Tag Archives: Frazer Hines

DOCTOR WHO RE-WATCH – SEASON SIX

secondbannerFor the longest time, this was my favourite season of Second Doctor adventures — simply because this was pretty much the only almost-full season we had for Patrick Troughton (only The Tomb of the Cybermen existed in full outside of season six,  and even then that only from 1992).  Things have changed a bit since the days of BBC Video; now we have a fair whack of season five on DVD (as mentioned in the last entry), which upon this re-watch has made me re-evaluate Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor, and the superiority of season six.15390_original

There is an awful lot to recommend this season, so much creative energy is displayed on screen. From the fantasy and literary layers of The Mind Robber, to the sleight of hand used throughout The War Games with ten episodes of ‘loop narrative’ that works despite itself. And, of course, there is that final episode of the season, which totally dismisses almost every idea behind the Doctor’s origins up to that point. And in so doing, establishes several elements of Doctor Who lore that are still the backbone of Doctor Who today.

Yup, we finally learn that the Doctor is a renegade from the vaunted Time Lords, beings of immense power and total mastery over time itself. Not only is he one of these near-immortal beings, but he stole the TARDIS and went on the run because he was… bored. Yes, boredom is what drove the Doctor. The need to get involved, instead of observing from afar like the rest of his people (well, almost the rest of his people — there are two other exceptions, at this point in the show’s history). Of course, this need is not evident when we first met the Doctor, so it is fair to say that this bit of back story has a hint of revisionism behind it. Willingness to become involved, and fight against evil, without some selfish or nepotist reason, only came towards the end of season one.

So, despite all the greatness seen on screen, including the set-up of UNIT (a creative move that would set the template for the following five years of the series, although the UNIT set-up is based on much of The Web of Fear from the previous season), there was a lot of upheaval behind the scenes. An increasingly frustrated star, tired and overworked by the gruelling filming schedule, a script editor who seemed to find fault in almost every story idea, often to the point of cancelling scripts at the last minute, and a producer who was asked to move onto another BBC TV show, leaving behind a replacement producer who, arguably, created more problems than he solved. And yet, in spite of all these things, and with scripts that were being written mere weeks before production, the season was for the BBC management something of a triumph. Alas, the viewing figures were saying something completely different. By the episode eight of The War Games they were at an all-time low of 3.5 million! Something needed to be done… Change was in the air, in more ways than one.

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The Second Doctor regenerates

Picking a favourite story is not easy here, since season six contains so many favourites of mine. The Mind Robber is a inventive tour de force of television, The Seeds of Death is the first Troughton story I ever saw, and The War Games — ten episodes of epicness. The worst story is simple enough, so I shall start with worst to best…

  • The Krotons
  • The Dominators
  • The Invasion
  • The Mind Robber
  • The Seeds of Death

Which leaves, in mind, one of the most epic adventures of Doctor Who ever…

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DOCTOR WHO RE-WATCH – SEASON FIVE

secondbannerWe are so very lucky to have so much of season five available to us on DVD. There was a time when all we had was The Tomb of the Cybermen, and over twenty years ago we didn’t even have that! In late-2012, early-2013 I had to re-watch the entire series for my book Companions, and during that re-watch the only way I could research season five was with audio soundtracks and reconstructions online! Two years on…?

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Thanks to some wonderful animation we have The Ice Warriors complete, and with the discovery of The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear in late 2013, we now have over half of that season on DVD! Yay? Oh god, yes!

What with the huge gap of missing stories through season three and, especially, season four, we don’t really get to see the development of the series, only snapshots here and there. As such re-watching season five is almost like watching a completely different show. Yes, it’s still features the Doctor and the TARDIS, but in every way that counts it feels different. The performances are more polished, the scripts more coherent and layered, the direction is smart with some really fantastic location work peppered throughout. And then there’s Jamie… In the small amount of material we have from season four we don’t get to see a lot of Jamie. In The Moonbase, the only full Troughton story available on DVD (completed with animated episodes) Jamie is not in it a great deal, and when he is he’s mostly been given lines originally written for Ben and Polly. But in season five his full character hits you in the face — the humour, the loyalty, the protectiveness… For the Second Doctor there is no doubt that Jamie is the companion (and hardly surprising as he was in all but one Second Doctor adventure).

It is so very difficult to choose a favourite story from season five. I thought adding the orphaned Moonbase might help, but it really doesn’t as the quality of that story only adds to the superiority of the fifth season. I can honestly say that, as of now, season five is right up there among my favourite season of Who, sitting alongside such greats as seasons one, seven, thirteen, and twenty-six. Which is new, as season six used to be my favourite of Troughton — mostly by default as that season almost exists in its entirety.  So, to my favourite story… I feel an obligation to pick The Web of Fear out of fealty to the Haismans and my connection with them, and of course the historical first appearance of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, but I have to be honest in my re-watch and consider what else is around that story. With The Moonbase included I have five extremely good productions to pick from…

And this is my, very difficulty chosen, run down of season five (a list of all brilliant stories!):

  • The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • The Moonbase
  • The Ice Warriors
  • The Web of Fear

… which makes the winner David Whitaker’s tour-de-force

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