Monday, July 16, 2007

The Sixth Doctor: "Vengeance on Varos"

The Doctor travels to the planet Varos where political leaders are tortured to death on live TV if the public thinks they have made unwise decisions; torture generally seems to be the planet's main TV entertainment. The various torture scenes proved somewhat controversial at the time, with people not necessarily registering that the story was actually suggesting that TV violence might be a bad thing. Nowadays, though, I gather people see this as all a bit heavy handed, kind of like A Clockwork Orange without the clever dialogue. I bet the torture scene are rally lame too. Nevertheless, I remember this story fondly, but then it is over twenty years since I saw it. One plot device that seemed to work well was having a Varos family at home whose sole involvement in the story was to watch TV and occasionally vote on whether people should be tortured or not.

One thing I remember as being particularly striking about this story was the main villain, a repulsive slug-like alien called Sil. I remember being a bit uncomfortable when I registered that Sil was played by a disabled actor called Nabil Shaban. I mean, it's nice that disabled actors can get parts in popular TV programmes, but it is maybe a bit problematic if they only get to play repulsive slug-like aliens.

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