Picking up from where we left off last week, I give you season 3. Again, some of these are tough to assess because they are either missing episodes or the entire story is missing. Still, based on what we’ve seen, read, watched, etc, Roger and I have compared notes to give you…
RP: 7 – It’s a nostalgia response for me to love this story. With my rational hat on, it’s a hideous piece of sexist xenophobia. The Chumblies are the best ever Doctor Who robot though. So say I.
ML: 6 – I want to rate this one higher because I love the one episode I have seen but I fear I love it because it’s the first “new” Hartnell story I’ve seen in decades. I do give points to it for the “never judge a book by its cover” lesson, but lose points for the way the Doctor leaves without trying to save the enemy. Plus, like my colleague, I love the Chumblies.
RP: 9 – In terms of a back door pilot episode it fails. As a Doctor Who episode that just slaps you round the face for one week and then departs, it’s Verity Lambert’s final genius move.
ML: 6 – Only because it has a legendary status; the idea of a Doctor Lite episode in the 60s is stunning. Clever attempt at a pilot. Needed the Doctor though; without the Doctor, I don’t know if I can give it a higher mark.
RP: 3 – A stunning example of placing the Doctor out of his depth and watching him sink, but I can’t get past the horrible betrayal of Maureen O’Brien and the character of Vicki that occurs here.
ML: 2 – Love the wibbly wobbly, timey wimey nature of it with the Trojan Horse. Hate the way Vicki goes out the way she came in: a dim-witted girl. She calls a man “friendly looking” after he murders someone and leaves to marry a guy she just met. If it’s ever found, I may have to revisit my rating. Until then, this is as good as it gets.
RP: 6 – Another difficult one to rate, because it’s really several stories bolted together. By the end of it, Doctor Who has been a bleak series for 17 weeks, and that’s far too long.
ML: 8 – Too long to deserve an 8 like the other quest-like episodes but too classic not to. Epic in scale and does something we haven’t seen before: kills off a companion. Two of them, in fact! That’s raising the stakes in an unexpected way. Plus Nick Courtney makes his first appearance in Doctor Who. (The Target books – it took two – had me enthralled so that helps!)
RP: 5 – …and Doctor Who is still bleak for another 4 weeks. It kicks the Doctor while he’s down, but I suppose it does that with style. Oh, and Steven is great in this story.
ML: 4 – Average historical story that doesn’t do much with the Doctor because Hartnell has to play two roles. Phenomenal ending speech worth a point on its own. Introduces a new companion out of the blue…
RP: 7 – Great story, great visuals, marred by John Wiles’s final attempt to show us just how bad all this youth culture stuff is.
ML: 8 – Two 2-part stories for the price of one. Shows the unintentional effects of the Doctor’s involvement in a very H.G. Wells way. Grand story telling. Loses a point for horrible design on the monsters but regains it for giving us something totally unusual.
RP: 8 – The first time Doctor Who has shown some true ambition for quite a while. It’s fashionable not to like this, for largely spurious reasons. Don’t be a sheep. We also have the weakest of the 4 episodes as the only one we can still watch.
ML: 8 – Touches on some of my favorite subjects, like a Lovecraftian entity (more or less) and some elements of the uncanny valley. Michael Gough is fantastic and the story has earned a legendary status. Creative use of Hartnell while he was actually away on holiday!
RP: 8 – Does everything right that The Crusade did wrong. A genre clash that actually critiques the genre it crashes into. And it also features the best musical performance of any Doctor Who companions.
ML: 5 – More fun than I remembered it; it’s comedic and unusual, offering a musical narration to boot. Unfortunately, no plot points needed to be changed to maintain accuracy for that educational children’s program. Fun distraction but little else.
RP: 2 – If you’re looking for racism in Doctor Who, forget The Celestial Toymaker. Here’s where you will find it, with seemingly deliberate cynisism, and horrible sexism thrown in for good measure.
ML: 2 – I won’t give this a 1 because Steven leaves and it’s seems the writers had Wells in mind when they wrote this class-based story, but it is completely forgettable otherwise. In fact, what were we talking about?
RP: 7 – The story where Hartnell proves that he could have done the Pertwee era, and done it better than Pertwee. But another nasty betrayal of a companion, replacing her with a much less interesting one.
ML: 3 – Only because it introduces Polly and Ben and gives Hartnell a strong scene against the machines will I even go as high as 3. Most of it is tedious, caught in the time it was made. Drags more often than not. Dodo leaves so ignominiously, it’s almost as if she was forgotten. The War Machines look idiotic and their big ability is knocking down boxes. Scary… Would have worked better during Jon Pertwee’s era. An unfortunate end to season 3.
Thankfully season 4 would offer all new treats, unlike anything we had seen before. But season 3 did not end on a strong note for William Hartnell. ML