Sunday, 25 September 2011

Season Thirteen

Horror is the order of the day as the Doctor and Sarah leave Harry behind and head off for a series of hair raising adventures. They face the terrifying transforming Zygons, a life sucking anti matter creature, the Eygptian God Sutekh, android duplicates of their friends, the psychotic brain of a Time Lord villain and homicidal vegetation!

The regulars -

Terror of the Zygons written by Robert Stewart Banks and directed by Douglas Camfield


Planet of Evil written by Louis Marks and directed by David Maloney

Result: Last night I turned off all the lights, lit candles and sat back and let Planet of Evil’s rich, moody atmosphere wash over me. Historically trips to the past are very well realised and outer space stories wind up looking farcical but Zeta Minor is brought to life with such conviction and style it confounds me that every foray into outer space can't be this atmospheric. David Maloney is perfectly suited to stories like this; he captures unseen horrors with real skill and lets the story slowly crawl under your skin, giving Marks' creepy ideas a chance to bed in your mind and fester. Planet of Evil is a quintessential Hinchcliffe story; a horror riff, superbly made, very scary and occasionally insensate for all its perfection. Tom Baker and Lis Sladen are a superb team and so watchable and unencumbered by either UNIT or Harry, the fourth Doctor and Sarah finally get the chance to show that they are made for each other. This is an often forgotten story but there is so much here that works, people write it off as an empty chiller but both visually and conceptually it is much more impressive than that. If we could remove the odd duff effect and Prentis Hancock's overplayed mania it might score even higher but to my mind this is not the season thirteen failure that some figure it to be but an atmospheric chiller that is perfect for long winter nights: 8/10

Full Review Here -

Pyramids of Mars written by Lewis Griefer and directed by Paddy Russell


The Android Invasion written by Terry Nation and directed by Barry Letts

Result: A fantastic first episode leads into a disappointing Hinchcliffe tale that gets steadily worse with each episode and climaxes on what is probably the weakest installment of the period. Doctor Who has been known to climax on a bum note after a strong start but the nosedive in quality in The Android Invasion is second to none. It might be Barry Letts’ finest direction for the series with some stunning location photography, terrific action sequences, sophisticated use of the camera and trickery (high and low angles to create drama and menace, slow motion sequences) and a fantastic pace throughout. The trouble is he can only bring to life the story as written and so he has to realise all the horrendous flaws inherent in the script (including an atrociously plotted invasion of Earth, some blatantly sexist characterisation of Sarah and story full of twists that…well aren’t) and the resulting story is a baffling mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, often veering between the two in the same scene. The multiple mysteries from the first episode soon drop away and Uncle Terry starts falling back into bad habits, the second half of the story is one cliché after another (doppelgangers, viruses and meteorites all get their moment in the sun). By the final episode I was asking as many questions as I was about the mysteries of the initial episode…but this time at the gaps in logic, the absurdity of the plot turns and stupidity of the characters. The Android Invasion has some great scenes and stunning location work but ultimately it all falls to pieces in second half and becomes something of an unwatchable mess. Entertaining but flawed beyond belief: 5/10

Full Review Here -

The Brain of Morbius written by Robin Bland and directed by Christopher Barry

Result: Blood! Gore! Brains in jars! The murder of innocent virgins! There are no lengths that The Brain of Morbius wont go to to repulse and entertain. This is nasty, playful, imaginative and very frightening in parts; The Brain of Morbius is the ultimate expression of the Holmes/Hinchcliffe gothic horror approach. The story plunders Shelley and other sources with confidence and applies it to a gripping, beautifully thought through science fiction setting. Whilst stagy, as written Karn is a terrifying world of ancient secrets and abhorrent experiments for the Doctor and Sarah to unearth. The performances of Baker, Sladen, Madoc and Grenville are astonishingly good, managing to tap into the melodrama and deliver authentic performances and Christopher Barry gives his most engaging direction yet. He's clearly been influenced by Hammer horror and he plumps for a atmosphere of foreboding in the first two episodes before letting rip with some graphic horror in the second. Dudley Simpson’s music and Barry Newbury’s designs are faultless, one providing some comic undertones to soften the air of terror and the other constructing some moody sets to enhance the atmosphere. I have never failed to enjoy this story despite watching it ad nauseum, it is very funny and very scary and sees the Doctor and Sarah’s relationship at its height: 10/10

Full Review Here -

The Seeds of Doom written by Robert Banks Stewart and directed by Douglas Camfield

Result: As close to a perfect Doctor Who adventure as you will ever find with a sparkling script, plenty of action and excitement, scary bits, gorgeous performances and avant garde direction that lifts the whole piece somewhere above the very high standards already set by season thirteen. The Seeds of Doom blew me away the first time I saw it and it still has that effect on me now; every scene is a gem, all the characters are beautifully defined and played and the story moves at a frantic pace but still leaves time to scare the shit out of you. Some of the horror is quite explicit and on that count alone this has to be one of the most effective adventures – Keeler’s transformation and the revulsion of the grinder is enough to turn even my usually unflappable stomach! You’ll never find a more perfect representation of a Doctor and companion either, Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are both at the top of their game and dazzle their way through all six episode without a single misstep. Add to that a wealth of glorious location work, a chilling adversary in Chase and several era defining moments (the Doctor loses his temper with real fireworks here) and you have something for everybody. It doesn’t surprise me that this story is held in such high esteem – it deserves all the praise heaped upon it and then some. I adore it: 10/10

Full Review Here -

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