Top of the Docs: Season 15

It’s always hard coming off a really epic season because expectations are set too high and when things don’t live up to the previous season, you get disappointed.  It just goes to show that Tom was right when he said “entropy increases”.  He hasn’t said that yet, but by the time he does say it, things were actually on the mend again.  So here we see what both Roger and I think of season 15, and it’s not great.

season 15

Horror of Fang Rock

RP: 7 – Doctor Who becomes the Tom Baker show, in the only base under siege with the Doctor failing to save anyone in the base.  But it’s all very claustrophobic and atmospheric, proving once again why the format is such a good one.

ML: 9 – I always loved lighthouses and creating a base-under-siege here was a perfect setting.  Shape shifting aliens and dark, stormy nights.  Almost perfect, but the Doctor gets a bit too racist for my liking.

The Invisible Enemy

RP: 4 – The neutered, no scares version of Doctor Who with no money to be spent on it begins here, not helped by writers who don’t tailor their scripts very well to the situation the Doctor Who production office was facing at the time.  Ambitious, with some great ideas, plus the introduction of K9.

ML: 6 – Fond of the source material (Fantastic Voyage), the idea intrigues me and K-9 makes his debut, but it has its share of weaknesses.  Leela has no brain activity apparently and the aliens look a little too… presidential.  Not terrible, but not great either.

Image of the Fendahl

RP: 8 – If only the response to being told to tone down the scariness in Doctor Who was like this for the whole season.  Basically, ignore the instruction and make another horror, this time about the origins of evil in the human condition.

ML: 8 – A little slow but the source material here (Lovecraft) is right up my alley.  Creepy setting and some wonderful night shots help raise this one to great heights.

The Sunmakers

RP: 7 – Robert Holmes knows how to make good Doctor Who on a shoestring.  He’s at his angry, political best here, although he’s so angry that he overcooks it and loses his message in amongst a diatribe about total power being a bad thing.  Some shades of grey would have been the icing on the cake.

ML: 7 – Definitely improved as I got older, the commentary is marvelous and Baker has some fantastic delivery throughout.  Being taxed to death never had such meaning as it does here.  A worthy story.

The Underworld

RP: 2 – Baker and Martin throw a load of ideas at a wall as usual, and the wrong thing sticks.  The special effects are understandably awful, and that’s probably the least of the story’s problems.  At least it’s not a cynical or nasty story like some.  It’s just depressingly not very good in all departments.

ML: 3 – I feel close to nothing about this episode.  It’s made better by a scifi retelling of Jason and the Argonauts and the mere presence of Baker, but not enough to raise it higher than a 3.  In fact, it probably should get a 2, but the explanation of why Gallifrey doesn’t interfere is just that bit of lore that I hunger for, so I upped the score by a point!

The Invasion of Time

RP: 2 – When you have 4 episodes of tin foil monster and 2 episodes of Sontarans, something is going badly wrong when the tin foil is the good bit.  A terrible betrayal of the character of Leela too.

ML: 8 – Against my better judgement, I enjoy this story.  It pulls a fast one by making the Doctor the bad guy, then giving us the real bad guys when the first ones get defeated!  Plus, Gallifrey and tons of scenes “inside the TARDIS”, what’s not to love?  The fact that the inside of the TARDIS was a hospital, or the lousy departure of Leela falling for a guy she not only just met, but is totally not compatible with on every level?  Yeah, there is that.  But there’s also Rodan…!

A real rollercoaster, this season!  I am amazed at how vastly different Roger and I feel about the last episode, but there you have it.  I think when we get to Capaldi’s era, we’ll see another real radical divergence like this too.  Until then, onto season 16…  ML

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1 Response to Top of the Docs: Season 15

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Season 15 may be most notable for where the classic Doctor Who began its systematically downhill slide after Hinchcliffe’s forced departure. It’s also notable how the Doctor could have learned from Columbo in how to appropriately chat with adversaries without the need for prejudicial insults. As the highpoints for Williams’ era like K-9, the first story arc via The Key To Time, the first companion to have her own regeneration and bringing back Davros were appealing enough to keep audiences, Season 15 clearly got enough things right to encourage the BBC to keep the show going. But it perks our imaginations as to what Doctor Who would have achieved then if Hinchcliffe had been allowed to stay on longer.

    Liked by 1 person

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