THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "ZETA MAJOR"
AND THE TV EPISODE
Surely Tegan must
have made a mistake
when she set the
because the Doctor
intended landing on
Manussa? But upon
Manussa was once
home of the Sumaran
Empire, the Doctor
knows that their
arrival has been no
accident but has been
orchestrated by a
hostile force - a
force which is
control of Tegan’s
will - The Mara is
ASSERTING ITSELF ONCE
18th january 1983 - 26th january 1983
The series’ 20th anniversary season was conceived with the intention of looking back at the series’ past. Arc of Infinity introduced a new generation of viewers to Omega - one third of Ancient Gallifrey’s ruling triumvirate, now reduced to living as an anti-matter creature; the centrepiece trilogy brought back the Black Guardian, not to mention a certain former Brigadier; and even The King’s Demons brought with it the Master. And what ‘old foe’ did Snakedance bring back? The Mara from the just the season before!
“You mean I’m still possessed by the Mara from Deva Loka, the world of the Kinda…”
Thankfully though, Snakedance is a tremendous improvement upon the story that spawned
it – that is save for the clunky exposition dialogue (above) for the benefit of those who had forgotten the recent four-parter.
So that Arc of Infinity could benefit from better springtime weather for the extensive location shoot in Amsterdam, Snakedance went into production first. Though entirely studio-bound, the realisation of this serial does not suffer anywhere near as badly as Kinda did – I guess deserts are easier to replicate than forests! Furthermore, both Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding sport new, much more revealing costumes (which always helps a story visually), finally discarding the appalling outfits that had smothered them since their respective debuts.
Now whilst I am not over keen on Tegan’s new hairstyle for this season, I have to concede that Janet Fielding puts in a magnificent performance here. Her scenes in Kinda where
she was either possessed by the Mara or lost in her nightmarish subconscious made that story memorable, and here she again pulls off the same admirably.
However, the key differences between Snakedance and Kinda are that the supporting characters here are infinitely more interesting, and also that the main thrust of the story is
far more compelling. Stealing the story is Martin Clunes as the Federator’s son, his petulant behaviour thoroughly entertaining the viewer before his eventual, chilling descent into evil. His mother is also quite entertaining, as is the humorous Sumaran expert Ambril. The impressive manifestation of the Mara in the final episode also lends the story a little more weight than its predecessor – the stakes feel that much higher. Unfortunately though, the ending does feel a little rushed, as was often the case in Peter Davison’s day. His serials didn’t seem to conclude properly until well into the opening scenes of the next one!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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