Top of the Docs: Season 14

Coming off a truly stellar season 13, this one was more in line with the norm.  There are some ups and some downs.  The last season was an exception to the rule and as things go, this was a decent season, as we can see below…

season 14

The Masque of the Mandragora

RP: 2 – It tries to be a story about science beating superstition, but the science is technobabbly, and the superstition is astrology-based and somehow holds real power, so Marks doesn’t achieve what he is trying to do here, and to make matters worse the pacing is terribly sluggish.

ML: 6 – A fun romp but it took me to adulthood to appreciate it at all.  Like a salami sandwich, it may get better as we get older, but it’s still low on the list of favorites.  The masks are marvelous though.  Some truly lovely set design and we finally learn why everyone speaks English!  But I still can’t pronounce Mandragora the way Baker does.  I’m certain he puts an L in there somewhere.

The Hand of Fear

RP: 7 – Another Baker era change of location mid story, but this time much better integrated.  The first half is far superior, due mostly to female-Eldrad being a rounded character while male-Eldrad is a shouty caricature.

ML: 8 – I’ve got to hand it to her, while the male Eldrad was a bore, the female was both lovely and interesting.  The idea of the creature changing genders was far ahead of its time.  And Sarah Jane’s departure was heartbreaking for me.  Not perfect, so can’t be crowned “king” of the season.

The Deadly Assassin

RP: 10 – A fascinating approach to the Time Lords, and includes the most exciting and scary episode of Doctor Who ever made.

ML: 10 – The Matrix years before the movie was ever made, Gallifreyan politics, a nightmare world with a clown and a samurai, and the Master looked marvelously terrifying!  Predictable as ever, Doctor, this title was a product of idiotic writing!

The Face of Evil

RP: 6 – Doctor Who’s exploration of a cargo cult, plus the Doctor facing a monster of his own creation, with an intelligent resolution of the problem.  His attempted rejection of Leela is pretty nasty though, and for entertainment value I can’t rate this as highly as the stories that surround it.

ML: 3 – Just how boring can a story get?  Let’s face it: the best parts are the comedy and the “who am I?” from Xoanon.  Though her intro is a weak story, Leela brings this one up a good few points!  That’s telling, eh?

The Robots of Death

RP: 10 – A clever delivery of an Agatha Christie plot, with the Poirot reduced to a quivering wreck by robophobia.  This has to be a strong contender for the Doctor Who story with the most gorgeous design work.  D84 is a great character and his dialogue is at times pure poetry.  Fabulous.

ML: 10 – “I heard a cry…”  Yes that was me saying I love this story.  Agatha Christie in the future and proof that a proper alien companion can work for Doctor Who, this story is sublime!

The Talons of Weng Chiang

RP: 7 – Screamingly racist, and that could have been resolved by an easy fix within the script of making Chang a yellowface performer within the narrative rather than actually Chinese, but nobody cared about that at the time.  Other than that it’s brilliant, but that’s a very big “other than that” to swallow.  Jago and Litefoot are of course completely magnificent.  Jago and Litefoot forever…

ML: 9 – Some of the dialogue and plot is horribly dated and racist, but Jago and Litefoot!  They alone carry this story up several points.  Probably should get a 10 but I did feel the episode was a little prolonged and the casual racism is a talon in the side.

Hey, they can’t all be winners, but this season on average was still strong.  How long could Tom Baker keep the ratings this high?  We shall see…  ML

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