Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Despite disliking Pertwee, I quite like Season 7. That had been a very experimental period in the history of the show in which a rather gritty realistic approach had been taken. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks felt that this approach would not chime well with the viewers and so quite a number of changes were introduced. UNIT were given a new set of uniforms and were changed from being a serious military unit into a sort of Dad's Army. The Brigadier was increasingly used for comic relief. The Doctor became increasingly chummy with him, yet also became even more arrogant and obnoxious.
Liz Shaw had been a bit boring, but she was intelligent and independent minded. This was not to the taste of Letts and Dicks, who decided to replace her with a companion who was rather less intelligent. Thus, we see the arrival in this season of Jo Grant, who is in my opinion the worst of all Doctor Who companions. Yes, Adric was annoying but teenagers often are. In Jo Grant we see the spectacle of a grown woman who talks and acts like a thirteen year old girl. She was an infantilised companion to accompany the infantilising of the show.
Season 8 also introduced Roger Delgado's Master. Letts and Dicks liked him so much that they stuck him in every story of this season. You might think even the Master deserved some annual leave. To be fair, Roger Delgado gave us some brilliant performances and few Whovians can fail to enjoy the camp fun he brought. However, in my judgment, the introduction of the Master was a bad move. In this season it lead to some rather lazy storywriting and with every appearance, his schemes became ever more ridiculous. Another problem of the Master was that he in effect acted as the Doctor's evil alter ego and this forced the Doctor to become a less ambiguous, more saintly figure. Thus, we had the Pertwee Doctor always moralizing and acting as a white knight in shining armour. The Third Doctor could never bring himself to find a final solution to the Master problem. We can well imagine that the First and Second Doctor would have made sure the Master died a violent death.
This season had some reasonable stories, but on the whole was rather lacking the inspired quality of the previous season:
Terror of the Autons- 6/10
Arguably it has a tighter plot than Spearhead from Space, but lacks the impact of the first Auton story. It also introduced an element of gimmickiness, with everyday objects becameing killing machines. RT Davies unfortunately had the idea that this was the way to do Doctor Who and gave us too many of such gimmicks in the BBC Wales series.
Mind of Evil- 5/10
This has something of the gritty realism of Season 7 and has UNIT acting as an effective military unit. However, it has an absurdly complex plot that makes little sense. The Doctor is incredibly unpleasent in this story, his worst moment being when he completely humiliates the Brigadier and boasts of being a friend of Mao Tse-Tung.
Claws of Axos- 7/10
The plot is a little silly, but it is a pretty decent production. The Axons are a well-conceived alien menace and their ship is one of the finest sets in the history of the show.
Colony in Space- 1/10
Oh dear. This has got to be the most boring story in Doctor Who ever.
The Daemons- 6/10
This story has some good ideas that were very suited to the earthbound setting, but it lacks the vital capacity to terrify. The ending is really stupid.