There are some nice touches of humour here and there. The scene where Sophie lifts up the Daily Mirror with an unnoticed "meteor approaches England" front page is quite funny, as is the "I've been here before." "Deja Vu?" "No, with the school." However, the feeble pun about a duck, said just minutes after someone's tried to kill them, is pretty lame. As is the Doctor's "I know I built it for you, to replace the one that was destroyed by the Daleks" exposition. McCoy's mucking about with props while "the safety of the world is at stake" annoys, as does Keff McCulloch's jarring score. It's very similar to Battlefield in that it's very militaristic, but then McCulloch's music all has one thing in common... it's all shite!
The candles being blown out by the landing Tardis is a cool touch, and the chess board sequence is genuinely creepy. It's all too flabby though, too unfocussed. The plot lacks weight, while the narrative flits between obscure irrelevance (Ace's period costume portrait) and silliness (the Queen). Sylvester's embarrassing "make a spectacle of yourself" gag is also winceful.
That's the problem with writing a review as you go along, as I did in this case. I started out saying episode one isn't that bad, when in fact it really is a stupid pile of tripe.
Richard is a silly, annoying character and a lot of the scenes - "Wot are you, social workers?" - are just stupid. And is that chameleon bit contrived or what? Sylvester's huge chunks of exposition pall, and oh God, it's really getting on my nerves now. It's not as crashingly bad as Battlefield, but it's worse than Delta and the Bannermen.
You know what used to get on my nerves about the publicity for this one? Sophie "I never used to really see it until the Pertwee years" Aldred saying how the Cybermen used to terrify her as a child. And yet they were never in a Pertwee story, the lying cow. Stop yer bullshitting love, I don't wanna hear it! And David Banks can f*** off an' all!
This is the episode where the Doctor's mystique is re-established. You remember - Lady Peinforte claims she knows something about him but we never find out what, and Sophie cheesily gives us "Who are you?"
The world's in danger, yet we still get time for comedy Americans. The climax you can see coming a mile off. You know, Sylvester really does act like a stupid arse in this one. What a rubbish episode - brash, amateurish and annoying. How many times have I said the word "annoying" now anyway? I apologise for that, it's just that whenever I thought about this episode, that's the word that kept popping into my head. It just fits the story so perfectly. And that asteroid looks like a flying turd. Funnily enough, so does the story.
While not (quite) the worst Sylvester McCoy story, this is certainly his worst three-parter. While I do like McCoy stories, this is yet another of his that make the ten worst stories of all time.