Short thoughts on Doctor Who, disc by disc (originally published June 2012)
City of Death
Tonight’s soundtrack: Cop Shoot Cop, “All The Clocks Are Broken”
I don’t know if this is typical of me or of Douglas Adams, but the first thing I read of his was the second Hitchhiker’s book. As a result, I thought Zaphod Beeblebrox was the main character, which suited me right down to the rocky New Hampshire ground. As a burgeoning young egomaniac myself, I was well pleased to discover such a charming self-absorbed hero. He was funny, he was confident, he was everything I knew myself to be.
I don’t know if this is typical of me or of Tom Baker, but he was my first Doctor. As a result—well, I think you can see where I’m going with this. The Fourth Doctor and Zaphod both think themselves the center of the universe, and, wonderfully, it turns out they’re both right. Oh sure, it’s because one of them is in an artificial universe and the other is a fictional character, but things are tough all over. I think a little arrogance is justified, don’t you?
So anyway: City of Death, where we have the man who created the dumbest arrogant bastard in the galaxy writing for the smartest arrogant bastard in the galaxy. The result: a perfect double-bluff. Or as Count Scarlioni muses, “My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems.”
Tom Baker blazes out of the screen in this one. The plot is appropriately clever and silly. The cast (Lalla Ward! Julian Glover!) is superb. The location is Paris. The genius at the heart of all, the synthesizer of this demented grand poetry, Mr. Douglas Adams, takes a bow.
And then arrogantly steals the whole thing for a Dirk Gently book.