Tuesday 19 July 2011

Season 22

It was certainly a mistake to introduce the Sixth Doctor at the end of the previous season instead of opening with his first story. It is just one of the many ways in which he was set up to fail, not least among them the hideous costume he was given.

After the grey darkness of the previous season, Season 22 has something of a more colourful look. For the most part, this is not accompanied by a more light-hearted tone. Season 22 is unrelentingly violent and full of some quite vicious characters. To my mind, the crushing of Lytton's hands in Attack of the Cybermen represents the heights of excessive violence in Doctor Who. Production values in this season are a mixed bag, with some great location work and a few good sets, but also some uninspired acting in some stories. The quality of script writing is rather underwhelming in Season 22.

There does seem to have been a genuine desire to challenge viewers and offer a fresh approach to Doctor Who, but it was too half-hearted. For all the attempt to make the Doctor scary and less clean-cut, like he had been in the Hartnell years, he was still presented as a nice guy deep down. The McCoy years would later succeed in making the Doctor seem genuinely scary and dangerous. The over reliance on past continuity, inherited from the previous seasons would also serve as a barrier to offering a fresh approach.

As with the previous season, there is a strong thematic connection between the serials of this season. There is an emphasis on consumption, lust and the body. Attack of the Cybermen has the Cybermen consuming human bodies, Vengeance on Varos has colonists who consume images of torture, Mark of the Rani has the Rani using human bodies as a source of chemicals and, of course, turning people into trees. The Two Doctors is all about eating the flesh of humans and aliens. Timelash has the Borad wanting to posses and change Peri's body. Revelation of the Daleks is about bodies being turned into food and also into Daleks. With some better writers, these scripts could have considerably enhanced the depth and strength of the stories.

Through it all, Colin Baker gave some pretty decent performances. As both the Doctor and as a real person he is very likable, but he was simply not given material that enabled him to shine. Nicola Bryant was also disadvantaged by being paired with a character with whom her character would inevitably clash. It can be fun watching the Sixth Doctor and Peri bicker, but through the whole season it became just a bit too much.

Attack of the Cybermen 3/10

Too much obsession with continuity, too much violence and shockingly weak Cybermen.

Vengeance on Varos 7/10

The makings of a great story, let down by lazy and careless script writing.

The Mark of the Rani 4/10

Why did they have to bring back the Master?

The Two Doctors 9/10

A very postmodern story that deconstructs our idea of the way the Doctor operates.

Timelash 3/10

Very silly, but still fun.

Revelation of the Daleks 9/10

Brilliantly directed with a great set of characters, but the Doctor is completely irrelevant to the plot.


  1. I don't really think a little bit of blood on the hands constitutes excessive violence nowadays. There has never been any violence in Doctor Who that I think was excessive to my personal taste, but I could see why it might be slightly much for kids.

    I actually haven't seen Timelash, Revelation, or Mark yet, but I can comment on the other three. I think I like "Attack" slightly more than you; violence doesn't bother me and being obsessed with continuity is fine by me, too. I don't like Peri in it at all, and there are points where I think it's a bit flat, but it's okay... maybe average. "Varos" bored me badly the first time I saw it, but it's been a while and I kinda tuned out by halfway through, so it might require a second viewing. I was actually really disappointed by "The Two Doctors." Patrick Troughton is one of my favorite Doctors, and I thought the fact that he spends most of the story in that weird bushy-eye browed form kinda lame; I wanted to see more of just the Doctor being the Doctor. I also think it had some pretty bad pacing issues. Being that I was a vegetarian for most of my teenage years (up until about 18 months ago, actually), I can sympathize with the point Holmes was making, though. Still, I thought it was pretty average.

  2. Thanks for sharimg your thoughts, Matt.

  3. ... that was the most polite difference of opinion I have ever witnessed.

  4. Thanks. I strive to be courteous.

  5. That is, unless we are talking about Invasion of the Dinosaurs.