The 7th series of Fourth Doctor Adventures kicks off its second half with The Shadow of London, and sadly it’s exactly as it seems by the synopsis: rather dull. It’s by no means bad, but it’s about as memorable as… that time… that thing happened. Still, let’s have a look at it anyway, if I don’t do it now I won’t remember enough to write the review later!
The TARDIS materialises in the backstreets of London in the 1940s. Whilst K9 entertains himself in the time ship’s library, the Doctor takes Leela for a walk in the streets.
But England’s capital is oddly quiet. There are no cars and very few pedestrians… whilst those people they do meet appear really quite English indeed. And all the while they are monitored by cameras feeding images into a secret control room.
Something strange is happening in the city. Traitors are running wild… and nothing and no-one are quite as they seem.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor has landed the TARDIS in 40s London, a good 50 years off of his usual destination of Victorian London at least…
Leela (Louise Jameson) – Leela is confused at having to wear period-accurate clothes, despite the fact that nine times out of ten she just wears her usual leather number regardless…
Hemmings (Darren Boyd) – Hemmings is the leader of the fake London testing ground in Nazi Germany The Doctor and Leela find themselves in (now there’s why I put the spoiler warning before the cast of characters!), but even among the false streets Hemmings seems even less real than everyone else…
Fanshaw (Timothy Speyer) – A Nazi pretending to be a good old-fashioned English policeman in the fake London.
Maddox (Catherine Bailey) – Maddox is in charge of monitoring the fake London to make sure the testing goes according to plan.
Plus a monster!
At least the cover is quite good…
I’ll admit that I thought the twist was going to be that they were in some sort of Westworld style theme park, so the reveal that it was a Nazi staging ground to train spies was at least a pleasant surprise. I mean, it didn’t help the snail’s pace of a story much, but at least I was caught off guard…
The story is just dull. The Doctor and Leela wander around a fake London all confused, chatting to either English caricatures or head supervisor Hemmings, slowly piecing together not only where they are but also a string of murders that have occurred. It turns out that this was also a Nazi lab as well as spy training ground and so some horribly “modified” human was freed and has gone around killing people, and somehow this was all really uninteresting. Then it turns out Hemmings is an English spy within these Nazis pretending to be Englishmen, that he released the creature because of the horror it was being subjected to, and he had to kill Maddox because she could figure out his secret; yet somehow this was all really uninteresting. They kill the sorry sod that was once a man, and The Doctor and Hemmings have a brief discussion of whether the latter’s killing of Maddox to keep his identity safe and therefore help the war effort was morally justified or not. It’s… fine, I guess, but it was all really… you know the rest.
Beyond the good old fashioned mentioning of Jago and Litefoot (of TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang plus 100s of audios fame) by Leela when she realised she was in London again, not much to speak about… like the story in general!
The Shadow of London is a good old-fashioned Fourth Doctor Adventure in that it was completely unmemorable. I’m sure by the time this review goes up I’d have forgotten most of the things about it. It wasn’t bad enough to remember to avoid, nor good enough to remember to put on when I want a good story. It’s… just there. It exists. It’s okay.