A Quick Guide to Classic Who Season- 14

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 14.

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20 Comments

  1. Another excellent overview, though I do wish you could have compared Pratt-Master to Delgado-Master, because both are excellent in my opinion. Also, just throwing in my opinion because I can, one of the best parts about the Deadly Assassin is how, despite saving the universe from Omega, the Doctor is considered by the Time Lords to be little more than a criminal, which given how well known the Doctor eventually becomes, makes for a very refreshing change. One last thing, I love how much of a crap the Time Lords give about the Doctor/Master conflict, which is none. Their response to the whole thing can basically be summed up as “fuck off and leave us alone.” Again, another fine entry and I’m looking forward to more.

    • I agree that both Peter Pratt and Roger Delgando were excellent as the Master, however, I’d like to add that Geoffrey Beevers also gives an outstanding performance as the Master in The Keeper of Traken.

  2. Re: “Unusually [Sarah Jane Smith] didn’t leave at the end of the season but part way through”. Why is this unusual? Susan, Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Steven, Ben, Polly, Harry, Romana II, K9 Mk2, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, Kamelion, Peri, Rory and Amy all left Doctor Who during the season, not at the end of it.

    Re: The Hand of Fear. I like this story, but it’s totally ridiculous, especially the bit where they try to shield themselves from the potential force of an exploding nuclear reactor by hiding behind a Land Rover in the power station’s car park.

    Re: Sarah Jane’s costume. I’m surprised to hear that Liz Sladen didn’t like her Andy Pandy costume in this story, as I remember attending a Manchester Doctor Who convention in 1994 and seeing Liz Sladen’s daughter, Sadie Miller, dressed in a copy of that exact same costume.

    Re: The Time Lords asking the Doctor to come home. According to The Deadly Assassin this didn’t actually happen as the Doctor’s appearance on Gallifrey is completely unexpected. More likely, the call was sent by Goth to lure the Doctor into the Master’s trap.

    Re: Sarah Jane appearing in two spin-off shows, “one of which is really fucking good.” Meaning K9 and Company, obviously.

    How is The Deadly Assassin ripped off from The Manchurian Candidate?

    Re: Talking cabbage. Didn’t Pertwee have a talking cabbage as a companion?

    Re: A companionless Doctor “was deemed a failure.” How was this a failure? In what way was The Deadly Assassin deficient in not having a young woman in a short skirt saying, “what’s gravity Doctor?”

    I know Terrance Dicks in the Target novelization states that the Doctor “fucked with the computer” during Robot, but I don’t really think this stands up, because although the Doctor does start the Tardis motors during Robot the ship doesn’t actually dematerialise.

    Re: The Face of Evil. I agree, this is a very good story. Here’s an interview with author Chris Boucher: http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/cbinterview.html

    Re: The Robots of Death. The idea that people are being murdered by robots is not meant to be a surprise. It certainly isn’t a surprise for the viewing audience because the very first murder takes place on screen, just a few minutes into episode one, and features a guy being strangled by a robot! Have you actually watched this story recently? The mystery is which member of the crew has programmed the robots to kill, and then, underneath that, what is their motivation? Anyway, here’s a review which will hopefully help clear some of these questions up: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/antecedents/vocs.html

    BTW the original story title was “The Storm Mine Murders.” It’s called that because the mobile storm harvesting facility is officially designated a Storm Mine, not a Sandminer, even though in fandom, everyone and their dog insist on calling it a Sandminer. This so irritated Boucher, that when he wrote the sequel novel “Corpse Marker” for the BBC, he included this exchange on page 76:

    DOCTOR WHO: So where’s that rather impressive sand miner you drive?

    UVANOV: It was a storm mine.

    But guess what? On the back of that very same book it states, “In Kaldor City, only the three surviviors of the Sandminer massacre know the truth,” and “Worst of all, this time the deadly robots are not confined to a Sandminer.” So it just goes to show. Received wisdom can be a right cunt.

    Here’s an interview with Commander Uvanov himself, Russell Hunter: http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/rhinterview.html

    And here’s an interview with Taren Capel himself, David Bailie: http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/bailie.html

    And here’s an interview with D84 himself,Gregory de Polnay : http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/gdpinterview.html

    And here’s a link where you can buy the wonderful six part CD series Kaldor City (including, for a limited period only, six bonus autographs from Peter Miles, Paul Darrow, Brian Croucher, David Collings, Scott Fredericks and Gregory de Palnay): http://www.kaldorcity.com/orders.html

    The Talons of Weng-Chiang has basically the same story set-up as The Deadly Assassin, in that both revolve around a deformed ghoul living in a subterranean lair, who hopes that one day he will be able to repair his ravaged body, and who also employs a legman to carry out his bidding in the world above.

    Re: Weng-Chiang “a possibly highly fictionalised Chinese god.” Weng-Chiang, the God of Abundance, is totally fictional, however, there is a Wenchang Wang, who is the God of Culture and Literature, and who in the Chinese nomenclature is called Wang Wenchang. He’s often depicted as a rather inoffensive old man with a long beard– not the sort of type you’d associate with murdering prostitutes.

    Re: “What is Magnus Greel hiding from? Time Agents from the 51st century. Basically Captain Jack Harkness.” Although Moffat keeps referencing the 51st century in his stories, the idea that there were actually “Time Agents” is totally and utterly wrong. There were no “Time Agents,” they were just a figment of Greel’s paranoia. The Zygma Experiment was a failure, and so the only man to use it and travel back in time from the 51st century was Greel himself, and even then it split open his DNA helixes.

    Re: Robots of Death not being in your “Must See”/Best Story” recommendations. Are you nuts?

  3. Hand of Fear – really good one! I have a friend of mine who thought that I would finally consider Sarah Jane Smith to be in my top 5 favorite companions, or my favorite companion of all time. I said no, because no one is able to replace Ace for me.

    The Deadly Assassin – I remember seeing this once, and I wanted to see what you meant when you said that they turned the Timelords into a laughing gauge. Up to this day, I’m still not sure what you mean by that.

    The Robots of Death – I showed my brother the Doctor explaining how the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, and he thinks its stupid. I truly pity for him.

    Talons* – I don’t remember this one, outside of the giant rat scene, but you pointing out the racism in this story is the first time ever hearing about it. But you know what they say, if you see it, you can never unsee it.

  4. It’s kind of hard to say how much of it is being the classic show getting better and how much is your own work improving steadily, but the Quick Guide really seems to get more and more entertaining lately.

  5. Thanks again for this series. I look forward to every episode and obsessively check your site for updates to it. I don’t know of any other reviewer who could do this as well as you do.

  6. It’s a shame to see the Timelords become such pushovers, I think it demeans the doctor himself to his people become jokes. It was implied they were like but it was the deadly assassin that completed that picture that but it’s a shame they went that way.

    I have no problem with them being corrupt of course it’s the fact that they are weak. Doctor doesn’t treat them as threat and I just prefer him as an underdog.

    • How are the Time Lords weak? How is the Doctor not the underdog in The Deadly Assassin? When the Doctor turns up on Gallifrey, he’s chased though the Capital by armed guards, framed for a murder, arrested, tortured, put on trial and then plunged into the nightmare world of the Matrix. When the Doctor finally gets to clear his name, he is written out of history and all the credit for defeating the Master is given to Goth.

      • he eventually gets the better of them even finishes the story by nearly becoming president. He’s taken them down like other alien threats.

      • He doesn’t nearly become President in The Deadly Assassin, he just quotes Article Seventeen as a way of preventing the Time Lords from executing him. All this stuff about the Doctor seriously becoming the President of the Time Lords didn’t appear until The Invasion of Time. The Doctor also doesn’t “take down” the Time Lords in The Deadly Assassin, although he is, interestingly, placed in the position of supporting a regime that is basically murderous. Even his victory over the Master isn’t complete, as he escapes Gallifrey and appears to be regenerating. Perhaps it might be a good idea if you actually watch this story again to remind yourself what happens during it.

      • Alan send me a message on the Hagan FB group. I have an idea.

      • “Alan send me a message on the Hagan FB group. I have an idea.”

        Hi Diamanda

        I’m not on Facebook, but you can contact me on info@kaldorcity.com

        Cheers
        Alan

  7. Very nice episode miss Hagan – informative, quick, and good humor to boot. You gave a pretty good argument mitigating the outcry over the diminishing force of the timelords (admittedly, having them be such gods unwilling to bend over and allow the Doctor to change the universe greatly would have kind of strangled the series anyways). The only point of contention I’d have is that Frobisher is really a comic companion, and only appeared in two Big Finish audios and two prose stories. Still, good notice.

    Something interesting about “The Hand of Mandragora” is that there’s an unofficial sequel in the Doctor Who novels involving the Tenth Doctor and Donna. It increases characterization for Donna’s mother Silvia and grandfather Wilf, and gives something of an explanation for why Silvia is such…well, a bitch. It doesn’t excuse it, but it gives something of a backing. Mind, it doesn’t explain how the events within the story are explained away, given they affect a lot of earth with great bouts of energy. Bittersweet ending though.

    The Robots of Death had a sort-of-sequel (I think – it could be a prequel) in the Big Finish audios Robophobia with the Seventh Doctor, which I found to be pretty enjoyable. It’s good to hear that the episode it’s linked to is also enjoyable. 🙂

    Ah yes, Wen Chiang – it’s a good episode all around, but it’s a little…yeah, pretty darn racist, and dark. It can be said that it’s accurate in tone to the period it’s set in, but…yeah, no getting around the yellow face. Tying into the above comment, there’s also a sequel from Big Finish involving the Fifth Doctor…which somehow works itself as a prequel as well. Haven’t heard that one yet, but it sounds interesting.

    • Re: “It increases characterization for Donna’s mother Silvia and grandfather Wilf, and gives something of an explanation for why Silvia is such…well, a bitch.”

      Have you noticed how all the female companions who appear in Nu Who have mothers who are either dead, or bitches.

      • It does seem to be a trend, although to be fair, Martha’s mom was a justified example. After all, Martha just suddenly appeared with a strange man she’d never mentioned before, and said man gave the (accidental) impression he and Martha were sleeping together. It really isn’t helped that after a great disaster happens she’s swiftly fed misinformation on the Doctor by the Master specifically to breed this kind of behavior. At least she and Jackie are allowed to grow out of these character behaviors once they get to know the Doctor after a time.

        I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say that Amy’s mom falls in this trend, given what little we see of her. That said, we see so little of her primarily due to her being unwritten from time for most of the season she’s a vague part of, so I suppose she could count as “dead” for the most part.

        It’s a little odd that Clara’s stepmom/aunt(?) seems to fall under this trait too, in “Time of the Doctor” (was it ever cleared who she was?). Grandmums seem to be free from it though.

      • “It does seem to be a trend, although to be fair, Martha’s mom was a justified example. After all, Martha just suddenly appeared with a strange man she’d never mentioned before, and said man gave the (accidental) impression he and Martha were sleeping together.”

        I found the whole scene rather forced, and basically just going over the same ground we’d seen with Rose’ mother Jackie in Aliens of London, but this time with less cause.

        “It really isn’t helped that after a great disaster happens she’s swiftly fed misinformation on the Doctor by the Master specifically to breed this kind of behavior.”

        Actually it is later implied that Francine Jones’ behaviour was being telepathically exacerbated by the Master’s Archangel network. However, at the end of the day, whatever the plot contrivance, you’ve still got Martha’s mother acting like a demented bitch.

        “At least she and Jackie are allowed to grow out of these character behaviors once they get to know the Doctor after a time.”

        I don’t think Francine developed any discernible character after they dispensed with the psycho-bitch plot thread, and then she left the series. Jackie Tyler did get more development, but her character’s base line was still that of a promiscuous, scrounging chav, and it is, quite frankly, appalling that we should have been presented with such a lazy, poisonous and misogynistic stereotype.

        “I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say that Amy’s mom falls in this trend, given what little we see of her. ”

        Well, she’s dead, so she does. In The Rings of Akhaten Clara visits her grave.

        “It’s a little odd that Clara’s stepmom/aunt(?) seems to fall under this trait too, in “Time of the Doctor” (was it ever cleared who she was?)”

        I think she was meant to be Clara’s stepmother, so again, being the mother of the Doctor’s female companion, she’s also got to be a harridan.

      • Hi Taiko

        Sorry, I misread this bit as if you were talking about Clara’s mum, so I’ll answer it again, but this time correctly.

        “I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say that Amy’s mom falls in this trend, given what little we see of her. That said, we see so little of her primarily due to her being unwritten from time for most of the season she’s a vague part of, so I suppose she could count as “dead” for the most part.”

        Yes, I agree. Perhaps if you’re a mother that comes back from the dead then you get a pass.

  8. I think you might be misrepresenting ‘Robots of Death’ a little bit. The fact that the robots are the ones murdering people is never really played up as a mystery in the episode itself, even when you get past the title. The first on-screen killing is explicitly shown to be done by a robot, after all.

    The actual mystery is who among the crew members is reprogramming the robots so that they’re capable of killing humans, bypassing Asimov’s laws and all that. Granted, a few directional flub-ups render that one a bit of a no-brainer as well. Still, the episode is worth watching for The Doctor, Leela, the supporting cast, and the gorgeous sets.

  9. I thought Robots of Death made it clear early on that the robots were responsible. The mystery was more about who Taren Capel is. Though if I remember correctly the audience has about a 0% chance of deducing that.


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