Straight-down-the-line thinking, that’s what this situation needs.
The TARDIS visits the planet Deva Loka, where all Tegan becomes possessed by an evil force known as the Mara.
This story is perhaps the best example of how flexible the format of Doctor Who is. Kinda focuses more on aspects of belief rather than science fiction ideas and this means that it sticks in the memory much more than some of the other stories surrounding it. The story also disposes of Nyssa for much of the story, allowing the focus to be much more on Tegan and Adric, as well as the fairly new Fifth Doctor. There is also some particularly fantastic direction by Peter Grimwade on this story which allows for some particularly striking visuals.
Kinda borrows some ideas from Buddhism and some elements of Christianity to create the belief system of the Kinda living on the planet of Deva Loka, and whilst some elements of this make the story complicated to follow for a casual viewer, it allows for the world that the Doctor and his companions find themselves on to feel more fleshed out. Elements such as the names of Karuna and the Mara all come from Buddhism but as they are mixed with other ideas which allows them to feel fresh and alien. The only issue this creates is that I imagine that at the time it wasn’t terribly interesting to children watching the programme. There’s no real alien or monster, with the wonky looking Mara snake at the end, however, I can honestly say that it did not affect my enjoyment of the story, as it only features briefly. Some of the bigger ideas about the Kinda and the story in general served to keep me interested enough to follow the complexities of the plot.
The direction of Peter Grimwade cements this story as a classic. Grimwade’s technique of directing from the floor was fairly unique at the time and draws a parallel between himself and Graeme Harper, another standout director of this era of the show. Where the two men differ however, is that Grimwade seems to have irritated actors later in his run, especially on the production of Earthshock. Here, he has some difficult scenes to direct, such as the scenes inside Tegan’s mind which feel almost like a play. In the hands of another director, these could feel very over the top and out of place, but his handling of the scenes, coupled with the three actors involved in the scenes set here, especially Jeff Stewart as Dukkha. The scenes in her mind, where everything is compressed to simple colours, emphasising the little red seen, making them seem vampiric. Grimwade really makes the scenes in her mind truly memorable and everything in Tegan’s possession scenes are unsettling, creepy and a little disturbing. The merits of Grimwade’s style of direction can also be seen especially in the performance of Simon Rouse as Hindle, where his descent into madness and his determination to destroy the planet he is supposed to be colonising is handled really well by both the actor and the director. Similarly to the scenes in Tegan’s mind, this could seem ridiculous in different hands, so it is to both’s credit. The direction also helps to give the Mara an effective debut, and they would go on to reappear in Snakedance.
With regards to the TARDIS crew, the absence of Nyssa allows us to understand the dynamics between this team and give us a chance for some much-needed development for Tegan. Janet Fielding gives a really compelling performance as the unhinged Tegan and By making this villain so inextricably linked to Tegan, and giving her something different to do rather than moaning about getting back to Heathrow allows us to see a different side of the Doctor. We also see that she and Adric don’t really get along – as demonstrated in their discussion about mental control in Part Four and Tegan thinking she’s helping Nyssa win at checkers at the beginning of the story. The fact that Adric spends most of the story “captured” by Hindle and Tegan is battling her own demons allows Peter Davison to take the lead, and he gives his most convincing performance as the Doctor here, especially in his scene facing off against Aris, where he feels as though he is in complete control of his situation. We also see how the relationship between the Doctor and Adric has changed since the former regenerated, and the relationship is now more of a brotherly one rather than a father-son relationship as previously. The Doctor also gets to spend a lot of time with Todd, played by Nerys Hughes, who comes across as a great pseudo-companion, who is inquisitive and thoughtful.
Verdict: Kinda is an interesting story that introduces a great villain and has some great performances from both the main and guest casts. 10/10
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Nerys Hughes (Todd), Richard Todd (Sanders), Simon Rouse (Hindle), Mary Morris (Panna), Sarah Prince (Karuna), Adrian Mills (Aris), Anna Wing (Anatta), Roger Milner (Anicca), Jeff Stewart (Dukkha), Lee Cornes (Trickster)
Writer: Christopher Bailey
Director: Peter Grimwade
Behind the Scenes
- Despite receiving a mixed reaction from fans on transmission, in more recent times it has been ranked as the second most popular story from season 19, behind Earthshock.
- This story marks the first time since the show started being filmed in colour that one of the companions was absent from the narrative for an entire episode. In this case, the story had been completed prior to the casting of Nyssa as a companion.
- Kinda demonstrates then state of the art Quantel effects for the trip through Tegan’s eye, however, production issues cut down studio time, which impacted on the appearance of the snake in Part 4.
- The story writes out the sonic screwdriver very early on. In the following story, The Visitation, the sonic screwdriver would be destroyed and would not return until the TV Movie.
- Jonny Lee Miller appears in an uncredited role.
- This is the only story of Peter Davison’s run to feature no interior TARDIS scenes.
- The story was commissioned by Christopher H. Bidmead, worked on by Anthony Root and produced under Eric Saward, which means that it has had the most script editors work on it.
The use of the Quantel technology to zoom in on Tegan’s eye and into the dark recesses of her mind is fantastic.
An apple a day keeps the – Ah. Never mind.
The Fifth Doctor