50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #48

For those who enjoy dark, sophisticated manifestations of evil, explorations of deep inner fears and Buddhist influences in Doctor Who, Snakedance must surely be the highlight of Season 20. Here, a sequel achieves the rare feat of improving upon the original story, Kinda, which first introduced the mind controlling and manipulative power of the Mara; one of the more intellectual and intriguing manifestations of an evil entity to be found within the Classic era of Doctor Who.

Tegan once again becomes possessed by the Mara, which we discover had come into being when a crystal was created that connected people’s minds, fed off their fear and ignorance and magnified their evil and negative thoughts.

Followers of Buddhism will appreciate the snakedancer Dojjen telling the Doctor that “The still point is within yourself, nowhere else. To destroy the Mara you must find the still point.”

The story benefited from excellent direction, extravagant costumes, some good cliffhanger episode endings and a wonderful demonic performance from Janet Fielding which is quite chilling whilst Tegan is totally possessed by the alien Mara, delighting in the fear and destruction that it seeks to bring about.

The concept of the Mara is a refreshing contrast to the traditional Doctor Who villain and Snakedance stands out as a memorable and thought-provoking alternative to the more action filled space travel and earth-based stories of the Davison era. — Alan

Andy’s #48 — The Waters of Mars
David’s #48 — The Enemy Within (1996 TVM)
Steve’s #48 — The Hand of Fear

Three reviewers, three Davison stories. Spooky. 50 for 50 kickoff week concludes tomorrow with #47. Could it be a clean sweep?