Number : Season 26, episode 4 of 4.
Which One : Last ever original series Who.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
The Master : Anthony Ainley
Karra : Lisa Bowerman
Paterson : Julian Holloway
Derek : David John
Midge : Will Barton
Stuart : Sean Oliver
Shreela : Sakuntala Ramanee
Len : Gareth Hale
Harvey : Norman Pace
Ange : Kate Eaton
Squeak : Adele Silva
Neighbour : Michelle Martin
Written By : Rona Munro
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 22 Nov – 6 Dec 1989
Length : 3 x 25 minute parts
Plot : The Doctor returns companion Ace back to her present-day home; Perivale but strange things are happening. The locals seem to be disappearing, after crossing paths with a strange black cat.
Whats good : It ended.
Whats bad : Everything is just wrong. The story, the Master, the cat people, Hale and Pace.
Review With Spoilers : Survival is the 4th episode of season 26 and was a notable episode on many fronts.
It was also the final original series episode broadcast, before the original series was finally cancelled. It featured the final appearance of the Anthony Ainley Master.
Clearly that is a huge legacy to hang on what wasn’t originally conceived as a season (and series) finale but the problem with Survival was, that it was just plain awful. If any post JNT episode of Who can best sum up how much the show had lost its way – then this is it.
A pointless return by the Ainley Master, who is stuck in a strange alternate reality with the cast of the Cats – musical, whilst being turned into a feline; himself.
It appears the only reason for bolting the Master into this, was to provide some much needed gravitas to what in effect was a pretty weak story. But it makes no sense as to why the Master was stuck here, without his Tardis. Even 80’s popular funnymen; Hale and Pace – (popping up in a bizarre unsettling cameo back in Perivale) fail to provide anything of note.
The production team adjusted the order of episodes so that this one would be last broadcast. Ghostlight was the actual last filmed episode of Who, whilst Survival; the last broadcast.
“Ah. You are all animal now. You’re so weak, your will devoured. A stronger mind will hold on itself longer, a will as strong as mine. How much longer? If I have to suffer this contamination, this humiliation, if I am to become an animal, then like an animal I will destroy you, Doctor. I will hunt you, trap you, and destroy you!” The Master
The producers should really have moved the much superior Curse Of Fenric to the final episode position, being by far – the best of season 26.
And that is the other problem with Survival, it is more of a filler episode and doesn’t really conclude the season properly. It would possibly have not been as derided as much, if it had featured mid-season.
Indeed, Survival even has an extra monologue tagged on the end by McCoy, to give extra weight to this being the last ever Who. This extra dialogue was added later, when producers realised Who wouldn’t be back for season 27.
Survival is really only worth watching for comedy value and as a bizarre and underdeserving send-off – to the previous 26 years of Who.
The title Survival is apt in more than just this episode’s content. It pretty much summed up the whole series ethos by this point, in attempting to avoid the Beeb’s axe.
And based on this turn, it really didn’t deserve to and needed a rest. Just not aslong a rest as it eventually got.
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