Wednesday, September 16, 2020

TV Review: Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol

Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol written by Graeme Curry and directed by Chris Clough

The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) travel to Terra Alpha, an Earth colony in the distant future. The planet has a domineering leader (Sheila Hancock) who wants to ensure all the citizens are happy. So they live in an oppressive society where no one is allowed to be unhappy or express any negative emotional states like disappointment. The Happiness Patrol is a corps of miniskirted women who go around capturing and/or executing the undesirables, who are known as "Killjoys." The Doctor and Ace start investigating the falsely happy society. They quickly run into the Candy Man, an executioner who seems more interested in experimenting with various sweets.

The show has a fun premise--the Doctor needs to alleviate oppression by letting the people be unhappy. The execution is not so great. The Candy Man looks very silly, as does his Candy Kitchen lair. The place should have been either an industrial kitchen or the witch's cottage from Hansel and Gretel, not a implausible mash-up of the two. The planet also has some mole-people living underground who help out the Doctor and Ace but only seem to be in the story to be helpers. They don't fit in with the society or the storyline. McCoy and Aldred are charming as always. Other minor characters are well performed but still can't quite sell the thin material they've been given. The interesting premise but the political satire is constantly shifted off stage for some very run-of-the-mill shenanigans.

Not recommended.

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