Shows - Review
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Episode: City of Death (Part 1)
Review by: Michael Hickerson
A prominent science-fiction magazine recently picked City of Death as the one story that most exemplifies what makes Doctor Who great. And while it was nice for the series to be prasied alongside such mainstream hits as Star Trek and The X-Files, it's a shame they picked City of Death as the story that really sums up what Doctor Who is all about.
To be quite honest, the honor should have gone to such classics as The Curse of Fenric, Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars, Caves of Androzani, or Tomb of the Cybermen. City of Death doesn't even hold a candle to these stories.
So, why then, do fans go ga-ga over the story?
Well, it could be the one-liners. Let's face it, the story has it's share of memorable lines and the cast delivers them with great penache. And while they are funny the first fifty or so times you see the story, they wear thin and soon fail to cover the glaring problems with the story. (I'll get to those in a minute!)
Another factor could be the excellent use of location filming. Unlike other location heavy stories such as Arc of Infinity or The Two Doctors, the Parisian setting actualy adds an interesting depth to the story.
But these strengths don't draw attention away from the overall weaknesses of the story that make it fall far short of classic status. The whole plot is simply ludicrous and strains credibility beyond measure. I understand that watching the show I must be willing to suspend disbelief at times, but the leaps Adams asks us to make are too great. Also, the whole premise of aliens interferring with human development really isn't that exciting nor interesting. In fact, there are such gaping plot holes in Adams' logic that it makes the whole plotline that much more frustrating.
I think the real reason that the fandom loves this story and why it seems to stand out is the competition around it. Let's face it, season seventeen is not the best season Doctor Who has ever produced. And I will give you that City of Death is head and shoulders above most of
the stories in that season. I think if you take City of Death and plunk it down in the middle of season 18, 13, or 14 and you'd see a different reaction. It'd be seen as the weakest story of an otherwise strong season.
So, while others may consider City of Death a classic and one of the ten greatest, I beg to differ. It's good, I'll give it that. It's just not great and certainly not worthy of the multitude of praise that has been heaped on it.
Last Updated: 10/25/2006
Other Reviews by Michael Hickerson
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