins of the Tardis.
When I first saw the trailer for Frontios on one of my other Doctor Who DVD’s I was initially very intrigued the destruction of the Tardis, people being sucked bellow the surface of the earth and the phrase ‘Frontios buries it’s own dead’ that popped up a number of times made it look like it could be a very interesting story.

Instead I found Frontios to be very boring.  The plot didn’t feel like it was enough to fill the four episodes given over to it, and just felt stretched and padded.  The human characters that inhabit Frontios are constantly arguing and changing their opinions on whether to trust the Doctor or not, almost to the point of it being too ridiculously boring to care.  By the time the Doctor learns of the Tractator threat you question why he would risk his life to save any of these people.

The Tractators themselves are initially very fun to look at, but after a while you really begin to notice the limitations of the costumes created.  Whilst they do indeed look very alien and insect like their slow and ungainly movements and tiny waving arms quickly make them something of a joke.  It is a good thing that they have powers to manipulate gravity otherwise they would pose no believable threat at all.

The story also sees Turlough experiencing ‘race memory’ of the Tractators, though it comes across as very unbelievable.  He produces so much information about the Tractators that it goes beyond race memory.  It also reduces him to a near catatonic state for almost half of the story, making him do a number of things that have no real explanation or reasoning behind them, one of which causes the death of a supporting cast member.
Quite possibly the worst parting gift ever.
Despite the fact that by the end of the story the Doctor gets the Tardis back for the vast majority of the story both he and the audience are led to believe that it is lost forever.  The Doctor seems to only consider this a slight irritation.  There is little to no emotion surrounding the loss of his wonderful machine and home, something that strikes me as very out of character for the Doctor.

All in all ‘Frontios’ is set up to be an interesting story but falls short at every hurdle.  The villains are boring, the human cast inconsistent and irritating, the story stretched out way too long and the regular cast act so unlike themselves.  ‘Frontios’ is not the longest Doctor Who story I have watched, but it certainly feels like it is.  The episodes are a chore to watch that I was glad when it was over.  5/10.


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