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Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara

William Hartnell , Patrick Troughton    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 41.36
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Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara + Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood - Special Edition (No. 100) + Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation - Special Edition (No. 98) (DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Romana quickly locates the Fourth Segment of the Key to Time while the Doctor indulges in a little fishing, but they fail to leave the planet Tara before becoming embroiled in its complex political intrigues.

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Science fiction meets swashbuckling in The Androids of Tara, the fourth serial in the "Key to Time" story arc, which comprised the whole of Doctor Who's 16th season on the BBC. And while the premise of David Fisher's script is overly familiar (it's borrowed almost whole from The Prisoner of Zenda--in fact, one of the episode's original titles was "The Androids of Zenda"), it also provides a rollicking adventure for the Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana (Mary Tamm). The search for the fourth segment of the Key to Time leads the Doctor and Romana to the planet Tara. Exhausted by this pursuit, the Doctor intends to devote his time there to fishing, but he's quickly pulled back into action when Romana is kidnapped by the evil Count Grendel (Peter Jeffreys). In his scheme to steal the throne of Tara, Grendel has kidnapped the Princess Strella--a dead ringer for Romana--and replaced her with an android. But now, with Romana in his clutches, Grendel seems a step closer to his goal unless the Doctor can stop him first. Veteran BBC director Michael Hayes and his cast deliver the well-worn story line with typical vigor and good humor, which should please fans of both the series and Baker's serials in particular. --Paul Gaita


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "Next time, I shall not be so lenient!" Dec 21 2002
Format:DVD
Don't be fooled by the lack of buzz, or by all the reviews declaring "The Androids of Tara" to be the weakest of "Doctor Who"'s Key To Time season. Granted, the DVD may be the weakest in the new six-disc box set, but the story itself is remarkably witty and something to be enjoyed again and again.
As the production notes are sure to tell the viewer several times, this story is "Doctor Who"'s homage to "The Prisoner of Zenda", following the plot twist by twist, and adding only a few modest sci-fi elements (two androids and some electric swords). As Tom Baker points out on the commentary track, visiting guest stars used "Doctor Who" as an opportunity to "do a turn" (or, as the fans say, "chew the scenery"), and this serial's guest villain Peter Jeffrey (playing the aptly-named Count Grendel of Gracht) gives a delightful performance as the scheming nobleman who doesn't kill a soul and is allowed to swim away at the end of the story, uttering the famous face-saving line above.
The DVD production is bare-bones, unusual for the high-quality "Doctor Who" line. The text commentary is notably weak, perhaps because it's not written by Martin Wiggins, who did the notes for the first three DVDs in this set. Now authored by Richard Molesworth (who did notes on a few of the earlier "Who" DVDs), the notes are basically endless lists of the supporting actors' other TV appearances -- most of which will not be familiar to the audience watching these US-release-only discs -- and the dates of location filming. It indeed adds a lot to your enjoyment of Part Three to learn that Romana's stunt double rode her horse on the 27th and 28th of July.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Are we the only three still alive?" Nov. 20 2002
Format:DVD
Probably my least favorite adventure in the Key To Time series is THE ANDROIDS OF TARA. And the main criticism that I have of it is that it commits one of the worst sins that a television program can -- it bored me. Which is a real shame because in-between the long stretches of lackluster material, there are more than a few things to enjoy. But my overwhelming impression of this (and that impression is reaffirmed with every subsequent viewing) is that there is just far too much padding and fluff in this adventure for its own good.
First of all, the story seems to jar slightly from the usual way that the Tom Baker Doctor interacts with others. Rather than being at the center and driving the action forward, the Doctor takes a passive role for the majority of the tale. He eventually does become a mover in his own right near the end, but for the most part this is a story that he influences rather than drives. ANDROIDS OF TARA is very much the story of the King, the Crown and the fight for the throne rather than having a structure more typical of the average Doctor Who adventure. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. It's interesting to see a more subdued Fourth Doctor, although occasionally I was wishing for him to take a more active stance. It just seemed odd that the Doctor would cave so easily under the threat of violence and that it was only this threat that kept him in the story. It's even more odd when one realizes that the Doctor would usually be predisposed to want to help out the Prince, Zadek and Farrah anyway. The fact that most of the plot points are borrowed from other sources is fairly obvious so perhaps this is an inadvertent holdover from an earlier draft.
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Format:VHS Tape
The Doctor is feeling lazy in Episode One and he decides to delegate to Romana, saying that "after a journey of 400 years and 12 parsecs, I'm allowed a rest of fifty years." He goes fishing, to which Romana, clearly disgusted at his childishness, tells him, "Look, I'm going to get that fourth segment and I'll be back in under an hour. You be ready to leave." Of course, things don't pan out as planned.
The medieval society of Tara is the setting for the fourth story in the Key To Time season. The Doctor and Romana get caught up in a power play between the good Prince Reynhart and the evil Count Grendel, contenders for the throne of Tara. Romana finds the fourth segment early enough, and what follows is her being mistaken for an android of Princess Strella. However, when Grendel and Lamia, the peasant android technician, realizes she is human, she becomes further enmeshed in his attempts to gain the throne.
Romana loses none of her stylishness, dressed as she is in a long purple dress with velvety front and matching hat. Despite it being listed as something everyone's wearing, nobody is seen in the outfit. Mary Tamm plays both Romana and Princess Strella.
There's clearly caste philosophy mixed in here. When Reynhart bemoans the tragedy of not being taught peasant skills, Zadek replies, true to Plato's Republic, "If we were meant to be peasants, we would have been born peasants." And Lamia tells Grendel, "I'm a peasant. I leave politics to my betters."
The late Peter Jeffrey has appeared in countless movies and TV series, notably as the headmaster in Lindsay Anderson's if... and as Inspector Trout in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
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