Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season Eight

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Terror of the Autons – I feel strange saying this because he’s such a well-loved figure in Who mythology, but Barry Lett’s direction is appalling in this episode. Not just the CSO kitchens, but the strange rapid cuts, and the cardinal sin of having a character appear in two different locations in consecutive scenes. I’m convinced there’s some sort of Time Lord sorcery going on with UNIT HQ, it changes locations and appearances between stories. I don’t understand why the autons had to come back; if anything they are lessened by their return appearance, they were much better as blankly smiling creatures who silently kept coming even as they were being shot at, rather than chilling on the bus with their heads off like Disney World actors, and spouting exposition in a modulated voice. The Master getting talked out of world domination at the last minute hardly makes for the best of first impressions. And clearly the Doctor some sort of sociopath that he’s rather looking forward to having a homicidal maniac loose on earth. 4/10

The Mind of Evil – Like I said last week, I don’t like it when the Doctor is purposefully rude to people, and his constant smartarse interruptions during the presentation are an example of that. It doesn’t take much to be respectful to people. Jo’s usually busy being under the Doctor’s wing, it’s unusual to see her take on the maternal role, but it’s lovely to see her being so kind and gentle with Barnham; it almost makes you forget that he’s probably a serial killer. Speaking of, I will never forgive the Master for killing Barnham. Oh, of course I will, I love the Master. I have a theory that for the Master, this and the previous adventure happen in the opposite order, that’s how he’s managed to have been setting up the Keller machine for a year. The Keller Machine is one of the alien invasions that good have been mutually beneficial for the human race a la the Adipose, if the Doctor hadn’t come along and interfered. 6/10

The Claws of Axos – I think most of the reason I don’t rate this episode very highly is because of how unappealing it is to look at, with the depressing weather, some of the worst fringing in the series history (I’m thinking specifically of the amazing vanish frog), and the grainy quality of the tapes, despite the best efforts of the restoration team. I think it’s a pity that they blanked out the disintegrating head effect – one of the few times Doctor achieves an impressive effect and they don’t even show it. Is it bad that I prefer the Master working with UNIT than the Doctor; he’s much more fun. They really are total opposites aren’t they – one is charming but evil, the other a pompous git but good. I’m being quite negative towards this episode, but I will be forever grateful that it gifted us with the man, the legend, that is Pigbin Josh. 5/10

Colony in Space – What was I just saying about being turned off by dreary weather? I think I’m a little fonder of this story than the previous one because no one else seems to rate it that highly. Also, I dare say Malcolm Hulke is a better writer than the Bristol boys. When the Master turns up in Episode 4, it still manages to surprise, despite being flagged in episode 1 and the fact that he’s been in every other story so far. The twist of the fake monster is always a good one, but there’s something highly amusing about the robot flailing its stick arms with the rubber monster gloves on the end; it isn’t helped by the dramatic crash zoom and the cut to Jon Pertwee’s eyes bugging out. I really like the design work in this story – it feels much more realistic than what we usually get in futuristic stories, with the flatpack domes and the colonists in something other than jumpsuits. 6/10

The Dæmons – Probably loved more because the cast had so much fun shooting it, rather than its actual worth. Contains one of the most blatant examples of Jon Pertwee pinching other people’s lines, as the Doctor magically guesses what Benton is going to hit next. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if Jo had tried to save the Master’s life and that had caused Azal to self destruct? There’s plenty of both the Master and Sergeant Benton in this, so I’m happy; plus Matthew Corbett, a man my parents have hated with a passion ever since I was given a hand-me-down VHS of Lean With Sooty: Be Safe… in the late ‘90s (My Dad: “You work with puppets, get over yourself”), gets sacrificed, so they were happy. I seem to be complaining about the Doctor a lot recently, but I wish he wouldn’t be so dismissive of things like magic and the supernatural – you’re an alien with a time travelling police box, you’re not exactly the most scientific thing yourself. 7/10

Originally published 14 January, 2017
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