TV Club: Doctor Who, Kinda

“Kinda” (season 19, episodes 9-12; originally aired Feb. 1-9, 1982)

The typical Doctor Who villain is a physical, recognizable threat. You immediately know that the Daleks are dangerous and evil because they’ve got guns welded into their midsections and they’re eager to use them. Nobody expects a Dalek to conquer by winning over its enemies psychologically. “Kinda” takes a different tack: Though there’s a monster, a giant snake called the Mara, in this story evil comes from within more than without. The greatest dangers “Kinda” presents are internal ones that exploit the hidden weaknesses and flaws of the characters. It does this via two plot threads which are at times so divergent that they seem like completely unrelated stories, but which do work together as part of a larger parable. The first, centered around Tegan and the Kinda tribe, weaves Buddhist-inspired ideas about struggle against one’s own self and repressed negativity into a story about an innocent Eden-like paradise threatened by the corruption of knowledge. The second is an anti-colonialist, Heart Of Darkness-style jungle-horror story about arrogant civilized people who come to conquer a primitive world which is bigger and wilder than they can comprehend, and which instead absorbs and destroys them. In the end it’s too muddled and oblique to be entirely successful, and its poor use of the main characters leaves the story badly unfocused, but “Kinda” is an interesting experiment in something a little more psychological than usual. The story has grown on me the more I think about it, which is both good and bad—good because there’s more here to appreciate than is immediately apparent, bad because the story doesn’t really gel on the most basic level of entertainment. And I’m not really sure that it really works on that deeper level either, just that it’s thought-provoking.

Originally published Oct. 30, 2011 on Read the complete article.

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