What’s It About?
The Doctor fails to return Teagan to London by materializing about three hundred years too early. They encounter Richard Mace, a former actor turned highwayman, and a mysterious, abandoned manor house.
I like long walks
Davison era seems to be the conflict between two visions: Bidmead and Saward. Bidmead attempted to redefine Doctor Who, to bring it in to a new era by re-inventing it. Saward looked back to what worked in the past and attempted to duplicate it. “The Visitation,” then, is about as influenced by classic Doctor Who as you can get . . . or more specifically, Robert Holmesian Doctor Who. In some ways, “The Visitation” owes much of its story to “The Time Warrior” (alien crash lands in Medeival England). Even Richard Mace is a character who could have been written by Holmes. All he needs is his double-act.
Apart from its formula, the major problem with this story, which is indicative of the problem with many of the stories in this era, is that there are too many companions. There just isn’t much for Adric and Nyssa to do, thus Adric runs from location to location, gets captured, and gets away. He doesn’t add anything to the plot. Likewise, Nyssa spends most of her time in the TARDIS, preparing a security set-up for break-in that occurs in part four, a break-in that really could have been prevented and wasn’t necessary. Especially when there is a whole village of plague-paranoid villagers who are not under Tereleptil control, Adric and Nyssa’s uselessness to the plot seems glaring. And when these characters (and, let’s be honest, Teagan) are held in comparison to Mace, the deficiencies are made more glaring. The guest cast is more compelling than the main cast, barring Peter Davison. This is frustrating because under Bidmead, these characters were given a great deal of potential. Even their circumstances for being with the Doctor (an orphan from another dimension, the last survivor of Traken who had her parents destroyed by the Master, a reluctant participant whose aunt was murdered by the Master) are compelling enough to give us interesting characters. Unfortunately, the show is still fairly plot-driven, and character development isn’t emphasized. And yet, Saward was aware of this on some level. Teagan and Nyssa share a tender moment as Teagan prepares (she thinks) to leave the TARDIS for good. I don’t say this often, but this story could have benefited from being longer, so long as we got more character moments and we were able to explore the fears of the townspeople. This story had enough pieces to work with, it just never put them all together. And just like the ending, this entire story is rushed, focusing on the more formulaic alien-invasion story rather than the real drama that was just underneath the script.
If nothing else, “The Visitation” is immensely watchable, but it truly isn’t anything groundbreaking despite having enough elements to be a great story.