Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy) – Delta and the Bannermen

The third story of season 24 (!) sees a shift to a three episode format, written by Malcolm Krohll, Delta and the Bannermen ran from 2 to 16 November, 1987.

The Doctor and Mel (Bonnie Langford) find themselves finally getting away for a bit of a holiday travelling on the Nostalgia Tours bus, but when the revelation that one of the fellow passengers is a queen, Delta (Belinda Mayne), trying to elude the Bannermen (led by Star Wars’ General Tagge – Don Henderson) who are attempting to drive her entire species to extinction.

The Doctor and Mel, consequently, find themselves attempting to stop a genocide…

There is a dark undertone to the story, I mean we are talking about genocide, but there is a lot of fun in the episode as well, with a tour bus, flying through space, an accident with a satellite, and a lot of fun witticisms from the Doctor who is beginning to come into his character here.

At a camp site called Shangri-La in the year 1959, the action plays out. The episode delightfully embraces the fun of the 50s while strange things take place around the camp, including the bounty hunters, disguised as duck-tailed thugs, hunt down Delta, and of course, the Doctor.

The Bannermen arrive to hunt down Delta and wreak havoc on the countryside in the process but the Doctor will happily outsmart them. This is good because Delta has her hands full with a young member of her race, that is reaching maturity before the viewer’s very eyes, and must be protected from the threat of the Bannermen.

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The story, now shortened to three episodes, actually races along, barely pausing for breath, and actually ends up being pretty darned enjoyable. The Doctor (with the first appearance of the question mark umbrella) seems to be having a very good time this story, running about, making fun remarks, and actually being more proactive than he has been in previous stories. McCoy is finally settling nicely into the role.

I think Douglas Adams would have written an amazing story for McCoy’s Doctor, and it would have been something to see. There’s an Adams vibe to the series now, in a good way, as the stories are now, more rapidly paced, and the dialogue keeps up with it.

The Doctor and Mel seem quite at home in the 50s, even if they don’t quite get to take the holiday they had planned on. Course, I think he makes up for it a bit by spending some of the story racing around on a mototrbike with a sidecar.

Mostly shot on location, this episode looks great, and feels more expansive than the two previous stories, adding to its sense of fun. No matter how few the stories in the McCoy Years, maybe they’ll be really entertaining.

Next time as Season 24 comes to a close, the Doctor encounters Dragonfire.

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