A Quick Guide to Classic Who- Season 03

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 3.

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21 Comments

  1. I had no idea that so much outstanding stuff was in a single series. It’s a huge pity that so much of series 3 didn’t survive. Looks like this was one of THE classic seasons to watch.

  2. wow.. I didn’t know that Celestial was a slang word for Chinese. It does put a nasty spin on that character. I foolishly thought the Mandarin robes where just for fun. I wouldn’t actually mind a return of him. It would be good to see the doctor face a villain who’s far more powerful than he is. A villain who wouldn’t give a fuck about the Doctor’s reputation. In fact bring him back as the Crystal Guardian. The guardians’ whereabouts during the time War could do with an explanation.

    as for the Monoids I thought it was a tale about how the oppressed can turn into the oppressors but if you’re from a people with a history of being shit on, being implied you’ll do the same could be seen as an insult. maybe if it was better done but the Monoids do turn into cartoon villains in their second appearance.

    It would also be nice to see a companion like Sara Kingdom again. When we saw Amy Pond in the 11th hour I was actually disappointed when it was revealed that she wasn’t a Police woman.

    Adam IS a tool, although to be honest if I was with the doctor in the future I might have tried a similar thing. maybe just pick up an almanac or something.

    It would be great to recover some of the speeches of the first Doctor, he makes one after they flee Trojans where he proclaims “I am not a god, I am not a god”.

    • Actually he says, ” I’m not a Doc. I am not a god.”

      • ..its been a few weeks but nether the less I find it a meaningful moment for the doctor.

    • >wow.. I didn’t know that Celestial was a slang word for Chinese.<

      Casts a big shadow over the "Celestial Intervention Agency," doesn't it?

      • Nah. There are several meanings. If the Celestial Toymaker had the same name but had no more offensive Asian steriotypes then this wouldnt be an issue.

      • > If the Celestial Toymaker had the same name but had no more offensive Asian steriotypes then this wouldnt be an issue.<

        However, the Celestial Intervention Agency, known for its mysterious powers of political manipulation, was a creation of writer Robert Holmes, who also came up with "The Celestial Chang" for the Doctor Who adventure "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". So he's got form.

  3. I think season 3 is possibly the best series of Doctor Who’s black and white era. In fact, you have to go right up to season 13 to find anything again as consistently good.

    The season contains four outstanding classics; “The Myth Makers,” (which beats the crap out of both “The Aztecs” and “The Time Meddler.”) “The Daleks’ Master Plan (which is the best Dalek story ever written and also the best story featuring the time Meddling Monk. See: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/antecedents/masterplan.html), the hugely neglected “The Savages” (again, to find out why it’s so good please read this: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/antecedents/savages.html) and “The Massacre.”

    The only story that doesn’t work in season three is “The Celestial Toymaker,” and that’s because the original script by Donald Tosh was fucked up big time by incoming story editor Gerry Davis (see http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/dtinterview.html). Gerry Davis, together with new producer Innes Lloyd, were also responsible for screwing up “The Gunfighter” by sticking that bloody song all over it.

    In regards to “The Ark” you say the moral of the story is “if you were a slave and somehow defeated your masters, then you’re going to end up as the villain in a bad Doctor Who story.” I’m not sure I agree with that. Surely, the moral is “if you treat a group of people as slaves, then don’t be surprised when, if one day they get the upper hand, they do the same to you.” Neither the Monoids or the humans behave well in this story.

    • Sorry, forgot to include a link to this article on “The Ark” http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/ark.html

    • I agree with you completely about season 3 but season 13 has to be one of the weakest and worst seasons in Classic Who. It got rid of the charming companions, interesting side characters and exciting adventure stories. They were replaced by a kill happy idiot, flat or unlikable cannon fodder, and boring horror rip-offs that had effects which made Hammer look like Stanley Kubrick. Seriously it is impossible to watch almost any of the Talons of Weng-Chiang without cringing for one reason or another. Season 15 and 16 is when the show really grew the beard and was in top form.

      • >I agree with you completely about season 3 but season 13 has to be one of the weakest and worst seasons in Classic Who.It got rid of the charming companions,interesting side characters and exciting adventure stories. They were replaced by a kill happy idiot, flat or unlikable cannon fodder, and boring horror rip-offs that had effects which made Hammer look like Stanley Kubrick.Seriously it is impossible to watch almost any of the Talons of Weng-Chiang without cringing for one reason or another.<

        "Talons" is from season 14, not season 13.

      • Bloody hell. I’m now going to try printing it as four posts to see if that will work. Can you please press your magic delete key again and remove this post and the one I just made prior to it?

        Again, sorry and many thanks
        Alan

      • 1/4

        –I agree with you completely about season 3 but season 13 has to be one of the weakest and worst seasons in Classic Who.–

        I’d certainly agree that season three (Hartnell) is better then season 13. But Season 13 is better than everything that comes between them. Okay, you’ve got the occasional classic story popping up like “The Web of Fear,” or “Inferno” or “Genesis of the Daleks,” however, there is also great wodges of tedious junk.

        –It got rid of the charming companions,–

        Are we talking about Harry Sullivan here? I met Ian Marter on a number of occasions, and he as a very nice guy, but his character in Doctor Who was a bit of a cliché and also redundant when it was decided to cast an actor in the Doctor role who could do his own fighting.

        –interesting side characters and exciting adventure stories.–

        There were loads of interesting side characters. Laurence Scarman was a great character for one, brought to life by the wonderful Michael Sheard. You also had Cynthia Grenville as Maren, and then there’s Mark Jones as Arnold Keeler, whose sinister character shift as he turns into the Krynoid, even today, remains highly disturbing. There are many of great character turns in season 13, the stories are fun and the villains are fabulous.

      • 2/4

        –They were replaced by a kill happy idiot, flat or unlikable cannon fodder,–

        Are you sure you’re not confusing this with season 7, where the Doctor joins the army and they get to do a series of dreary Quatermass rip-offs?

        — and boring horror rip-offs that had effects which made Hammer look like Stanley Kubrick.–

        I think, on the whole, the effects is season 13 are very good for the time. I remember attending a convention in 1983, watching “Pyramids of Mars,” and being totally blown away by the fact that it was so much better acted, better directed and better written than anything I’d recently watch during season 20. To produce something in television that still visually stands up 8 years after first transmission is something of a triumph anyway, but to achieve that with a science fiction serial is nothing less than miraculous. The fact that the Zygons came back for the 50th anniversary, virtually unchanged from their original look in 1975, speaks very highly of the talents involved.

        –Seriously it is impossible to watch almost any of the Talons of Weng-Chiang without cringing for one reason or another.–

        “Talons” is from season 14, not season 13.

      • 3/4

        –Season 15 and 16 is when the show really grew the beard and was in top form.–

        Well, I like “Horror of Fang Rock” but some of the effects work was poor even for the day. I watched “The Invisible Enemy” again a few weeks back. I quite enjoyed it, and thought there were some interesting concepts being discussed, but it looks very, very cheap and the characterisation is thin. “Image of the Fendahl” is a excellent, but then that’s a story that wouldn’t have looked out of place under Hinchcliffe. I saw “The Sun Makers” a couple of months ago. I enjoyed it, but again it looks painfully cheap and stagey, and the characterisation also is a little cardboard, which is strange when you consider the story was written by Robert Holmes. “Underworld” is dreadful on every level. Even Tom seems subdued, and “The Invasion of Time” is almost impossible to watch. Season 16 is a great improvement over its predecessor, with the single exception of “The Armageddon Factor,” which was another story I struggled to get through. However, the season is still pervaded with a feeling of cheapness, and if you want to criticise effects work, then you can’t get much worse than the Shrivenzale, the Megara, Kroll and the Taren Wood Beast.

      • 4/4

        Generally, Seasons 15 and 16 feature flat directing, poor stunt work, laborious fight scenes, and a general lack of threat or tension, mainly down to Tom Baker’s increasingly over the top performance. Equally, Leela, who in season 14 was a vibrant mix of intellect and instinct, is whittled away to zero during season 15, finally being married off to a guard from Gallifrey. She is then replaced by the extremely stilted and wooden Mary Tam.

        Another thing to remember, is that when we watch classic Who today, we watch it out of order. However, if you sit down and watch the stories consecutively, as they went out, you are presented with a whole new experience, because watching a series in order shows up its flaws, exposes its formula, and lays bare the repetition. A few years ago I watched every episode of Doctor Who in order between “The Brain of Morbius” and “The Talon of Weng-Chiang” and I enjoyed it. It seemed fresh and alive. Some stories were better than others, I agree. I think “Terror of the Zygons” is ridiculous. I think “Talons” is not only racist, but over-cooked, however, generally, watching those stories in order was a fun experience. I then did the same with the Williams era. I watched “The Armadeddon Factor” through to “City of Death,” and I had to stop, as I was literally bored out of my head. I found the sheer accumulative banality of it crushing. “City of Death” on it’s own? Great. “City of Death” within the formulaic context of everything else around it? Jesus H. Corbitt!

      • Mr. Stevens all I can say to that is, to borrow an old expression, different strokes for different folks. While season 15 might not have had the best beginning it finished strong. Plus it was and was able turn Leela who was originally one of, if not the most loathsome companion into somebody that was not only tolerable but even likable. (you were right thou she was introduced in 14 not 13 they kind of run together in my mind). I was originally introduced to Doctor Who in the early 2000 by being shown a serial from season 14 and was so put off it took me about a decade to watch another Doctor Who episode. On the other hand watching 2 serials from the key to time saga back to back turned me into a fan of Baker and the fourth doctor who I had stayed away from even after getting into classic who.

        While I do think that season 13 a couple of good stories it began the downward spiral that lead to season 14 which had only one good story (the Deadly Assassin). I found the show becoming much more formulaic in this period than it had been before of since. Season 16 on the other hand had one bad story (Kroll) and so did 17 (Eden). They are tied with 20 and 25 for the best seasons of classic Doctor Who. The fact it only took two years to go from bad to great is impressive and is the quickest turn around in that direction. The preceding was my opinion and I know it is not shared by everyone, however I do like hearing a sound and rational argument by someone who disagrees with me much more than the typical you are wrong because I say so attitude usually found in comment sections of videos.

      • >While season 15 might not have had the best beginning it finished strong.Plus it was and was able turn Leela who was originally one of, if not the most loathsome companion into somebody that was not only tolerable but even likable.Season 16 on the other hand had one bad story (Kroll) and so did 17 (Eden). They are tied with 20 and 25 for the best seasons of classic Doctor Who.<

        Not keen on "Arc of Infinity," "Mawdryn Undead" or the "King's Demons". "Terminus" had a lot of potential going for it, but the Black Guardian is crowbarred in and the entire production looks rushed (probably because, I think due to strike action, it was).

        If I had to list my favourite seasons of Doctor Who, it would be (Hartnell) season 1 & 3. Tom Baker series 13 & 14, 16 and 18. Eccleston season 1 and that's about it. I'm talking consistency here, and am not saying that all the best stories are contained in these seasons.

      • Everytime I post comments something screws up. Here again is the first part of my post.

        –While season 15 might not have had the best beginning it finished strong.–

        I think it’s beginning is better than its end. In fact, one of the main elements of season 15 is it gradual decent into chaos. Come on “The Invasion of Time”.

        –Plus it was and was able turn Leela who was originally one of, if not the most loathsome companion into somebody that was not only tolerable but even likable.–

        Again, I think completely the opposite is true. Leela started out well enough, but then descended into cliché and lazy characterisation.

        –Season 16 on the other hand had one bad story (Kroll) and so did 17 (Eden).–

        Actually, I don’t think “Kroll” or “Eden” are bad stories, just badly produced.

  4. Great review as always Mrs Hagan, we have very similar taste when it comes to the black and white episodes. However I never thought that the Celestial Toymaker was racist or even in yellow face and it was much better than the Ark. Also both were less racist than a certain cringe worthy season 13 serial

    You seem to like the less intelligent companions like Leela and Ace who kill a lot of normal people (Ace is much more homicidal in the novels) but are ineffective against monsters (yet strangly Ace did have a talent for being shot by Daleks and Cybermen at near point blank rang and surviving without explanation). But you dislike the inelegant ones like Mel and Adric who also killed monsters but used their intelligence racer than just brut force.

    • > I never thought that the Celestial Toymaker was racist or even in yellow face<

      Looking at publicity photos from the story, Michael Gough isn't wearing yellow-face, or any kind of make-up to denote that he's meant to be Chinese. Basically, he's just a white bloke dressed up in a Mandarin costume, which is very different from John Bennett's turn as Li H'sen Chang.


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