Tag Archives: The Gunfighters

Doctor Who Marathon: The Dominators


Writer: Norman Ashby
Director: Morris Barry
Producer: Peter Bryant
Story Number: 44
Number of Episodes: 5
Season: 6

Well, out of the 24 classic Who stories I’ve seen so far, The Dominators may be the worst (and that’s saying something when you consider that I’ve suffered through such gems as The Gunfighters and The Sensorites). And I have to say, I’m stunned that this is how the BBC saw fit to kick off season six. Really guys? This was the best you could do?

The Plot: The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive on the peaceful planet Dulkis. The Doctor’s been here before, and he’s delighted to return. Pulling a beach ball and folding chair from the depths of the TARDIS, he and his companions expect to enjoy a nice restful holiday on a planet inhabited by a society that has “outlawed war.” What could possibly go wrong?

Well, just around the bend two dour chaps in ridiculous, swallowing shoulder pads land their spaceship. These are The Dominators, a race that apparently only respects “the authority of superior force” (and enormous shoulder pads). But don’t be fooled. These guys may come armed with a menacing name (and did I mention the shoulder pads?) but they’re almost as dull and tedious as the planet on which they’ve arrived.

Hey, um, do my shoulder pads look smaller than yours? Be honest now.

Hey, um, do my shoulder pads look smaller than yours? Be honest now.

And why are The Dominators here you may ask? Well, apparently Dulkis experienced a nuclear catastrophe almost 200 years ago, and there is now an uninhabitable island that is highly radioactive down to the core—and The Dominators just love radioactivity. It’s what fuels their ship. So yeah, they want it. All of it.

Oh yeah, and The Dominators also brought some friends with them—small robotic servants called Quarks. I’d rather not waste too much brain power describing the Quarks ridiculous design, so here you go:

Man, I thought we were auditioning for Daleks!

Man, I thought we were auditioning for Daleks!

In the end The Doctor must attempt to save the planet because the Dulcians are a bunch of bureaucratic, pacifist weenies who can’t be bothered to so much as leave the couch let alone raise up arms against an invading alien force (they’re the ones who outlawed war, remember?). They’re pretty much the worst. Nonetheless The Doctor, being the righteous dude that he is, decides to save them anyway, even though I’m kinda sure intergalactic Darwinism pretty much demands for their extinction.

Let's uh, just sit this one out. I'll get the Funions.

Let’s uh, just sit this one out. I’ll get the Funions.

The Pros: It’s so maddening when Doctor Who misses the opportunity to delve deeper into a particular plot point or intriguing aside. So is the case here with the Dulcians. At first their pacifism seems like a noble aspect of societal evolution, but it quickly becomes clear that even too much pacifism is, well, bad. There are a handful of delightful scenes involving the council of Dulcian something-or-others debating what should be done about these Dominators (who are hell bent on eradicating the entire planet). In the end they basically decide to just sit it out. “Even non action is a form of action,” declares one Dulcian jamoke. And that’s what they do. They sit. And then they debate some more. And then they sit some more. It’s an intriguing device that forces one to consider the maddening ills of both bureaucracy  and extremism (no matter how seemingly noble the pursuit). Sure, outlawing war and guns and violence sounds great. But when someone comes knocking on your doors and says, “Excuse me, but I’m going to burn your fucking house down if that’s okay,” you should probably step into Plan B. Oh yeah, and Troughton rocks (as per usual).

The Cons: Ugh…I don’t want to waste too much time here because for anyone who has seen this particular story knows all too well what it lacks. The direction is stiff. The villains (both The Dominators and their trash bin servants) are quite possibly the least intimidating and tedious that I’ve seen so far. They don’t seem all that menacing, clever, or even adept at their namesake task. You could probably topple a Quark with a hearty exhale blown through a straw. I’d rather watch Sensorites read the phone book than sit through one more scene involving The Dominators arguing about whether or not they should kill the Dulcians. Also, as is the case with so many Troughton-era stories there are too many episodes. This could have easily been whittled down to three or four at most.

Final Rating: 2/10