Tuesday 19 April 2011

Season 15

We are finally out of the Hinchcliffe era. Yay!

Unfortunately the first season of the Graham William years was horribly uneven. While Hinchcliffe had his rotten turnips like Android Invasion, for the most part he managed to maintain a very average standard throughout his producership, though this came with a tendency to rely on stock horror plots. Graham Williams producership was characterised by a wide variety of different kinds of story. Sometimes the experiemnts worked as with City of Death and at other times, they were dismal failures, like Creature from the Pit. This unevenness is very apparent in his first season.

Image of the Fendahl and Horror of Fang Rock are often seen as leftovers from the Hinchcliffe era. I think this is a mistake. Not only are they better than any Hinchcliffe stories, but they are quite different in style. These stories drop the shock tactics of Hinchcliffe's use of death and violence and offer a far more psychological and cosmic horror. Williams was under strict orders from the BBC to tone down the violence in the show and this makes for a much more tasteful season.

The reduction in violence was also accompanied by more comedy and in general, a rather lighter tone. There is none of the heaviness of Pyramids of Mars and Deadly Assassin, even in the two horror serials. Eventually this emphasis on comedy would reach the point of flippancy and spoil the show in Season 17.

Williams wisely dropped, or at least underplayed, the rather chauvinistic idea that the Doctor was trying to civilize Leela Eliza Doolittle-style. Leela was used more as a figure of fun in this season. The Doctor for the most part seemed indifferent to her in Season 15 and shamelessly exploited her in Invasion of Time. As he did not invite her on to his TARDIS, I see no particular reason why the Doctor should be especially fond of Leela.

Season 15 sees the introduction of K9. Although I like the Williams era, in general, I find K9 really annoying. Perhaps he was not so bad with Leela, but when Romana was introduced to the TARDIS, he really became a problem. Having three know-it-alls on board the TARDIS was too much.

One thing that is quite noticeable in Season 15 is the influence of Star Wars. There is an increased emphasis on space stories and attempts to create spaceships (some of them quite good).

Horror of Fang Rock- 9/10
The triumph of great script writing and great acting over budget constraints. Amazing how Terrance Dicks managed to write this at the drop of a hat.

The Invisible Enemy- 4/10
An attempt to do a much more spacey story. Some of the effects and modelwork are great, but much of it comes across as a little silly.

Image of the Fendahl- 9/10
Chilling cosmic horror, but not without a sense of humour.

The Sunmakers- 4/10
A very poor attempt at satire and much of the humour falls flat.

Underworld- 3/10
An attempt to capture the mythic feel of Star Wars. It mostly comes across as very dull and the effects are overambitious.

The Invasion of Time- 7/10
A story that has a lot of faults, but deserves a better reputation. It has some really great moments. The scenes in the TARDIS are much better than the JNT-era TARDIS scenes.


  1. As much as I enjoy the Hincliffe era, I agree that it is rather one note. The Williams era has much more diversity and you don't really know from story to story where the show will go, which was always one of the best things about The Hartnell Era. When The Williams era worked, it was great. Unfortunately, I think the lows are pretty low. That said, even the lows could often be appreciated by what they were trying to do. I think Underworld and Horns of Nimon could have been great stories, conceptually. The execution, sadly, failed.

    "Horror of Fang Rock" and "Image of the Fendahl" are my favorites from this season. I enjoy "The Sunmakers", but mainly because it was Robert Holmes doing thin-veiled whinging of the British tax system. Could have been a better story, but I admire the chutzpah of using BBC money to tell a story that is critiquing the government.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thouhts.

    For me the problem with The Sunmakers is that it tries to satirise both captialism and the tax system and ends up portraying a society that makes no economic sense at all.