Tag Archives: Philip Hinchcliffe

Doctor Who Re-watch Season 13 – 2020 Update

Season 13

fourthbannerPossibly the best season of the 1970s, which tells you that I clearly loved season thirteen. It’s the second year of Hinchcliffe/Holmes, no longer in the shadow of the successful team of Letts/Dicks. (With one exception, but that’s Hinchcliffe’s fault for asking Letts to direct and Nation to write a script.) But I digress…

Cast_ensemble
Sarah, Harry, the Brigadier and the Doctor (and guest)

This season brings to the fore all the hints we got in the previous season, with the darker aspects found in such stories as The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks. It starts on a high with the impeccable Terror of the Zygons, the last full bona-fide UNIT story. But this is the UNIT of Hinchcliffe/Holmes, not the ever-cosy family of the Pertwee Era. There’s a different kind of spark between the Fourth Doctor and the Brigadier – a very strong friendship, although it’s very clear the Doctor is, at least initially, sulking at being brought back to Earth by the Brigadier. Throughout this season there’s a definite ongoing acknowledgement that the Doctor is no longer interested in being UNIT’s scientific advisor – it’s explicitly stated in Pyramids of Mars for a start – although he does keep on coming back. Partly this is due to Sarah’s presence, since she made him promise to return her home at the end of Terror of the Zygons, which explains why in Pyramids of Mars they arrived in the correct location, but the wrong time, and why they appear to return to Earth in The Android Invasion. It doesn’t, however, explain why the Doctor was on hand to help out in The Seeds of Doom.

Philip Hinchcliffe has gone to great lengths in interviews to explain that he doesn’t dislike UNIT, and would have been happy to keep on using them once a year, but it seems things worked against him. Certainly Nicholas Courtney’s availability became an issue, so in this season twice he’s replaced by a lesser character while the Brigadier is in Geneva. Intentionally or not, this serves to phase UNIT out. In The Android Invasion the only regular UNIT character is Benton, and Harry, and in The Seeds of Doom there’s not a single UNIT character previously known. It’s a shame in some ways. The Brigadier got a lovely final scene in Terror of the Zygons, although they did not know it would be at the time, but poor Benton doesn’t get a goodbye scene at all in The Android Invasion. The last we see him he’s knocked unconscious and replaced by an android duplicate – he could be dead for all we know. Another character who doesn’t get a goodbye scene is Harry – a companion! If he hadn’t been brought back for a needless role in The Android Invasion, then his final scene in Terror of the Zygons would have served as a lovely send-off (alongside the Brigadier). Alas, nobody knew that The Android Invasion would be the last appearance of either Benton or Harry, and both simply never appear again. No goodbye, no fond farewell.

This is the season that people think of when they talk ‘gothic’. With the exception of The Android Invasion (which is a horrible, although fun, throwback to the Pertwee era), every story this season screams gothic horror, and as a result we have five of the strongest stories ever seen in Doctor Who. Very strong scripts, with cracking dialogue, great performances (some of the best guest stars ever!), interesting direction… the list of accolades goes on. Of course, nothing is perfect, and despite being a very interesting idea and a well directed piece, I find Planet of Evil extremely dull to watch. I can’t place my finger on why, but it’s the one story this season that makes me want to sleep while I watch it. Even The Android Invasion is fun to watch, and it’s easily the weakest script Doctor Who has had in years – insane plot holes, motives that make no sense, over-reliance on coincidences, another self-mining of ideas from Terry Nation, and a direction that is competent and safe, and as such it stands out among one of the best directed seasons ever. But for all that it is great fun to watch. Every actor in the show gives it their best, there’s some wonderful location work, but none of this can hide the glaring plot issues. Still, among such greats as Terror of the Zygons, Pyramids of Mars, Brain of Morbius and The Seeds of Doom it was never going to stand out as a great example of Doctor Who. It would have been at home in seasons ten or eleven, but at this point, it just feels like a mis-step and a redundant throwback to an era well and truly over.

Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen continue to shine, going from strength to strength, developing the closest and most enjoyable Doctor/Companion dynamic since the Second Doctor and Jamie, if not the best yet. When, in The Seeds of Doom, the Doctor says ‘this is Sarah Jane Smith. She’s my best friend’, you do not question it. Arguably for the first time ever, the companion really is a friend. Before us are two people who love each other’s company, and have no intention of splitting up. Alas, all good things must end, and soon it will be ‘time’ for the Doctor and Sarah… But not just yet. Three years and they are going strong.

doctor_who_seeds_of_doom_img1
Sarah and the Doctor. Ultimate team!

Now, for the first time since beginning this rewatch I honestly can’t pick a favourite. I’ve tried, but I cannot pick between three titles. Every time I try, I think of another reason why each of them are so damn good. So, these are my least favourites…

  • Planet of Evil
  • The Android Invasion
  • The Brain of Morbius

Which leaves these three as equal best:

13

Edited to add:

The above was posted five years ago, and right now I’m in the midst of another entire rewatch (with an added five years worth of televised Doctor Who, including associated spin-offs produced since 1987 – the first of which is coming up).

My views largely remain the same, although the least favourite stories of the season have switched places. This time around I’m watching the stories episodically, the way they were intended to be watched, in an attempt to view them afresh and, hopefully, to reassess those stories I’ve never really been overkeen on. It has largely worked out well, highlighting the strengths of some stories I’ve always found dull and plodding, while it’s highlighted the weaknesses of stories that feel fun and speedy when watched in one sitting.

This leads me the new line-up, although once again I honestly cannot choose between the winning three. Each has great strengths and very little weaknesses.

So, my 2020 list of season 13 is thus:

  • The Android Invasion
  • Planet of Evil
  • The Brain of Morbius
  • Terror of the Zygons/Pyramids of Mars/The Seeds of Doom
Season 1 | Season 2 | Seasons 3 & 4 | Seasons 5 | Season 6 | Season 7 | Season 8 | Season 9 | Season 10 | Season 11 | Season 12 | Season 13 |

Season 13

fourthbannerPossibly the best season of the 1970s, which tells you that I clearly loved season thirteen. It’s the second year of Hinchcliffe/Holmes, no longer in the shadow of the successful team of Letts/Dicks. (With one exception, but that’s Hinchcliffe’s fault for asking Letts to direct and Nation to write a script.) But I digress…READ MORE!

Doctor Who Re-watch – Season 12

Season 1 | Season 2 | Seasons 3 & 4 | Seasons 5 | Season 6 | Season 7 | Season 8 | Season 9 | Season 10 | Season 11 | Season 12 |

Season 12

fourthbannerA brand new era begins with the arrival of Tom Baker and it is, in my view, one that out stayed its welcome. Even today, ask almost anybody to describe the Doctor and it’s Tom Baker they describe… despite the popularity and presence of David Tennant and Matt Smith, Tom Baker is still widely regarded as the Doctor. I’m not sure if I’d agree, but I do feel that Baker owned the role for so long that he had something of a schizophrenic time, many eras within his era. For me, the best three years of Doctor Who are those produced by Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, and they start with season twelve.

Read MORE

ielf15

 

LETHBRIDGE-STEWART- Announcements!

I am very pleased to announce another freebie — this time an Easter thank you from everybody at Candy Jar Books. An eBook introductory pack for the Lethbridge-Stewart series.

Candy_Jar_Ambush_cover_SmallThe ebook includes:

  • The Ambush! – A short story originally published in Doctor Who Magazine #438, now extended with new scenes. It is set during the Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear, and serves as an introduction to the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.
  • We Won’t Let Him Down – An extended version of the final chapter of Candy Jar Books’ Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants, focussing solely on the television adventures of the Brigadier.
  • What Lies Beyond – A brief look at some of the Doctor Who novels that have featured the Brigadier over the years that pertain to the future of the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels.
  • Graeme Harper – An extended interview with Doctor Who director Graeme Harper (the only director to have worked on the classic series and the revived series) from the book Calling the Shots, in which he talks about Nicholas Courtney, the man who brought the Brigadier to life.
  • Original Prelude – Never-before-seen original prelude that was written to open The Forgotten Son, set during the final moments of the Brigadier’s life.
  • The New World – The opening chapter of The Forgotten Son, the first novel in the Lethbridge-Stewart series.

The Lethbridge-Stewart ebook can be downloaded for free as a pdf from Candy Jar Books or downloaded for 99p on Kindle from Amazon.

We can also announce that sadly Lance Parkin is stepping away from the project for the moment. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, said: “Lance is such a huge talent in the world of Doctor Who and we have left the door open for him to return. Hopefully, one day, Lethbridge-Stewart will make it to Det-Sen.”

Doctor_Who_and_the_Horror_of_Fang_RockAs a result we’ve had re-organise our 2015 release schedule, bringing forward David A McIntee’s The Schizoid Earth. A replacement novel will follow a few months later, which is a prequel/sequel to Terrance Dicks’ acclaimed 1977 Doctor Who serial, Horror of Fang Rock which starred Tom Baker. Beast of Fang Rock will be written by Terrance Dicks and me. And, as originally planned, 2015 will still be rounded off with Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.

And the news doesn’t end there. We are finally able to announce the details of our authors for the 2016 schedule. They are, in no particular order;

  • John Peel (whose Doctor Who books include the first original novel published by Virgin Books in 1991 and the critically acclaimed War of the Daleks, as well as novelisations of four Dalek serials from the 1960s)
  • Jonathan Cooper (ex-Doctor Who correspondent with the Mirror.co.uk and author of two Space: 1889 novels)
  • Adrian Rigelsford (author of the aborted thirtieth anniversary special The Dark Dimension, and Doctor Who reference books The Hinchcliffe Years and The Harper Classics).
  • David A McIntee (our first returning author, this time with an authorised prequel to one of the most epic Doctor Who adventures of the 1960s).

10312626_10152744185665197_5251775474161766425_n
(l to r) Jonathan Cooper, Ralph Watson, Shaun Russell, Nick Walters, Terrance Dicks, Andy Frankham-Allen, Hannah Haisman

So, exciting times ahead! In the meantime, while I edit David’s book and work on Beast of Fang Rock with Terrance, I hope you enjoy the free eBook. More special releases coming soon from this site!

Poll Results! And news update…

And so, the results are in. Over two hundred voted, and the ‘best era by producer’ has been decided by the fans. And the winner is, by quite a stretch, Philip Hinchcliffe who produced Tom Baker’s first three years as the Doctor.

Interestingly John Nathan-Turner, the man who saw Doctor Who to its initial conclusion in 1989, came second place with Russell T Davies who brought Doctor Who triumphantly back to our screens in 2005.

Screenshot 2015-04-01 13.41.16

In other news, plans for Lethbridge-Stewart continue apace with, currently, eight books in various stages of production. Included in this list of books are five authors new to the range — the names of which will be announced soon!  Also coming soon, brand new cover art, blurb for the next title, and a very special something for fans of the series.

Stay tuned!