Doctor Who: Snakedance (parts three and four)

We had a theory that as the story went on, our son would be less creeped out and frightened by “Snakedance,” and when the Doctor wins, everything would be just fine. Didn’t happen. To my surprise, he remained worried by this story right through the end, spending most of part three on his mom’s lap, and he was still so bothered that he insisted on bringing both his security blanket and his favorite stuffed animal to dinner.

“In fairness,” I said, “we are going out after dark.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “I don’t like dark and I don’t like snakes!”

Never mind him. I think “Snakedance” is terrific. It’s one of my favorite stories of the eighties. I really like Martin Clunes’ bored diplomat, and I love the relationship he has with his smothering mother, who gives him a believably obnoxious passive-aggressive silent treatment when he tells her to back off. All of the dialogue and the character relationships in this story are so natural. It’s a million miles removed from whatever tin ear penned the last story.

One final note: partway through the last season, Marie asked, not unreasonably, whether these people were ever going to change clothes. Even Leela found a second set of leathers, so you had to wonder why Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan never raided the TARDIS closets. (Especially when one imagines Tegan might not have wanted to stain or tear her Air Australia uniform until she was certain they were safely back in 1981.) Adric never did find anything new to wear, but Tegan has changed into an awful white ensemble that actress Janet Fielding didn’t like and once called her “boob tube.” And now finally Nyssa has found some new clothes, which calls into question just who in the world stocked the TARDIS wardrobe in the first place. Funny how nobody ever cosplays in this hideous thing, isn’t it?

Between the two halves of this story, our son asked to watch “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” Jodie Whittaker’s first episode, again. There’s a bit toward the end where the Doctor mentions that it’s been a long time since she shopped for women’s clothes. I wonder, at some point when she was in her first or second incarnation, did she say “I should probably buy racks and racks and racks of clothes since I’m going to have a never-ending stream of young people from Earth gallivanting around with me.” Somebody should be blamed for Nyssa’s weird space waitress costume. Was it Troughton’s Doctor? I bet it was Troughton.

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