Nick (nickmurdoch) wrote,

The Last of the Time Lords updates

Previous entries: One and Two, Three, Four, Five.

I finished washing classic Who a couple of months ago but I haven't had time to blog about it since moving. Watching through 1963 to 1996 took me about two years. I finished watching through everything I could chronologically, and then spent a while going through serials that had been released on DVD since:

  • The Sensorites - Pretty good storyline if a little formulaic, and good to see the inspiration for the Ood.
  • The Reign of Terror - Not so good, and not helped by the poor-quality animated versions of the missing episodes.
  • Planet of Giants ("Honey I shrunk the TARDIS") - Slow paced dispite having had an episode cut out, but quite engaging on a technical level to see how they did the tiny humans effects back in the 1960s.
  • The Ambassadors of Death - An average Pertwee story.
  • The Daemons - As good as everyone says it is. Shame about the angels'gargoyle's comedy sticking out tongues, though.
  • Death to the Daleks - Had potential, but ended up being another run-of-the-mill Daleks episode.
  • The Robots of Death - Average future-based Fourth Doctor story.
  • Shada - Well-combined as a story with linking material read by Tom Baker (the missing scenes are mostly interior shots, so it doesn't lose much), it's a shame Douglas Adams' script wasn't completed. Good story.

So, that just leaves the following extant serials left to watch when they're released: The Tenth Planet, The Ice Warriors, The Mind of Evil, Terror of the Zygons, and Scream of the Shalka. They're all due out this year; maybe I'll try to get them watched before the 50th anniversary episode.

In the meantime, here's my rundown of the final three Doctors:

Oh, the Sixth Doctor. Cringeworthy for the most part, dull for the rest, and interrupted throughout by the terrible decision to tell all the stories in the form of flashbacks in the second series. The highlights are Sil in Vengeance on Varos, a chuckling little miniature Hutt-like creature; The Rani in Mark of the Rani, whose open derision of Ainley's Master rather endeared her to me; and the surprise appearance of Brian Blessed in Mindwarp.

SilSo, top episodes:

  • Vengeance on Varos - Not great, but saved by Sil and the uncalled for weirdness of the Cell Mutator.</a>
  • The Mark of the Rani - Actually a good episode; such a shame the Rani only returned once in the terrible Seventh Doctor debut.</a>

Honorable mention to Mindwarp for such an audacious way to write a companion out, even if JNT (the producer) did retcon it later.

Doctor and Ace in Ghost LightIt's a shame that the Seventh Doctor is generally remembered as a bit of a clown, because although the first season certainly casts him as such, the second two series have him playing a much darker character with a lot of good stories. That's helped significantly by the introduction of Ace as companion, the only companion I can think of offhand that has any kind of character development and backstory. Ace makes the final two series required viewing as much as McCoy's Doctor does.

Ace and Karra in SurvivalHighlights:

  • Remembrance of the Daleks - Ace. With a baseball bat. Hitting floating Daleks. Perfect.
  • Battlefield - It's nuts, but it's the Brig's final outing, which makes it special.
  • Ghost Light - This one pretty much defines the Seventh Doctor for me.
  • Survival - The series went out on a good one. The direction is atmospheric, the acting is superb, and Ainley's Master is way more plausible. The low budget on the tiger costumes takes some suspension of disbelief though....</a>

Honourable mention to The Curse of Fenric, which shares a lot in common with some of the Eleventh Doctor's episodes, but ultimately fails to garner an emotional response when it should.

The Eighth Doctor is massively misrepresented by his publicity shots which seem to unanimously show him as a serious, brooding character who I didn't expect to like. After watching the TV Movie my main impression is that he was actually pretty happy and energetic character.

Having been used to weekday night 1980s budgets, the production qualities jump to something on par with the new series, which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately the script let the film down, not sure whether to be a continuation of classic Who or a reboot, throwing in things like the romance just to satiate the American audience, and having so many plot holes as to barely hold together.

The fact that the movie, actually a back-door pilot for a new American series of Doctor Who, failed is both a shame and a blessing. It's a shame we didn't see more of what Paul McGann could bring to the role, and a blessing that we didn't end up with continued Who being produced like the movie.

So, that's classic Doctor Who wrapped up. I'm now fully qualified to be nerdy at the 50th anniversary episode this November!

Of course, the whole current series has been working in classic DW references all over the place, with the final episode being the most obvious one. With the exception of the colourised First Doctor (and I think even that one was taken from An Unearthly Child, the selection of clips of the various Doctors was terribly lazy - the second and third were both taken from The Five Doctors, so they looked older than they were in their actual runs. The Fifth Doctor's was an interesting choice but again, from his first episode in the part. The choice of the Sixth Doctor was an obvious one, although I can't think offhand of any other peril he'd been in. And using Dragonfire for the Seventh Doctor was really tacky - choosing a bad cliffhanger from a bad story. Frankly I'm rather disappointed in Steven Moffat, who's a long-time Who fan, for signing off on it.

That said, I did squee when they all came on-screen.

As for John Hurt, well, I'm curious to see where they go with it. Obviously he's an incarnation that happened between Eight and Nine (assuming he didn't happen before the First Doctor - although having said that, that's an intreaguing idea) since that's the only regeneration we haven't seen on-screen. I'm going to guess that he's the incarnation that exploded Gallifrey and ended the Time War. Nine was freshly regenerated in Rose and I couldn't ever picture Eight fighting wars. Have the Time Lords force a warrior regeneration onto Eight to turn him into a weapon, and you've got yourself a plotline. Of course, I'm likely to be entirely wrong, but that's my prediction.

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