There are classics, there are clunkers, there are so-so’s and then there are those stories that make no impression on you whatsoever and this is one of those. The only thing that anyone remembers this story for is Nicola Bryant’s tits. In a bikini.
But to be fair to poor old Peter Grimwade, who had the thankless task of writing yet another of JNT’s “shopping list” stories – write out Turd-oh, introduce Peritits, write out Kamelion [remember him?] and feature the sodding Master. In Lanzarote. No wonder it didn’t turn out to be any better than it did. And that’s despite the presence of Brit horror queen Barbara Shelley and that old smoothie Jason King, who are both dreadfully underused in what are really effectively just bit parts.
Once again, a bit like our previous edit, The Masque of Mandragora, we have a story that heads off down the tired old road that is “science good, faith bad” and has Timonov as the Vicar of Sarn struggling with a flock who are losing faith in the old god Logar, agitated by young hothead Amyand, or Armband as I prefer to call him. This is yet another take on the students rebelling against the elders, and how many times have we seen that. Yawn.
James Bate is pretty good as Armband but I think the story would have been a lot more interesting if they had reversed the trope and had Bate and Wyngarde swap roles. If Timonov was the young savant, rapt with hallucinogenic Book of Revelation-type visions induced by the numismaton gas, and Armband was the elder who had struggled with his faith all his life, that would have been a lot more interesting to watch. Or better still, what about having the criminally underused Barbara Shelley as Timonov instead. You should never underestimate the power of casting against type to make things more interesting than they are on the page!
If you had asked me, prior to commencing this edit, what the story was about, other than a tasty bird in a bikini, I would have struggled to tell you. Something about gas and Turd-oh’s long lost brother Malcolm. Something about Anthony Rubbish-Beard shrinking himself after a failed experiment and using Kamelion to get to the gas of eternal youth, or something like that. Sounds gripping, doesn’t it. Not.
Having watched the whole thing through, the edit was a fairly simple affair, knocked out in about three hours, starting with all the bits we need from part one as a pre-credits sequence ending with the Master’s appearance. Mwahahahaha! The only tricky bit was Turd-oh’s rescue of Peri, who presumably got a bit of cramp in her leg while swimming for the shore. And, not to be outdone by Nyssa last year, Mark Strickson gets into the “kit off” stakes by shedding his shorts while Howard shows off his guns, giving some visual interest for those in the audience who aren’t interested in Miss Bryant.
Part two required some re-ordering of the material that made it, so we can intercut between the Dr and the Master and skip Peri taking the tourist route round the island. Part three lasts almost as long in this edit as the first two put together, which is unusual as part three is normally the episode where you make more cuts than anywhere else, but there’s so much to-ing and fro-ing going on that most of it has to stay. We start part four after about half an hour and with that ep coming in at only thirteen minutes, the whole thing is over in about half the time of the original!