The crowded TARDIS as this period of the show was called is the most blatant example of the problem that there seemed to be. Sarah Sutton appears for a moment at the beginning of episode one and briefly at the end of episode four. This is so that Janet Fielding can take centre stage in the first half of the story.
The story is a spiritual one where on Derva-Loka there are the ‘primitives’ and then there are the humans led by Sanders. But the colonists are disappearing which is a lovely excuse to get around the low number of characters that are in the story. The character of Sanders is quite like most military figures in television and films at this time. Thankfully the balance switches quite quickly so that Sanders is the reasonable character (of sorts) and Hindle is in charge (of sorts). Despite this story being studio bound Peter Grimwade does fantastically well managing to make the story move at such a pace that it at times doesn’t feel like a Doctor Who because at times it feels original. In the scenes in Tegan’s mind for example there is a nice solid segment where you’re not quite sure what’s going on (or that might just be me). The story moves along at a nice pace and then it goes wrong when we get to the Mara. For a good portion of the story the Mara is made out to be this evil and horrible thing that has passed over into this reality and then when we see the Mara all big the effect is rather disappointing. On the DVD version you can see a much better effect but watching it minus the special effect the Mara looks naff and ruins the belief. I think to be fair to Christopher Bailey he probably would have written something different had he known the limitations of the show and the budget.
Janet Fielding is one of the best things in this story. Her performances when she is being controlled by the Mara are some of the best that I had seen for sometime in these stories. It’s possibly her best performance of her time on the show. She will never again be allowed to give this sort of performance. Another strong performance comes from Simon Rouse who holds the story together and gives and absolutely bonkers performance. It’s quite fun watching as his character Hindle goes slowly mad. Due to Fielding and Rouse’s performances everyone else’s pale into comparison. Richard Todd’s performance could be seen as hammy but I have to say that I think he pitches it just right. There’s no way that you could say an actor of Todd’s caliber (Dambusters etc) could be poor and I think that Todd provides some much needed comedy relief. Nerys Hughes performance as Todd was rather a disappointment. I think that she’s a very good actress but the problem was that her role seemed to be very poorly thought through and she is there to act as the Doctor’s female side kick as Nyssa has been exiled to the TARDIS and Tegan. Todd is portrayed as a scientist but doesn’t really get to do much of that and as a result she isn’t given the best dialogue.
My opinion of Kinda has changed over the years. Five years ago I would have totally slated it and used the giant snake as a stick to beat the story with. But recently (since the DVD was released), I have found a more sympathetic view of it. Ok it’s not a fantastic story but I can see why people like it and that’s an improvement on five years ago. Having watched them in order, I would go so far as to say that Kinda is the best Davison story so far and wouldn’t rate it as the worst story of the 19th season like readers of Doctor Who Magazine did in 1982.