Number : Season 26, serial 4 of 4.
Which One : Last ever broadcast – 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 episodes.
Plot : The Doctor returns companion Ace, back to her present-day home; in Perivale. However, 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 fourth and last serial of season 26 – and was a notable story; on many fronts.
It was also the final original series story broadcast, before the 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 serial of Doctor 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 – the musical, whilst being slowly turned – into a feline.
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 is stuck here, without 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 serials, 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 serial of season 26 and the ending was more poignant.
And that is the other problem with Survival, it is more of a filler story 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 Doctor Who. This extra dialogue was added later; when producers realised that 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 serial’s content. It pretty much summed-up, the whole series ethos by this point; in attempting to avoid the BBC’s axe.
And based on this turn, it really didn’t deserve to avoid axing. It is clear, that the show needed a rest. Just not – aslong a rest, as it eventually got.
Watch ‘Survival’ On Dailymotion :