Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (take two)

This morning, something unexpected happened. I’d planned for us to watch Spike Jonze’s 2009 adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, and the kid just absolutely tuned out twenty-odd minutes in. The film’s intense depiction of loneliness was just overpowering to him, he was radiating misery through every pore, and I stopped the movie. If it’s worth anything, I did tell him last night that it’s not at all like any children’s film he’s ever seen, and that many parents and families were disappointed or annoyed with it when it was released. I’ve always figured parents were expecting the same ingredients as every other dumb kiddie movie of the 2000s: kung fu anteaters, a “show me the money” gag, and a centuries-old white woman dancing to “Single Ladies,” when what Jonze gave them was a meditation on imagination and sadness. Our kid would have preferred the anteaters.

So I told him to pick something else, and he wandered to the Doctor Who shelf, announced that he was considering one of the Key to Time adventures, then thought about “Enlightenment”, and then surprised me by picking “Paradise Towers”, which we first watched about two years ago, instead of something with Daleks in it. He really enjoyed it again, probably more than he did when he watched it at age eight, and even wondered whether the Great Architect in this story might be the same one that was mentioned in “Time Heist”. Funny how he remembered the name, but not the revelation that it was the Doctor himself who built that story’s bank. Anyway, this was a story from season 24 with Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford, written by Stephen Wyatt after he and the show’s new script editor, Andrew Cartmel, bonded over a shared appreciation for Alan Moore’s Halo Jones and J.G. Ballard’s High Rise. Richard Briers overacts to the point of cringe in part four, but it’s a very good script.

I thought this was very cute timing, because this is almost certainly the last time I’ll dust off this DVD before selling it on. The season 24 Blu-ray set containing this adventure will be out this week in the UK; the American release is about three months down the line. In September and October, we’re also going to get to upgrade a couple of other things we’ve enjoyed for the blog, because Kino Lorber is releasing the Kolchak: the Night Stalker TV series to accompany their splendid releases of the two films, as well as, to my considerable surprise, the Pufnstuf film. We may be able to preorder the completely remastered MacGyver from Koch Media by the end of the year as well. Who sez physical media’s dead? Not this boy!

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