Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season Nine

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Day of the Daleks – It’s hard to believe that this is Doctor Who’s first foray into really exploiting the whole ‘beware paradoxes’ angle to time travel, and its executed with a satisfying neatness. It doesn’t always happen, so its worth noting how real the freedom fighters from the future feel; especially since the central twist all hinges on the motivations of a guest character, it’s a testament to how well they’ve been written. And it feels like an age since we had a female character with significant responsibility. The Ogrons are erring slightly on the side of looking like a racist stereotype, but no one else has said anything, so maybe it’s just me. The Daleks don’t come out of this very well – never mind that there are only three of them, I can suspend my disbelief – but it’s obvious that they were inserted into this story, rather than the story being built around them. Also, they hadn’t been seen in five years, and yet they are just introduced with no concession to the fact that people might not know who they are or what they represent. Brief gripe over, this is a really fun and well executed story, even if its title monsters add nothing to it. 8/10

The Curse of Peladon – What I tend to judge Doctor Who stories most on is their atmosphere, and I love the sci-fi, medieval ghost story vibe in this story. I really appreciate when the show makes an effort to show that alien doesn’t automatically equal evil so a big thumbs up for the Ice Warriors redemption (a pity it doesn’t last). It’s bizarre and just wrong for the Doctor to be insisting that the Ice Warriors are baddies – kinda makes you look like a racist jerk, Doc. Never mind the one-woman show that is Episode 1 of Planet of the Daleks – I think this might be Jo’s best outing. She gets to be resourceful and show her leadership skills rallying the delegates to get their act together; shows no fear talking to giant green aliens who tower over her; and plays the part of the fairytale princess beautifully. 7/10

The Sea Devils – I love Doctor Who and the Silurians, but every subsequent Silurian/Sea Devil story had basically been a rehash of the original: homo reptilia want their planet back; the humans ain’t sharing; everyone tries to blow each other up; the Doctor insists that the homo reptilia are honourable even though they are just as genocidal-y as the humans; biggest explosion yet; status quo is reset in time for next week. I realised something while taking screencaps for this episode – there are no interesting images in it; even the famous ‘Sea Devils rising from the ocean’ isn’t that impressive because there’s only six of them, they aren’t in sync, and the stuntmen have clearly been on their hands and knees just beneath the surface waiting for their cue. Even the Master, despite his antics trolling the Governor can’t really elevate this story to equal the original. 6/10

The MutantsIt’s… Monty Pertwee’s Flying Anti-Colonialism Parable… in Space! On the one hand, I’m pleased they tried to have a bit more ethnic diversity in casting; on the other hand, was Rick James really the best actor they could find. Every time I watch, I find myself hoping that this time, maybe, just maybe, Cotton dies and we get Stubbs for the rest of the story, instead. Speaking of actors, I have a hard time believing Castellan Spandrell, I mean George Pravda, could be working against the Doctor, especially as the character’s motivations are never entirely clear. It’s not the first and it won’t be the last time Doctor Who employs noted and respected thespian Geoffrey Palmer only to kill him off in unceremonious fashion before the final credits. It just goes to show where my priorities lie that I only know about Salman Rushdie because he referenced this episode in The Satanic Verses. Just as grey as The Claws of Axos, but without the disadvantage of high expectations. 6/10

The Time Monster – I will never understand the disdain this story attracts. Sure Chronos the interdimensional pigeon on Kirby wires is terrible, but when have bad special effects ever gotten in the way. Benton gets to show he’s not as big a buffoon as he appears (and I will always love Benton, no matter how bizarre John Levene’s behaviour is). The Master, instead of being a pantomimic bad guy with a ridiculous over the top scheme (OK maybe a little) successfully seduces Galleia (in a magnificent scene, where everything is in the actors’ performances, with none of the vomit-inducing innuendos we had to suffer through in the Doctor/River relationship) and over throws the old king of Atlantis. You heard that right – the Master actually competently executed a plan to seize power; if only he could have stopped there, instead of trying to command Time Itself, or whatever it was he was up to. He could have been a happy little tyrant king. The switch to Atlantis for the last two episodes ensures that the story doesn’t get too stale; testament to this is the fact that my Dad and I watched all six episodes in one sitting – a record for us. 8/10

Originally published 28 January, 2017
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