Number : Season 19, serial 4 of 7.
Which One : Aliens start the ‘Great Fire’ of London.
Cast : The Doctor : Peter Davison
Tegan : Janet Fielding
Nyssa : Sarah Sutton
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
Richard Mace : Michael Robbins
Terileptil Leader : Michael Melia
Android : Peter Van Dissel
The Miller : James Charlton
Poacher : Neil West
Headman : Eric Dodson
Squire : John Savident
Charles : Anthony Calf
Ralph : John Baker
Elizabeth : Valerie Fyfer
Written By : Eric Saward
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 15 – 23 February 1982.
Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Doctor attempts to return Tegan to Heathrow, in the Tardis. Landing at Heathrow in the 1600s, 300 years before its construction. The local villagers are acting strange – as if under a trance, the Doctor investigates.
Whats good : Decent location period-drama piece – muddying real historical events, with alien happenings.
Whats bad : Too many companions vying for screentime. Adric, Nyssa and Tegan – are like annoying children, seeing who can shout the loudest.
Review With Spoilers : The Visitation – is a classic Doctor Who piece, which mixes a period setup; with a mysterious alien technological mystery.
In The Visitation‘s case, its the introduction of a 16th Century family, terrorised by a killer-robot from the basement – that dresses like Death (monks cowl and skull-face).
The robot is under the control of The Terileptils, a lizardy alien race; who are stuck on Earth and are attempting to kill the Earth population, with rats infected, with the plague.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is still attempting to return Tegan to Heathrow 1981 – to catch her flight. He manages to land in the right location but is 300 years, off-mark.
What transpires, is an enjoyable romp around a bunch of 16th century locations; whilst being harrassed by the local superstitious woodsmen. Who are either, under Terileptil mind-control, or frightened into submission by the Terileptil’s servant robot – in the guise of Death.
“Well, they’ve certainly let the grass grow, since I was last here [Heathrow – 300 years ago].” Tegan
The Terileptils are your usual “man in a suit” looking aliens and are not particularly memorable, as Doctor Who monsters. Other than, when one imprisons the Doctor and actually destroys the sonic screwdriver. That said, where the Terileptils really work well, is their “place” in Doctor Who’s revisionist take on Earth history.
What Who does with stories, if done right; is mix up the outcome – with real events in history and give the story a real-life grounding. Such as, the cyborg Skarasen of Terror Of The Zygons; becoming the Loch Ness Monster. In season finale, Earthshock; it was a spacefreighter crash which killed the Dinosaurs – not a meteor.
In The Visitation, experimentation on rats to release plague and the explosion of the Teriliptil’s sonic weapon. Causes the great fire of London; which cleverly plug into two of the biggest events, in British history.
A decent historical period piece, with an alien-twist and some clever groundings in real-world events.
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