A Quick Guide to Classic Who- Season 07

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 7

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18 Comments

  1. ‘The Invasion’ actually *was* Benton’s first appearance, or at least it was fixed to make it so in ‘The Three Doctors’,
    Because Doctor #2, upon seeing Benton, exclaims, “It’s Corporal Benton!” and Benton replies, “Sergeant now.”

  2. I have mixed feelings with Jon Pertwee’s era. I do enjoy Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, so don’t think I’m bashing on him at all. What I was not fond of was the setting of his 3-4 year run. I was really interested with seeing the Brigadier and U.N.I.T., but I kind of got tired of seeing most of the show taking place on Earth. But that’s not to say that I don’t have any recommendations from the Jon Pertwee years. The must see (that I have watched so far) are:

    Day of the Daleks
    Terror of the Autons (even though seeing someone die from sitting on a plastic chair is just silly to watch, it is still amusing!)
    The Three Doctors
    The Time Warrior

    Again, not a fan, but I don’t dislike it either.

  3. Great work once again – and I couldn’t even tell that your voice was shot at all. I found it very interesting that the Nestene consciousness featured both in the debut of this season and the new show. Maybe that was deliberate? After all, both were huge shake-ups in what the show was, and Russel T. Davis might have liked the parallels (another one being that both times, we see the Doctor regenerated without having witnessed the process).

    Oh, if I may offer a slight bit of criticism – When you talked about the theme song, it may have been good to also play a chunk of what they actually went with. The aside feels a little incomplete without it.

  4. Liz Shaw is just my favorite. She was like the Doctor Who answer to Mr Spock or Dana Scully. I’m just getting into Big Finish, and they don’t offer her as a companion search. Did Caroline John do any Doctor Who Audio with another company, perhaps?

    • Liz (at the very least) turned up in a couple of recorded stories. I’m not sure if Caroline John did voicework though.

    • The last thing that Liz Shaw turned up was in the comic book story arc ‘Prisoners of Time’. That story arc is the only time you will ever see both Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith together with the 3rd Doctor.

  5. The Third Doctor is one of my favourites although I’m not too keen on his era. The Unit stories are fine but get a little repetitive, that and a lot of his stories are 7 parters. I think 4 – parters tend to work better.

    Currently the Doctor gets a well deserved reputation for being a silly, eccentric character but John Pertwee shows that the doctor can be a mature, serious and even an authoritarian figure. I would love to see Capaldi revive some of these qualities.

    • p.s. Pertwee has a great voice too. I also like McGann and Tom Baker. It seems that’s my favourite quality in a Doctor.

    • only three of Pertwee’s stories are 7 parters. There are a lot of 6 parters though, and all of them are overlong and would have made much tighter 4 part stories.

  6. Not much for me to bitch about this time around, and all that stuff you say about the new series Silurians is bang on the nail, however:-

    Re: Liz Shaw: She was not the most intelligent assistant to accompany the Doctor up to then. That distinction belongs to Zoe Heriot. However, that’s no excuse for everyone continually calling her Miss Shaw and not Doctor Shaw.

    Re: Doctor Who. That is his name, or at least a name he has sometimes gone by. Hence why the show is called Doctor Who and not Doctor Who?

    Re: Spearhead from Space. I really have no idea why people go on about this adventure being any good just because it was recorded on cheap 16 mm film. The story itself is very thin, the acoustics are terrible, making it sound as if everyone was recorded in a lavatory, and the Nestine invasion plan is daft. How will shooting a few shoppers and manifesting as a not particularly large plastic octopus contribute to the conquest of England?

    Anyway, here’s my reviews of The Ambassadors of Death:
    http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/ambassadors.html

    and Inferno: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/antecedents/inferno.html

    • Not to argue, but I do have some counter-points regarding this posting;

      Re: Liz Shaw: While Zoe is probably one of the most intelligent human companions the Doctor has had traveling with him, she has the benefit of being born in the far future, where better/more stringent education, more knowledge in general, and possibly better genetics would likely have played a good part in that. (Not to say the future doesn’t have idiots, mind, but if the blood has more geniuses in it…) Liz, meanwhile, has contemporary Earth to grow from, with less information and focus on her as a woman (bearing in mind the time period she would have grown up in) being given academically. If nothing else, she’s the most intelligent Doctor Three has had at his side.

      Re: Doctor Who. Really, there is little evidence if at all to suggest that the Doctor’s name is really Doctor Who – the name was originally meant to be his name, given to him by Barbara and Ian, but that was in a version of the pilot not used. The closest he has ever come to calling himself “Doctor Who” was when he used three latin variants of “Who” together in naming himself a wizard. Only one character in the entire series has called him “Doctor Who”, a supercomputer in the Fourth Doctor’s era, and that has no real explanation.

      Re: Spearhead From Space. Compared to the usual footage that was used for classic Doctor Who, “cheap” 16mm film made it relatively crisp today, with little of the usual graniness that persists in the adventures that were recorded even in the next two decades. I’m not entirely sure where you’re coming from with the sound quality, as I’ve listened to a DVD version of it and it comes out just fine – sure, there are a few bits where I had to use subtitles, but that’s hardly a fault of the ages (heck, even in current Doctor Who I sometimes need to replay a scene a number of times to get what someone just said).

      As for the story being “thin”, I found it to actually be pretty good. The reason that it doesn’t make sense for the nestines to start shooting people in the streets was simply because the Doctor was accelerating their plans. He was a variable they couldn’t predict, and with the danger he was presenting they wanted to make a situation to distract from them – namely, mannequins shooting people in the streets. This would allow the nestines to use their duplicates to command armies and essentially take control of the situation from both sides of the battlefield (the nestine soldiers couldn’t “die” but human forces could, allowing for purposely bad decisions to be made and thus weakening the forces overall).

      The reason for an plastic octopus not being particularly large was because it was only recently birthed, as it were, and hadn’t time to grow; likewise, the reason it would be an octopus would be for the maximum amount of limbs/weapons that it could use with minimal amounts of awkwardness (it’s hard to tip over a giant mass of tentacles as opposed to a giant person). Had they been given time, well, who knows what they’d have done.

      …that’s more than i wanted to really write, but I just wanted to give my own two cents to what was brought up here. Every fan is entitled to their own opinion, and to like or dislike stories as they come. If you didn’t enjoy it, well then you’re free to dislike it. I’m honestly baffled as to why there’s not more dislike for “The God Complex”…stupid temporary write-off…

      • Re: Liz Shaw: All your points are taken and are well made, but really down to how you define intelligence. I’d say it’s to do with breadth of knowledge and how that knowledge is applied. You’ve already agreed that Zoe, coming from the future, would be more knowledgeable, as for application, as both Zoe and Liz are fictional characters, their ability to use knowledge is based entirely on who’s writing the story, which makes it unquantifiable. Therefore, we’re back to breadth of knowledge again, which would make Zoe the more intelligent.

        Re: Doctor Who: There is plenty of evidence that the Doctor’s last name is Who. For a start, the show is called ‘Doctor Who’, not ‘Doctor Who?’ Secondly, the supercomputer calls the first Doctor, Doctor Who in “The War Machines” as does professor Brett. The Second Doctor adopted the name Doktor von Wer in “Highlanders” and later signed a message ‘Dr. W’ in “The Underwater Menace.” The third Doctor (and for a short while the fourth) drove around in a car with ‘Who 1’ on his personalised number plate, and Doctor number 7 drove the same car in “Battlefield” with ‘Who 7’ written on it. Also, right up to the end of the Tom Baker era, the Doctor was always credited on the programme’s closing titles as ‘Doctor Who’, and during the Christopher Eccleston era, he was again credited as ‘Doctor Who’. All the scripts throughout the Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and T. Baker eras credit the character as ‘Doctor Who’, and throughout the 60s, 70s and into the 80s, the Doctor Who Target novelisations were titled, ‘Doctor Who and the…”. Where does all this come from if the character’s name wasn’t Doctor Who? As for Ian and Barbara naming him ‘Doctor Who’ in “a version of the pilot episode not used,” I’ve never heard that before. Could you please direct me to your source for this information?

        Re: Spearhead From Space: True, the film used on this adventure does look crisper compared to that used on other who stories. At a guess I’d say this was probably an effect caused by the other shows being a mixture of film and video tape, in that in the final mix the film would have to go down a further grade. As for the audio quality, I’m not saying the dialogue is indistinct, I’m saying the voices often sound hollow, with a washy reverb, like they’re talking in a swimming bath. It’s caused by sound reflection coming from the bare walls of the real buildings they’re filming in. I think the story’s pretty thin. The Doctor spends much of it lying in a hospital bed, only to be kidnapped for no apparent reason, get shot and then go back to bed again, meanwhile the Autons spend three episode looking for a lost ball.

        “The reason that it doesn’t make sense for the nestines to start shooting people in the streets was simply because the Doctor was accelerating their plans. He was a variable they couldn’t predict, and with the danger he was presenting they wanted to make a situation to distract from them – namely, mannequins shooting people in the streets. This would allow the nestines to use their duplicates to command armies and essentially take control of the situation from both sides of the battlefield. (the nestine soldiers couldn’t “die” but human forces could, allowing for purposely bad decisions to be made and thus weakening the forces overall).”

        Yes, I think you’re absolutely correct on this point and it’s further reinforced by having clear parallels with Vaughn’s secret plan to destroy the Cybermen in “The Invasion.” That’s quite ingenious, however, “Spearheads” surface plot is still pretty boring.

        “The reason for an plastic octopus not being particularly large was because it was only recently birthed, as it were, and hadn’t time to grow; likewise, the reason it would be an octopus would be for the maximum amount of limbs/weapons that it could use with minimal amounts of awkwardness (it’s hard to tip over a giant mass of tentacles as opposed to a giant person). Had they been given time, well, who knows what they’d have done.”

        Again, well argued, and I agree totally.

        “I’m honestly baffled as to why there’s not more dislike for “The God Complex”…stupid temporary write-off…”

        I can’t even remember the “God Complex”.

  7. My favorite Doctor! I actually got hooked on Who with the Tom Baker era but when I go to watch a DVD I almost always pick out a Pertwee story now. The clips you selected do a nice job of illustrating what the Doctor’s attitude to violence should be (at least in my opinion). He has strong ethics and is horrified by the wholesale destruction of the Silurians but is still willing and able to take action if all else fails – as opposed to the overly emo angsty new Who. (I actually enjoy much of the new show and would put Blink on any list of best Doctor Who episodes by the way)

    Your last line made me laugh out loud! At least the Master who seems to be at the root of almost any trouble in this era of the show is Delgado though:-)

  8. To Alan Stevens (final note)

    Re3: Liz Shaw: I conceed your point on knowledge in terms of knowledge. I could argue that Liz is wiser than Zoe then, in that she’s not as naive as Zoe was (although to be fair, Liz was hardly a guru), but that’s kind of picking at an already settled discussion.

    Re3: Doctor Who: I suppose I should have looked around a bit more before I wrote that response. Specifically, WOTAN is one of the only ones to definitely name the Doctor as “Doctor Who” on screen. You’re right, in that the Doctor has used Who or Dr. W as part of his given name a number of times, but it’s never been outright stated (or, admittedly, denied) that his name was actually Doctor Who on screen. General concensus off-screen just simply seems to be that he’s not “Doctor Who”, just “The Doctor”, and it’s something I subscribe to as well.

    As for the unaired version of the pilot giving the name “Doctor Who”, my sources are from a couple of wikis (which is fairly lax in terms of actual credibility, I again admit), the notes on which have for some reason vanished (the actual pages regarding the unaired pilot, mind, are still available). As I can’t quantify my evidence in the argument, I won’t press it.

    Re3 (finale): Heh, if you’re right on the audio that may be ironic – for visual quality the location set-pieces offer, they are forced to downgrade in terms of sound quality. This could be a result of using the film cameras for this event, but that seems unlikely – most buildings, be it today or the 1970s, simply aren’t meant to work both for business practices and for staging television shows.

    While I still think the episode’s story in itself wasn’t boring, nor thin, it is admittedly a bit uneven in terms of how the plot is handled. Something I don’t quite appreciate is why the autons searching for the ball don’t simply completely obliterate the various figures it comes across. (such as the wife of the hunter who finds the plastic-meteorite he’s been keeping – she posed a violent opposition, and there was never any vocal concerns regarding a power cell or levels in using the ranged weaponry. Instead, she’s passed out, where it was implied that the dog barking off-screen was killed) I partially put it down to the way that it was more setting up the tone for the series to come overall, given how huge a tonal shift the episode was introducing. Could have been better, but ultimately we should be thankful it didn’t go much worse (The Twin Dilenma anyone?).

    And to address my comment on “The God Complex”, it’s not so much the fact that it was a temporary write-off for Amy and Rory that gets me…it’s how it’s done. Characterization is outright slashed apart in it to both Amy (the Doctor came back to Amy in TWO timelines, yet her greatest fear isn’t of her daughter melting to goop in her arms or of said daughter being in the hands of a mad woman, or even of Rory being separated from her again for hundreds of years and going mad) and Rory (living for near two millennium means you have no fears or faith, even in other people…like his wife being kidnapped, his daughter melting to goop, Amy being trapped in a big black box for hundreds of years with him being at fault for nearly killing her, him being out of his own control AND attempting to kill her, or of her leaving him for the Doctor). Even disregarding that, the Doctor only needs to say that he’s not a hero, just a madman with a box (a nickname SHE gave him), without any evidence, in order to break Amy’s faith on him? And that’s enough to convince her to go back to a mundane life? That, my friends, is grade A CRAP, and it is the highlight of why it’s my most hated story of the entire franchise (then there’s the fact that it’s derivative, the coward of the group doesn’t get any comeuppance for his actions, the Doctor is a dumbass in it throughout, and somehow a massive, computer generated facility that can’t delete old rooms in itself doesn’t have a million dead bodies lying around once it’s over (the fact the Doctor can hack into PA systems that don’t exist makes it even more confounding)).

    …and that’s all from me. Diamanda, thanks for making the guide, and for allowing this discussion to take place; Alan Stevens, thank you for giving a series of articulated responses to my own responses in this discussion, and for not devolving to insults and “you’re wrong because I say so”, as so many are wont to on the internet.

    • Re: Doctor Who: It has been stated outright that his name is Doctor Who in “The War Machines”. WOTAN says “Doctor Who is required, bring him here.” and Professor Brett takes up the refrain by stating “Top priority is to enlist Doctor Who. He has advanced knowledge which WOTAN needs. Doctor Who must be enlisted into our services tonight.” I agree that the current general consensus off-screen is that his name is just “The Doctor”, but that wasn’t always true, and may change again.

      Re: Pilot episode. I’ve seen this episode a number of times, and have it on DVD, but at no point do Ian and Barbara refer to him as Doctor Who, although in the episode “The Cave of Skulls,” Ian does say, “Who is he? Doctor who?”

      “Something I don’t quite appreciate is why the autons searching for the ball don’t simply completely obliterate the various figures it comes across. (such as the wife of the hunter who finds the plastic-meteorite he’s been keeping – she posed a violent opposition, and there was never any vocal concerns regarding a power cell or levels in using the ranged weaponry. Instead, she’s passed out, where it was implied that the dog barking off-screen was killed)”

      At a guess, I’d say killing the woman would have sparked a murder investigation, and the Autons were trying to keep a low profile.

      Re: “The God Complex”: Again, I can’t really comment on this story, because I hardly remember it. I also have trouble recalling the various ins and outs of Rory and Amy’s convoluted histories, mainly because I found the events completely unengaging.

      Anyway, nice talking to you, and perhaps we’ll speak again on the season 8 comments page.:)

    • Taiko said, ““The God Complex”… it’s not so much the fact that it was a temporary write-off for Amy and Rory that gets me…it’s how it’s done. Characterization is outright slashed apart in it to both Amy (the Doctor came back to Amy in TWO timelines, yet her greatest fear isn’t of her daughter melting to goop in her arms or of said daughter being in the hands of a mad woman, or even of Rory being separated from her again for hundreds of years and going mad) and Rory (living for near two millennium means you have no fears or faith, even in other people…like his wife being kidnapped, his daughter melting to goop, Amy being trapped in a big black box for hundreds of years with him being at fault for nearly killing her, him being out of his own control AND attempting to kill her, or of her leaving him for the Doctor). Even disregarding that, the Doctor only needs to say that he’s not a hero, just a madman with a box (a nickname SHE gave him), without any evidence, in order to break Amy’s faith on him? And that’s enough to convince her to go back to a mundane life? That, my friends, is grade A CRAP,”

      I’ve now rewatched this episode. I think the message is that Amy is an utterly selfish person who is totally obsessed with the Doctor to the exclusion of everyone else. I’m not sure how conscious this is on behalf of the writer, but it certainly fits with the overall misogynist themes of Nu Who season 6.

  9. 27 Cool Things About “Spearhead from Space” (with thanks to Taiko) http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/spearhead.html

  10. Spearhead feels like a British horror.


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