Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday
BBC Video / VHS / September 2001
High concept science fiction stories were a hallmark of the Peter Davison-era Doctor Who.
“Four To Doomsday,” an early fifth Doctor adventure now available on VHS in North America is no exception, but unfortunately it lacks the thrills and “edge” the SF series is renowned for throughout most of its run.
In this four-part story, the TARDIS materializes inside a vast starship with a multiracial crew from Earth’s distant past. Downloaded into computer chips are the memories of the three billion survivors of the Urbankan race, and the Earth is to be their new home. The Urbankans are led by Monarch, a giant green frog-thing, who wants to travel back to the Big Bang to meet God, who he is convinced is himself.
There are a lot of ideas floating around in Four to Doomsday, but none of them are really addressed in any sufficient depth. Neither are the Doctor’s companions for that matter – three companions in the TARDIS is just too many.
Adric is more annoying than Wesley Crusher, Tegan spends most of the time whining or hysterical, and Nyssa, the most levelheaded of the bunch, doesn’t really get much to do at all.
It’s also clear Davison is just getting the hang of his persona as the Doctor, as are the writers. Throughout the story, he comes off as sarcastic, rather than the compassionate, thoughtful Doctor in later stories.
The Urbankans are kind of neat to look at, but Monarch doesn’t seem to be that much of a threat, and while most Who episodes end with a cliffhanger, Four to Doomsday falls short on even those standard thrills. That BBC Video is scratching at the bottom of the barrel would be an exaggeration; however, Four to Doomsday is not best of the Davison era, nor the series as a whole.