Doctor Who: Point of Entry Review

I remember when this came out it split opinion, some saying it was great, others saying it was too long winded and boring. I fell more towards the latter back then, so going into this second listen ten odd years later I was hoping to have my old opinion reversed and that maybe I just wasn’t in a mood for a slow burning historical-set adventure when I first listened to it. So which side did I fall on this time?! Let’s find out as we jump back into proposed Season 23 storylines territory with Point of Entry.

Synopsis:

The 16th Century. Playwright Kit Marlowe is attempting to write Doctor Faustus when a darkness descends on his life, in the cadaverous form of a Spaniard called Velez. The monstrosity is in search of a stone blade that was brought from South America…

After a near-disastrous collision with an asteroid in space, the TARDIS makes an emergency landing in Elizabethan England.

These two events are connected. The Omnim are ready. And the point of entry approaches…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Hey look at that! Someone actually got a full-sized version of the CD insert! It’s a good one, too.

The first half of this story has an awful lot in common with Talons of Weng-Chiang: a disfigured person is sucking the lifeforce from people in the past while desperately searching for a powerful object with a mistreated young follower on for the journey. Replace Chinese stuff with Spanish and the Victorian era with the Elizabethan and there you go. As the story progresses however it does change quite significantly as instead of a time cabinet it’s an old Aztec sacrificial knife that was made out of an alien meteorite but broke in two with the blade and the hilt being seperated, with the Spaniard in question, Velez (Luis Soto), only having the hilt. It’s keeping him alive long after his death via killing people with a false blade so he can unite the two halves which will create the “Point of Entry” for a race called the Omnim to invade Earth. So, quite different in the second half, but it does spend an hour before revealing most of this stuff.

Velez makes for a decent villain, dying several times only to be brought back more skeletal each time, the alien dagger keeping him going for its own purpose. As for The Doctor and Peri? Well, they arrive because the asteroid containing the Omnim hits the TARDIS off course and down to Earth where their Point of Entry is, presumably thinking it would help matters. Instead the duo end up getting involved with playwright and spy Kit Marlowe (Matt Addis) who is currently allowing Velez to use the Omnim tech to show him the wonders of the past and horrors of the present in order to inspire his writing. He is … good friends with a man named Tom (Tam Williams) who as it turns out is a spy also, but one that’s been hired to spy on the Kit after he started going AWOL. This is how The Doctor and Peri end up meeting the tortured Spanish national in several locations throughout the first half of the story, they meet up and befriend the spy double act. One of the Omnim relics is a mirror that allows a person to visit the astral plain, which is an interesting concept for the Doctor Who story, and one I’m sure would’ve looked pretty naff on mid-80s BBC TV! The second half also includes a scene where Peri has to pretend to be the Queen, which is legitimately funny in several places, especially when she “knights” a random sailor, much to the Doctor’s horror.

I have to say up until the last 10 minutes it’s a really enjoyable story, with Velez being a good villain and Kit Marlowe being an interesting, multi-layered character to mix in with the regular cast. I can understand if I wasn’t paying full attention back when it came out that I might have found it very talky, but as of this second time through I felt it kept the pace quite well, though the first half isn’t perfect…

The Bad:

This Lost Stories run certainly had a lot of skeletal guys in it…

The main bad is the ending. After all the hype and big plot reveals the Omnim seemingly grow Velez to a large monster-sized thing and then it’s stopped Symbiote Suit style by ringing church bells hurting it through vibration. So giant transformation and sound vibration solution was a rather flat end to an interesting story.

I’ll also mention that Part 1 was full of scenes that didn’t really go anywhere, you can tell that the script was due a few revisions to take it down to two 45 minute episodes, rather than the two hourish ones we got. I think if that was done it would’ve been a great story, though the make up for Velez and the scenes in the Astral Plain would almost certainly not have been as effective as the mental images in my head…

The Continuity:

Oh wait, it wasn’t the FULL CD insert. Ah well, still good to have it…

Not a lot, actually. Not without naming every time The Doctor has visited Elizabethan England, and I ain’t doing the research for that!

I did mention the early half of the plot feeling similar to the Fourth Doctor classic “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, even if the story soon deviated from it. That’s it really, though…

Overall Thoughts:

Point of Entry is a really entertaining two hours, though it does suffer from pacing issues early on and a rather flat ending. More good than bad overall though, with some fun and memorable characters and some funny moments mixed with a little bit of drama. It could’ve been a good TV serial, certainly would’ve been better for Season 23 than Mission to Magnus or The Hollows of Time anyway, not that that’s saying much…

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