Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos (Story #138)

5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Like Sil

Doctor's character is inconsistant


Hey little sluggy

The Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) find themselves trapped in space when the TARDIS is in need of material called Zeiton-7 from a planet called Varos.  Travelling to Varos, the Doctor and Peri discover a former prison planet where the television streaming of torture and executions is common place, and the people vote who will live and who will die.  The Doctor finds that there is corruption within the controlling forces of Varos and the Governor (Martin Jarvis) is just a puppet of the Chief Officer (Forbes Collins) and Sil (Nabil Shaban) of the Galatron Mining Corporation who have their own plans for Varos.

Doctor Who:  Vengeance of Varos aired during the twenty-second season of the popular long-running BBC series.  The serial aired in two parts on January 19, 1985 and January 26, 1985 and followed Doctor Who:  Attack of the Cybermen.  The serial was collected as part of The Colin Baker Years as Story #139 (or Story #138 depending how you count the unaired Doctor Who:  Shada).


Take a bath…an acid bath!!!

The story was a long delayed story that replaced a story called Doctor Who:  Song of the Space Whale, but Doctor Who:  Vengeance of Varos stirred some controversy when it aired and still is a bit of a question for fans.  Colin Baker’s Doctor was demonstrated to be unbalanced when he first regenerated (he tried to strangle Peri…but who can blame him), and this entry continued that dark streak.

The episode featuring on torture and murder by viewers wasn’t necessarily different than other Doctor Who episodes which were dangerous, but the Doctor appears a bit more ruthless.  Fans of the series point the scene where he is battling men next an acid bath…and ends up knocking a man in and having the second one pulled in with him.  If that had been the end of the scene, it would have been ok (it was self-defense and the men fell in at their own fault in reality), but the Doctor adds a coy remark about it.  For a character that values life so much, it was rather cold and uncharacteristic.


Don’t you know who my dad is!!!

The serial does feature a great alien.  The creepy sluglike Sil played by Nabil Shaban is a scene stealer with his crazy laugh.  The effects on Sil are a bit better than some of the Doctor’s enemies (better…not great).  It was an obvious decision to bring back the fun creature for a second outing in Doctor Who:  Mindwarp which was the second entry in Doctor Who:  The Trial of the Timelord.  In addition to Sil, it is notable that Sean Connery’s son Jason Connery also featured prominently into the serial as Jondar (the man saved by the Doctor and Peri).

I do like these shorter two part serials, but Doctor Who:  Vengeance on Varos does have problems due to the inconsistencies in characterizations (at least Peri stays dumb).  With limited sets, a so-so story, and one of my least favorite Doctors and companions, I can’t really recommend Doctor Who:  Vengeance of Varos, but if you want to see another side of the Doctor, inconsistent or not, you might want to check it out.  Doctor Who:  Vengeance of Varos is followed by Doctor Who:  The Mark of the Rani.

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Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  Attack of the Cybermen (Story #137)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Mark of the Rani (Story #139)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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