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Published on July 14th, 2010 | by James Whittington

The Dominators

Written at a time when peace and love was just about to turn into anxiety and hate, The Dominators is one of those Second Doctor adventures that not only reflects its time but is also a brilliantly constructed piece of drama. Directed by the legendary Morris Barry and famous for the new baddies known as the Quarks, this one has the three travellers (the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) really up to their eyes in bother. 

Doctor Who - The Dominators starring Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy PadburyThe Dominators – self proclaimed masters of the ten galaxies, and their robot servants, the Quarks, arrive on the planet Dulkis with evil intentions as the Doctor and his friends touch down for a peaceful holiday. Life is about to change dramatically for the pacifist Dulcians who, with no weapons on their planet, soon become enslaved to the Dominators. The Dulcian Councillors refuse to retaliate, however Cully, the rebellious son of the leader Senex, has already joined forces with the time travellers. The fight is on! The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe join a handful of determined Dulcians bent on outwitting the Quarks and struggling to escape the violent brutality of the Dominators. 

Being an adventure in 5 parts (though it was originally to have been a 6-parter) it kicked off season 6 and is one of the few “long ones” that’s actually worth its airtime, being a great adventure with some smart effects. As for the Quarks, well these shambling pieces of hardboard were never really going to capture the public’s imagination in the same way as the Daleks did. As for their voices, well these are indirectly hilarious. The script from Norman Ashby (a pseudonym for Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln who also invented the character of the Brigadier) bounces along and though far from original for science fiction in theme they manage to recreate the idea so it has some nice, surprising plot twists.

Patrick Troughton shows why in The Dominators, for many, he is the Doctor. He delivers each line with real soul and depth, drawing the viewer into the story. The rest of the regulars also play this totally straight with Frazer Hines being a particular stand out. But at times the atmosphere is spoilt by the Quarks. These really were a poor design and just come across as a bit silly. View with the mindset that they only appeared once and that there’s a great story to be seen here. 

The transfer of this adventure to DVD is nothing short of wondrous. To me this is better than broadcast standard with the outlines of figures being sharper than ever before. The soundtrack too is far more clear than any I’ve heard from the Troughton era. 

Extras

Audio Commentary – Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, Giles Block, Arthur Cox and make-up artist Sylvia James all contribute to a rather pacy gag-track that’s moderated by Toby Hadoke. Hines is his usual upbeat self and there’s streams of anecdotes flowing from all concerned. 

Doctor Who - The Dominators features the QuarksRecharge and Equalise – The cast and crew reflect on the making of this monochrome serial. There‘s quite a number of people on hand here including Radiophonic Workshop designer Brian Hodgson so its an interesting segment aimed squarely at the fanbase rather than casual viewer.  

Tomorrow’s Times: The Second Doctor – Now this is a nice compact extra, a brief look at the media coverage of the Second Doctor’s tenure. Set in the same style as such shows as What The Papers Say and Points Of View, Third Doctor era actress Caroline John, who played smart scientist Liz Shaw, delivers witty and informative selections from the newspapers of years gone by. 

Photo Gallery – A compendium of snaps from the making of this adventure. 

Coming Soon – A trailer for the forthcoming DVD release of the Cyber box set which includes The Revenge Of The Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. 

PDF Materials – Radio Times listings that can be viewed when you insert this DVD into your PC or Mac. 

Subtitle Production Notes – Always watch with these switched on! Another fine selection of text trivia that takes a sideways (and often bizarre) insight into the happenings in and around the production of The Dominators story. 

If you’re a fan of the black and white adventures then this one will already be on your list. If you’re against such releases then give it a try, you never know you just might like it, just don’t think too hard about the Quarks!

The Dominators is out now on DVD from 2entertain – with an RRP of £19.99, you can pick it up from Amazon for just £12.99!

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About the Author

James has been a Doctor Who fan for as long as he can recall. A child of the 70s and 80s, he weathered all the storms and controversies the show encountered, though he didn’t buy the “Doctor In Distress” single.




6 Responses to The Dominators

  1. Carn says:

    yeah I agree the Quarks look crappy and that serial is still a lot of fun anyways. Still just a shame so much Troughton era is missing. Still hoping for someone to find a bunch of tapes somewhere but I think if there were any they’d have been found by now :(

  2. Paul says:

    If “The Dominators” represents the general standard of the Troughton era, perhaps it is a blessing that most of it was burnt.

  3. Carn says:

    So you’ve not seen Tomb of the Cybermen or The Invasion or The War Games? All excellent stories.

  4. Paul says:

    I was talking about the “general standard” not the exceptions. I would certainly agree that “The Invasion” is a first class Doctor Who adventure. “Tomb of the Cybermen” however, is absolutely awful, and “The War Games” is at least nine episodes too long.

    Isn’t it funny that all the “good” Troughton stories have been wiped? I think it’s also rather strange that all the episodes that do remain of these missing stories are so very poor. This would suggest that either there was some kind of order passed down only to wipe the “good episodes,” or that maybe perhaps they were all bad episodes to begin with, and we’re just fooling ourselves into believing the contrary.

    I mean, let’s take “The Dominators” for a start. People complain today about the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver as a magic wand, but in this story the Doctor resolves the plot by using it to dig a half mile long perpendicular tunnel.

  5. Jez Noir says:

    Tomb Of The Cybermen is “absolutely awful”?

    Umm…… no.

  6. Carn says:

    How is Tomb ‘absolutely’ awful? It’s one of the best cybermen stories made and beats pretty much any modern era cyberman story anyways. And I’ve watched The War Games about 7 times so far and not once did I ever felt it was too long. Enjoyed every single episode immensely each time.

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