Sunday, 25 September 2011

Season Fifteen

A new producer brings with him a new style but it takes a while for it to settle in and as such season fifteen veers between high comedy and horror. The Doctor and Leela come up against a shapeshifting Rutan, the Nucleus of the Swarm, the deadly Fendhal, an evil taxing society, an evil computer and a Sontaran invasion of Gallifrey!

The regulars -

Horror of Fang Rock written by Terrance Dicks and directed by Paddy Russell


The Invisible Enemy written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin and directed by Derrick Goodwin

Result: Yes, there are some very ropey effects but there are also some exceptional ones as well. Yes, there is the whole issue of a giant prawn trying to take over the universe but there’s also the awesome concept of a hunt through the Doctor’s mind. And yes, the direction is pretty plodding for the most part but the script is brimming with imagination, great ideas and some lovely lines. I’m not trying to suggest that The Invisible Enemy is a forgotten classic but like The Armageddon Factor and Paradise Towers I think there is much more to this story than people like to give it credit. There's a quickfire pace to events that means it is constantly offering up something new if you're happy with where the story currently is (in terms of locations and ideas) and it is championed by bravura performances from Baker, Jameson and Sheard who are trying their hardest to make the insanity make some kind of sense. It's a great story for Leela who is written with some intelligence and a great chance to see Tom Baker play the villain. Watch the DVD with the CGI effects on, the story becomes a lot more magnetic, especially the shoot'em up sequences (mind you'll lose some of the incredible model work and that is one of the stories biggest selling points). This is a troubled production which I happen to find highly watchable, a colourful story that winds up being a great deal of fun: 6/10

Full Review Here -

Image of the Fendhal written by Chris Boucher and directed by George Spenton-Foster

Result: One of Doctor Who’s most sophisticated horrors which doesn’t revel in clich├ęs for its own sakes but thinks up an intelligent and bone gnawing terror which is rooted in real science. Thanks to the efforts of George Spenton-Foster and Chris Boucher they manage to make an inert skull the most butt clenchingly terrifying foe the Doctor has ever encountered. The pace is slower than usual but that just increases the tension and Boucher takes great pains to make his guest cast as engaging as possible to provide some levity to the serious tale unfolding. Stylistically though, this story is in a league of its own with some atmospheric location work and terrific set design. Science, superstition and mythological terror mix to great effect and there are even some wonderful monsters thrown in for good measure. Some people might think a lot of Doctor Who was like this in the mid seventies but whilst there are plenty of horror pastiches that delighted during the Hinchcliffe era this is a very unique and original tale that just so happens to enjoy scaring the pants off you. It doesn’t surprise me at all that this story began with 6.7 million viewers and ended with 9.1 million. The audience were beguiled and so was I. A shame that this would be the last true representation of horror for many a yea, but Williams was about to take the show in far less horrific and far more entertaining direction: 9/10

Full Review Here -

The Sun Makers written by Robert Holmes and directed by Pennant Roberts


Underworld written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin and directed by Norman Stewart

Result: Probably the dullest Doctor Who story I have ever forced myself to sit through, it took me four attempts to get through this the first time I tried. And that's going up against some stiff competition from The Dominators, Arc of Infinity and The Rebel Flesh two parter. Classic Doctor Who sometimes lacks finesse in it's effects but it usually makes up for it with quality dialogue, rich performances, sparkling imagination and good storytelling. Underworld shows you what happens when this situation is reversed. The effects are fairly good  considering the pressure the production was made on but everything else is devoid of life. Underworld has long stretches where nothing happens at all, faceless nobodies run around failing to interact in a plot that fails to progress beyond the end of episode one. The latest mad computer lacks even a witty retort and the Doctor and Leela are given little opportunity to shine, an abomination considering we know how good they can be at this stage in their relationship. I don’t mind the CSO, it hardly compiles the story’s problems when there are this many to start off with. Some of it looks quite convincing if you squirt some water in your eyes...although I still can't believe with a effects based production they stuck to dreary old caverns. Frankly the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD is far more interesting than the story itself: 2/10

Full Review Here -

The Invasion of Time written by David Agnew and directed by Gerald Blake

Result: Much of The Invasion of Time is cheap, amateurishly shot and pantomimic but it is a story with an intelligent and climactic script and sublime performances that help to make the whole thing very watchable. Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Milton Johns, John Arnatt and Chris Tranchell all give superb performances and lift the production considerably. Graeme Williams and Anthony Read are no slouches either, having to knock out this script in record time as the original finale for season fifteen fell through and producing a stunning piece of work under the circumstances. It’s a story that plays the Doctor as a traitor to his own people, that sees Gallifrey invaded twice and builds to a brilliant shock cliffhanger with the Sontarans. As a piece of writing, The Invasion of Time is every bit blockbuster Doctor Who at its finest. As a production it works to a point; costumes and set design are of a pretty high quality and if you can bring yourself to switch on the DVD CGI effects the resulting production is much more polished. However there are clear signs that we have reached the end of the season and the kitty is dearth of funds. Leela leaves in a disappointingly wet fashion and the last two episodes fail to generate any tension or much interest, merely churning a run-around in a disused hospital. The first four episodes however hold up pretty well you have to watch this story just to see how scary Tom Baker can be when he plays the villain. Flawed but interesting, I was going to give this story a 6 but Simon insists because it has Leela in it (one of his favourites) it deserves: 7/10

Full Review Here -

1 comment:

Doug Horton said...

No reviews yet for "Fang Rock" and "Sunmakers"? They are two of the best stories of this season!