Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thoughts on Season 8

After the generally magnificent Season 7 this is a little more disappointingly inconsistent except in one thing: The Master crops up in every story.

The two best stories are 'The Mind of Evil' and 'The Daemons', both of which I'd recommend if you want to remind yourself of the Pertwee era at its best. 'Terror of the Autons' is OK, if a little bit of a 'Spearhead From Space' retread but 'Claws of Axos' and 'Colony in Space' are pretty much duds. 'Colony in Space' getting my vote for worst story of the season, mainly because it is so damn tedious.

So we've had two seasons, so far, of the Third Doctor & I'm not sure whether I like this incarnation or not. He's certainly the most patronising of the Doctors. He's angry about being exiled to the Earth & tends to take out his frustrations on passing civil servants, who are inveriably pompous stick-in-the-muds or the poor old Brigadier. He's probably at his most irritating at the conclusion of 'The Colony in Space' where his platitudenous speech to The Guardian (who let us remember has just kindly designed to suicide his entire race in order to stop the Master getting hold of the ultimate weapon) almost makes you want The Master to slap him.

However he does righteous idignation & anger well. He's also quite good in the quieter, more serious moments. So jury's out. I certainly haven't warmed to Third Doctor in the way I did to the Second.

Liz Shaw has gone back to Cambridge & is replaced by Jo Grant (Katy Manning) who is a more 'traditional' Doctor Who assistant. Unfortunately she's stupidly stupid too often for my liking & has the same kind of bubbly enthusiasm as Bonnie Langford, which makes me want to squash her like a bug. This does make her a good foil though for the Third Doctor & allows us to receive huge chunks of exposition from the Doctor in a reasonably entertaining way.

UNIT has a good season. They generally - with the exception of the Brigadiers bizarre car choice in Terror of the Autons - look like a proper military outfit. Writers are still writing the Brigadier as an intelligent soldier with a bit of wit rather than a military figure of amusement as he becomes later (as if the writer's have started to take the Third Doctor's barbs at the Brig's expense seriously). Both Captain Yates & Sargeant Benton get a decent amount to do whilst all around them UNIT privates drop like flies.

The final regular of the Season is Roger Delgardo's Master. Now in the individual stories I have already talked about how bizarrely complex some of The Master's plans appear to be & how he & the Doctor are indulging in some kind of Timelord game to keep the Doctor's spirits up whilst in exile. I mean how serious is The Master about killing the Doctor & how often do they work together to save the day. By the time of the Daemons The Master is so much part of the team that Episode Three ends with The Master in danger. The villain gets a cliffhanger. How cool is that?

Roger Delgardo's performance is great. He generally underplays what is a role filled with temptations to ham it up. He's cold, smart & witty. He rarely tips himself into Ainleyesque OTT evilness or Simms total insanity. Whether using him in every story was a good idea I'm not so sure. His constant defeats undermine the threat. Whilst we know the Doctor normally wins seeing the same opponent turn up week in week out emphasises this fact even more.

There are regular appearances from various HAVOC stuntmen & after a while you start to recognise their faces & whenever one crops up you know someone is about to die (or at least get involved in a good punch up).

So all in all a bit of a mixed bag lacking the consistent quality of Season 7. It's not without its great moments though but avoid 'Colony in Space' until you have to.

No comments:

Post a Comment