The Happiness Patrol
With Who's pseudo-reality it's difficult to key in to the avant garde nature of events on display here. The incidental music is loud and unsubtle, but Dominic Glynn's score still excels greatly. And let's thank God it's not Keff McCulloch.
There's some fannish nonsense with the Doctor referencing Invasion of the Dinosaurs and rewriting "Theta Sigma" as a "nickname", yet with the pink Tardis the story explodes the series' most iconic tenement far more irrevocably than The Mind Robber ever did.
What makes this story so strong is that it has so much to say. There's the Thatcher-baiting, obviously, but also homosexuality*, beaurocracy, unemployment, demonstrations and terrorism. It's a really good episode, actually. The two leads underplay, the dialogue is sharp and snappy, and the pace is punchy without distorting the narrative progression. The Kandyman, whom I initially hated, is a tremendously demented horror-comic villain. In fact, when a man is murdered by drowning in sweet mixture, this is probably the nearest the series ever came to being The League of Gentlemen. Shame about Fifi, which is utter plastic crap, but I was on the verge of giving this episode full marks. Also interesting is how Earl Sigma forgets he's supposed to have an American accent when he's in the Kandy Kitchen...
* This is debatable, however - certainly The DisContinuity Guide's assertion that a man is seen sporting a pink triangle is false.
Also unnoticed (by me, at any rate) before is the Doctor's promise to the Pipe People that "you'll be back in the sugar fields." So they're a racial analogy, and the Doctor seeks to return them to slavery? He also, as is often noted, restores the planet to abject misery. Decent stuff, but the Doctor explaining the moral of the story to Helen A is pure Trek. This isn't a good thing.
After Ghost Light, this is the best McCoy three-parter. It's not perfect, and could have been so much better. The idea of political satire in 80s Who was a good one, though this isn't accessible to a wide audience. Like the New Adventures, it smacks of undergraduate angst, and is in turns silly and genius.
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