City of Death

Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite.
— Radio Times review

City of Death
My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems.
My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems.
Season: 17
Episode: 2
Vital statistics
Air date 29 September – 20 October 1979
Written by Douglas Adams Graham Williams David Fisher
Directed by Michael Hayes
Episode guide
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Destiny of the Daleks The Creature from the Pit
Photograph of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward on honeymoon in Paris. Further footage from their honeymoon would form the basis for this episode and for the adult film "Blonde Schoolgirls in Paris 8".
He liked the colour green because he loved money.
Mom's sphaghetti.
Mona Lisa.jpg
Violence solves everything.

City of Death is the second serial of Season 17 of Doctor Who and is a great Tom Baker story. Set in Paris (which apparently is a dangerous place, if the title is correct), it's notable for having been co-written by Douglas Adams.


City of Death is also notable for it's fourth segment getting higher ratings than any other Doctor Who episode ever - sixteen million manchildren! It’s often listed as one of Baker’s best stories and with good reason. This is a good story for people who who find Classic Who too dull and long, the bastards. With Adams’ input, it's pretty jokey and probably helped set the comedic tone for NuWho up until based Capaldi showed up for Series 8.


Julian Glover is the Shaggoff, the alien villain split in time and scattered across Earth’s history, just like in Slaughterhouse 5. He pulls off a rubber Julian Glover mask to reveal a one-eyed green and fuzzy rubber alien mask that couldn’t have fit beneath the first one but so what. You can see his nose through it too sometimes, but he still manages to look quite fetching in a white suit nonetheless. He’s a great villain and should have been brought back to play the Master - all calm and ruthless instead of hammy. Fuck. Anyways.

Back in the past, one of his time-selves asks Leonardo da Turtle to paint six copies of the Mona Lisa while his present-day time-self steals the present day version and plans to then sell off all seven to people thinking they have the only one, to fund his time-travel experiments to reunite all his time-selves back into one so he can prevent his ship from blowing up in the past (which scattered him across history in the first place) and therefore get off earth and save his race because all their shit is on his ship and he’s the last one. Got it?  Who cares, sit back and have fun. Ultimately his cool looking space ship blows up in the past like it already did and creates life on earth because.  


This story makes fun of Americlaps with an FBI agent named Douglas and John Cleese stops by to make fun of modern art. Some bits of running about were filmed in actual Paris, not in front of a BBC blue-screen in London. Romana is qt and K-9 doesn’t show up to clutter things. Multiple times throughout the episode, The Doctor and Romana fail to SPLINK properly. Though the episode is recorded with an English language track, numerous characters are in fact speaking the devil's burp-talk.


Scaroth is the last of his race, and savior of his race, split into twelve lives, monkeying about with human history. His race was destroyed in a massive war they started, but once he travels back along his own time line and changes history, he'll be able to restore them.


Also, there's cracks in time, and the drawing of one even looks the same as the new series one, only turned 90 degrees on its side.


Comfy stuff. Shame it wasn't canon, though.