A Quick Guide to Classic Who- Season 26

Hagan is doing a guide to Classic Doctor Who. The whole thing! This is Season 26.

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26 Comments

  1. Survival is the only Classic Who story I remember watching when it was first run on television, mostly because of those costumes.

  2. Din’t Doctor had a bellybutton despite Lungbarrow stuff? And, well, he could’ve been loomed as a child …
    And Eighth’s audio sort of contradicts all that loom stuff ’cause of Susan and Alex’s arc …

    • Even when it was still active, Doctor Who kind of split into multiple continuities that surround the show. Virgin Publishing produced books that went on past Survival, which had Ace grow up into a marine-style badass while the Doctor travelled with Bernice Summerfield, an archaeologist from the future. This is contradicted by the Doctor Who comics, which infamously killed Ace off. This is further contradicted by Big Finish’s audio adventures, where Ace has yet to leave the Doctor (on-screen anyways) and their adventures are joined by a nurse from Ace’s relative future named Hex.

      Simply put, it’s kind of impossible to reconcile the various media with one another, and when the show revived it made further strain with the expanded universe in its various incarnations. Even novel-wise, the Eighth Doctor adventures by BBC Books are in a continuity seperate from the Seventh Doctor’s, neither of them really fitting in with one another event-wise even though the Seventh Doctor’s era introduced the concept of Grandfather Paradox, who founded time travelling cult Faction Paradox, who would go on to plague Eight for a time. It doesn’t help that both Virgin Publishing and BBC Books introduced a type 102 TARDIS in their stories that are vastly different from one another (for a start, the one the Eighth Doctor encounters is humanoid, and was once a normal person, whereas the one the Seventh Doctor encounters is more or less a conventional TARDIS from the future).

      • Taiko, this is a very good pos. 😀

      • Well, “Zagreus” kinda-of explained it with timeline split at start of Eighth’s life, but then they’ve contradicted again in “Company of Friends” %)

  3. Richard O’Brien as the Doctor??!!!! MUST….RESIST…OBVIOUS….JOKE….

  4. I’ve been waiting for this for a while now; it’s been well worth the time. I really enjoyed how this episode went out Diamanda, although I’m hard pressed to actually find one of these guide episodes I didn’t enjoy.

    I heard from other sources (which I can’t confirm officially) that the TARDIS was hardly used due to the set being damaged in some way before Battlefield, hence why the TARDIS in its few scenes is very dark, and then not used at all. The idea of it merely being a way to transport the Doctor and Ace is a fair one, but the TARDIS itself is valid for a number of stories to take place within it. What’s memorable for me about the story (which is nice in itself) is that in a scene involving the tank Ace was drowning in, the tank itself cracked and threatened to spill water out onto the high-powered electrical cables, which could have fatally harmed Sophie Aldred. Sylvester McCoy, however, noticed in time and got the stage hands to pull her out before the tank broke open. The features I’ve seen that describe that event don’t give much fanfare to it, but it is a suitably awesome moment for the show (less so that it happened in the first place, but at least nobody was hurt).

    Strangely, Ghost Light made an amount of sense to me. Then again, I had fairly thoroughly spoiled myself on it via TV Tropes, but a lot of things did make some sense, when you thought of them not as dictionary defined concepts but rather as the definitions of a child just understanding them (both Josia and Control’s evolutions as characters are pretty far from conventional). It’s a shame that more of the cut footage didn’t survive into the DVD age.

    Oddly, the Curse of Fenric was supposed to be set before Ghost Light, hence a note at the end which would have led into Ghost Light. Something I noted about this story, too, was that the Seventh Doctor has a pretty critical flaw about him aside from his ambiguous treatment of Ace – he never tells her anything. Twice Ace inadvertently helps Fenric because she wasn’t informed by the Doctor on what not to do, simply because of his schemes. It’s these flaws which make me actually believe that Seven would say such brutal things to Ace to save her in the climax, as well as the fact that there were very few alternatives if any. When The God Complex did it, though, it was very out of character for the Doctor…and his words didn’t really make sense, given he was breaking her with the very nickname she gave to him out of affection. It also doesn’t make sense as to why the minotaur dies in that story simply by one food souce being cut off when there was another standing before him. *shrugs*

    The cheetah person (Karra) you mentioned Ace forming some lesbian sub-text with in Survival was played by Lisa Bowerman, who would go on to become the voice and face of Bernice Summerfield in various media. This puts the relationship with Karra in an interesting light given the relationship Ace and Bernice have in the Virgin Publishing Books, which were where Bernice first came from. There was a novel that did explain how the Master escaped though – he apparently used a Kitling to escape the planet, which does make some sense.

    As for what would have come had the show not been cancelled…well, that’s an interesting connundrum. I’d actually be interested in seeing that kind of outcome in another medium, such as comics or maybe even audio. It could prove fascinating to see how the show could have progressed with a Doctor who (presumably) didn’t suffer nearly so much as Eight did…or suffer in a different context at least. I wonder what other concepts/scripts survived for this new Doctor…

    • “I heard from other sources (which I can’t confirm officially) that the TARDIS was hardly used due to the set being damaged in some way before Battlefield, hence why the TARDIS in its few scenes is very dark, and then not used at all.”

      The Tardis console room in Battlefield is dark because the director wanted to generate a mysterious atmosphere. However, it is true that after the recording of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy the regular Tardis scenery wall flats were accidentally thrown away and scrapped.

  5. I’m excited for your next 2 videos. 8th is my favourite.

  6. Words cannot express how happy I am that you’re going to address the wilderness years too and stuff like Dimensions in Time and 8’s movie. Likely we’ll see stuff like Curse of Fatal Death and Scream of the Shalka too.

    Thanks to your guide, I’m now at least familiar enough with Classic Who to get a bearing. I’m a New Who fan, but my first Doctor is Capaldi and not Eccleston, Tennant or Smith, so I suppose you can say I’m still a relatively new Whovian.

    What’re your thoughts on Capaldi’s run so far, by any chance?

    • Capaldi is brilliant and Im glad he’s put his foot down on stuff like The Doctor having romances but most of the stories so far have been cobbled together from ideas in earlier episodes. New Who has a sad tendency to mercilessly mine Classic Who for ideas but s8 has been mercilessly mining New Who. No eps so far are bad enough for a Twatty Who but none are good enough to make it onto my eventual list of GOOD NEW WHO EPS (Which I PROMISE I will get to).

      If you’d like more detailed views on each of the eps check the last few eps of Lesbian Talk. We’ve been talking about new eps of Who as they come out (20 mins an ep or thereabouts)

  7. Wonderful work, as usual. It’s so interesting to see all those concepts that have been copied since or used previously. I see that especially in Ghost Light.

    I’m even sadder than I thought I would be that all the classic seasons are through. I very much enjoyed the guide and learned a lot about the show that I hadn’t known. I’m glad that there are two extra episodes coming up, though!

  8. I think there was actually another woman who wrote a classic story, Enlightenment, but I may be mistaken

    This was a very strong season to go out on and also is one of the more darker seasons, with the mysterious and morally grey Doctor and the ancient evils of the Fenric, Light and the Cheetah planet. I wish it had gone on and we hadn’t had the whole whiney period of New Who which just seems to scared to leap out and be brutal or try something edgy.

  9. This was a strong season indeed. Unfortunately, the previous season still has my favorite classic Who story of all time, but that season wasn’t great either.

    Battlefield – personally, I love this one as my favorite of this season. And yes, the villain in this one is great, easily in my top 5 favorite Who villains!

    Ghost Light – This was fine. As for the looms, well, it is kind of interesting. However, I have seen Babelcolour’s Fact File 2007, where he puts on the collaboration of the Doctor having a family in 0:50

    And then a guy posted an article on Doctor Who TV trying to bring a solution to the looms and says that the Grandfather Paradox had something to do with the Doctor remembering both being loomed and naturally born. He then theorizes that the Grandfather Paradox is the Doctor from another timeline, went insane as the villain, and defeated Pythia much earlier to prevent the looms from happening. Pretty interesting article, by the way.

    http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/the-doctor-loomed-or-born-52422.htm

    Curse of Fenric – this was really good!

    Survival – Sadly, I didn’t like this one very much. But yeah, Anthony Ainley does give a great performance in Survival.

    Some of the things that you mentioned about what could have happened after season 26 I already knew, like what was suppose to happen to Ace, and who the Doctor’s newest companion was going to be like. But what interested me the most was that Andrew Cartmel wanted Alan Moore to write an episode. I would of love to see that happen back then, and I still want Alan Moore to write an episode today! Not only that, but this season ended not long after I was born. I don’t know what that tells me. Maybe those who were born on 1989, like me, put a curse upon this show.

    I am looking forward to your last two episodes of this show. I have a small list of BFA episodes that you and LAG have mentioned and recommended, and I want to know more, since I’m running out of classic Who episodes to watch. Here’s my list so far:

    Tom Baker:

    Wrath of the Iceni

    Peter Davidson:

    The Council of Nicaea
    Spare Parts

    Colin Baker:

    Davros
    Jubilee
    Legend of the Cybermen
    The Space Race
    Voyage to the New World
    Voyage to Venus
    The Wrong Doctor
    Year of the Pig
    nightmare Fair
    Mission to Magnus

    Sylvestor McCoy:

    Crime of the Century
    Earth Aid
    Gods and Monsters
    Line 34

    Paul McGann:

    Dark Eyes
    Lucy Miller
    Storm Warning
    Terror Firma
    To the Death

    Multi-Doctors:

    Project Lazuras
    The Light at the End

    Keep in mind that I don’t know too much about most of these stories that I listed. So I will go into them cold.

    The episodes I have listened to are Slipback (just plain awful) and Blood of the Daleks (which was really great to listen to!)

  10. I forgot to add that one of the ideas for the next Doctor was a female Doctor, which is something that I know Steven Moffat still wants to push. He made the Doctor regenerate into a woman in the comic relief episode, almost casted Catherine Zeta-Jones as the11th Doctor, and tried to cast Lara Pulver as the 12th Doctor. Even she liked the idea and was ready for the role. Sadly, this was most of the audience’s reaction:

    • Bit sexist.

      • I’m just saying what I heard. However, it is a bit sexist, and regeneration never specifies that a timelord is designated to one gender.

    • I took that as a reaction to Lara Pulver and/or Catherine Zeta-Jones specifically. Lara’s too sexy and CZJ isn’t quite Doctory.

      strangely enough you mention Curse o/t Fatal Death because I think Joanna Lumley would be the kind of female Doctor I would be happy with, not her exactly but it’s the right direction.

      I don’t want a female Doctor to be done with Stephen Moffat at the helm though. The first thing he did with Lumley doctor was have her make a vibrator joke. It’s also surprising to consider how many things that appeared in that special have made it into the show.

      • If they did have CZJ, then maybe the Nostalgia Critic would finally start watching the show.

  11. “The villain was played by Jean Marsh who previously played Sara Kingdom in 1965.”

    Jean Marsh also played Sara Kingdom in 1966. BTW cut to 2.30 in the above video and marvel at how someone can say a simple line like ‘and if they resist?’ so badly.

    “She’s playing Morgan le Fay, who comes over from an alternate reality. She brings with her Mordred and his evil knights, they seek King Arthur.. who’s in suspended animation in a spaceship at the bottom of a lake… and the doctor is slash was slash will be Merlin.”

    Firstly, there is no evidence that Morgan le Fay’s knights are evil. Just guys employed to do the job of soldiering. Secondly, in the story she is known as Morgaine of the Fey. Thirdly, Mordred tells the Doctor ‘You were bound. My mother sealed you into the ice caves for all eternity.’ An event which seems not to have happened, as the Doctor is now on his 14th incarnation, something that only took place through the agency of the Time Lords, and in so doing, meant that time was changed, and the Doctor didn’t die on Trenzalore after all.

    “Morgaine is one of the best one off villains in the show. Because she’s honourable to a fault. She will try to destroy the planet and kill someone in your bar but if her son drank a lot she will pay the bill by restoring the landladies sight.”

    And that somehow makes her one of the best one-off villains in the show, and not some stilted, badly played harridan with a confused moral compass.

    “Fenric is the last of the great old ones in the classic show- his original name? Hastur the unspeakable.”

    According to the Doctor Who novel All-Consuming Fire. Fenric’s an interesting creation. In the story he says that ‘For seventeen centuries I was trapped in the shadow dimensions because of him. He pulled bones from the desert sands and carved them into chess pieces. He challenged me to solve his puzzle. I failed. Now I shall see him kneel before me before I let him die.’ Fenric is a vampire, and so, similar to other vampires from Eastern European mythology, he suffers from a form of OCD called Arithmomania, which is a fascination with counting. Millet or poppy seeds were placed on the ground at the grave site of a presumed vampire, in order to keep the vampire occupied all night counting. Chinese myths about vampires also state that if a vampire comes across a sack of rice, s/he will have to count all of the grains. Consequently, Fenric sees chess as a maths problem to be solved, and that’s what traps him. Clever, isn’t it?

    “There is an army of Haemovores,vampires originally from the future living off the cost of maidens point.”

    The Ancient One, also known as the Great Serpent (not to be confused with Fenric) comes from the future. All the other Haemovores were created by the Ancient One after it had arrived in the past.

    “This is the height of the TV 7th Doctors manipulation and generally being amoral.”

    I don’t think the 7th Doctor is amoral in this story. It’s Fenric’s plan to destroy the Earth, and the Doctor is there to stop him. This is entirely different to “Remembrance” where it’s the Doctor who has initiated the conflict.

    “He’s been manipulating everyone”

    Again, it’s Fenric who has been manipulating everyone in this story. The subtext is that the Doctor had become a ruthless manipulator himself through his centuries-long battle with Fenric. It’s based on a quote taken from Friedrich Nietzsche’s well known 19th century philosophical work Beyond Good and Evil. It goes, ‘Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.’

    “and in this he goes so far as to make Ace believe he would let her die to win. Because he needs to shatter her faith in him.”

    Well, this shatters the dichotomy that good and evil exist. Is Fenric really an evil spirit, or did his desire to destroy the world come about due to the frustration of being trapped for hundreds of years by the Doctor’s chess puzzle? Is the Doctor the hero, or is he responsible at least in part for Fenric’s murderous actions? Perhaps true evil is to believe that the world can be divided in such a way?

    “Plus 7 has a history of doing things that can seem to be emotionally abusive.”

    That’s a tricky one. Is the Doctor being emotionally abusive to Ace, or is he, through making her face her fears, helping Ace to grow up? I don’t know.

    “The writer- Rona Munro had scripted a subtler and more human look. And she was the only woman to write a script for classic Who.”

    Actually, this is wrong. Lesley Scott is co-credited on The Ark; Barbara Clegg scripted Enlightenment; Attack of the Cybermen is at least credited to Paula Moore; Jane Baker co-wrote The Mark of the Rani, The Terror of the Vervoids, the second episode of The Ultimate Foe and Time and the Rani. I forgot to point this out to Diamanda when she sent me the script. So, sorry about that.

    “Quite why she’s not been asked to work on new Who baffles me. She’s still working on TV today.”

    Actually, Munro has done very little TV work. She mainly writes for the theatre and radio. As for why she hasn’t been asked back to write for Nu Who? There appears to be a deliberate decision not to employ writers who worked on the classic series.

    “Ace would have left in a Gallifrey story and gone to the Time Lord academy. A controversial idea which I’m okay with but.. she’s nowhere near smart enough. The new companion would have been a high class thief and safe cracker. A little like lady Christina from Planet of the Dead, but hopefully better. McCoy would have regenerated.. allegedly into Richard Griffiths.”

    You can’t really treat any of this as hard or fast, as it very well may have been subject to change once the producion team properly started the writing process.

    “And to me, losing the regeneration was the biggest tragedy about the cancellation. with a new Doctor the BBC might have been encouraged to give the show a few more years before cancellation. Like they had done when Colin Baker left.”

    I don’t think so. The decision to cancel Doctor Who was taken before season 26 was transmitted. Equally, Doctor Who’s continuation after Colin Baker didn’t meant Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell suddenly liked the show again. The only reason the programme continued for a few more years was because they couldn’t find a way of cancelling it without kicking up another storm of negative publicity. If JNT had left, of course, then they would have cancelled the show and blaimed him.

    “Maybe if the BBC had allowed JNT to move on we could have got a new producer, ready to put their mark on the show and bring it into the 90s.”

    No one wanted to go on Doctor Who because the brand was seen as toxic. If JNT had been allowed to move on then the BBC would just have cancelled the show. They were all taking their cues from Jonathan Powell. That’s the problem with a pyramid power structure.

    “who knows how many more years the show could have gone for? Maybe it would have won back the public? Maybe the BBC would have given the show a decent budget eventually. Well that last ones impossible.”

    It’s all impossible. Doctor Who needed to be rested, because the brand had been seriously tarnished by Michael Grade openly attacking the show. If it had carried on a few more years, the ratings would have remained in the toilet and JNT would finally have gone mad with a shotgun and blown away Ian Levine!

    “Its probably one of the most accessible places for a New Who fan to dive into the Classic Show.”

    I don’t really agree with this, in that although conceptually it is closest to the new series, visually it’s stuck in the late 1980s. Nu Who’s jumping off point was the McGann movie.

  12. Dude, it’s December. Where’s the next video?

  13. In “Curse of Fenric” a Russian soldier repelled vampires with red star and his faith in Communism. You can’t be more awesome then that!


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