Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Happiness Patrol- Review by @Zeiton_7

"Happiness WILL prevail"

Oh but how this story gets ridiculed! You can sort of see why as well! A troop of marauding, pink uniformed women folk terrorise a civilisation and force them to be .... er happy under pain of death.

Sounds insanely far fetched doesn't it? This is Sylvester McCoy's era after all, expect strangeness!

Then there's the Kandy Man. Yes the one that looks like Bertie Bassett! Insane, murderous but oh so tasty!

The Happiness Patrol is the story that, above all others, confirmed to those who really didn't like the McCoy tenure that the program was going down the pan (or perhaps being drowned in Fondant Surprese!) Dark, brooding with a touch of the insane are terms that sum up both the story and McCoy's Doctor himself. Yet look at this story again and perhaps a little deeper and you might start to admire and like it a little. Oh go on, try!

TARDIS Pink??? It Will Never Catch On
Actually, the reasons I mention above are precisely the reason I like this story and also the others that the Seventh Doctor embarked on. You can't tell me that Tom Baker didn't have his share of silliness! Who can forget the immortal line "I wouldn't even say no to a salami sandwich"? Somehow he gets away with his brand of insanity yet McCoy is permanently and unfairly branded as "the actor that destroyed Who"

When The Happiness Patrol was broadcast, back in the 80's, it had been shunted to a Monday night slot and was up against Coronation Street. That, coupled with Michael Grade's hatred of the show meant that it would fail. Fail it did as by the end of Survival the show had been put on hiatus and one that would last for SIXTEEN YEARS!!

No Comment Required!
It is this movement from the programs traditional Saturday tea time slot and Grade's hatred of the show that put paid to Doctor Who and not the acting of the brilliant McCoy. Yet even die hard fans like my own father still look back and recall that "he wasn't much good was he"? I put forward the theory that this opinion is largely down to the fact that people just weren't able to watch as they were either coming in from work or lost out to the thousands that tune into Coronation Street every week (shudder)

Anyway, back to The Happiness Patrol! The Doctor and Ace visit a human colony on the planet Terra Alpha and are disturbed by just how darn happy the place seems to be. It's all so forced with the cheerful lift music and fake painted grins. Soon they uncover the sinister forces that are at work and seek to put things right.

What follows is a dark and entertaining story which has its roots firmly in the Thatcher led Tory government England that was er ruining things at the time. Indeed, the lead villain (played excellently by Sheila Hancock) was modelled on Thatcher herself. The music accompanying the story is some of the best offered and features a wonderful harmonica blues riff. Yes there is The Kandy Man but come on this is Who. We are well used to, slightly unbelievable, monsters running around.

The Marvellous Sheila Hancock as Helen A

If you've never seen The Happiness Patrol before I would strongly recommend you give it a try. If you haven't seen it for a while then give yourself a treat. Dig out a packet of Liquorish Allsorts and sit back and enjoy!

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