Kinda
review


Holistic Review: It's not without its faults, but the Mara is such a mesmerizing villain, and the story is written so intelligently, the faults are barely noticeable.


Doctor Who has had a lot of good monsters. Many of the best and most interesting, in my opinion, involve things like repulsive animal/botanical forms (the Macra, the Weed, the Nestene, the maggots, the Wirrn, the Tractators, the Vervoids), possession and/or body horror (the Weed and the Wirrn again, the Zygons), ancient and/or noncorporeal entities with mysterious powers (the Nestene again, Mandragora, the Fendahl, the Gods of Ragnarok, Fenric) and vampirism (the Ogri, the Nimons, and of course the vampires). I'd also include the Malus, which I guess falls under "exudes evil menace". Now, the Mara manages to check every single one of these boxes except for vampirism, and maybe that's why I find it to be one of the very best monsters that Doctor Who has ever produced. I've been trying to analyze exactly why I find it so effective, and I think it boils down to this. The Mara is a malevolent being that's trying to force its way into our universe and corporealize. Once it gets a body (...yours?), it doesn't just want to go around killing people for fun. It wants to make them suffer, and it wants to use your body to do it. And it accomplishes this by isolating you and mentally torturing you until you agree, of your own free will, to let it take over your body in what appears to be a rather painful transfer. But of course there's more to the Mara than just that. There's the way it carries itself with confidence, evil radiating from every pore, and the way it laughs at people's pain, and uses your desires and your fears to manipulate you. It's not just evil, it's cruel.

The exact nature of the threat posed by the Mara is left tantalizingly unclear. (In most other reviews, I'd probably say "annoyingly", but part of the appeal of the Mara is its mystique.) One gathers that it simply wants to feed, and in order to do that, it needs to create as much fear and pain as possible. One also gets the distinct impression that the Mara doesn't "possess" people, as such... it just boosts their personality in a self-destructive direction, and uses their desires to accomplish its aims. After all, I find it very difficult to believe that the Mara's primary goal upon finding a conduit into the real world is... to destroy a scientific dome. However, I can very much believe that Aris wants to destroy the Dome and set his brother free. So what does the Mara do? Realizing that the destruction of the dome will create the chaos it so desperately needs, it enables Aris to achieve that goal, by giving him voice and making him an unquestioned leader among his people. It just so happens that Aris isn't very good at this sort of thing, and assumes that the way to destroy the Dome is by building a wooden box like the TSS to fight back.

If this theory is true, and the Mara doesn't impose its own personality but rather twists the host's personality and amplifies any negative qualities, then Tegan may have a lot to answer for. She's shown to be a bit sadistic when she frightens Aris and drops apples on his head (and her reluctance to tell the Doctor that detail does indicate that it hits close to home) and, as other reviewers have pointed out, the Mara definitely seems to unlock Tegan's sexuality, as she stretches langorously upon awakening, and sashays toward Aris with a predatory look on her face.

Given the revelations in Snakedance, I'd love to know the backstory on how the Kinda became aware of the Mara, and why exactly it is that the Mara is aware of the Kinda too. The Doctor, too, has heard legends of its existence, which I find interesting. I do wonder, though, how many of them there are? Panna implies that there's only one ("and now he has returned"), but the Doctor thinks it's a race or group of creatures ("...and somehow one of them has crossed over into this world and has taken over the mind of Aris."). And why is it that the Mara seems to have to pass from person to person here? Apparently it does leave behind a trace in Tegan's mind, but in the sequel, it's shown to possess multiple people at once, which really does make a lot more sense. The Doctor also seems to think that the Mara destroys its hosts (possibly through indirect means? at any rate, he seems to think that Aris is in mortal danger if they don't find him in time to get the Mara out of him, but possibly he's referring to the Kinda attack on the Dome).

I'm also wild about the makeup used to realize the Mara... nothing outrageous, just a subtle red-rimmed eye and red-stained teeth. It's not an effect that immediately grabs you and shakes you, but you notice it enough that it unsettles you. There's just something slightly wrong about it. The effect is sort of reminiscent of a plague victim with internal bleeding, but thanks to the acting, it doesn't suggest "victim" at all... only "evil". In my opinion, the makeup and the acting combine to make the Mara one of the best representations of evil ever in Doctor Who.

Without a doubt, Kinda is Janet Fielding's finest hour so far. Confronted with the pure evil of the Mara, Tegan is clearly terrified but she remains strong-willed, up until Dukkha makes her think that she's been trapped alone in pitch-blackness for all eternity. Her mounting hysteria is extraordinarily well-done, and I'll talk more about it below. Starting from the moment that she wakes up in the jungle, with crimson-tinged eyes and teeth, she gives a mesmerizing tour-de-force performance. Fielding is a revelation as the Mara; she pulls off sultry evil and devilish amusement so beautifully. Her gleefully wicked cackle, as the Mara revels in its new corporeal form and staggers drunkenly through the jungle, is rightfully legendary among Doctor Who fans. What's amazing — and also tragic — is that Fielding packs this memorable performance into ostensibly 6:28 of screentime, from the moment she wakes up possessed until the moment that she transfers the Mara to Aris. Actually, though, timing just her actual screentime (excluding all the cutaway scenes in the Dome), Janet Fielding's total airtime as the Mara comes to 2:08 (plus a brief glimpse of her feet as she sits in the tree), with only 1:34 in which she actually has any dialogue. To stuff so much wonderfulness into so little airtime is truly impressive, and makes me very sad that she didn't get more time to strut her stuff. (Which is where Snakedance comes in, for which we can all be deeply grateful.) But, poor thing, after this dramatic first half, she then spends the remainder of episode 3 unconscious, and just hangs around in the background during episode 4, as if her plot usefulness came to an end once she passed the Mara on to Aris. She actually seems largely unaffected by her possession, perhaps because her mind has tried to block it out? You'd think she would need a supportive listening ear, but instead of opening up to Adric, the two of them just gripe with one another while waiting to be blown to smithereens. And really, this must be a rare example of a companion not entering the plotline until a third of the way through the final episode. (Then again, this is also the story in which we have a companion who spends the duration taking a nap, so I guess it could have been worse.) Aside from the Mara, the gradually-somnolent effect of the chimes is very well portrayed; I like the way that Tegan herself seems a little disturbed by how sleepy the chimes are making her, but not enough to be able to resist. Love her performance as Tegan tries to will Dukkha away, then opens her eyes to find that she hasn't succeeded at all. The look on her face at the end, as she comes to terms with the fact that the giant snake in the circle of mirrors was very recently inside her mind, is great.

After his dizzying crash-and-burn in Four to Doomsday, Matthew Waterhouse's Adric is back on fine form here. Annoyingly, the Doctor is now treating him like a bothersome idiotic child (his sarcastic "Well done, Adric" and the way the Doctor harshly accuses him of meddling — as if he's one to talk! — when Adric simply closes the TSS door, which one might reasonably assume was the safest way to leave it). But Adric actually proves himself to be quite capable here: he manages to get on Sanders' good side rather quickly, he gets to play his little trick of pretending to convert to the other side in order to help the Doctor from the inside, he carefully manipulates Hindle with an oh-so-innocent face, he manages to steal the key to the Doctor's cell and palm it to him secretively, and you can tell he's constantly scrutinizing Hindle and trying to figure a way out of the situation. He's also showing an interest in sleight-of-hand, which seems completely true to his character. And he shows his selfless side — once he manages to escape the dome in the TSS, his first concern is to make sure someone saves the Dome from exploding, and then he expresses his deep guilt over having accidentally wounded a Kinda in the process. At the beginning of the story, Adric's impulse to run his hand along all of the windchimes at once just feels so typical (in an "any kid would do the same thing" kind of way). And he's clearly figured out the "hands up" concept since The Keeper of Traken. I like Waterhouse's delivery of "Sorry. May I?"

The fifth Doctor seems more lighthearted in this story (or perhaps "manic" would be a better term), perhaps because Peter Davison is still relatively new to the role, but it's a lot of fun watching the Doctor bounce from babbling to serious. He's delightfully friendly, and disarmingly outgoing, but when he's acting this way, it's clear that he's just trying to win people over by politely ignoring the guns that they're pointing in his face. He really does get it, as shown by his excellent line to Hindle: "Look, if we turn out to be hostile, then fair enough. Until we do, why not give us the benefit of the doubt? It's common sense, really, don't you think?" Another good example is the Doctor's glee at learning a simple magic trick while Todd is chomping at the bit to escape their captivity; it's obvious that the Doctor appreciates the gravity of their situation, but he knows equally well that there's nothing that can be done under the circumstances, so he's not going to bother fretting about it. Davison gives a lot of great deliveries including, but not limited to, the following: "There you are, Tegan. There's always something to look at, if you open your eyes.", "And yet whoever built this must have a musical sense not unlike... not entirely unlike... our own" (as he taps out "Three Blind Mice" on the windchimes), and "Could you repeat the question?" Watch out for his subtle background reaction when Panna tells Todd to stay "with the idiot", which I'd never noticed until this viewing. And, yay! He gets to pull out the half-rimmed spectacles!

Poor Sarah Sutton, it's almost not even worth mentioning her performance in this story, given that she only gets token appearances in parts one and four. She does get one nice line ("I'm all right, really — ohh...") but otherwise she's pretty much wasted, which is understandable since writing her in might have required major alterations to the storyline (but see below...). This mysterious illness that knocks her flat at the end of Four to Doomsday is really quite ridiculous, since we never get a proper explanation for it. (All I can say is, thank goodness for Primeval. The Big Finish audio, not the ITV series.) And if Nyssa's been asleep on Deva Loka for like three days, what's practically the first thing she asks upon reuniting with the Doctor? "Can we go?", of course. Golly, wouldn't you think she'd want to have a chance to look around the planet properly now that she's feeling better? What's the big rush to get someplace else?

The three residents of the Dome are beautifully characterized within a few short penstrokes. I have to say that I've never been a really big fan of either Sanders or Hindle, but looking at them from the angle of a reviewer, I find them both fascinating characters, particularly the complex Hindle. Part of me does want to ask what plot function the Dome serves, given that Sanders and Hindle spend practically the entire story locked up inside it, with Hindle burning screentime by threatening to blow things up but never actually getting around to doing it. Todd, meanwhile, tags along behind the Doctor as a great pseudo-companion who asks all the right questions, but really Nyssa could have served an almost identical purpose, given how similar the two characters are, if the producers had been able to extend Sarah Sutton's contract by two episodes. The story's really about the Kinda, and the Dome seems to serve basically no useful function whatsoever, except that it gives the Mara something to mobilize the Kinda against, and the colonial attitudes of the Dome make it a surprise when we discover that the Kinda are more than just a contented primitive society. Therefore, it's quite impressive that writer Christopher Bailey makes the Dome contingent so compelling that they never feel like filler.

Sanders, played by Richard Todd, just feels like his title ought to be Colonel. He's the very stereotype of a nineteenth-century British colonial figure, with his moustache and his pith helmet and his stiff upper lip. Sanders is a confident unilateral leader who doesn't feel it necessary to listen to anybody else's opinion or reconsider his own ("I never think twice about anything. Wastes too much time."). He's very narrow-minded, given his insistence on calling the Kinda "a bunch of ignorant savages" despite all evidence to the contrary. Sanders seems to thrive on challenge; one gets the impression that he's going stir-crazy on a planet as peaceful as Deva Loka, and his keep-fit routine could be interpreted as a determination to keep himself in tip-top shape for the moment when calamity finally occurs. Right from the start it's obvious that he's got a sense of humor, but the way he scares Hindle makes him seem rather sadistic. Of course, it soon becomes clear that this is because Sanders doesn't think at all highly of Hindle. In his eyes, Hindle is both incompetent and immature. He doesn't even listen to Hindle's requests, choosing to deride the man's uniform and hair rather than take him seriously, and he constantly belittles Hindle by calling him "boy". (This attitude toward Hindle is perhaps not unwarranted.) After his exposure to the Box of Jhana, his personality changes to easygoing and gently persuasive, as if all of his negative traits — and, indeed, all of his drive for command — have been eradicated, leaving him quite happy to ask permission, follow orders and let Hindle run the entire Dome. (It could be argued that the Box of Jhana makes him a little bit too passive, as he doesn't seem inclined to do very much to stop Hindle from blowing up the Dome and taking a chunk of Deva Loka with it. In his de-fanged state, he just panders to Hindle's mania. He does, at least, seem to recognize that Hindle must be kept happy, and he seems to be genuine in his desire to do so, which is good because I doubt Hindle would have reacted favorably to being mocked.) I love the scene at the end, in which Sanders quietly agrees not to report Hindle's bizarre behavior now that he's cured. And I like Todd's wide-eyed smiley delivery of "As you like. You know best."

Simon Rouse threatens to steal the show as Hindle, in a madman performance that's pitched just right at "creepy", without ever going over the top into "stark raving". (Were Hindle more integral to the overall plot, he might just have managed to take the top awards! Then again, he does have some pretty stiff competition in this story.) Hindle is a man of interesting contrasts. On one hand, he's a very childlike individual, prone to throwing temper tantrums and only interested in his own happiness, traits which only get more exaggerated the more unhinged he becomes. But on the other hand, he really wants to be given some responsibility, although he's clearly not ready for it. Once he gets the chance to be in charge, he turns power-drunk and starts to enforce even the most miniscule of rules with severe punishments, and he has a frightening tendency to vent his anger physically. He might even have had Adric killed, if not for Sanders' timely return. Here, his childish nature undermines him; where Sanders seems to be all about precaution and preparation, as a good leader should be, Hindle is chronically prone either to overreact or to react without thinking. To give another example of his dual nature: although he's a tyrannical overlord of a boss, as an employee he's practically meek (although "obsequious" might be a better word). He seems to look up to Sanders and wants to impress him, either because he admires the man or because he thinks Sanders can advance his career. Certainly Hindle covets a position of power, so he gladly endures the indignities that Sanders heaps upon him. He wants to be perceived as an important member of the crew and the perfect employee who does everything right. Another dichotomy is evident in the fact that, on one hand, Hindle wants obedient people around him that he can control, who will obey his every whim, and on the other hand, he seems to need someone to report to because he needs people's approval. He acts very much like a child playing at being in charge, who wants mummy and daddy to come and see what a good job he's doing, and this impression is made explicit when Sanders returns, unexpectedly shattering Hindle's fantasy of being top dog in the Dome, at which point he has a breakdown and actually does start calling for his mummy. He's clearly utterly paranoid, which might explain why he's afraid that people are going to usurp his position.

Amid all this, Hindle is also completely vain about his appearance (despite what Sanders seems to think), as if everything's okay as long as things appear to be perfect. It's possible that his tendency toward extreme control has also manifested itself in germophobia, as he sounds quite afraid of the bacteria and the plants that he thinks are invading the Dome. Eventually his unhinged personality seems to have made him crazy, too, because his paranoia soars to whole new heights, and seems to be more concerned with basic survival than with continuing their primary mission; then he decides that it's better to just eradicate the Dome to keep his imaginary enemies from winning. We never really get an explanation for Hindle's behavior, aside from a reference to his having been beaten as a child ("Never did me any harm. Made me the man I am."), so I guess we can just assume that he's got deep issues that have made him as anti-social as he is. (It's interesting that Hindle is more concerned with the cardboard people he's created for his fake city than he is about the fates of the real people living inside and around the Dome that he plans on destroying.) Once his mind has been swept clean by the Box of Jhana, he certainly seems like a much more likeable and stable person, so he and Sanders both benefited enormously from their interaction with the Kinda. Rouse really does give some awesome deliveries, including "Method of implementation: fire and acid. Acid and fire.", "The plants feed them. Don't you know that?", the childlike "Oh, go on! It isn't a game, it's real, with measuring and everything!", "I have, haven't I? My very best ever.", the justifiably-renowned "Don't be silly! You can't mend people, can you! You can't mend people!", and "I can blow up the world after, can't I?"

In contrast to the other two, Todd — played by the charming Nerys Hughes — is immediately likeable, the lone voice of reason in the Dome and the one person who actually has some cultural sensitivity. She sees the potential in the Kinda, and disagrees with the way that the survey team are treating the native people like animals. Flanked as she is by two bullheaded jerks, Todd is thankfully not afraid to stand up for herself and her beliefs and, for example, has no qualms whatsoever about asking Sanders to give her back the Kinda mask that he's been using for juvenile humor. She's also sensitive to other people's feelings, whereas Sanders and Hindle are only concerned about themselves. She demonstrates that she's quite good at handling Hindle too, the way she uses reverse psychology on him to get him to put aside his plan to destroy the Dome, and then to open the Box of Jhana. And Todd is a great foil for the Doctor, with whom she immediately has a good rapport. I love that, just like the Doctor, she also prefers to ignore the results of his coin tosses! I love Hughes' shocked reaction when Todd sees the Kinda acting under Hindle's control. Among her great deliveries: "It may surprise you to learn, Doctor, I've never actually been locked up before.", her blood-curdling "Nooooooooo!" which is entirely responsible for the tension of the episode 2 cliffhanger, and "Doctor! I think she's dead!" But what kind of "scientist" is she? Is it another catch-all term for a dabbler who can do a little bit of everything? Because it looks like she's supposed to be a biologist, but later she acts more like an anthropologist.

Mary Morris is one of those "where did they find her???" actors. She has such a striking look that she almost doesn't even look real, and she's absolutely perfect as the wise woman Panna. Her white hair, lined face and large eyes... quite amazing. She does a great job portraying a blind woman, and she's practically freaky as she intones the story of the Mara ("Wheel turns, civilizations arise. Wheel turns, civilizations fall."). I recall finding her scary as a child, during that particular speech. And her continual references to the Doctor as an idiot are pretty hilarious. You know, I saw Mary Morris in something else recently... ohh yes, it was "There Was an Old Woman", a pretty great episode of The Ray Bradbury Theatre, in which she appears with Sylvestra Le Touzel of The Mind Robber. It was a random choice for a TV episode that we watched at Gray's apartment a couple of years back, and certainly quite a surprise to see her in the starring role.

I'd have to say that Sarah Prince is one of the few actors in Kinda who doesn't win me over... somehow, her delivery never quite feels naturalistic. A good example of this, for some reason that I can't put my finger on, is her "Obedience, obedience, obedience, obedience..." line. But as the embodiment of compassion among the Kinda tribe, she's good. I like that Karuna can read sentiments as well as articulated thoughts; it makes her mindreading dialogue feel more authentic. But, oof, poor thing, she gets the most unflattering dress of the entire story. (Not that she has much competition for the title in this female-light story... I mean, it's not like the Mara is going to be slithering around in a magenta sequined number with feathers. But it's still a pretty ugly dress.) Adrian Mills as Aris is the one other actor that I don't quite warm to. Somehow he just doesn't exude malevolent evil as the Mara... instead, he just seems like a ranting nutcase who can't do anything right. He often acts frightened or uncertain rather than wicked, and his manipulation of the Kinda comes across as nothing more than impotent bellowing. I suppose it's interesting, if we're meant to infer that Aris just isn't smart enough, even with the Mara's help, to accomplish anything, but he really doesn't compare at all to the possessed Tegan or Dukkha. The only other major Kinda role is Lee Cornes as the Trickster, who literally throws himself into his role. I found him extremely sympathetic during the scene in Panna's vision when he's writhing around on the floor in pain, and nobody will lift a finger to help him.

The actors portraying the Mara in Tegan's dream are quite simply untouchable. Anna Wing as Anatta and particulary Roger Milner as Anicca look fantastically frightening, and it's very cool that they both assume Tegan to be a shared illusion (thus reinforcing her feeling, later on, that she may not be real). And the fan theory that they represent Tegan's perceptions of Nyssa and Adric (with Dukkha representing the Doctor) is very cool. I would have to say, though, that Jeff Stewart totally steals the show as Dukkha, with his blazing-evil eyes, his cruel grin, that great evil laugh, his slightly-androgynous voice, and his too-calm delivery. He barely gets any screen time at all, but he's one of the very most memorable things about Kinda. I think I may have to track down The Bill just to see more of his work, but I can't imagine him doing anything else as chilling as this.

As a concept, the Kinda themselves are pretty neat. Their culture is, in several very salient ways, so different to ours: they have a matriarchical society, partible paternity, aphonia among only the males, and telepathy. (It appears, though, that only the young women, or perhaps the one chosen wise-woman-to-be, can read minds like Karuna does; or, at least, Panna has lost the ability, because as wise as she is, you'd think she would have honed it by now if she could. And are the wise women the only ones who can talk? It's implied that all Kinda females can do so, but we never see any of the others chatting.) They have a lot of interesting mystical rituals, many of which aren't even explained: their double-helix necklaces (incidentally, I'm very curious to know how they discovered DNA), their unique perspective on the cyclical nature of time, their ability to share visions, and the cooooooool Box of Jhana, which I want to know a lot more about. The Doctor says that the Box enables you to see through the Kinda's eyes, and also helps bring the mind back into phase... might it be the Kinda's way of communicating with the not-we? (After all, the Doctor has trouble doing it otherwise; and I'm glad they mentioned that he had attempted to communicate with them telepathically, since I'd been wondering about that!) And why does it interfere with the Dome's power, I wonder? The concept of Panna's lifeforce transferring to Karuna upon her death is cool, too. Apparently just her knowledge and experience passes on, so Karuna's personality must still be in there somewhere. Perhaps Kinda wise women are like the Trill, but without a physical symbiont?

Peter Grimwade has been handed a great story to direct; between the sterile-but-interesting Dome, the jungles of Deva Loka, and the surreal elements, he gets a lot of chances to stretch his creative muscles. I really like the shot of the chimes through the foliage as the TARDIS crew approaches, the zoom in to Tegan's eye, and the shot of the possessed Aris standing behind the crystal chimes. Yay also for Peter Howell; I just love his incidental music. There's a particularly nice bit as the Kinda bring offerings of fruit and flowers to the sleeping Tegan. The incidental sounds are also wonderfully creepy, as Tegan snoozes by the chimes and again during the nightmare in her mind, particularly the "scream" as characters reveal the mark of the Mara on their forearms. And I like the noise that the Box of Jhana makes.

It is a shame that you can so easily see the bare studio floor under the "jungle floor" leaves. Otherwise, the sets are pretty good; the Kinda jungle looks decently lush (if, admittedly, not entirely realistic) and the Dome's curved walls and cluttered surfaces make it look interesting and lived-in. The triangular design of the cell is great and adds some visual interest to the incarceration scenes. It would've helped if they'd put some extra markings on the back of the airlock door along with those two vertical lines, though, because when the Doctor and Adric are nearly pinioned against it by the TSS, the door behind them is apparently sliding upwards for about 3 seconds before we can actually be sure that it really is moving. I have nothing whatsoever bad to say about the set representing Tegan's nightmare, though — between the black background, the industrial-looking metal structure/sculptures, and the harsh lighting that makes everyone look washed out against the jet-black surroundings... utterly fantastic and brilliantly done. And scary, particularly since that harsh lighting makes Dukkha's red eyes and teeth stand out even more.

The effect of the light refracting from the chimes and dancing around Tegan's face as she drifts off to sleep is nicely-done. Also love the wash-out effect of the Box of Jhana doing its thing on people, the swirly effect over the cave mouth during Panna's vision, and the shot at the end of the vision of Panna's face dissolving into white light. I think possibly my favorite effect is the one used to portray Tegan thinking that she's utterly alone in the darkness. We can see both Dukkha and Tegan, but she obviously can't, and the effect makes it very clear what's going on, without the need for exposition. I also really love the whole effect used to show the Mara transferring. The snake-crossover itself isn't very convincing, but between the cool linked hands, the scream of the "victim", and the strobe-like cuts, it's a very memorable sequence. Then there's the final effect of the Mara detaching itself from Aris' arm and growing to enormous size, which I think looks really good. The snakes may all be rubber, but I still find them pretty convincing (the full-size Mara too; look at the scales on that thing!), and I agree with what others have said, that if the Mara is meant to be a persuasive manifestation of our worst fears that only conquers us if we allow it to, then a papier-mâché snake is actually kind of an appropriate corporeal form.

Finally, a note on writer Christopher Bailey. I'm so impressed that he's managed to write a story that's very surreal, but rather than being surreal-for-surreal's-sake (which has produced many an artform that I just can't stand, like Joyce's Ulysses, free jazz, or certain experimental films), he makes this surreal in a creepy way. And not just creepy, but also comprehensible. I mean, a bizarre plot twist like presenting Tegan with her imaginary double and the question "which of you is real?" should be dumb and/or easily solved, but in Bailey's hands, it turns out terrifying. Kinda is a very intelligent script, with interesting characters, cool ideas, and a great monster... and then he goes the extra mile and makes it metaphorical, by liberally sprinkling it with Buddhist and Christian allusions, which (for me anyway) both make the story familiar, in a hard-to-pinpoint kind of way, and pleasantly mystical. And his script is just great; I mean, practically every one of Dukkha's lines is quotable. As a child, I found Kinda visually frightening, particularly Dukkha's torment of Tegan, Panna's wide-eyed recitation about the Mara, and the Doctor and Todd's vision of the beginning/end of time. But as an adult, I find myself appreciating it on so many more levels, and I find the ideas scary as well.

I must of course mention, before getting into the minor details, that this story has had one big knock-on effect throughout my life, and that is to make me absolutely despise the song "Puttin' on the Ritz". I can hear you now: "What a strange association!" you are saying. "It's Black Orchid that has to do with 1920s dancing, not Kinda!" Well, that's as may be, but when I was five years old (the same year that Kinda aired, coincidentally), Taco Ockerse released a cover of this song. At some point thereafter — when I'd already seen Kinda — I happened to be sitting on our living room couch and saw his music video. If memory serves, Taco sings this song while wearing something tuxedo-esque and white face paint, whilst dancing around a dark minimalist set, and I very distinctly remember him hissing the song in a most disturbing way. Basically, it looked to me as though Dukkha were singing it, and that was a pretty terrifying image that's put me off the song ever since. I can't hear even a piece of it without picturing Taco ominously stretching those sibilants. Do you suppose the music video is on YouTube these days? I've avoided looking it up again for years, but in the spirit of this story, I suppose I ought to conquer my fears. And, incidentally, see just how accurate my memories are. ... Oh my, it is on YouTube. Well, here goes. ... Okay, Taco is indeed wearing a black-and-white tuxedo and dancing around a dark but colorfully-lit stage. His makeup is a little exaggeratedly pale, but not whiteface... however, there are a couple of frightening-looking "super-duper" blackface characters that might have startled me as a child. (This is apparently the uncensored version, before they cut those characters out!) And one piano player and one very creepy-looking android-like singer who are both in whiteface. Taco also keeps making scary faces at the camera, and ohh, those elongated "s" sounds! Some much more than others! Aieeee! Overall I'd have to say that his tapdancing is better than his singing, but I can sure see how that would have freaked me out as a child. And my memories were surprisingly accurate, although I don't know how I forgot about the glowing cane (and I notice that in my review of Daleks in Manhattan, I misremembered him wearing a top hat, although the blackface characters do wear them). Well now, wasn't that cathartic!

Minor points:

So we have some minor problems in acting, and some minor-to-major flaws in plotting (depending on your feelings about the Dome subplot), but the truth of the matter is that that the major triumphs in acting, combined with the super-awesomeness of the Mara and the intelligent (and comprehensible, if a bit abstract) plot, completely overshadow any failings. A delight and a thrill to watch.


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