THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

BBC
The Happiness Patrol

Episodes 3 I'm glad you're happy!
Story No# 153
Production Code 7L
Season 25
Dates Nov. 2, 1988 -
Nov. 16, 1988

With Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred.
Written by Graeme Curry. Script-edited by Andrew Cartmel.
Directed by Chris Clough. Produced by John Nathan-Turner.

Synopsis: The Doctor and Ace land on a colony where sadness is forbidden and punishable by death.


Reviews

A Bitter Sweeties Symphony by Oliver Thornton 28/3/98

The concept behind this is possibly one of the most deeply macabre of all the Doctor Who stories-- an Earth colony ruled by a woman who wants everybody to be happy and therefore punishes all those who are unhappy or spread unhappiness in any form. The slogan that begins and ends every public broadcast, "Happiness will prevail" sums up the tyrannical obsession that is generated.

The baddies are terrific, I will never look at liqourice allsorts in the same way again after seeing the Kandy Man in action-- a chilling performance! Although the tyrant at the head of all this seems a bit pointless, the last episode reveals a much deeper character than imagined, which adds enormously to the effect of the closing scenes (without saying enough to give it away!).

The music on this story is vital to the overall effect-- the contrast between the wandering blues musician and his harmonica and the empty, "jolly" music that is piped through the speakers enhances the feel of the story perfectly, and offers a chance for some of the lighter moments to shine through.

Although I have described this story as macabre humour, the humour very much takes a back seat, allowing real development of plot and character. The humour is added around it, instead of as the point of it. Scenes of the Doctor jamming on spoons with the harmonica player lighten the mood just enough to prevent you slitting your wrists halfway through the video, and the visual joke of the authorities painting the TARDIS pink instead of blue is delightful. I agree with the Doctor's comment seeing this for the first time! There are other touches, taking just a few seconds each time, highlighting the Doctor's "clownish" side, or Ace poking fun at the system around her, which manage to keep the energy going by letting the audience appreciate the lighter side of what is going on (almost a mirror image of the events the story describes, and very subtly done).

There are some shortcomings, in particular, the planet's native inhabitants seem a little bit unnecessary to much of the story, and could probably have been left out entirely. Also it is never made clear how the Doctor finds his way around the (presumably large) palace. These are small things and do not detract in any way from the story which is being told.

The rate at which events speed up as the story reaches its climax is great, and has the feel of a real snowball effect, once the Doctor sets everything in motion. The grand finale is at once exciting, funny and serious. The confrontation between the deposed ruler... well, that can't be giving away very much-- It's genuinely touching, and a real point is made. A real "bittersweet symphony" indeed, and probably one of my top ten.


Proving you can tell an intelligent story in just three episodes by Michael Hickerson 24/4/98

One of the great cliches of many Doctor Who stories is that the Doctor will arrive on a alien world with a tyrannical government in place that we will quickly and easily overthrow by stories end. Of course, he will join forces with a group of rebels to see the evil government forces are deposed from power and will leave just as the rebels begin setting up their own system of government. And for the most part, these stories are usually done pretty well. But in a few cases, the author will take this plotline and serve up something more to the viewers through the use of allegory or satire. Two such cases that spring to mind are the underrated Tom Baker story, The Sunmakers, and the second story of the 25th anniversary season, The Happiness Patrol.

The Happiness Patrol is an odd little story. Nestled between the triumphant return of the Daleks in the season opener and the not so stellar return of the Cybermen in Silver Nemesis, it's a story that can be easily overlooked on a journey through the McCoy years. That would, however, be a tragedy.

Why?

Because it's a fun little story to watch.

What I will say is that The Happiness Patrol stands on its own as a unique and entertaining piece of Doctor Who. It also goes a long way toward showing that with the correct pacing and script-editing, three episodes can be enough to tell an intelligent, complex story and leave the viewer satisfied.

The cast of supporting characters is a rich one-- from Silas P to Susan Q and all the rest. Also, the idea of a society where happiness is forced upon the population under penalty of death is an intriguing one. The death squad known as the Happiness Patrol is wonderfully realized and terrifying enough to keep you interested. And the all controlling society is far more insidious than the one presented in Vengeance on Varos. Probably because on the surface it all appears to be so happy.

Director Chris Clough turns in one of his better directing efforts in choosing to have Terra Alpha shrouded in darkness in public areas but having the arenas where the villains and monsters live brightly lit. An interesting choice of style that re-enforces the mood the story. Also, the choice of bright costumes for the Happiness Patrol death squads along with the bright pink hair is a delight to see.

But, the real strength of the story, as it is with all of the McCoy years, is McCoy himself. Once again, we see the more textured, fascinating character that is the seventh Doctor. After his manipulations in Remembrance of the Daleks, he's a bit more restrained here. But his dark side is in form.

On all levels, The Happiness Patrol is a a fun romp. It's just come back into circulation on video and I have to admit a quality copy of the story only furthers the enjoyment of the story.


A Review by Andrew Boland 10/1/00

An early writer once described writing Doctor Who a joy because you (the writer) created your own world, and no-one can tell you what is right or wrong there because YOU created it. Okay, this quote isn't extremely accurate, but I love the truth behind it. Graeme Curry created his own world on Terra Alpha, and he knew what he was writing about, which I'm afraid some Doctor Who writers have a problem with. This is my second favourite McCoy, behind Ghostlight. I am disappointed people write this story off as silliness, that's Paradise Towers, this is a great creation indeed. Superbly portrayed and I think McCoy gives his best performance of all here. It is a story working on several levels, drawing comparisons between it and the British (or indeed any) government, and also making its audience sit back and think for a bit. It's a pity, almost, that this is supposedly an earth colony, as the characters all seem so alien, but then again, they represent different parts of the human character.

At first it seemed to me Helen A's insistence on Happiness was just her way of keeping control, but I am now certain it was a misguided philosophy she deeply believed in, even though she did not understand it. You can't forced a feeling on anyone. Somehow it parallels the phrase 'get over it'. Season 25 gives us two stories where the Doctor arrives on alien planet, and both have set that planet up very well indeed. The creative process for Terra Alpha was absolute - down to the names. Were the pipe people necessary, yes I believe, if to show humans are still forcing original inhabitants of a place to hide, and killing them. The Kandyman is a wonderful creation, in concept and realisation. The Black mood of the story makes it seem far more serious than it is on the surface.

I could go on, but there is no point. A beautiful, thought provoking story, one of the absolute best. Mr Curry should be applauded, I would have loved to have seen him write another.


A Review by Daniel Spelner 9/4/00

This satire on totalitarianism presents us with a society that forbids any expression of sadness - you have to be happy! This is another example of script-editor Andrew Cartmel's aberrant, anarchistic and upbeat brand of Dr Who. It also goes moralistic, preaching how shallow and false 'cosmetic' things are and how real happiness can only be found within yourself. There's an artificiality in the acting and set design which can easily be misinterpreted as being infantile and tacky but this is deliberate so as to underscore the story's message. The director originally wanted to shoot the episodes using tilted camera angles but JN-T bottled out, a pity as it's a very evocative technique and particularly germane. Ultimately the director isn't talented enough to really make this work. However the childishly petulant Kandyman and his morose creator Gilbert M (who sorely regrets making him) are very reminiscent of one of R. Holmes celebrated twosomes. Sufficiently enjoyable.


There are No Other Colours Without the Blues by Tammy Potash 5/6/00

I'm trying to make a Who convert out of a friend of mine. I had planned on showing Rememberance of the Daleks, but when that turned out not to be possible, I opted for this episode instead. I hadn't watched it in ages.

After subsisting on the 8DAs and MDAs for so long, it was a real pleasure to be watching the Doctor again. I had recently seen Horror of Fang Rock again when my friend bought it, but Happiness Patrol has both my favorite Doctor and favorite companion! How I'd missed them both!

The episode itself wears well over time. The Kandyman looks as good as he ever did, and the sets convey a real feeling of urban decay disguised by a flood of pink (a colour I personally despise). Here is the Seventh Doctor at the peak of his powers, nicely balanced between the all-out comedy of Paradise Towers and the dark schemer of Curse of Fenric and the Virgin run. Ace is not as fleshed-out as she is in some other stories, but the sheer joy she takes in anarchy and being with the 'professor' is clear.

The Doctor effortlessly deals with the Kandyman, disarms snipers by sheer force of personality, and in general manages to bring back true happiness to the residents of terra alpha, in place of Muzak, inane jokes, and other shallow attempts to shove a wide mirthless grin onto everyone's face (other than the pipe people's).

Highly recommended. My friend the would-be convert enjoyed it, and agreed to watch another Who next time I see her. Great performances, nice sets, just the hint of a message, and accessible to the casual viewer; you can't ask for much more than that. (Next week, I'm showing her Frontios.)


One of the Worst by Mark Irvin 4/10/01

After being somewhat surprised towards all the positive comments made about this story, I thought it was definitely time to voice a rather more negative view. I can't seem to fathom why Happiness Patrol has escaped much fan criticism, especially when Timelash and Timeflight appear to be constantly slammed. Both of which I consider to be better than this, even if they are probably not the best examples of what the show has to offer.

The overall look of the production is almost laughable making it impossible to even take seriously from the start. I don't recall watching any eighties Doctor Who that had a more ridiculous looking hair style for the main adversaries (Pink and Orange....Yuck.) And those stupid escape scenes where the guards can't catch a buggy that's travelling at about 10 kilometres....Ouch. Watching it as an eight year old was enough to make you cringe with embarrassment, let alone twelve years down the track. Considering the supposedly serious theme behind it, this completely defeats the story's whole point.

The argument that The Happiness Patrol is 'experimental', 'newage' or 'cutting edge' just doesn't hold any weight. It's practically a remake of the infinitely superior Tom Baker story - The Sun Makers. In fact it's just a plot that's been regurgitated throughout Dr Who's history (Citizens vs an evil government) and to much better effect.

McCoy puts in one of his worst performances, almost to the point where you just feel like shooting him. All that morale rubbish that he constantly pedals bores you to death, the Doctor coming across as know-all smart alec - something that I don't think anyone want's to associate with his character. Even the normally exellent Ace is very ordinary .

Probably the one redeeming feature here was the inclusion of the Kandyman. Visually impressive and well acted he appears to be a very intimidating enemy indeed. Perhaps if the story had of been aimed more in favour of the Kandyman it would have been worthwhile. As it stands Silas P and the Kandyman's creator Gilbert M are the only characters worth mentioning. Which brings me to the point - Why bother to even include the natural inhabitants of the planet if they have absolutely no purpose. A prime example of the needless inclusion of a group of unneeded characters.

Having said all this I must say that Happiness Patrol possibly is not one of the absolute very worst (The Awakening, The Time Monster) as it does have a couple of redeeming features. Given a decent budget and change in characters/character bias, with less emphasis on the Doctor preaching it could have been at least passable.

The Seventh Doctor and Ace do have their moments. If you feel like watching this era then pick something like Rememberance of the Daleks or The Curse of Fenric. Now that's real (and actually slighly believeable) science fiction. Not some silly romp aimed at small children.


I want Kandy by Andrew Wixon 4/8/02

The Happiness Patrol is a story about superficiality and reality, about how real emotions, positive or negative, are far more important than the superficial appearance of happiness or normality. This is key to the understanding of the story, and - quite ironically - many of those who criticise it does so because they fail to make that distinction.

This is quite understandable as this is one of the least naturalistic Who stories ever done on TV. The city streets aren't remotely convincing, the costume designs all lunge towards one extreme or another, and there is of course the Kandyman to be addressed. On the surface this is stagey and artificial and a recipe for trouble (not unlike Helen A's regime). But the story doesn't want to be about these simple superficial things, it wants to be about proper, adult emotions, important decisions, the right to choose your own lifestyle, and so on. Tellingly, it hardly ever attempts deliberate campness, and the suggestion that this is a thinly-disguised criticism of Thatcherism and Section 28 seems to me to make a lot of sense.

But, alas, to wholly succeed The Happiness Patrol needs to have solid, tightly-written substance beneath its garish surface and unfortunately it simply isn't there. There are things that are utterly fantastic - the wailing harmonica score, the Kandyman answering the phone, the Alphan masks, 'Throw away your gun', the climax - but there's virtually no plot to connect them. The characters just wander about aimlessly from one set-piece to the next until part-way through episode three where - whoops! - the regime is suddenly about to fall and the Doctor has an appointment to confront the villain.

So, in more ways than one, The Happiness Patrol is a fantastic idea for a Doctor Who story. The edited highlights of this would go a long way to demonstrate the show's potential and what make it great. But as things stand, it isn't even the case that there isn't enough meat on the story's bones. It's that the bones themselves aren't nearly numerous or robust enough.


Happiness will prevail! by Michael Hickerson 25/8/02

One of the standard clich?plotlines in Doctor Who is that the Doctor and company will arrive on a planet that is in the grips of a dictatorial regime based on fear and intimidation of the average citizen with a small group of resistance with whom the Doctor will ally himself to overthrow the current government and restore freedom. We see this time and again in such classic stories as The Sunmakers or The Mysterious Planet.

But the story selected for the good Doctor's 25th anniversary season to pay homage to this classic plotline, The Happiness Patrol, takes this plotline and gives it the usual Cartmel twist. Instead of fighting against oppressive taxes, the Doctor and Ace arrive at an Earth colony that lives in fear of one thing -- being caught being unhappy. The ruthless Helen A rules with an iron-fist and is determined to make sure she has the happiest colony in the known universe -- even if that means undertaking such radical population control measures as killing anyone who dares to frown or like the feel of rain on their face.

The Happiness Patrol, like a lot of the McCoy years, is one of those stories that tends to divide Who fans into two camps -- those who love it and those who loath is. I will have to come down squarely as one of those fans who enjoys the story for what it's trying to do, but doesn't think that it's a perfect Doctor Who story. For me, it's really a middle of the road McCoy years story -- not nearly as bad as a lot of fans would have you believe but not as great as others would have you believe. It's not as bad as Time and the Rani and it's certainly not the worst story that season 25 has to offer -- that honor would go to Silver Nemesis.

But back to The Happiness Patrol.

Graeme Curry's script offers a lot of rather memorable characters to the story and coupled with the unique vision of director Chris Clough, The Happiness Patrol does a lot to rise above its roots as a studio-bound story. The sets are a visual delight and the choices of light and darkness by Clough work well. Having the Kandy Man's brightly lit kitchen in which all types of evil horrors occur contrasted by the dark streets of the colony, where everyone is supposed to be happy all the time is uniquely done. Add to it that Clough makes good use of what could have been some rather dull sets in the pipes under the city and you can see that he does a good job based on the limited Who budget. No matter what else you can say, The Happiness Patrol is a visual feast and it certainly shows that time and again throughout the course of the story.

Even the costumes and make-up highlight the mood -- from the orange and electric pink hair of the members of the Happiness Patrol members to the smiling drama faces that are made-up on each Happiness Patrol member.

And I would be extremely remiss if I didn't point out that visually, the Kandy Man works rather well. The idea of a sadistic robot whose goal in life is to dream up new ways to kill people through sweets is a rather unique concept. And the creation of the Kandy Man from bits and pieces of familiar candy works rather well visually. And, yes, there are some moments when his voice is a bit much and the lemonade trick works one time too many on him, but overall I don't think he's as bad as a lot of fans would want you to believe. His screen-time is limited enough so that he's unique and interesting, and it is rather nice to see him hoisted by his own petard in episode three.

Performance wise, the story does boast some good performances. McCoy and Aldred are in fine form as the Doctor and Ace, though I will admit that McCoy's singing in episode three is a bit much for my liking. Another standout is Priscilla P, who enjoys her job a bit too much and delivers the rather sarcastic, "Have a nice day" as she exterminates one Killjoy after another. But the real stand-out of the episode is Helen A who delivers just the right performance of over the top megalomania. Her motives are good -- she wants her people to be happy -- but it's just her way of enforcing her will that gets to be a bit much.

All of that said, I can't out and out say that The Happiness Patrol is one of the best McCoy stories out there. Despite all that's good about it, there are some things that just don't quite work in it.

For one thing, there are just some rather dull performances in there. A lot of the male supporting cast members -- including Helen A's husband and the blues man are rather forgettable. Also, there's a lot of jumping around by the plot and the overall sense of timing is off. Also, the Doctor's initial decision to go down into the Kandy Kitchen comes a bit out of nowhere and doesn't make a whole lot of sense -- other than to set up the cliffhanger to episode one. (I have a natural irritation with cliffhangers that are forced into a plot rather than coming up naturally based on the story unfolding).

And while a lot of the rest of the story looks great visually, Fifi is a bit embarrassing. (Also, going back to the internal continuity issue -- Fifi is injured in one scene and miraculously healed in another. It just doesn't make much sense. At least Full Circle attempted to explain Adric's magic ability to heal quickly).

Finally, while it's fun to get some nice jabs in at the beauracracy that is Helen A's government, they don't feel as natural as Robert Holmes' The Sunmakers. Curry seems to want to take jabs at several different branches of the government -- the Doctor's argument with the guy at the theater is one such example -- instead of doing what Holmes did with The Sunmakers and out and out satirizing the tax structure and how taxes are collected. I think The Happiness Patrol begins to lose focus when it tries too hard to show how all the aspects of Helen A's regime are a giant beauracracy rather than picking one or two specific targets and really running with it.

So, overall, The Happiness Patrol is good Who, but not great Who. It's got a lot to recommend about it, but it's also got some rather sizable flaws. Again it's neither as great as some fans will tell you, nor is it as bad as others would tell you. It's fairly middle of the road McCoy years. And since we've seen how good the McCoy years can be in the previous story, middle of the road just isn't quite good enough anymore.


A Review by Rob Matthews 27/8/02

Not a fondly remembered story, this, despite enjoying a reasonable popularity among fans. To the casual observer it appears camp and childish, all those silly wigs, all that facepaint. The Kandyman is cited nearly as often as Bonnie Langford as an example of the show's perceived degeneration in latter series. And Sheila Hancock recently referred to a 'dreadful role in Doctor Who where I impersonated Mrs Thatcher' for which she still receives praise from 'Doctor Who freaks' (who, incidentally, 'really are maniacs' - to think I always thought she was quite likeable...)

I think the story suffers partly from its stylistic resemblance to the earlier Paradise Towers and Delta and the Bannerman - it is, in a word, camp.

Camp's an easily misunderstood thing, because it's so hard to define. It's not a style of humour I particularly like, but it's one that's perhaps more sophisticated than is often recognised.

I'm amazed to find myself saying that, but it's only because I've observed how often it goes right over people's heads - it's amazing how many people of my age actually don't realise that that epitome of camp, the sixties Batman series, was supposed to be funny! Now, I never particularly liked that show, but my estimation of it increases dramatically when I see people trying to sneer at it, because suddenly I realise who the show is making fun of. Namely, the humourless. Or the snide, which leads me to my next point. Camp is also a bit of a politically-motivated mode of humour, associated primarily, almost exclusively, with homosexuality (much to my own sodding chagrin - that's probably why I never really liked it). The humour in Batman coming from the fact that when you're faced with a grown man and teenage boy running around together in tights and swimming trunks, the situation is so obviously gay that you make yourself look a bit of a prick by pointing it out. Thus - in this instance - camp humour appeals to an implicit knowledge that homosexuality is a fact of life, and so immediately contradicts a societal assumption that it doesn't exist, or that it's a temporary condition that can be 'cured' (I am of course referring to the society of the fifties and sixties here). It's making fun of the people who would make fun of it, and as such it's a type of humour that's simultaneously defensive and aggressive.

This is by no means the case all of the time. Sometimes 'camp' is simply broad, coarse rubbish. It didn't work very often in the previous season's Paradise Towers, and was embarrassing in Delta and the Bannermen. But Happiness Patrol should not be lumped in with those stories. Those came perilously close to childish and the camp approach was pointless and desperate, not necesitated by the story. The Happiness Patrol, so easily dismissed as childish, is actually one of Doctor Who's most adult stories, and one that few - if any - children will understand or enjoy. I certainly didn't get it when I was twelve. I was too busy thinking the wigs and makeup were ridiculous and that the streets didn't look real.

But the Kandyman is a case in point. Shown on those tedious 'Top Ten' clips shows where 'celebrity' gobshites reminisce about the things we used to enjoy on TV back when we were alive, it's always depicted as an example of Doctor Who getting too silly. That's nonsense. It simply shows the series regaining a sense of humour that was somewhat stifled throughout the eighties, and deciding to have fun. Obviously there's something ludicrous about the Kandyman, just like there's something ludicrous about pepperpots who think they can rule the universe or a spaceship inside a telephone booth. It dares you to make fun of it, and the people who do so are making the same mistake as those who didn't get the joke with the Batman series.

There's no logical reason to depict a fascist regime - even one that demands simulated happiness from its citizens - as garishly bewigged and clown-faced, but it corresponds perfectly with the emotional and political resonances of the story. The regime demands 'cosmetic' happiness, so the patrol's costumes take cosmeticism to its most ridiculous extremes. Their appearance is ghastly and tasteless because Helen A's worldview is ghastly and tasteless. It looks like a sick joke because fascism is a sick joke. To complain that the idea of a happiness patrol is just stupid disregards the fact that any number of brutal regimes have been, beneath more tragedy than I feel comfortable invoking here, just stupid too. So the story's 'campness' is based on a carefully controlled fury. The non-naturalistic sets and costumes are there to make fun of the villain, and in that sense the story does have a genuinely expressionist feel resembling early German cinema.

In one sense you could call it the most overtly political televised Doctor Who story. In another, you could point out - as Justin Richards did in Lars Pearson's book - that it's a hollow story whose political resonances are projected onto it entirely by fans. Certainly it's difficult to watch it without seeing it as an allegory about Thatcher's Britain - the reason I didn't like the story as a kid was because that went over my head, the reason I like it now is because it's hard to see it any other way. Most obviously, Sheila Hancock invites that reading with her Thatcher-parodying performance. Then there's the imagery of the Pipe People as a literal underclass, and the striking 'drone' factory workers recalling, amongst other things, the miners' strikes.

Justin Richards argues that the story is 'a shell so empty that people have to read non-existent political comment into it in a futile attempt at justification' - a rather insulting comment that for me doesn't quite make sense. Us fans aren't shy about slating stories that we don't like, yet Richards seems to assume we'd have a vested interest in defending a story that we actually know is no good - it's tantamount to accusing anyone who claims to like the story of lying. I don't need to justify the story, only to explain why I personally enjoy it.

The thing is I don't see it as a hard-hitting attack on any one aspect of Thatcher's government. In fact it needn't necessarily be about Thatcher's government at all, just about government in general, about how easily the state can suffocate its own citizens, about the impotence of bureaucracy (Trevor Sigma). As just one example, the plight of Terra Alpha's 'Pipe People' more closely resembles that of the Native Americans than it does any particular social group in the UK. The sniper's complaint that 'women always get the best jobs' could readily be interpreted as a slight against feminism (if you were a Daily Mail-reading arsehole, anyway), but us normal people can see it doesn't ring at all true for Western society - it's only true on Terra Alpha, only true within the world of the story.

So, while political readings are there for the grabbing, the story manages not to weight itself in favour of any one interpretation. Unlike Justin Richards, I think that's a good thing. It's commonly thought of as being about suppression of gay rights (Joseph C and Gilbert M escaping the planet together is obviously suggestive of this, as are the aforementioned overtones of lurid camp - Joe Ford referred to this one as 'Doctor Who goes gay'), but it doesn't have to be seen that way at all. One more current reading would be to see it as an attack on an increasingly vapid and soulless 'cosmetic' society.

It's a simple story, a fable, and that's why it's effective. It depicts the battle between freedom and tyranny at its most basic level through a stark metaphor, and renders it with a visual and aural style that appeals as much to the soul as to the mind. The story has the feel of a dream, and takes root inside you with the persistence of a dream, or a piece of music.

And of course that's partly to do with the bluesy musical score. Here, along with Dragonfire, Greatest Show and most of the final season, is one of those Doctor Who serials where the music is integral, almost a character in the story. The imagery, too. Happiness Patrol's skewed non-naturalism reminds me very much of a Tim Burton film - the Kandyman in particular. He's one of the most visually convincing Doctor Who villains, genuinely giving the appearance of being made out of sugar and marshmallows. And he contrasts well with the black-and-white set of the Kandy Kitchen. The quirky theme tune that accompanies him is perfectly appropriate - like him, it's silly, childlike and yet horribly dangerous. And as a monster the Kandyman appeals both to the latter-day fears of children (who are taught never to accept sweets from strangers), and to the much older monsters of folklore and fairytale - he's like the monster who lures children into a house made of sweets - except in this case the monster himself is made out of sweets.

Detracting from the story's success are the too-frequent misjudgements of scripting or direction. These have been discussed already by other reviewers. The Go-Kart. The lemonade. McCoy going completely OTT in the forum. But they're balanced out by the wickedly characterised Kandyman - who for my money was one of the best Who villains in ages -, by the acting of Hancock and every member of the patrol (Priscilla P a chilling psycho, Susan Q convincingly wearied, Daisy K a practical, loyal and abidingly sadistic second-in-command), by McCoy's fourth-Doctorishly flippant first exchange with Helen A, or by that scene where he disarms the guards.

And then there's the Doctor's final downbeat confrontation with Helen A. McCoy doing what he does best, Hancock finally revealing the human being behind her monster. And one simple but devastatingly effective directorial flourish that's pure poetry - Helen A hissing "I always thought love was overrated" and then taking one step further only to see the one thing she does love, dying, and break down. I'm not ashamed to say that what follows has brought a tear to my eye every time I've watched it. Even the fact that Hancock thinks this was crap and that we're all a bunch of idiots couldn't mar this scene for me when I watched it the other day. She's superb.

The Happiness Patrol, though, is not superb. Its a striking mix of the truly brilliant and the atrociously cringeworthy, so that for every great scene you'd be proud to show a non-fan, there's another you can barely stand to watch yourself. McCoy's dreadful singing comes to mind. It's either a very brave and beautiful failure, or a very flawed and rough-edged triumph. Still, there are two sides to every coin. Maybe we should flip for it?


I can't see any wood. Those trees are in the way! by Don Corleone 2/9/02

There are two different ways which Doctor Who fans look at this with. Firstly there is the view that it's a silly, cheap looking story which was created to entertain but which completely fails to do this unless you're about six. This group of fans is however missing the wood for the trees. The point is that Terra Alpha looks like an early Saturday morning kid's TV show but is really a dull and miserable place to live. It has comedy but it's not just meant to work on the level of entertainment. I'll agree that it's either a bad satire on Britian in the 1980's (I don't remember any killer robots which look like a certain confectionery company's logo during Thatcher's time as Prime Minister) but again that's not the point. The point of this story is simply that sadness comes from flashy looking material wealth but the opposite only comes from yourself. In a way this story is even a little about Buddhism. I have never seen a more mature Doctor Who story.


Doctor Who goes gay! by Joe Ford 1/11/02

The Happiness Patrol, a Doctor Who that leaves me so conflicted I don't know whether to embrace it and call it the most daring piece of Who ever or trash it and expose it as the embarassing camp farce it clearly is. You see my problem, it is for this reason that it has taken me so long to get around to writing a review for the bugger, Rob Matthews' recent exclamation that I shouldn't call it Doctor Who goes gay being the perfect reason to write it.

Yes it's camp, we all know that, and I shall talk about that later but is it really gay? Well a lot of my defense is in the title. The HAPPINESS Patrol. In archaic sixties terms the phrase 'gay' means happy. Just look at The Macra Terror where one character exclaims in a loud voice "Well this is gay!"... no it's not a political statement merely a turn of phrase. Lots of things about this story are happy from the swirly, colourful sets to the outrageous make-up to the general tone of the story that opression must be fought. On a purely atmospheric level this certainly is a gay story.

However, of course that wasn't what I meant. Many people have noted that this story does have many similarities to the treatment of homosexuals during the Margret Thatcher era. Myself included. I think this is quite an interesting statement because there are many of fandom who don't spot any similarities at all. In fact there are those that cannot be bothered to read political statements into a cheap SF show they just watch for entertainment (and a bit of a laugh!). I know all these kinds of people. People see what they want to see when they watch things, obviously if you are close to the topic in hand the parallels will jump out at you but if you're not (my friend Luke, a reknowned hetrosexual told me to turn it off after one episode because he could bear the torture much longer. When I asked if he saw the 'gay rights' message he laughed and told me I was obessed. With the show or my sexuality, I'm not sure).

The very first scene however, exposes a striking resemblance to a problem the homosexual population faced during Margret Thatcher's terrifying domination of England. Entrapment over cottaging. Basically Maggie (much like Helen A) sent people out to mingle with the gay community (like Silas P does to the lady in the first scene) and had them arrested (okay so the kiljoy is killed but hey, that's entertainment for you!).

And there are many other examples. The guy who gets the fondant surprise treatment is wearing a pink triangle, the long held sign for gay pride (although I cannot for the life of me see why!). Gilbert M and Joseph C run away together at the end (ahem). Helen A does spout lines like "families are very important..." as she did to remind us all homosexual relationships were unnatural. Now I'm not saying you take the word happiness and replace it with gay (because the title would just make me laugh too much!) but much of Helen A's cover up of happiness, how she tries to pretend everybody is happy (straight) and papers up the cracks in her pristine image of society with extreme measures (sending in coppers to bring down gay bars!) does bear an odd similarity. But as I've said, it's there to see it if you WANT to. To another person, our own Rob Matthews for example, the story took on a hugely different menaing. That is the joy of induviduality (and review sites!) where we can all have our own opinion and share them with each other. (After all I never saw what Paul Cornell was going on about in the latest DWM special where he reviewed Frontier In Space... he seemed to think it was all political alegories and historical reinacments... I just thought it was a bit of a giggle!).

So yes, this serious, political angle is there for you to access but unfortunately you have to watch the thing to find it. I cannot think of a single Doctor Who story that is so alienating to the public or that exposes so many of the shows weaknesses so readily. Don't get me wrong, I do quite like The Happiness Patrol but I can understand why an everyday member of the public would hate it! The costumes (including the stupid coat Ace wears and that horrible jumper inflicted on McCoy) are so outrageous, so camp, that anybody with a remotely serious mind would turn off immediately. The characters are caked up in make-up that make them look like extra's from a Saturday morning kids show (brrr...). I cannot understand how people can admire the sets, even if they are mimicked from a German expressionist... you can try and make all the artistic excuses you want... they still look crap. Cheap and nasty, how anyone is expected to believe they are outside in the last few scenes with that blue light and those shiny clean studio floors is beyond me. Oh I can use my imagination, yes sir! But please give me something to work with! What about that big pipe Ace and Wulfric slide down... or Helen A's 'gold' furniture... no thanks. Tacky rubbish is still tacky rubbish no matter how many 'political angles' you want to put behind it.

I think The Kandyman is one of the best designed monsters in the entire show but how can you take this guy seriously? My friend Hazel laughed for several hours when she first clapped eyes on this marvel. His lines are sadistic and sinister... "Now let's see what we've got for you!" "Is she indeed well she should wait to be asked... inpolite guests get to feel the back of my Kand-hand!"... but the realisation of the monster just doesn't match up. Maybe Graeme Curry's original idea of a guy in a suit would have been scarier. He is, all in all, a bit silly. But then I guess the whole story is on a superficial level. He does fit in with the PRODUCTION but not with the TONE of the story.

Maybe that is the problem, the story's a bit scizophrenic. We are supposed to be dealing with the idea of a sadistic woman who will murder people to create what she sees as the right image for colony. The idea of free will defeating opression. We meet up with serial killers (or at least a fanatic in Priscilla P), undercover coppers (Silas P), the killer behind the throne (The Kandyman). Serious dramatic ideas. But it's all portrayed like a fun day in a kiddies' playground. Garish colours, silly deaths (and guns) and outrageous costumes. I genuinely feel a production and script should embrace each other not ignore each other.

And yet...

The performaces are brilliant. And I mean BRILLIANT! Slyvester McCoy delivers one of his most sombre performances in the show. He works a lot with his voice and eyes, holding back the camp humour that ruined his character last year and such scenes as his confrontation with the gunmen ("Simple isn't it? Makes sense doesn't it? Life killing life!") and his confrontation with Helen A ("That's not what you're running away from" "What is it then" "Yourself") are amongst the most dramatic in the entire show. Sophie Aldred actually pales to his manipulating aura in this but then the script doesn't give her much to work with (indeed, lines such as "I wanna nail those scumbags!" and "I wouldn't give that pimple head a hundred to one against you Professor!" would be a challenge for any respectable actor!). She does have good chemistry with Lesley Dunlop (who obviously, being one of my most favourite actors ever, is just divine!) and they share some good scenes.

Sheila Hancock gives a good performance as Helen A being understated enough to convince as the mainiac that she clearly is. She breezes through the story with authority and dignity and some lines seem so natural rolling off her tongue ("I said it's the sort of evening that makes you to feel happy to be alive!" and "I'll go somewhere else, a place where people know how to control themselves!"). Maybe she is embarassed now to look back at her role in this three parter (and I hate to sound defeatist) but I would be too. As I said, it's hardly viewer-friendly. Some Doctor Who stories are embarassing to watch (embrace the fact and it'll make you a better fan!) and I'm sure Ms Hancock tries to avoid this camp disaster being shown as much as possible. And I hate to argue again Rob but most fans are complete 'mainiacs', us reviewers who rip apart this show we love so much are proof of that!

One thing I must compliment is the music. Dominic Glynn is a most underated composer and his work during the late eighties cannot be ignored. He brought urgency to The Mysterious Planet, excitement to The Ultimate Foe, magic to Dragonfire (all that sparkly icy music sends shivers up my spine!), atmosphere to Survival and his score for The Happiness Patrol seems perfect for its scizo nature. His harpsicord (I think) music suggest opression and sadness, his cheeky music during Ace's 'escape' from Susan Q is excellent and I love his twisted music for the Kandyman. He seems able to suit every mood the serial throws at him with great aplomb.

So there we have it, The Happiness Patrol, a story I can see 'gay issues' jumping out at me whilst I'm swimming through the colours and campness, with performances I can relish whilst I'm disconcerted with the up'n'down tone of the piece. And music I love. Christ, I've thought about this far too much.

But then that's the joy of Doctor Who. Watch it and enjoy it. Watch it and hate it. Watch it and look out for homosexual oppression. We all get something different and that's what makes it so much fun.

So I shall retract my statement... no longer shall this story be known as Doctor Who goes gay.... I think Doctor Who goes BI would be much more apropriate. Because it just can't make up it's mind what it wants to be.


Smiles, Squabbles and Something Rotten by Mike Morris 13/11/02

First of all, if you haven't already, scroll up the page and read Rob Matthews' and Joe Ford's reviews of this story.

Done that? Good. Those two brilliant pieces, by two of my favourite contributors to this website, are pretty much the reason I'm sticking my oar in now. That, and the fact that The Happiness Patrol is one of the most enigmatic Doctor Who stories, by turns brilliant and incompetent, a story loaded with so many references to society that I'm never sure whether I'm watching a scene in its own right or a pastiche of something else. Joe and Rob disagree on a number of points, and strangely, I find myself broadly in agreement with both of them.

I don't think anyone would argue with the statement that The Happiness Patrol is hugely flawed in a number of areas, nor that it's a satire on something-or-other. The question of what it's actually about, though, is still the topic of some debate. Some people, turned off by the myriad levels of ineptitude on a storytelling level, can't understand why we even bother to have this debate. I understand that, as at times The Happiness Patrol is excruciatingly embarrassing - oh dear, all those scenes with the Go-Kart! - and I can see why it mightn't be deemed worthy of discussion.

Leaving that topic aside for a moment; well, is it about the destruction of gay rights or not?

Hmm, hum. Yes and no. I agree with Rob Matthews that, in fact, it can be about any form of tyranny and needn't be seen as an allegory. But Joe makes a good argument, pointing out the heavy nudges we're given in this direction as well as the overall tone. The pink triangle is the clearest tip-off, and when one takes this basic premise and runs with it, a lot of elements fall into place.

I think I read somewhere that "the destruction of gay rights" is a strange phrase as there were never that many to destroy anyway. A better term is the attacking of gay society under Thatcher, and the marginalisation of that community. The Pipe People, for example, are a minority quite literally driven underground - and there's more of a parallel than that. Termed as vermin, and seen as dangerous and disgusting, they are later revealed to be starving to death, unseen by the wider the community. If you want to, its very easy to see this as a reference to the ignoring of the AIDS crisis in Britain, where the authorities didn't really care until heterosexual people started dying, and gay people were described as "wallowing in a cesspool of their own making". This horrible dehumanisation of the gay community is very similar to the way that the Pipe People are referred to, over and over again, as vermin.

If you want another parallel, there's the scene in the Forum, where the strike becomes a party and the Happiness Patrol are powerless to stop proceedings, having had their main weapon taken away. The way that the drones free themselves by oppressing themselves can be taken as a reference to the appropriation of words like "queer" that started happening under Thatcher as a means of empowerment.

Yes, there are references all right. But is this story about gay rights? No, I don't think so. I think it's definitely a key element, a starting point in the creation of Terra Alpha, but the story isn't about it in any kind of rigorous way. I think a lot of analysis in this direction is because, well, there's a lot of pink about. This is misguided, as in the story pink is actually a government motif, and the fact that the TARDIS being painted pink has been listed as a reference to gay rights really makes me scratch my head. Pink, in this story, is just as the ultimate "happy" colour - happy in a cheap, inoffensive way. It's used as a symbol of a trashy society that values shallow cosmetic things more than anything else.

Which brings us to Thatcher's Britain.

I think, if it's about anything, The Happiness Patrol is about Thatcher's Britain. Full stop. It takes a scattergun approach, referencing all sorts of characteristics from this era of history. Sheila Hancock (who I've gone right off now) reinforces this with her wonderful Thatcher-a-like performance. The trashy society that values the cosmetic that I've just mentioned is a recreation of 1980's yuppie-culture, and lines like "I like your initiative, your enterprise," are an obvious reference to this.

Again, poking beneath the surface, most things are a reference this way. The initial entrapment scene is not just a reference to the way Thatcher dealt with gays, but the way she dealt with every minority group she saw as dangerous. Harold V - the abandoned writer of cosy, uninvolving gags - is a reference to the snooty, cosy, aristocrats that Thatcher purged from the Tory party early on in her reign, and Priscilla P is the reverse, the kind of militant right-wing element who grew under Thatcher, who was used when convenient and then discarded. It doesn't have to be about gays in any way - we see minorities all over the place in this story, from the poor (the drones, an obvious reference to the miner's strike) to men (the two on the rooftop - you could actually read this as a story of growing male insecurity in the face of female empowerment if so inclined, which I'm not) to members of the Happiness Patrol itself. The unemployed, for example, were victimised as much as the gay community under Thatcher; as they sank beneath the poverty line, saw their benefits cut, and got into greater and greater debt they were told to "get on your bike and get yourself a job". It's an attitude that's recreated in Helen A's final scene, when she talks about "those who wanted to take the opportunities I gave them... I'll go somewhere where there's no sadness, where people pull themselves together..."

Margaret Thatcher is still a divisive figure. Reviled by some, considered great by many others. She kept getting re-elected because she gave opportunities to people who were hungry, and ambitious, and hard-working, and thought the same way she did. Commercial Britain loved her, because of the profits that could be made from the consumerist, materialistic, money-driven society she put forth. It allied itself with her and took hold, growing bloated and predatory, controlling people with sweetness and establishing itself as the power behind the throne.

Hello there, Kandyman.

If anything, The Happiness Patrol is a sort of "Animal Farm" of 1980's Britain, transporting that world into something undoubtedly kiddish. The Kandyman fits into this very well, and I think he's a wonderful creature and wouldn't want to change a thing about him. For an eight year old, the Kandyman is a walking nightmare. For adults, he's a fun monster, given weight by the subtexts that surround him. When the Doctor asks him what his heart is, he responds "difficult to say. It's all in there, somewhere... sugar, sherbet, caramel, it's all in motion." It's this kind of clever reference (to the confused, incompetent reasoning behind massive corporations, where clarity of purpose is engulfed beneath scale) that helps me enjoy the gaudy comedy. And yet he's also terrifying... such as when he announces that "I feel one of my moods coming on...", and even though he spends a bit too much time stuck to the floor with lemonade, his shouting of "Gilbert! Gilbert, come here!" is damn scary. Top villain, top design, ooh I do like him.

Animal Farm. Good book. The most famous allegory of the twentieth century, I'd guess. Maybe it's a personal thing, but I don't really like allegory all that much. It's intellectually intriguing but can often ring hollow and unsatisfying; I'd rather read about the events themselves than some sort of story about them. As an allegory of the USSR, Animal Farm doesn't interest me all that much. It's much more interesting as a tale of society, though, and the reason I really love it is because it's a wonderful, beautiful tale of animals taking over a farm and then ruining their own utopia. Its best moments are when it does this - for example, when Benjamin discovers Boxer is being taken away to the Knacker's Yard, and he discovers too late that his cynicism is a lie and he does deeply care about his friend. It brings a tear to my eye.

And getting back to The Happiness Patrol... it's at its best when it loses itself in its own world. The story's greatest moments are nothing to do with Thatcher or anything else; they are to do with Terra Alpha. When Helen A finds Fifi dying, it's genuinely moving and brings me close to tears (except I'm so double-bastard-hard that I don't ever cry, never, not me). It's not "about" anything, and because of that it says more than any number of clever references - it's about salvation, about events showing someone what argument can't, about how love isn't the province of the pure or the beautiful, about punishment being making someone realise what they have done. The Doctor disarms two guards with nothing more than his words and the fact that he^'s right, showing them that they're better people than they dreamed they were. Susan Q lets Ace go because she's tired of her life, tired of the pretence. These are some of the series' greatest moments, and elevate The Happiness Patrol high.

So high that the low points are infuriating, and the fact that really there isn't any plot at all becomes more and more annoying. To continue the Animal Farm comparison, Animal Farm is a perfect children's story when stripped of all the allegorical meanings. The Happiness Patrol isn't. It keeps its main bad guy stuck to the floor for too long, it keeps in pointless chase sequences when other elements are ignored (the first we see of Susan Q is her letting Ace go, and we really should have seen them getting a bit more of a friendship going), and introduces a gimmick or two too many. The performances are largely good - McCoy is wonderful with the exception of the atrocious overacting in the late show at the forum. Aldred, meanwhile, has a bit of a stinker. She's not helped by ropey dialogue, but as an inexperienced actress she flounders about a bit. Take the "I want to nail those scumbags" scene - it's awfully overplayed, but had she played it with the quiet intensity she brought to Survival it might have been a different story. If it had been made a year later, I think Aldred would have been far better.

The same goes for the production as a whole, in truth. It oscillates from poor to astounding - the "fondant surprise" death is amazing. A word, though, about the sets. In a way, Joe Ford is right; they look crap. But in a way they are wonderful. Essentially, they're more stageplay sets than television sets, and although they are never convincing, they say an awful lot as pieces of scenery (my History and Theory of Architecture dissertation used The Happiness Patrol as a case study, but I'll try not to go on). The use of colour and darkness is very clever. The pink bunting reinforces the dark of the streets, seeming like a hollow attempt to cover over the cracks in society. The chirpy decoration of the execution chamber is shocking. Helen A's office, replete with tacky furniture, is the very gaudy and tacky achievement of "the place with no sadness" to which she aspires - it's bright, with no shadows or dark colours, but without the shadows the light means nothing.

So yes, the sets are crap and they don't look real. But there's a deeper thinking beneath the shoddy exterior. A bit like the story as a whole, really, which is hugely intelligent at one level and embarrassingly gaudy the next.

Ultimately, I know exactly what Joe Ford means when he says he doesn't know how to feel about The Happiness Patrol. I really enjoy watching this story, but the thought of showing it to a non-fan makes me squirm. As I've said before, though, I think we fans are a little more willing to look beyond the surface; beyond the dodgy sets, overdone makeup and shocking wigs. Hey, The Happiness Patrol makes us work harder than most, but it says an awful lot, and there's a genuine philosophy behind all the elements that alienate the general public the most. It's a wonderful little story, mature and intelligent and honest and angry, replete with wonderful moments beneath the fright-pink exterior. The storytelling flaws are glaringly obvious, but the high points make up for them.

Ordinary, non-Who viewers will look at this and think it's crap. Even Sheila Hancock thinks it's crap, apparently. The fact that some of us see so much more - indeed, that we see so much beauty in a crappy teatime kid's show - might make us a bit mad as far as the rest of the world are concerned. But then, I like to think the rest of the world is missing out thanks to its own banal brand of madness.

So, in response to one of the other points Rob and Joe disagree on; are fans nutters? Well, according to conventional thinking we undoubtedly are. But then, perhaps those of us who love The Happiness Patrol are the only sane ones left and the rest of the world are the nutters. So again, guys, you're both right and you're both wrong. Two sides, one coin and all that.

Enough waffle. Go and watch The Happiness Patrol now, and make up your own mind. The story deserves that at least.


Why doesn't sanity prevail? by Tim Roll-Pickering 20/7/03

Few stories look as ridiculous and tacky as this one. The streets look like cheap, the costumes are absurd, the make-up hideously over the top and the Kandy Man is simply laughable both in design and character. Combined with an extremely poor script with very few ideas the result is a story that is immensely tedious to watch and ultimately utterly unrewarding for the viewer. Graeme Curry's script tries to generate some humour and political satire but fails miserably to the point where not even a half decent 'Margaret and Dennis' performance from Sheila Hancock (Helen A) and Ronald Fraser (Joseph C) can make the story seem at all satirical. Many of the scenes in the story are amongst some of the most embarrassing the series has ever seen, including the scene in Part Three where the Doctor puts on a very forced 'happy' performance to confuse the Happiness Patrol and behaves as ridiculously as a Goon.

The story may be rooted in the idea of challenging the notion of dictators that they have all the answers and that they are always right, but stretched out to a three part story this becomes extremely dragged out with very little else sustaining it. The scene in Part Two where the Doctor confronts the snipers shows the Doctor's distaste for violence and is powerful on its own but otherwise there is extremely little of merit at all in the story. Perhaps the most ridiculous point comes with Trevor Sigma, who is doing a census by interviewing every inhabitant of Terra Alpha individually and then finds that there are half a million people missing! The character is neither funny nor helpful to the plot and so the result is a tedious satire of bureaucracy that complexly misfires and simply doesn't belong in the story.

The cast is not especially inspiring, with both Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred giving less than their usual efforts, hampered further by the poor material they have to work with. The aforementioned Sheila Hancock does give a memorable performance as Helen A, though it is hampered considerably by the character's outrageous wig, but otherwise the rest of the cast seem to be going through the motions and not giving any fire to their performance. The production leers heavily towards the tacky and in some places looks extremely cheap. The Kandy Man may be a good designed costume but there is no especial need for him to be so elaborate given his limited interaction with the rest of the story and the charecterisation of him as a camp partner simply falls flat. Little in this story makes sense and so by the time the credits appear for Part Three it is a relief that it is finally over. 1/10


Enjoyable albeit truly flawed and kitsch by Konstantin Hubert 26/4/04

“Happiness will prevail!” yells the 7th Doctor at the end assuring Ace that, unlike in Remembrance of the Daleks, this time they have surely done something good.

Perhaps on Terra Alpha only, because this adventure, although satirical and rather allegorical of Earth’s modern society, doesn’t provide one with happiness and isn’t so entertaining. The fabulous and thought-provoking message it conveys, “happiness must coexist with sadness and modern societies of materialism are not happy societies” is fatally marred by many kitsch, silly elements, which eventually uglify the whole story, typical of the feel of JNT’s era. From the Patrol’s pink-haired female members and the extravagant and ridiculous premise that “whoever is seen displaying signs of melancholy or gloom must and will be executed” to the Waiting Zone and Helen A’s pyjamas-wearing assistants, many elements are kitsch allegories satirizing, usually clumsily, our society: the Waiting Zone for example represents most probably the bureaucratic system, which is associated with the many wasted hours of waiting. In its purpose Happiness Patrol doesn't succeed and doesn't convince the viewer, simply because it doesn't take seriously at all the message it conveys. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of viewers treats this serial as a mindless, terrible piece of television.

When it comes to the plot, Happiness Patrol bears basic similarities with Sun Makers and Vengeance on Varos, where the Doctor assumes the role of liberator of a people under the yoke of its corrupted, wicked governor(s). Feminists have no right to complain as this time Helen A, parody of the strict and austere Margaret Thatcher, and the women of the Happiness Patrol rule the planet.

Only few vague rumours of some strange, sinister going-ons on Terra Alpha bring the Dr on this Earth colony and yet he plans to destroy the evil, of which he knows nothing, by first making himself (and Ace) arrested by the authorities... And when he ridiculously escapes from the authorities’ clutches, on board of a go-kart, we see him again wandering around without any plan (go where? if to Helen A’s palace, to do what when alone and when Ace is already in danger?). Whereas in Remembrance of the Daleks the Dr has plans in advance, to prevent the Daleks from stealing the Hand of Omega, in Happiness he simply hangs around and the flawed plot of the story develops through the Dr’s accidental encounters with citizens/creatures of the city. At the end of Part 1 for instance after his escape the Dr meets a musician Earl Sigma, who saves him from Patrol officer Silas P’s attempt to tempt him into unhappiness and then accompanies him to the Kitchen (why do they go there??), where they encounter the nasty Kandyman. In Happiness, the Dr arrives on a planet with the intention to eliminate an evil and yet he has no plan, no strategy at all, no consciousness of the possible tragic consequences of his actions. Everything seems to be happening because it must happen. Inevitably Helen A’s regime is overthrown very suddenly and barely with the Dr’s contribution: early in Part 3 the optimistic and ambitious Helen A promises to her monstrous pet Fifi that she will one day transform Terra Alpha into a happy place but some minutes later, upon learning that her empire has crumbled as more and more factories fall to the rebellion she packs up ready to flee the planet (what contrasts!). There are many laughable scenes, no reason to mention them all, that gradually spoil the story and its unique theme’s effect. To put it in another way, it lacks seriousness and its humorous moments go too far.

The funny-looking Kandyman is thought to be this serial’s mascot and highlight, but even he is wasted as shown primarily through his vulnerable side: in Part 2 he is stuck (lemonade!), immobilised on his Kitchen’s floor, while in Part 3 he is just destroyed and only in Part 1, when he executes a “killjoy”, he is seen triumphing. Fifi makes up for Kandyman’s absence but even Helen’s A’s pet is easily eliminated.

Rich in elements and action scenes despite its limited duration of 75 minutes, Happiness Patrol paces well by always keeping the viewer in excitement. The acting and original theme, the settings of the planet’s capital, including Kandyman’s spacious Kitchen (his laboratory) but not the obviously fake sewers of the bland Pipe People, the intensity and rapidity with which the story unfolds are its merits. It should be noted that the director Chris Clough wanted to give the serial a film noir feel by using various off-kilter perspectives, as was done in the 1949 Orson Welles movie The Third Man. Nathan-Turner however, who felt the technique would be too disorienting, turned down his idea. Good proposal I think, although it would have spoilt the pinkness of Helen A’s empire.

To sum up, original, action-packed but ugly because of its bad, vulgar quality and flawed script. Certainly worth watching, twice or even thrice, not worthy enough however to be included among your favourite episodes.

Grade: either 4/10 or 5/10


A Review by Terrence Keenan 9/8/04

I've always looked at The Happiness Patrol a bit sideways, if only because it really wants to be about something more than its simple runaround framework and basic moral for the kiddies.

I think it's a good thing that THP can be seen as a commentary on Thatcher's reign in England during the 80's, or that it's about oppression of "fringe groups", in general and specific to the gay and lesbian community. It's obviously generated well-written pieces by Rob Matthews, Mike Morris, Joe Ford and others. (You might want to give them a read again; they're worth it.)

So, time for me to weigh in. And I do have my own take on The Happiness Patrol. I see it as a tribute to the Troughton years, sort of, with nods to the sci-fi/fantasy cliche of a planet ruled by women and the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

What? No political overtones? No big allegorical messages?

I'm not denying those interpretations, but because of Grame Curry's scattershot approach to undercurrents, and choices in the overall design, methinks you can read a lot into THP, though a variety of filters.

The Troughton Years: McCoy seems to really lean on Troughton's version of the Doctor in this story, mixing moments of righteous anger and seriousness with lots of clowning around. McCoy flexes his anarchic (Troughton being generally recognized as the most anarchic Doctor) muscles and brings down a government in a single night. The Kandyman and the look of the Happiness Patrol itself have a retro feel to them. The obvious studio-bound sets and lots of scenes in corridors, including a nod to The Enemy of the World by having Ace and the Doctor being guarded in a corridor (an in-joke beaten to death by repetition).

The Planet of Women: Not very subtle, innit? Helen A and the majority of the Happiness Patrol are female. Most of the victims of the patrol are male. The scene on the balcony where the male snipers bitch about how the women get the best guns, etc.

Baby Jane: Helen A reminded me more of Baby Jane Hudson with her look; the garish makeup and clothing designed to make her look youthful and joyous, but instead make her look like a harridan. Helen A enjoys the cruel games she plays on the populace just like Jane did to her sister. Helen A is far more interested in maintaining the fantasy even when her world crumbles apart, just like Baby Jane is interested in living her comeback fantasies, even after she kills her sister.

The other reason for my odd looks at THP is that, well, there's a lot of brilliance and ugliness in only three episodes. For every moment like the Balcony scene, wonderfully underacted by Sylvester McCoy, there's something like the ham job bit McCoy gives us in the Forum. Though I like the design of the Kandy Man, and some of his dialogue, his voice is more grating that Nabil Shaban's Sil (a character I'm not all that fond of), and they waste any real potential for menace by having him trapped too easily. The story itself is little more than a selection of set pieces. The sets look like sets, except for the pipes, and if there was a thought behind them, I can't guess what it might be. Need we mention the bits with the golf carts? Or Sophie Aldred's performance? But then, Syl -- save the aforementioned Forum Scene -- does a great job of balancing the anger and the goofiness. Sheila Hancock runs with Helen A, making her a strong villain indeed, but for the rest of the Happiness Patrol... ugh.

As far as a final verdict for THP, I admire what it's trying to do more what the final screen results are. At times THP feels like a first draft and looks like a rehearsal, which makes me wonder what the real final result might have been. Then again, THP got me off my ass and commenting on the undercurrents...


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 22/9/04

The Happiness Patrol is quite a clever piece of Doctor Who, in one instance being a thinly veiled attack on Margaret Thatcher and in another instance being an entertaining story in its own right. At the heart of the story is an attempt to overthrow a government (or in this case the regime of Helen A) and it is this which suits the Seventh Doctor`s era particularly well, as for the most part there is great characterisation and indeed acting from Sylvester McCoy. The same can also be said of Sophie Aldred`s Ace, thankfully remaining the right side of petulant for the most part.

Of the guest cast Sheila Hancock gives an understated performance as Helen A and even the Kandy Man works, largely because of its psychotic tendancies, reminiscent of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory`s Child Catcher. His characterisation is further improved upon however, because he is paired with Harold Innocent`s Gilbert M, and the result is that they bicker like a married couple. Add to this drab sets, which enhance the oppressive nature of the story and you are left with one of the adult tales of Doctor Who, which still remains enjoyable.


A Review by John Anderson 12/2/05

More so than any other serial from the final two years of the programme, The Happiness Patrol can be held up as evidence by those who would either champion or deride Cartmel era Who.

On the prosecution bench we have Justin Richards and Verity Lambert who will tell you that The Happiness Patrol is so devoid of merit that fans are forced to assign political meaning to it as justification; it is evidence of Doctor Who straying too far into the realm of camp.

On the opposing bench are Cornell, Topping and Day who proclaim this to be a Doctor Who serial for and of its own generation; a joyful anarchistic satire that we should all take to our hearts.

Who's right? Well they both are really, as I'll try to illustrate.

In the case of the prosecution let me say this first and foremost, the design on this serial is a shambles. It is possible to say that the artificial sets, gaudy costumes and theatrical makeup are there to reinforce the serial's underlying message about the paucity of Helen A's ideology, but really... it's bollocks, isn't it? As a Doctor Who fan you get used to ignoring the programme's budgetary limitations, but here there's no reason for it. The Kandyman looks amazing - a pat on the back is due to Dorka Nieradzik - but for God's sake, if she can produce that costume within the design budget then why does everyone else fail so spectacularly.

Stand up John Asbridge. Doctor Who is NOT art house cinema, a genre even less popular with the general public than science fiction. There are not going to be a load of pipe smoking critics commenting on how 'Fritz Lang' the whole thing looks, or how the design ethic is sympathetic to the underlying message. Doctor Who is a piece of populist entertainment watched by a mostly passive television audience that is not going to take too kindly to a set design that wouldn't look out of place in the theatre, no matter how well intentioned it might be. I can believe that there were a LOT of people who switched on only to last as long as it took for Georgina Hale's mad bewigged harridan to cock her red and yellow stripey gun.

Take a bow Richard Croft and poor Dorka. Before the dowdy painted backdrops of Terra Alpha stand the gaudy colours of the Happiness Patrol themselves. It's like lurching from one extreme to the other between each celluloid scene. Instead of complementing the design they simply undermine it further, looking as they do extremely silly.

And last but not least a round of applause for Chris Clough. There's another one of those - probably - apocryphal tales about poor old Chris. Apparently he wanted to shoot it in black and white at weird angles but was vetoed by JNT. In all honesty, does anyone believe that this man has the ability to do any more than point and shoot in a by the numbers fashion? More likely, this approach would have made the final product even less watchable than what we do have.

When Verity Lambert, a woman who can justifiably speak with a lot of authority about television, stuck the knife into the McCoy era on 'The Story of Doctor Who' last Christmas, it was accompanied by a clip from The Happiness Patrol and my heart sank. It felt like an attack on Sylv and Sophie and theirs is a corner I will fight to my dying day. For the reasons outlined above, The Happiness Patriol is a very easy target - it looks silly; the people in it are dressed silly; oh look, there's Bertie Bassett, isn't he silly?

But if that's all you've got, then bring it on. Because Doctor Who fans know that deep down, 95% of the programme looks silly.

And so to the defence, or as Justin Richards might say, to read meaning into sh*te in the search for justification.

I'll leave the deep and meaningful discourse on cottaging and gay rights to far more informed commentators than myself. I'm sorry, chaps, but I was still a slip of a boy in 1988 and I have every reason to believe that any such allegory will have gone well over my head. Having read other reviews and insights I think that anything I have to add will seem trite at best so I'll concentrate on the frippery instead.

I am happy to argue that Happiness Patrol is more evidence of Doctor Who spreading its wings in a narrative sense and looking to tell more complex and involving stories, a move that is more successful the following season after this imperative filters down to the writers proper, but can be seen here, Remembrance and Greatest Show. Proof, if any were needed, that the upward curve (despite a couple of blips) from the tail end of season 24 is continuing.

I call Sylvester McCoy to the stand. This was the last serial of season 25 to be recorded and it shows. 99% of the time he's on screen, he's excellent; seeking out trouble, wanting to speak to Helen A and the Kandyman almost as soon as he's identified them. It seems odd that the Doctor makes straight for the bad guys at the outset, having spent the 24 previous years seeking out the oppressed and giving them a leg up. It's more evidence of the seventh Doctor's increasingly proactive nature; next year his plan will have been set in motion before he leaves the TARDIS rather than the vague "rumours" and knockabout planning here.

And then there's the scene on the balcony with the snipers. It's the antithesis of the cafe scene in Remembrance; there it was the Doctor's decision to be made, here it's the snipers. Interestingly of course, we don't know the decision that the Doctor is agonising over in Remembrance - the destruction of Skaro - but he does go through with it, bringing the moral dilemma that troubled Tom Baker in Genesis to an end by wiping out his nemeses. But here he turns the tables; we have always seen the Doctor face down injustice and cruelty before, but never has he done it with such cold detachment. Sylvester is clearly furious here, and his anger proves to the snipers that they are better human beings than they thought they were. Of course, this Doctor did look Davros in the eye and end his life (or so he thought) but that's just part of this incarnation's moral ambiguity, and you know what - I like it.

As a side note, it's interesting to note that as Cartmel was realigning the Doctor's position on the psychological scale by asking what drives this character to seek out monsters and destroy them, Tim Burton was doing the same to Batman, but that's a discussion for another day.

I call Sophie Aldred. "I want to make them very, very unhappy!" Constrained by the pre watershed nature of the programme, Ace the character is incapable of expressing herself with the colourful Saxon metaphors that she needs to carry the necessary weight, but all credit to her - like Sylvester, I think this is her best performance of the season.

David John Pope, next to the stand, please. I've already covered the Kandyman from a design perspective so I'll avoid retreading the same argument here by singling out the actor behind the liquorice. The Kandyman wouldn't be half as much fun without Pope playing him like a cross between a mass-murdering psychopath and a surly teenager. Pope keeps it dead straight and is matched for every line by Harold Innocent as Gilbert M, their bickering hinting at a shared history that remains frustratingly unexplored on screen. And finally, I call Sheila Hancock. Regardless of her thoughts on the role today, she puts in a great performance here. As much a victim of her ideology as her citizens, she's caught in an unfulfilling and loveless relationship with Harold C to the extent that the only creature she has feelings for is her pet, Fifi. The camera pan as she cries over Fifi's body is majestic and had the programme ended here it would be proof positive that the newfound maturity and confidence of season 25 were here to stay. That Doctor Who could end on an emotional climax rather than a narrative one would have realigned what the programme was capable of, but instead we get a typically trite coda. Oh, well. At least we can take heart that twelve months later, shorn of Clough's less than dynamic direction, Curse of Fenric can pull off what Happiness Patrol cannot.

So, in summing up, Happiness Patrol is a rather schizophrenic serial where the truly awful sits alongside the triumphant. Derided for being camp and tacky, what Happiness Patrol really demonstrates is that although the BBC design teams are still stuck in a inescapable nosedive, Cartmel is championing a script and narrative ethic that, if not 100% successful, is still full of promise.

The learning curve continues.


A Review by Benjamin Bland 26/1/06

Sylvester McCoy's years in the TARDIS weren't the best we've ever seen. It consisted of old story lines and the shape of a series rapidly running out of energy. Sylvester's first series had been a load of fun silly stories and I'm not a fan of that season, but with the return of the Daleks in Remembrance the series was showing signs of improvement again. Then comes The Happiness Patrol. Certainly one of the most inventive and clever Doctor Who stories ever produced but was it necessarily a good one?

Unfortunately the sad answer is a no. Clever and inventive it may be but Doctor Who it was not. The whole story is pink and the main monster seems to be a, unsurprisingly pink, canine. The Kandyman is quite sinister however, but seeing as he's only really in it for about half an episode's screen time this doesn't really aid the story in any way. Sylvester McCoy seems worryingly bland as the Doctor and the trite and unconvincing Ace doesn't help.

This story is boring too. Only three episodes long but it seems to go on for at least twice that length. The acting is dour: Sheila Hancock is decidedly unspectacular in her role as Helen A, ruler of Terra Alpha, and the rest of the supporting cast seem either to be gun-toting, pink-haired and pink-clothed girls or a man playing the mouth organ whose main role seems to be walking around playing his mouth organ and looking disconsolate. Not an essential piece of Doctor Who viewing by any means. 4/10.


It could have been so good... by Peter G. Henn 6/2/06

When I was ten, and just getting into Doctor Who, my mam bought me the Target novelisation of The Happiness Patrol, and I was hooked. A brilliant, witty, original idea, it seemed so full of possibilities, that I had to see it.

About ten years later, I finally did.

Oh dear.

The whole thing seems incredibly forced, with bad acting utterly dominant. Whereas the novelisation is a wonderful fable, the show is an embarrassment about nothing in particular. In the book, the Kandy Man is a glorious villain, a schemer, smooth, seductive and with a resonant voice, and in the programme, he's a rubbish Bertie Bassett lookalike with a silly voice who is about as threatening as... well, as a bag of liquorice allsorts, actually.

And while, in Curry's own novelisation, Helen A is an insane, but calculating despot; in the show, she's Sheila Hancock doing an impression of Maggie Thatcher.

Which brings me on to my second point. Too much has been trumpeted about how this is a biting satire of Thatcherism, and it's about gay rights and yadayadayada. Actually, it isn't. It's only those things if you want them to be badly enough. There is no reason, barring Hancock's performance, why The Happiness Patrol is about the Thatcher years. Likewise, apart from the fact that the thing is Camp as Christmas - and not in a good way, either - there is no reason why it is about gay rights. It's only about gay rights if you are desperate for a Doctor Who story to be about gay rights. And it's only about Thatcherism if you're an exponent of the branch of lazy leftwingery that screams "Thatcher is Bad" after trying to blot out your public school upbringing. In other words, Hancock's performance makes the story about something that it isn't.

Of course - and I digress here slightly - it's more than likely that Chris Clough and St Andrew of Fanwank came into the office, read a script with a great idea, and went "OMG Thatcher is Bad!!! oneoneone Right on solidarity NOW!" and forced the crappy Maggie impression on Hancock. And it's entirely possible that whinging lefties everywhere saw it and got rather excited that it was about a RIGHTON! cause, or else they wanted one for Doctor Who, and therefore got so caught up in Toryhate that they didn't actually stop and think why. But that was a bit of a digression, and it's over now.

Back on track, there's the acting. It is, with a couple of notable exceptions, dire. I've already mention Sheila Hancock's smug, lefty, and pointless Maggie impression, but the rest of it is pretty awful. As ever, Sophie Aldred can't act, and there is one scene which is the most toecurlingly awful performance in a scene with the Doctor in Who history.

"The Doctor and the drones are having a ball! HAHAHAHA". Yes, but sadly it appears as if Sylvester McCoy isn't having any acting lessons. It's a shame, as he's actually rather good in the rest of this, (the sniper scene is fantastic) but this scene pretty much helps to pile up the crap in the story.

The other big problem - at least if you read the book first - is that the whole thing seems rushed. We actually have very little characterisation, very little of what makes the whole thing work. So we're left with two-dimensional characters, a cheap and nasty set, and some fairly stilted dialogue to go with the passport acting.

It could have all been so much different, of course. If only the Kandy Man had been given a baritone voice. If only Sylvester had remembered how to act for that one crucial scene. If only the powers that be had got off their high horses. If only fandom got off its soapbox. If only it had had the depth of Curry's book. If only...

Rating: 10/10 for the idea, 2/10 for what actually came out (no, that isn't another reference to gay rights...)


A Review by Finn Clark 14/4/13

I love the fact that it exists and I'm terribly fond of it. It's also not very good, but that I can live with.

Firstly, the level of straightforward entertainment. My wife, Tomoko, gave up halfway through. She went to sleep during part two and didn't bother with part three, even though this is the first Doctor Who story she'd ever requested. It's not that she's a trad fan or anything like that. She adores the Kandyman. She loved the design work, the psychedelic wigs, the Kandy Kitchen and so on.

The problem, I think, is that Tomoko always has to work hard to follow the storyline when watching something in English... but The Happiness Patrol defeated her efforts by having no storyline in the first place. There's no plot to summarise. The story structure is a blancmange. What does the Doctor do to overthrow Helen A, eh? (Answer: he laughs in a town square. I think that's it. Usually, he at least talks to some rebels when he's toppling governments, but this story has no rebels at all. Instead Helen A's regime falls because of unrest in some distant factories.) Does anything actually happen in episode two? What's the point of all those capture-escape loops in episode one?

I seem to remember that Graeme Curry had originally planned to write something mould-breaking and subversive, only to realise afterwards that in the end it had all turned out traditionally. The Doctor overthrows the government on an alien planet! What's more, it's not even a particularly good example of that.

...and that's enough of that. I'm finished with the everyday stuff. It's true, as far as it goes, but it's a painfully reductive line of analysis. To reduce The Happiness Patrol to that level is like looking for plot holes in Edward Lear. More interesting (although still flawed) stuff includes:

  1. MARGARET THATCHER

    It's bashing Thatcherism, as broad and gleeful as Robert Holmes at his most virulent (The Sun Makers). Sheila Hancock's Helen A is Maggie, complete with high-pitched, brittle voice and a rather adorable Denis in Ronald Fraser. The Doctor's calls to the drones to down tools were supposedly a reference to the 1984-85 miner's strike, or so says wikipedia. There's a Sylvester McCoy quote from a Sunday Times interview in 2010: "Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered."

    Unfortunately, I don't think it works. I have no problem with the principle. I just don't think what they're saying makes sense.

    The problem is that Thatcherism doesn't fit the story. They're doing it because it's the obvious thing to be doing if you're left-wing, British and politically engaged in 1988 rather than because the syllogism holds water. Helen A is the female ruler of an oppressive regime, yes, but the similarities end there. Doctor Who is perfectly capable of tackling the kind of themes I'm talking about (Survival, The Hollow Men), but I think this particular story wanted Helen A to be a six-year-old girl. That would explain everything. It fits, so would paradoxically make the story more convincing. You could even keep the realistic social elements (protests about factory working conditions, etc) to demonstrate what would happen if you had a six-year-old running the government.

    That could have been brilliant. Seriously, I think we'd have been blown away. Everything in the story would have been pulling in the same direction and Helen A's final scene with the Doctor would have been devastating, instead of "good but a bit silly".

    To go into specifics... (a) Terra Alpha is a totalitarian regime, in which the state exerts absolute authority over society and even tries to dictate the way people act and think. Thatcherism though was about trying to shrink the role of government, through free markets, privatisation and libertarianism. (b) Helen A wants everyone to be happy. Thatcher didn't really care whether people were happy or not. These are not superficial differences. Besides, it's not as if Thatcherism lacks things to talk about. Furthermore the on-screen combination of death squads and Willy Wonka aesthetics doesn't encourage you to start digging for thematic readings that aggressively aren't there.

  2. HOMOSEXUALITY

    This is a more promising line of analysis, not to mention fitting the anti-Conservative reading via Section 28. "Gay" is "happy", although strictly speaking the story's got it the wrong way up. Nevertheless this is the pinkest story this side of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, including a man with a pink triangle and the TARDIS's paint job, and it ends with Helen A's husband running off with another man.

  3. THE DESIGN

    I love it, even when it's rubbish.

    WORKS OF GENIUS: the Kandyman and his Kandy Kitchen! The spinning eyes, the squeaky voice, even the music... I'm in love. He's the best Cartmel-era monster by miles, although I also like the un-shapeshifted Navarinos.

    THINGS THAT ARE MERELY WONDERFUL: all of it. It's film noir, but in neon wigs and glam rock outfits. It looks wrong, but in a way that's perfect. This kind of thing is why I love Doctor Who. Besides, despite the above it often manages to be surprisingly atmospheric; e.g., the corridors in the opening shot.

    RUBBISH, REALLY: gyaaaah, Fifi. She's anti-scary. You expect her to be best friends with Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. I don't mind monsters that merely look terrible, but somehow Fifi manages to be quite well-made and yet also a ludicrous lump of latex. The Myrka looked more convincing. Meanwhile, the go-karts are as fast as the cars in Vengeance on Varos, so there's no reason to get in them in the first place. (Are they the same props redressed?) The panto sparkler effect of the Happiness Patrol's guns is silly.

  4. THE SCRIPT, ACTING, ETC.

    Okay, I lied. I've got more to say about the script.

    Why no rebels? At all? They appear on screen, but they get no dialogue and make less impact on the story than that glove puppet in Timelash. Why are the aliens treated as practically comic relief, denying them any dramatic presence? They're Ewok-sized, they throw spears (very badly) and they try to mimic Ace's dialogue.

    Episode one is "capture escape capture escape". The Doctor and Ace wander in and out of captivity whenever convenient, sometimes at the cost of making the Kandyman look like an idiot. Helen A's regime falls because... well, because it's episode three. That would be a better reason than the one on-screen. (Is there one?) The Doctor's involvement is near-homeopathic. The end of part two has him asking if Ace is in the show at the forum while standing in front of a massive poster saying that Ace is in the show.

    I'm really not impressed by this story structure... and yet in part one, all this works. Episode one isn't like the other two. The politics isn't yet under way and instead the episode feels as if it should have been directed by Tim Burton. I felt it wanted to be weirder. It's trying hard to be oddball, but underneath it's just trad Who with a paint job. Nevertheless, part one has lots of pointless and arbitrary bits that nonetheless add to the episode's childhood vibe and surrealism. What's the point of Trevor Sigma and his census? None, but it's whimsical character business and slightly disorientating. Pink TARDIS: yay! Harmonica-playing blues dude: yay!

    That harmonica adds a lot of atmosphere, incidentally. It's a clever touch. This story is almost RTD-like in its use of music.

    As for the acting, Hancock (of course) and Georgina Hale are big names. Rachel Bell is enjoyably venomous and even Leslie Dunlop isn't as bad as she's being made to look by ham-fisted editing of her big scene in with Ace in part one. I can only presume they had way too much material for the timeslot. As for Sylvester, I've always liked him. I like his smiles and he's actually good in his most notorious scene. "Look me in the eye. Pull the trigger. End my life." Admittedly that should have been more powerful, even if it's still widely loved among my generation of fans. However, it's the jumped-up extra who can't deliver his dialogue who's killing the scene, along with Chris Clough's direction.

    McCoy does perpetrate a spot of bad acting, though. I'm thinking of the scene in part three where he's telling Earl to play his harmonica to cause resonance in the sugar pipes. That looked to me like Sylvester on autopilot.

Overall, a mess. It's all over the place, but some of those places are unique. Sometimes it feels like half-arsed oddball-wannabe that's lurching between badly-thought-out scenes that are happening for no better reason than the author thinking they'd be cool. Sometimes it's an earnest but stupid attempt at political commentary. Sometimes it's a second-rate attempt at The Macra Terror and/or Vengeance on Varos. (Earth's colonies really went off the rails in the 22nd and 23rd centuries, didn't they?) I think it's badly directed: e.g. the big scene with Sylvester laughing in the town square doesn't work because the Happiness Patrol don't look grumpy about not being able to arrest him.

However, it's also charming in its dappy earnestness and the way it's so proud of itself. If Doctor Who stories could ever be said to be out of the closet, this one's out with a vengeance and apologising to no one. I admire that. It works in odd little ways you don't expect. It has the Kandyman. It's a story you don't forget, that's for sure.