The Happiness Patrol (1988)

The Happiness Patrol does seem like a leftover script from the previous year as it has some silly things in it. This story was cited a year or so ago at the production teams attempts to try and overthrow the Thatcher government. I’m not quite sure as to how true this is or how successful it was but I personally don’t care about all that as I just watch it as a Doctor Who fan and as a fan there are good things about this story and not so good things about this Graeme Curry script. This story shares things with the previous years story ‘Paradise Towers’. The Doctor and Ace arrive on Terra A where people are prevented from feeling unhappy. They are branded killjoys and anyone found guilty are sent to the Kandyman.

Ah, the Kandyman. Possibly the closest that Doctor Who has ever got to being sued for copyright infringement. The Kandyman is exactly the same visually as the Trebor Bassett yet it is claimed that the look is coincidental. Yeah and I am going to be the Pope one day! . The Kandy Man is suppose to be this menacing figure but I don’t think anyone could find this creature scary. Especially as it doesn’t take much to make it immobile. Daleks got mocked for not being able to go upstairs yet at least they could move through lemonade spray on the floor. Just to clarify, the Kandy Man is a rubbish creation.

The Happiness Patrol does has some very good casting. Several of them had previously been in other Doctor Who stories but the biggest name was Sheila Hancock who plays the figure which is compared to Margaret Thatcher. She plays Helen A like a person who is cold and is obsessed with power. She plays the role brilliantly and plays it with the right amount of seriousness and tongue in cheek. Another familiar name was John Nromington who had previously appeared in ‘The Caves of Androzani’ (1984) and whilst his performance in this story as Trevor Sigma isnt on par with his first outing, its still a nice and enjoyable performance. Georgina Hale was another strong performance as Daisy K, Lesley Dunlop (currently in British Soap ‘Emmerdale’) is the likeable goodie that Ace befriends in this as Susan Q. Susan Q is someone who starts off on the bad side and quickly moves onto the good side.

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are very good and Aldred has settled down well into the role. With a completely studio bound story its possible that it restricts the actors to McCoy and Aldred don’t let that bother them and in particular McCoy gets a fantastic scene with someone who wants to kill him and he does a fantastic ‘life takes life’ line which McCoy delivers in a way which shows what his Doctor can be like when he is given the right lines and the right stories.

This story aired during a time when the shows number of episodes went from 26 to 13 and as a result some stories were three episodes instead of the usual four and that’s a good thing for this story because it reduces the need for excessive padding which would have made this adventure unbearable. As it is, this adventure has some good things going for it but ultimatley it will be remembered for that stupid Kandy Man and not much else.

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