Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season Four

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The Smugglers – The only other time I’ve fallen asleep during Doctor Who. There’s nothing wrong with it; but there’s not really anything right with it either. Sitting down to write this I’m having hard time remembering what even happened in it. Ben and Polly are pretty resourceful in their first adventure into TIME AND SPAAACE! Unfortunately, it has a strong thread of the Doctor and his friends being accused of a crime they didn’t commit, which I find frustrating rather than tension building. 3/10.

The Tenth Planet – I like the Cybermen as they are here: walking corpses, a much scarier idea than the generic stomping robots they would become. Plus those cloth faces like they’ve been in an accident. The bad: General Cutler is extremely unlikable, so much so that I felt the need to give my mother express permission to sacrifice my life if it meant saving the world. It’s a pity Hartnell could hardly be in his penultimate episode. If you squint, you can just about see a story arc of the Doctor’s body being put under physical strain (The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages), but just imagine what a modern showrunner could have done with it. 5/10.

The Power of the Daleks – One of the best Doctor Who stories ever. Lesterson’s descent into madness makes the initial ‘bad guy’ very sympathetic. All the humans are planning to use the Daleks for their own advantage – I’m not sorry when they get exterminated. “Why do humans kill other humans,” What a great line. David Tennant will always be my favourite Doctor, but Patrick Troughton is the best Doctor. We see the Daleks at their sneakiest and creepiest – David Whitaker new how to use them better than Terry Nation did. The scene in episode four with the Doctor in jail is the only scene that is tad tedious – the rest is engrossing from start to finish.  If I could have one missing story back, this would be it. 10/10

The Highlanders – Another pirate story just three stories after the previous one. Jamie makes his debut, though he was only intended to be a one-off, supporting character and it shows. The most enjoyable thing about it is watching Polly be awesome as she outwits, outflirts, outplays poor General Algernon ffinch. And the Doctor dresses up as a washer woman. Better than The Smugglers, which is rather damning with faint praise. 6/10

The Underwater Menace – Apparently people’s opinions went up after they saw the second episode. If that’s the case, how bad could this have been before they found episode two? I tried, really I did, to buck the trend and enjoy the Underwater Menace. I wasn’t offended by it; I mostly just sat there frowning in confusion. 3/10.

The Moonbase – So long any potential the Cybermen ever had, as the creatures make a repeat appearance almost completely different to their original conception. Here they are as we all know and love them – the most illogical logical race in the universe, coming up with nonsensical over complicated plans. I do enjoy the scene of the Doctor getting under people’s feet collecting samples, Polly looks particularly gorgeous and saves the day, and Benoit is such a stereotype it makes me laugh. 5/10.

The Macra Terror – Why does no one ever talk about how good this is? Is it because it’s missing. The Doctor lands in an Orwellian nightmare, Ben finally gets something to do after getting his role halved to accommodate Jamie for the past several adventures, and I love that constant heartbeat music – so creepy. The actress playing Chicki changes between episode one and four, but I choose to believe something horrible happened to the real Chicki and the colony just replaced her and no one mentions it because brainwashing. Why does this have to be missing? I want to see the Doctor and friends make hasty retreat via dancing. 9/10

The Faceless Ones – Everyone talks about Dodo disappearing halfway through her final story – Ben and Polly disappear a third of the way through theirs, only to turn up in a pre-filmed insert in episode six.  The Chameleons are a race who have lost their identity, which sounds cool until you realise it doesn’t actually make any sense, at least not how it’s presented here. At six episodes, it starts to drag a bit, especially after Ben and Polly have been taken. On the plus side, like the previous story it taps into the atmosphere of paranoia, where things are not what they seem and that is my favourtire genre (if you can call it that) of Doctor Who. 7/10

The Evil of the Daleks – I can’t tell if the Loose Cannon reconstruction is just too painful, or if this story really is as overrated as it seems. For a planned companion, Victoria doesn’t get an awful lot to do. Jamie, in particular, acts very strangely, getting a bee in his bonnet about rescuing Victoria, because he saw a portrait and now he’s in love with her(?). The conflict between the Doctor and Jamie always gets praised, but to me it always come across as Jamie being in a petulant strop for no particular reason. Give me The Power of the Daleks any day. 6/10.

Originally published 10 December, 2016
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