Doctor Who: The Perfect Prisoners Review

DW The Perfect Prisoners

If you thought “The False Guardian / Time’s Assassin” was Daleks’ Master Plan-y, then you haven’t seen anything yet! Yes, the four part, two hour story “The Perfect Prisoners” goes even more all-in with its sequel to the 12-part Hartnell TV classic, including either the return of or the son of every delegate remaining from the original story, plus more! Is is worth a listen on its own, or is it just hanging on its sequel-ness? Let’s take a look!


The Doctor, Ann and K9 are hot on the trail of the Syndicate, and straight into trouble.

After contending with killer robots and dangerous aliens, the clues lead straight to a machine that can literally make your dreams come true. A device that in the wrong hands could lead to misery for billions.

But who’s the real villain here? And what exactly is their master plan?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor is in the middle of foiling the plans of another member of the mysterious syndicate… the only problem is, he can’t remember how he got there…

Ann Kelso (Jane Slavin) – Ann is hiding a big secret, such a big secret that she’s unaware of it herself, most of the time… It’s only natural though, that someone with the last name Kingdom would be involved in taking down the Syndicate…

K9 (John Leeson) – K9 is The Doctor’s faithful robot dog, and maybe the only actually faithful companion he has at the moment…

Jodor Colwyn (Simon Bubb) – Jodor works for the Space Security Service, and reports to Zaal. He soon gets a big lead on the Syndicate, not knowing how truly a big effect it will have on his life.

Zaal (Ronan Vibert) – Zaal is the leader of the Space Security Service and was formally a cyber-brain powered guard of Mavic Chen. Secretly, he is so much more…

Malpha (Christopher Naylor) – Malpha survived his ordeal as a member of the Galactic Council that had sided with the Daleks, and helped in their defeat. The man with a head like cracked pavement still didn’t turn down a second chance of power with the Syndicate, though…

Trantis (Timothy Speyer) – The son of the original Trantis, this Trantis is all-in with the Syndicate’s plan to take over the galaxy, though he soon realises that might just make his next on someone’s hit list…

Celation (Francesca Hunt) – The Celation Nebula is a living entity floating in space that’s able to take a form that resembles a human if it needs to interact with them, like it did during the Dalek-led Galactic Council, and now with the Syndicate.

Sentreal (Christopher Naylor) – Sentreal is the odd, half-Christmas Tree, half-chess piece creature that was formally in on the Daleks’ Master Plan, and is now part of the Syndicate, though it seems to be more of an enforcer that a full on member…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Perfect Prisoners P1

As much a people always made fun of it, I always liked Sentreal’s design…

The Perfect Prisoners is a fun, quite epic journey for the Fourth Doctor, with the big news, and this is where the spoiler warning can’t be stressed enough, that Ann is actually Anya Kingdom, and instead of being a Time Agent she’s actually a member of the Galactic Security Service, the head of whom is the mastermind behind the Syndicate… and a former guard of Mavic Chen himself. So, yeah, I’ll get to the over-use of Master Plan stuff in The Bad, but the story doesn’t suffer much for it.

The “big bad” of the story is your old smooth talking politician type named Zaal, though with cybernetic powers that has managed to implant a chip into the minds of the citizens of the galaxy he secretly resides over and subtly (or massively) altered their perception of things, meaning they’re the “Perfect Prisoners”, in that they don’t know they’re in prison, so to speak. This is also how Anya Kingdom played the role of Ann Kelso so well, she legitimately thought she was Ann during those times. For the record, it was a good performance from Jane Slavin. As Anya, hearing her kill each member of the galactic delegates is quite shocking, or funny, or both, depending on the delegate. By the end you know that she’d been manipulated too, but that doesn’t mean she was an angel…

Now, the ending was predictable, as soon as The Doctor mentioned altering people’s perceptions at the same time K9 was invading the network, I kind of put two and two together, and shortly after K9 is “destroyed” and Jodor Colwyn the make-shift companion died I knew this was all Anya’s altered perception. Still, it was a satisfying end, hearing Zaal under the false idea that he’d killed The Doctor proudly proclaim his victory as the actual Doctor watched on in amusement.

The base explodes, the evil mastermind goes down with it, and The Doctor tells Anya that he doesn’t want her to travel with him because he “really liked Ann” and that Anya would just remind him of who he lost. Very poignant from the normally funny and laidback Fourth Doctor. The story saw everyone go from one big location to another, with lots of interesting ideas in between. Celation the living Nebula was interesting, here taking on the form of a female just for the hell of it. They travel into her Nebula… well, into her, I guess, and Anya explodes the they’re on ship and irradiates her… it’s a shame to see her/it die, really, it was unique if nothing else. Speaking of unique, it was also a shame to hear Sentreal die as well, but only because I’ve always loved his really weird design! He attacks Anya and The Doctor by rotating his body like a stack of buzzsaws, which my mind had a great time envisioning!

Jodor Colwyn was a simple “trying to do good in a corrupt department” law enforcer type, and was handy when Ann turned baddie as it meant The Doctor still had a companion of sorts. The rest of the cast was fine, but most of the other delegates were pretty standard mustache-twirlers, with the exception of Malpha, who was more laidback and knew full well what the reality of the situation was.

Overall, it was fun story, with lots of twists and location changes…

The Bad:

DW The Perfect Prisoners P2

Part Two, with mostly the uninteresting delegates…

That being said, as already mentioned, it was a bit too continuity heavy. I said during the last two parter that Ann secretly being a Time Agent was at least a bit of continuity from somewhere other than Daleks’ Master Plan, but then she turns out to be a member of the Kingdom family and a Galactic Security Service agent instead!

There were several delegates who didn’t last very long that made me think they didn’t need to be brought back, but the story was going for “bring back all the delegates” so some just had brief scenes. Again, just seemed like continuity of the sake of it, rather than because the story called for it…

The Continuity:

Well, it goes without saying that this ties heavily into both First Doctor TV classic “The Daleks’ Master Plan” and the story from two stories ago, “The False Guardian / Time’s Assassin”.

Beyond that there isn’t really anything, which again goes to show how heavily it’s tied to the mostly missing 60s serial…

Overall Thoughts:

The Perfect Prisoners isn’t … perfect, but it is a really fun ride that doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get boring. Some scenes I couldn’t help but think could have been exorcised because they were there just for the sake of “bringing it all back”, but it doesn’t hurt it overall. A good time, and ties the 8th Series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures up nicely.

4 Star Listen

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