Sylvester McCoy’s final story, the close of Season 26, is the subject of this week’s review. Survival was written by Rona Munro, and aired in three parts from 22 November to 6 December, 1989.
The story marks the final appearance of Sophie Aldred as Ace, and that of Anthony Ainley as The Master.
Ace and the Doctor return to her hometown of Perivale, where a strange black cat is stalking the neighbourhood, and causing its inhabitants, and a lot of her friends are disappearing.
It seems her old companions are being seized by the Cheetah People who were shown how to get to Earth by The Master. It seems the renegade Time Lord has a plan.
I will say this, you can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous looking black cat, it’s a pretty shoddy practical effect. Although, its appearance is enough to catch the Doctor’s attention. That being said, the Cheetah people look pretty decent.
Unfortunately as he becomes obsessed with the stray cats in the neighbourhood he ignores Ace, who is trying to figure out what happened to her friends… until it happens to her.
When the Doctor, and an unlikely ally, a fitness instructor named Patterson (Julian Holloway), find themselves on the Cheetah People’s planet, they find themselves confronting the Master.
Ace, meanwhile, is intent on fighting back against the perceived Cheetah threat.
It seems the Master is stuck where he is, and he was looking for a way out before he too transforms into an animal. An effect that is also beginning to affect Ace!
There isn’t a lot to this story, sadly, but it is fun to see Ace and the Doctor together one last time. Unfortunately, even the Master isn’t given a lot to do, and the story, such at it is, actually ends too quickly.
The final confrontation of Doctor and Master in these incarnations is a bit of a let down, especially when you know what the two have done prior and will do in future incarnations.
And somehow, just like that, the original series comes to its conclusion. With no big send-off, no real goodbyes, just a story that comes to its conclusion. There you have it, I’ve journeyed through the first seven incarnations of the Doctor, and very soon, I will be going on travels in that blue box that I jave taken before, moments I’ve enjoyed and can’t wait to see again.
But before I do that, I have one more stop to make. I leave behind the regular series, and leap forward to the year 1996, and we get to see Paul McGann become the Time Lord in the made for TV Movie, which had hoped to relaunch the series for American audiences, via Fox.
Next time… Doctor Who: The Movie.