Review: Doctor Who – The Dispossessed

Review by Kenton Hall

Following the previous main range story Red Planets, I was looking forward to The Dispossessed; I’ve found myself enjoying the TARDIS team of the Doctor, Mel and Ace a lot more than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I think great strides have been made with Bonnie Langford’s character on audio. And, perhaps most importantly, I was 13 when the Seventh Doctor and Ace were on TV. Like Ringo’s drums, they loom large in my legend. But there is a subtle chemistry between the two actors, only briefed tapped in their one joint TV story, that bubbles away nicely. 

The Dispossessed is; like its immediate predecessor, a story that lives and dies on the atmosphere it creates, and for a majority of its running time, it is effectively claustrophobic and creepy. With a very deliberate pace, it closely echoes the feel of a classic series story, which does allow it to build a strong sense of mystery, particularly in the opening episodes.
Also in its favour are some of the harder sci-fi ideas that drive the story – and further chances for Ace and Mel to interact. In the end, in fact, it is the character work – including the very personal story of the primary guest cast – that shines most brightly, ahead of an ending that, for me, didn’t quite pay off in the way that I’d hoped it would.

It’s also very much a Seventh Doctor as cosmic chess-player story and, in some ways, it is the concentration on this side of the character – fascinating though it is – that undermines some of the power of the story’s other elements – forcing Seven into a power play we’ve seen and heard before. Your mileage, of course, may vary and there was still plenty about The Dispossessed that I enjoyed. I am still invested in this team and anxious to see what happens next.

And, of course, it’s still Doctor Who.

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