A Quick Guide to Classic Who- Season 24

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 24.



  1. Here’s something that always bugged me about Paradise Towers. Why in the blue hell did Mel get in the pool? By that point in the story, almost everything she has encountered in the tower has tried to kill her. By that point anyone with a functioning brain would have given it a once over just to be sure, and then maybe she would have seen the bloody obvious monster lurking within it.

    But yeah, this is easily the weakest McCoy season. When the strongest story is a tossup between Paradise Towers and Dragonfire, you got problems. There’s a damn good reason Nash reviewed *half the season*.

    Having said this: Because of how rushed this season was, it’s a miracle the season came out as well as it did. They had so little time to put it together it’s actually very impressive it got finished in time. Put it this way. When they had the year to sit down and figure out what they wanted to do, the very first story they came back with was… One of the best Dalek stories ever told.

    • I think the answer to your question about Mel is that…well, its Mel. The smell of chlorine from pool probably frazzled her brain and she forgot everything about the killer robots,

      Also this is a person who claims to be a computer scientist and yet never goes near a computer ever in her time on Doctor Who

  2. poor Sly, even though he was the Doctor for three years (usually a decent amount) the shorter seasons meant the was conned him out of screen time.

    I always thought the 6 to 7 regeneration was half way through when we see it.

    The idea of 7 pushing 6 out is an idea from the novels isn’t it?, I don’t care for that concept. It goes against the idea that the Doctor is one conciousness with different bodies, it also implies the disturbing idea that previous Doctors are trapped in the current doctors mind.

  3. What do you think about Sf Debris’ explanation of why Colin Baker was fired? To me, it sounds kind of plausible to me.

    Anyway, I love Sylvester McCoy, but I’m not in the same ballpark as Linkara. I sometimes catch myself speaking like him, as well as rolling my ‘r’s.

    Time and the Rani – Never finished watching this one, but I can see why you call this the worst regeneration story since The Twin Dilemma. The special effects looks really bad, even for its time, the traps are just too silly. Why couldn’t they just use the trip wire as just ordinary bombs?!

    Paradise Towers – I really enjoyed this one.

    Delta and the Bannermen – this is kind of forgettable. as for that woman, I can see her being the show’s newest companion if they picked her. I kind of wonder if she either had something else to do, or if she didn’t want to.

    Dragonfire – I’m sorry to sound like the villain here, but I thought that this was just uninspiring and generic to me. The dragon was not a dragon, but rather a carbon copy of a xenomorph. Even the guy melting in the end was just a rip-off of the ark of the covenant melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. As for Ace, she’s my favorite companion. You can say that she’s pretty much where Rose Tyler’s character came from, but I can say that Rose tried to destroy her character. And now that there are websites that tries to explain why Rose is the best companion, All I can do is hope that the show can bring back Ace as a timelord and stuff an explosive in Rose and incinerate her remains. Plus, the differences between Ace and Rose are big enough not to ignore. Ace beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat. Ace blew up a Dalek with a rocket launcher. Ace can practically take care of herself. Ace doesn’t try to fall in love with the Doctor. And I can go on, and on, and on, and OOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    My point is that I don’t think its fair to say that Ace is the one to blame for Rose being in existence. Rose should be the one to blame for trying to destroy that character, and managed for those two years on the show. And no, I’m not saying that you thought that Ace was bad either. I’m just trying to explain why she’s my favorite companion, and the fact that she’s safe from being blamed for Rose being into what she became. Plus, I have heard about the original script for Boom Town, where the Doctor tried to turn Rose as the perfect companion. Thank you, MrTARDISreviews.

    • Were you pissed when writing this?

    • “What do you think about Sf Debris’ explanation of why Colin Baker was fired? To me, it sounds kind of plausible to me.”

      He’s wrong. Doctor Who’s cancellation had nothing to do with Colin Baker being cast as the Doctor, or the loudness of his costume, or the quality of the scripts. It was simply because Michael Grade hated Doctor Who. It could have been season 13 with Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith, and Grade would still have asked for it to be cancelled.

      • Chuck never said that the casting of Colin Baker is what cancelled the show. In fact, he thought that Colin Baker was a talented actor. He just thought that the costume was the start of it, and his defense on that is kind of explained. He even stated that in order for the show to improve, Michael Grade wanted JNT to fire Colin Baker. Michael Grade already thought that the show was stupid in front of his eyes and called it garbage, and he probably thought that the look of Colin Baker was the problem of the show. But he still got away with it by airing it the same time as Coronation Street to watch it being cancelled, and I just tried to watch an episode of Coronation Street. I don’t what amazed me. The fact that there are some people who have a tolerance for it, or that I found out that Dave Lister is in Coronation Street.

      • “Chuck never said that the casting of Colin Baker is what cancelled the show.”

        Well, he does. He starts off by saying ‘The reason Doctor Who was cancelled was this…’ and then lists a whole load of stuff including Colin Baker. And although he does state that Colin Baker is a talented actor, he also says ‘the casting was a questionable one, in that Colin Baker is a very theatrical performer… Colin Baker was the avatar in Grade’s mind with what was wrong with Doctor Who… Colin Baker’s acting style, complete with his costume, didn’t make him look like a leading man, it made him look like a clown.’

        Whether the Sixth Doctor looked like a clown or not, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the reason why Doctor Who was cancelled. All Chuck is coming up with is worn-out fan theory.

        The real reason Doctor Who was cancelled is this… Michael Grade hated it. In fact he was publicly expressing his dislike for the show in 1976. To discover why, however, you’ve got to go back to an event that took place in 1975, when Grade, working as Deputy Controller of Programmes (Entertainment) at London Weekend Television (LWT), used his influence to pushed for the premier of a new, high budget and very glossy Gerry Anderson SF series called Space 1999, to go up against Hinchcliffe Doctor Who.

        This was contrary to what all but one of the other Independent Television regional networks were doing, and was ultimately a huge mistake that put a black mark against Michael Grade’s name suggesting poor judgement, because Space 1999 was totally trashed by Doctor Who; and this was a double whammy for Michael because Space: 1999 had been financed by his uncle, Lew Grade, to the tune of £3 million (which would be the equivalent of 34.6 million in 2014). That’s why, to this day, Michael Grade goes on about the poor quality of Classic Doctor Who’s special effects; he just couldn’t comprehend how Space 1999 lost against low budget Doctor Who. To Michael Grade, SF was about flashy visuals and nothing else.

        ‘He even stated that in order for the show to improve, Michael Grade wanted JNT to fire Colin Baker. ‘

        I very much doubt that Michael Grade’s order to sack Colin Baker had anything to do with a desire to ‘improve’ Doctor Who, and was more likely an attempt to denigrate it further. Also, according to an interview with John Nathan-Turner’s long time partner, Gary Downie (quoted in Doctor Who Magazine #338, January 7 2004, Marvel Comics, p.15), Michael Grade had a personal vendetta against Colin Baker:

        ‘There’s a history between Michael Grade and Colin. (Actress) Liza Goddard was Colin’s wife. And she was Michael Grade’s best friend. The divorce was acrimonious and she moved into Michael Grade’s house while she was getting over the divorce. And I’ll say no more. Michael Grade was determined. He did not want Colin working for the BBC.’

        “But he still got away with it by airing it the same time as Coronation Street to watch it being cancelled.”

        People often cite Coronation Street as being the reason for McCoy’s low ratings. I think this is rubbish. First off, three seasons of Blake’s 7 were scheduled against Coronation street in the late 1970s, early 1980s, but it was still able to rake in an audience of 8 to 10 million viewers every week. Secondly, Doctor Who’s run of low ratings didn’t start with the McCoy era, it started with A Trial of a Time Lord. The average ratings for season 23 were around 5 million viewers, which is the same average for the McCoy era.

        The only reason the audience was so low was because Michael Grade was publicly slagged Doctor Who off. For the Controller of BBC One to openly attack one of its own shows is unprecedented, as to do so will tarnish the programme in the eyes of the general public. Who wants to watch a BBC show, which even the BBC thinks is shit?

        Imagine Charlotte Moore, the current Controller of BBC One, saying, just before the debut of this new series of Doctor Who, that ‘Peter Capaldi is a complete washout. He’s going to be the worst Doctor ever, and to be honest the Doctor Who programme is a burnt out shell anyway, it should be thrown on the rubbish dump!’ it would be disastrous. A highly successful flagship show would be fatally damaged.

        Basically, to attack your own product is death, but that’s what Michael Grade did to Doctor Who in the 1980s.

  4. Sylvester McCoy was my Doctor and i had such a prepubescent crush on Ace.

    I must ask DH seeing that you are more or less the same age as me when did you become such a hardcore DW fan?

    The BBC never really showed repeats of DW when i was a kid and there wasnt if i recall many VHS copies of the old episodes in my local video store.

    So how did you become such a fan of a show that was canceled before you even reached adulthood?

    Was it the new show that rekindled your love affair or did you find another way to fall in love with this great show?

    • I was born in ’83 and saw the tail end of the show on initial broadcast amd was a fan. After that i would watch the very occasional repeats, rent videos of stories, watched the McGann movie and began collecting the DVDs of the Classic show before New Who was announced.

      • Thirty-one, eh? No home to call your own. The twelve galaxies are your home. Come with me. I understand you!

      • The above quote was made by Kane in the story “Dragonfire,” by the way. Just in case there is any misunderstanding.:P

  5. Another excellent edition of the Classic Guide, and the sixth in a line I haven’t had any serious issues with. Anyway, here are my comments:

    “What made the firing worse was that JNT still wasn’t allowed to move on into another producing job AND was forced to do the firing himself.”

    This is what happened. JNT was told by Jonathan Powell that if he sacked Colin Baker, then Powell would agree to move JNT onto another production. So JNT did the dirty on Colin, only then to be told by Powell that he wasn’t going to get moved after all.

    “So we lost a Doctor who loved the show and wanted to play the part for at least 8 years. And were stuck with a producer who really didn’t want to be there.”

    However, it can also been seen another way, in that if JNT had resigned from his position as producer of Doctor Who, the show would have been cancelled, and Colin would have lost the part anyway.

    “A supervillain who is kidnapping smart people from throughout time and attaching them to a massive brain-thing so she can guide evolution throughout the universe and retroactively undo the extinction of the dinosaurs.”

    Why didn’t the Rani instead just stop the freighter from “Earthshock” crashing into the Earth? That sounds like a great story. The Tetraps battle the Cybermen as the Rani tries to help Adric solve the logic codes and steer the freighter onto a different course. Meanwhile, the Seventh Doctor arrives with Ace, who is armed with a rucksack full of Nitro Nine, and they team up with the Cyberleader so they can battle their way to the flightdeck and stop Adric saving the Earth. In retaliation, the Rani sends a signal to the Silurians, and they zoom up into space, board the freighter and counterattack the Cybermen. Finally, the Seventh Doctor and Ace, through all the chaos, death and destruction, makes it to the flightdeck, just as Adric is about to type in his final calculations. The Doctor tries to explain to Adric that the Rani has duped him, but he won’t listen because the Rani’s told him that this rubber-faced fool isn’t the Doctor at all, but instead an evil renegade Time Lord called “The Professor”. His patience at an end, the Doctor breaks Adric’s fingers with a rap from his question mark umbrella, then, as the young Alzarian screams with pain, Ace grabs him by the scruff, sticks a canister of Nitro Nine down the back of his pyjama pants, throws him into an airlock and ejects him into outer space. KAA-BOOM! Fucking awesome!

  6. Ok loved the video, but i have a question.
    You mentioned way back in season 4 that there were 4 iconic companions of classic Doctor Who. You mentioned Jaime, Jo, and Sarah Jane, but you never mentioned the 4th one. I has assumed the last one was Ace because of her popularity and the fact that she was the last one, but it doesn’t get brought up here. Is Ace the last of those 4 companions, or did you just forget to mention it for someone else?

    • maybe she will be mentioned later on, after all in her earliest story she was know just for liking explosions and being rebellious. I think she became famous and iconic later on with her background history explored, especially in Curse of Fenric.

      She is also a brilliant character in the books and new adventures.

      • As far as I recall, Ace was rather badly handled in the Virgin New Adventures. They turned her into this death machine, who dressed in black rubber gear. It was all a bit daft.

      • I just remember her being in Egypt fighting off alien robots

        If she did turn into a weapon for the Doctor, that’s rather sad, it destroys here as a character in a way.

      • The Virgin books did mishandle her quite badly and make her fairly boring and obnoxious in that very 90s way they tended to handle things. I’m so glad that the BFAs seem to have taken all of that back.

    • It is Ace and I forgot to put it in the script for s24. Will be in s25!

  7. Oh Ace, you were delightful.

    As a diehard Ace fan I can totally see where you’re coming from with the proto-new Who companion angle but it also demonstrates a load of what they’re doing wrong. Ace, unlike Clara etc. didn’t fall in love with or (overtly) hero-worship the Doctor. The father/daughter dynamic they developed (and have only worked on more through the BFAs) has been rather beautiful and unique.

    Plus there’s the fact she was the Doctor’s first officially LGBTQ companion. It was never played up much but traces of it can be found and the production crew confirmed that Ace was, in fact, bisexual. Not a huge leap, exactly, and not exactly flying the pride flag loud and proud but it so much like it did with Barbara, Zoe, Liz Shaw et al that the show was, at its core, always more progressive than your standard TV fare.

    My fangirl is showing. *Ahem*

    I do miss the days when companions brought something new to the TARDIS rather than just being… there for the most part. I had really high hopes for Martha at first just because she was initially shown to be very savvy.

    We need another companion that is the doctor’s intellectual rival or even better, like Zoe or Romana. (No Adric though)

    We need another companion who’s going to throw themself in head-first and cares little for science babble like Leela or Jamie.

    We need another companion that won’t take the Doctor’s shit like Liz Shaw.

    We need another companion that has nothing to lose by going forward, no more worrying about their family back home, like Ace. Remember when 9 said, “I don’t do families”, anyone? That needs to be the case again.

    Don’t get me wrong, Amy was a big step in the right direction and I rate her highly even compared to oldschool companions but Moffat ground that in to the dirt in the end with the bullshit about family and femininity being magic. (It’s fucking creepy, dude, stop it.)

  8. Almost done! My hat’s off to you madam, I can tell this whole project took a ton of work. But honestly, it’s worth it. You’ve given me hours and hours of entertainment I want to catch up on now. Years from now, I hope the BBC picks this review series up and uses it for historical purposes.

    Also, nice Cosmos reference. If Classic Who (or at least these recent mediocre seasons) was more like Cosmos, I don’t think it would’ve been cancelled :p

  9. I really enjoyed Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor (he’s right up there with Tom Baker and Christopher Eccleston), but GOSH Bonnie Langford’s Mel was so annoying. Thank goodness they replaced her with Ace (by far my favorite of the Doctor’s companions).

  10. Saw “Deep Breath” in the cinema last night. Ejoyed it more this time around. We also got an extra opening scene of Strax commenting on all the previous Doctors. He said that the Doctor “inflated” during his Sixth incarnation and then died following a moderate workout on an exercise bike. I wonder if this is now canon?

  11. Is there any spinoff stuff created before new series began that you don’t care for?

    • As in an actual spinoff show for Classic Who? Or a review show where I lay into bad stories in the Classic series?

  12. Excellent work, as per usual. Funny thing, when I see you’ve posted another Quick Guide, I’m both excited and sad. The sadness comes from the fact that you’re almost done. I do wonder though, will you go over the Doctor Who TV movie, or will you save that for Twatty Who (if it qualifies)? I only ask because since you’re a fan of the spinoff media, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Eighth Doctor sometime.

  13. Here’s are 50 Things about… Time and the Rani. http://www.kaldorcity.com/features/articles/rani.html

  14. Here’s a list of 27 Cool Things About “Time and the Rani” (and 23 Stupid Ones) http://kaldorcity.com/features/articles/rani.html

  15. Here’s a list of 29 Cool Things About “Delta and the Bannermen” (and 21 Stupid Ones) http://kaldorcity.com/features/articles/delta.html

  16. Here’s a list of 25 Cool Things About “Dragonfire”
    (and 25 Stupid Ones) http://kaldorcity.com/features/articles/dragonfire.html

  17. Actually, I think is was McCoy’s idea that he play Colin Baker’s “part” in the regeneration. They were going to just have him as the new Doctor, but he insisted that he could do this as a challenge to his acting career.

    As for Ace, I don’t hate her, but she was just so boring. “This is Ace, she wears black and is violent” but not in a fun way, in a boring stereotypical “rebel” kind of way, the way “old people” think that young people think is rebel, but isn’t even close. Sarah Jane at least had personality, annoying personality, but personality, Leela was violent in a exciting savage way, Peri was the emotional center, Romona was intelligent and quick-witted, these are good example of female companions. Ace, was just Ace, and that’s boring.

    Oh, and beating up a Dalak with a baseball bat is cool looking, but its stupid – if Dalak could be defeat with a stick of wood, then everybody could do it.

    • I didn’t find Peri represented the emotional centre of anything. I’d also dispute that whining and complaining is even proper characterisation. As for Ace’s baseball bat attack on the Dalek, the bat has been suppercharged with energy from the Hand of Omega, and it’s that which gave it its destructive power.

      Finally, I can’t see how McCoy lying on the floor in an ill fitting “Colin Baker” wig with his face blurred by a visual effect is a challenge to anyone’s acting let alone McCoys.

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