Doctor Who: Subterranea Review

DW Subterranea

The sixth series of Fourth Doctor Adventures moves forwards… by going downwards! Ha! … Never mind, Subterranea features mole-people and mole-Cybermen, so it’s not your regular story type, that’s for sure, it’s just a shame it does feel rather generic, somehow! Anyway, let’s take a bit more of a detailed looksie…

Official Synopsis:

The TARDIS is going underground. When the Doctor and Romana find themselves buried beneath the surface of an alien world, they’re soon swallowed up by a giant burrowing machine. This is where the inhabitants of this planet live – in huge, constantly moving, Drill-towns, chewing up the fuel and resources of the planet in order to survive.

But something else lurks in the earth. Something that feeds on the Drill-towns. Something that is relentless and will not stop.

The Silex are hunting.

Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor finds himself in the middle of a large mining operation, though rather than Vox Robots he has to deal with work-obsessed mole-people… and soon emotionless machines! … oh wait…

Romana (Lalla Ward) – Romana gets to angrily sigh at both The Doctor and some annoying mole-people, so that’s a nice change, at least…

Mr Maxwell Wilberforce Bell (Matthew Cottle) – The head Mole of the “Drill-town” The Doctor and Romana find themselves in. Bell takes his job very seriously, which is good given what happens if they ever slowed down…

Mrs Lucretia Bell (Abigail McKern) – Maxwell’s wife, who after a recent trip has taken a whole new outlook on life…

Miss Arabella Wagstaff (Jane Slavin) – Arabella lives off of stealing what she can from bigger Drill-towns to help her career, given her parents were killed when she was just a child. Little did she know how handy her skills would be…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Subterranea Cover

If only the story lived up to the cover!

The setting and characters are at least unique. Friendly mole-people (who sound a lot like how you’d imagine an old children’s puppet or stop-motion show about mole-people to sound) and large drill towns are certainly something that would be rather too difficult to pull off on TV, that’s for sure.

Tom Baker seemed to be having a ball with this one. There’s a great scene where he and temporary companion Arabella are in a small drill ship being chased by a Silex ship, and it’s a very fun listen.

The Bad:

While the setting is unique, the villains of the piece are not. The Silex are just Cybermen again, mole-people who have converted themselves into robots in order to survive, and now hunt down the rest of the weak flesh members of their race to convert them. It leads to a rather dull story overall, even Mr. Bell’s sacrifice to be with his wife (who was on the Silex side and become one of their leaders somehow…) fell a bit flat, because by the end I just wasn’t that invested in anything. It’s not bad, just… dull.

The Continuity:

Not really any, though when I thought about it, it did occur to me how this accidentally ties into the recently aired 12th Doctor series finale “World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls”, given he mentions how the Cybermen have had multiple origins because their story plays out on multiple different worlds…

Overall Thoughts:

The cover promised something very unique, weird and interesting, but instead we got some decent world building and a few fun scenes, but very little else. The Silex are just Cybermen, but without a very interesting plot… One of the weaker stories this FDA season, which as a whole has been better than the normal.

3 Star Listen

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