A Quick Guide to Classic Who Season- 18

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 18.

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16 Comments

  1. too. much.. burgundy, and the fashion choices got worse and worse.

    I don’t think Tom Baker should have stayed for 7 series. No one Doctor should really, at least 3 and at most 5 series seems like a reasonable amount. like you said it gets stale.

    as for the watcher, still don’t know exactly what he is. a manifestation of the doctor?, that’s not too clear. I once read that the Valeyard at one point was considered to be rouge watcher, that would actually make sense for him.

    I did find Adric annoying at times but I honestly didn’t really hate him, I even related to his awkwardness at times. saying that, boy geniuses are nearly always annoying and he really shouldn’t have been a companion.

    • *rogue watcher

    • I think the quality of the show has more to do with the production and writing staff than the length of time an actor works as the doctor. Tom Bakers best series were the ones done in his fifth and sixth season. The main reason this season was bad was because of all the changes JNT made, luckily he gets better in the next two seasons.

      I do not understand all the hatred Adric gets. He was an intelligent and interesting member of the TARDIS crew. While he could be a bit annoying he was not even the worst character during his tenure on the TARDIS (that dubious honor goes to Tegan).

      • RAF said:

        “I think the quality of the show has more to do with the production and writing staff than the length of time an actor works as the doctor.”

        I agree.

        “Tom Bakers best series were the ones done in his fifth and sixth season.”

        That’s a matter of opinion. The general consensus is that Baker was at his best in seasons 12 to 14, and that after that he got increasingly overbearing. Personally, having watched a big chunk of seasons 15, 16 and 17 over the last two weeks, I’d say that Baker’s performance certainly changes, but not necessarily for the worst.

        “The main reason this season was bad was because of all the changes JNT made,”

        I don’t think this season is bad, although I also wouldn’t say it was an actual improvement over what had come before either. It’s just different. Graham Williams used to say that to keep it fresh, you should change about 15% of a show every year. Any less, and the audience will get bored, any more and you’re liable to alienate the viewer. I think 15% is a little over cautious, to be honest, and at the time I was certainly finding the show a bit of a bore. Equally, although I welcomed the changes made to the programme in season 18, the general public did seem alienated, hence the ratings fall.

        “luckily he gets better in the next two seasons.”

        Actually, I think he gets progressively worse.

      • your properly right but I’m always trying to avoid the trope of blaming everything bad in Doctor Who on JNT. He did make a few bad decisions but he was sort of trapped in the job and the Michael grade had it out for the show as well of course.

      • The Jeff Sentence said:

        “but I’m always trying to avoid the trope of blaming everything bad in Doctor Who on JNT. He did make a few bad decisions but he was sort of trapped in the job and the Michael grade had it out for the show as well of course.”

        It’s true that Doctor Who’s cancellation had nothing to do with JNT and everything to do with Michael Grade’s long-standing hatred for the series. If Philip Hinchcliffe had been the producer during the time Grade took over, it would still have been cancelled. In fact, according to RTD, when Grade returned to the BBC in 2004, Mark Thompson, the then BBC Director General, tried to get Doctor Who cancelled all over again.

        However, having said that, much of Doctor Who’s problems during the 1980s were down to JNT, and he casts a long shadow, to the point where I would say that much of what is wrong with the show today can be traced back to 80s Who.

    • The Jeff Sentence said:-

      “As for the watcher, still don’t know exactly what he is. a manifestation of the doctor?”,

      He was a spectre from the Doctor’s future, brought into being as a consequence of the Universe’s future entropic destruction. Equally, it’s the spectre’s appearance that causes the entropic destruction in the first place, because if the Watcher hadn’t told the Doctor to go to Logopolis, then the Master would not have arrived to interfere in the Logoplians’ programme.

  2. I can definitely see where they were trying to go with that season. Too bad that they never got there.
    Great work as usual on the Guide! There was a LOT of information to transport, and you delivered it directly and effectively.

  3. The Leisure Hive – I only remembered the part where the Doctor was sleeping at the beach (probably a metaphor of the episode), and when he turned old. Outside of that, I can’t remember a darn thing.

    Full Circle – 5:50 – Had a good laugh! Never watched Earthshock on DVD, but now that you shed some light on the extra episode, I can see that not even the show liked Adric very much. To me, he was a dull little wiener who really was the birth of Wesley Crusher. That, and I agree with you on his pajamas. JNT does have a weird taste of fashion when it came to Doctor Who.

    State of Decay – One of the parts where they walked underneath the rocket ship looked like they put curtains in as walls. No joke. Re-watch this story, and you will see it!

    Warriors Gate – If there is anything that I have noticed about Classic Who, it’s that they really loved the middle age theme. A LOT! The Time Warrior, State of Decay, this, Battlefield, I believe that Silver Nemesis was one of them, Castrovalva, and others that I am leaving out.

    The Keeper of Traken – I really love the two twist of this story. Ainley is my third favorite Master, followed by Roger Delgado and Derek Jacobi being my #1 favorite.

    Logopolis – Oh, wow! I had no idea that JNT couldn’t get Sarah Jane Smith or Leela to be in this one and ended up bringing in one of the three most boring companions in the Davidson era. At first, I thought the alien race being super mathematicians was pretty interesting. But then you had to bring up the horror of The Twin Dilemma and crush it like how you crush every fan of New Who. True, it is nice to see the Master as the villain in a regeneration story. Maybe that’s why I really liked the TV movie.

  4. Always thought that “Warriors Gate” was a really great underrated minimalist episode. Using just the blue screens to fill in the backgrounds, you know like every major CGI Hollywood movie these days.

    It was kind of spooky and offputting all at the same time. Especially the Time Thundercats who could cross dimensions.

  5. Watching Meglos again the other day, I thought some of the scenes between General Grugger and Lieutenant Brotadac had a distinct Samuel Beckett feel to them. Take a look at this:

    WAITING FOR GODOT

    ESTRAGON: Ah! You’re sure it was here?
    VLADIMIR: What?
    ESTRAGON: That we were to wait.
    VLADIMIR: He said by the tree. Do you see any others?
    ESTRAGON: What is it?
    VLADIMIR: I don’t know. A willow.
    ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?
    VLADIMIR:It must be dead.

    WAITING FOR MEGLOS

    BROTADAC: Right, we’ve delivered him. So who pays us?
    GRUGGER: Shut up. He’s trying to say something.
    BROTADAC: It could be a trap. What does he know, anyway?
    EARTHLING: Nothing. I don’t know anything. What have I done?
    GRUGGER: Nobody knows anything.
    EARTHLING: Why? Why me?
    GRUGGER: Why any of us? Do you think I do this through choice?

  6. Re: “This new producer John-Nathan Turner’s first job as producer, he had worked his way up the ranks on Doctor Who and decided to make his mark and he made it. Hard.”

    Well, he’s not really making *his* mark, but copying stuff that Barry Letts did. In fact Letts appears to have had a lot of influence on season 18. Letts had first introduced a totally synthesised incidental music score with Terror of the Autons. This lasted until Day of the Daleks, because, with the equipment available at the time, it was taking too long to produce. JNT reintroduced the synthesised scoring with The Leisure Hive.

    Letts had also proposed changing the theme tune instrumentation during season 10; JNT does this in season 18.

    Recurring plot elements abound. As well as the Tardis within a Tardis stuff from The Time Monster, Meglos features the Doctor and Romana being caught in a chronic hysteretic loop, which closely resembles the predicament faced by the inhabitants of Vorg’s Scope in Carnival of Monsters. Meglos also features a planet destroying doomsday weapon (see Colony in Space) and Full Circle gives us a scenario not too dissimilar to the one we got in The Mutants, where a race of people evolve from one form into another as part of an ecological process.

    It’s also rather interesting that in the same way Dr Liz Shaw was thought to be too clever, and got replaced by a teenage half-witted, in season 18 we have Romana replaced by a teenage girl (Nyssa) and a half-wit (Tegan). State of Decay is written by former Letts era script editor Terrance Dicks, and then, finally, another Letts era creation returns in the form of the Master, who then has a face-off with the Doctor in the control cabin of a satellite dish, as in Terror of the Autons.

    Re: “The Leisure Hive: Its not brilliant, its fairly tedious and its very slow.”

    I know this comes under “matter of opinion” but I watched this story only a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t find it “tedious” or “slow”. Anyway, here’s a review: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/leisure.html

    Re: Meglos: “Its a bit less dull.”

    I’ve also watched this story recently, and again didn’t find it dull. Here’s a review: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/meglos.html

    Why is Adric hated, considering that he is not too dissimilar from the sort of character who turns up in SF books aimed at children? I think the problem is that Doctor Who, round about this time, changed its target audience from children and their parents, to teenagers, but then put in a teenage boy character, the sort kids might tolerate but teenagers would loathe. Equally, Waterhouse was a member of the DWAS which means he came in for a lot of envy from other fans.

    Re: “Rassilon could be a bit of bastard.”

    OK, so Rassilon wipes out the giant vampires who are spreading chaos, destruction and death across the universe, and this makes him a bastard? By that definition then the Doctor is also a bastard, because he kills the last great vampire, which is genocide. Clearly he should have left the last great vampire in peace to feed off the village idiots. Here’s a review of State of Decay: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/sod.html

    Re: “Although she kept appearing in audio adventures, where she became the Lord President of the Time Lords.”

    Actually, this first happened in the Virgin New Adventures novel Happy Endings, although when you consider that throughout season 18 Romana complains continually about not wanting to return to the stifling conformity of Gallifrey, the idea that she would then go back to become Lord President, strikes me as more than a little ridiculous.

    Re: Warriors’ Gate: “its needlessly overcomplicated.”

    It’s not remotely overcomplicated. Here’s a review: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/warriors.html

    Re: “Traken is a planet that has so much good in the air that it kills evil.. okay not literally but pretty much. Theres a power on the planet which calcifies evil. Which is about as silly as the air killing evil.”

    This is basically a misunderstanding of what the story’s all about. To find out more, read this: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/keeper.html Also, there is nothing remotely average about this story. It’s probably the best script/production since Image of the Fendahl.

    Re: “The idea was that the Masters seen in The Deadly Assassin and The Keeper of Traken might have still been Delgado, who was on his last incarnation in the Pertwee era and tried to get an extra regeneration, resulting in zombie-roger Delgados incarnation.”

    No, that’s wrong. Time lords can only regenerate 12 times and have 13 physical bodies. It’s stated in The Keeper of Traken that the Master is at the end of his 12th regeneration. As to whether the decrepit Master was meant to be Delgado, or not, is never made clear.

    Re: “Logopolis is in my opinion the weakest regeneration story thus far.”

    Personally, I think The Tenth Planet, as a regeneration story, is pretty weak. The Doctor doesn’t appear in episode 3, is locked up for most of episode 4, and then turns into Troughton, not because of anything the Cybermen have done, but simply because he was feeling a bit tired. I would, however, say that Logopolis is a regeneration story that’s more suited to Pertwee than Baker. Indeed, I’d argue that The Caves of Androzani is a more appropriate regeneration story for Tom Baker than for Davison, as it seems to be picking up themes from his era, rather than from the one the fifth Doctor inhabited. Anyway, here’s my review of Logopolis: http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/logopolis.html

  7. I admit truthfully, I like a lot of the early 80’s Who, mostly due to a bit of nostalgic value since they were some of the first I saw on DVD, but I do see the flaws and holes in many like the Leisure Hive with its bombardment of technobabble, the unlikeable Adric and the sadly underrated Nyssa, who is one of my personal favourite companions because she is obviously smart and kind natured.

    Also I think you’ve made some great progress with this series, with 4 Doctors done and only 3 more to go 🙂
    While I like Doctor No.5, I do see why some dislike him. Compared to the others he’s very vulnerable and passive.

  8. In regards to the Master’s appearance in The Deadly Assassin, Goth tells the Doctor that he had “met him on Tersurus. He was dying. No more regeneration possible. Promised me, share all his knowledge if I bring him to Gallifrey.”

    “Tersurus,” appears to have been derived from “Tartarus,” a deep abyss, from Greek mythology, where wicked people are punished. At the story’s climax, the Master once again falls into a chasm, although the closing moments of the episode show that he has escaped again.

    Also of interest is the fact that in The Time Monster, Kronos, who was known to have cast others into Tartarus, says that the Master will suffer “torment” and that “the pain he has given so freely will be returned to him, in full.”

  9. When Can we see AQGTCW Season-19. I can’t beleave how much I look forward to them.

    • Im not really sure yet. I am about to begin scripting Davison and Colin Baker though. So hopefully not too long.


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