Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season Two

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Planet of Giants – The sets are amazing, and the animatronic fly is pretty good even by today’s standards. Also, it’s another Barbara-centric episode, as she bravely fights on even as she’s dying. Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly interesting story, and its telling that even in 1964 it was deemed slow enough to have an extra episode knocked off. And a cat was killed. 4/10

The Dalek Invasion of Earth – I’m sorry fan wisdom, I just don’t get the love for this one. Every time I watch it I find I have to concentrate really hard to keep track of what all the characters are trying to achieve; I don’t know if that’s unclear storytelling or just a failure to engage me. And what a terrible departure for Susan, being left on a postwar planet with the first man she’s ever shown an interest in. I can imagine on initial broadcast it would have been exciting to see the Daleks in familiar surrounds but it’s been done so often now the magic is lost. 6/10

The Rescue – Short, sweet, and despite the jokes about the twist being obvious, I’ve yet to find someone saw it coming (internet, prove me wrong). Plus it introduces Vicki, who is a vast improvement over Susan; she actually feels like a real person, with her habit of giving alien animals names and adopting them as pets. 7/10

The Romans – The regulars have never felt more like a family; the Doctor and Vicki are the naughty grandparent and child, getting up to mischief together, while Ian and Barbara are the long-suffering parents having a miserable old time on what was supposed to be a holiday. The Romans walks the line between comedy and peril really well – neither detract from the affect of the other. Well, apart from the whole threat of Barbara being sexually assaulted being treated as a joke. 7/10

The Web Planet – It’s not the worst story ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly easy to enjoy. I have to admire how much effort went into making the menoptera feel like a genuine culture, with their unique lexicon and the way they all move in a uniformly balletic fashion. The big bad turns out to be sentient, planet-engulfing cancer, which is such a bizarrely intriguing idea. On the other hand it’s maybe all little too weird for audiences to identify with, and is it just me, or does the show look ropier than usual. 4/10

The Crusade – With the current climate Islamophobia, the idea of a 1960s TV show attempting to do a story set in Palestine during the Crusades fills one with dread. But, as far as my white girl POV can tell, it seems a reasonably sensitive portrayal. Compare the two pairs of royal siblings; Saladin and Saphadin are wise and practical, while Richard and Joanna are like a pair of squabbling children. I really enjoy this story; I didn’t even notice at first that it has no resolution. 7/10

The Space Museum – I think this story might have worked better as a weird two parter, a la The Edge of Destruction. Stretched out to four parts we have to endure two of the most unbelievably stupid alien races the show has ever produced. On the plus side, tiny Vicki leads a revolution, the Doctor confounds a mind probe by feeding it nonsense (including a photo of him in Edwardian swimming gear. I don’t know whether to be delighted or scarred for life) and Ian plays with a toy gun. Better than you think, but not as good as Rob Shearman tries to tell you. 6/10

The Chase – Given fifty plus years of the Daleks being built up as the worst of the worst genocidal Nazi allegory monsters, it’s so strange to see them here as comedy baddies. There’s something very strange going on in the music department, and the scenes of the TARDIS and Dalek time machine flying through space couldn’t have convinced anyone at the time, and certainly don’t now. Barbara and Ian’s departure is very sudden, but that final montage is lovely. A story that’s only enjoyable if you’re watching it to mock it. 4/10

The Time Meddler – Vicki and Steven are so delightful together. They’ve only just met, but they’ve got such an easy rapport and banter, as they try to prove the other wrong. The Doctor is good in this too. I haven’t mentioned it yet but isn’t he so sweet in this season – a far cry from the cranky, deceitful kidnapper of season one. Just look at the way he handles Joanna in The Crusade and now Edith in this. With the introduction of the first pseudo-historical, Doctor Who is shaping up to be the show we know and love today. 8/10

Originally published 26 November, 2016
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