Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season Seven

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Spearhead from Space – Doesn’t everything look beautiful on film. The earthbound format feels so strange compared to what’s come before – just look at Zoe and Liz. One’s a girl genius from the future, the other’s a university qualified modern woman. It feels like an entirely different programme. Does it need saying that Nicholas Courtney is a brilliant actor – just look at him and Caroline John twinkling away at each other in the job interview scene – it’s so delicious I could eat the TV. Good old Robert Holmes for giving a satisfactory explanation for why alien invasions are going to be happening every week for the next five years. While no one could ever replace Troughton, Pertwee immediately beguiles, charming Liz and the audience in seconds with his eyebrows, and he’s not nearly as patrician as he would later become. 9/10

Doctor Who and the Silurians – Here’s something that’ll make you never trust my judgement, again – I like the music. The Silurians may not be the most convincing costumes ever produced, but all that matters is that we’re better than Star Trek. Has anyone else ever noticed the ghost of the title card burnt into the film at the start of Episode Six? I hate it when the Doctor’s being rude to people who don’t particularly deserve it, though I appreciate how it turns out the two most pleasant people on the base turn out to be the baddies. As Philip Sandifer of the TARDIS Eruditorum pointed out, it’s a big issue that the Brig’s commiting genocide is never commented on again, and the Doctor continues working for him. What if he’d just used the explosions to seal them in – so I can sleep at night, I headcannon that that’s what he did and explained all this to the Doctor later. My nostalgia goggles are heavily tinted on this story. 8/10

The Ambassadors of Death – Or to give its proper title The Ambassadors… OF DEATH! Proof if it were needed that Liz wasn’t too clever to be a companion – she gets kidnapped precisely because she’s clever. I love it when Doctor Who feels like it takes place in another universe to our own, with missions to Mars in the 1970s (or 80s), it makes the show feel so much bigger. I like that the aliens aren’t the bad guys, rather a xenophobic human being is; but I do think portraying him on the verge of a mental breakdown diminishes the effect somewhat – you don’t have to be mentally ill to be a xenophobe. On the other hand, the Doctor quietly agreeing with Carrington that he did his duty is one of those Pertwee moments of charm that wins me over every time. And then he swans off at the end of the episode for everyone else to clean up the mess. How very Doctorish. 7/10

Inferno – For my money, this is the story that struggles most under the burden of seven episodes. The story felt like it ended in episode six, with episode 7 being an overly long tacked-on dénouement as events from the previous episode are repeated in the home universe. Why does touching the green goo turn people into werewolves(Jesus Christ, Benton!)? Why is the Doctor so mean to the Brigadier? Why does the passage between realities look suspiciously like a disco ball? It’s a fun story, if too long and heavily padded, but not an all time classic and certainly not Pertwee’s finest. 6/10

Originally published 7 January, 2017
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