Because it’s one of my very favorite Doctor Who stories, I have watched Christopher Bailey’s “Kinda” something like thirty times, and I’m always noticing something new. For example, you recall just a couple of days ago, we spotted a fumble in an episode of Adam Adamant Lives! where an actress mistimed her offscreen dash and was caught by one of the cameras. Well, 18-odd minutes into episode two of “Kinda,” one of the camera operators mistimed his move and was caught by one of the other cameras. Look closely at the right side of the screen as Sanders returns to the dome and the airlock door is being raised. There’s a whacking great BBC camera slowly trying to glide out of sight. How’d I never notice that before?
Our son thinks that “Kinda” is incredibly creepy, with the “what’s in the box” cliffhanger of part two really making his hair stand on end, and he’s right. I love how the story focuses on the colonial party in the dome and the threat of the security officer. Bullied and sneered at by the rest of the expedition, he finally snaps and has a nervous breakdown. It’s one of the very rare and very frightening depictions of mental illness in Doctor Who. This guy is unhinged and incredibly dangerous, but he’s not the problem, and the focus on him is a terrific feint.
Outside the dome, Tegan has fallen asleep under a bank of wind chimes and has spent more than a day dreaming of some malicious guy in fancy dress. She’s awakened some mental force that identifies itself as a Mara. The peaceful people of the planet are mostly silent telepathics. Only a few wise women, like the duo we meet here, have “the power of voice.” We also meet Aris, a very unhappy and silent long-haired man whose brother has been taken captive by the colonials. Tegan wakes up with a snake tattoo on her arm, which you might think is evidence that Tegan shouldn’t pass out after a night with the Marines, and, in a brilliant acting performance by Janet Fielding, passes the tattoo across her arm to Aris’s. Suddenly he can laugh and talk. No good will come of this.
Incidentally, Sarah Sutton’s barely in this story. She’s only in parts one and four for a couple of minutes. That’s because the earliest plan for this season had been for seven four-part serials, and Sutton was contracted for 24 of the 28 episodes. The plan had been to write Nyssa out this year, but in part because Peter Davison correctly spotted that the Doctor and Nyssa have good chemistry together (he said, shrewdly), the producer was persuaded to keep her on, instead of writing her out in story six, whatever that one was to be. At the same time, the producer decided to use the budget for two of the episodes to make the K9 and Company pilot. All this meant that there wasn’t a way to accommodate Sutton without dropping her from most of one adventure, making this the first time that a companion got a couple of weeks off in the middle of a story since the Patrick Troughton years.