We 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…?
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