Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoughts on Season 11

Jon Pertwee's last season is consistently good. The only story that I felt let the side down was 'Death To The Daleks'.

The arrival of Sarah Jane Smith helps. Liz Sladen gives the series a real boost of energy at a time when it needed it. She's fiesty, funny & proactive. She adds drive to virtually every story she's in, either by prodding the Doctor along or some other characters. If any character is the model for how 'New Who' companions are supposed to behave then it is Sarah Jane.

I'll say more about Jon Pertwee himself in my blog on the Pertwee era as a whole but he seems on fine form throughout the season, except 'Death to the Daleks' when he just doesn't appear to be enjoying it at all. He's in control of the part & there's no sign that he's letting his imminent departure distract him from the day job.

UNIT are not used as much this season but when they are the Brigadier is on fine fettle. He gets some of his best scenes & lines in Season 11, particularly in 'Planet of the Spiders'.

Captain Yates (Richard Franklin) gets a chance to come to the fore though, in what we'd now call a story arc. Shaken up by events in 'The Green Death' at the tail end of Season 11 he's become a traitor, for the best of intentions one feels, by 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs'. In 'Planet of the Spiders' he's trying to put himself back together again & gets to redeem himself. It's a character that is probably worth a revisit just because you get the impression that interesting things would have happened to him.

Sargeant Benton makes the occassional, solid appearance but you get the impression that the production team are thinking that with a new Doctor, a less UNIT focused approach is coming.

Overall a good season, with some interesting stories & like Season 7 some real attempts to get ideas & politics into the series, even if sometimes it is handled without much finesse.

I'd say 'Planet of the Spiders' was my favourite of the season, with 'The Time Monster' & 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' up there. In fact I think 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' is a story that would be held in much higher esteem - it would fit quite happily into the excellent Season 7 - if it wasn't for the perception of hackness that the dodgy dinosaurs have given it.

A fitting farewell then for Jon Pertwee.

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