Top of the Docs: Season 21

My return to Doctor Who after a long hiatus, due to the US networks, was with Mawdryn Undead, so understand, this season was still very exciting to me, even though it started with that atrocity and a karate kick.  The problem was for all the odd wonderment I felt, it still ended with The Twin Dilemma.  Nothing good could come of that!  Ok, let’s see how Roger and I compare!

season21

Warriors of the Deep

RP: 1 – Take every aspect that goes into a television show: direction, acting, writing, design, etc.  All of those are awful.  Worst of all, unsurprisingly, is the script editing, which made things 100 times worse.

ML: 4 – It probably pays to reiterate my scoring.  This is at the low end of average with 4-6 being in the average range.  The karate kick is almost unwatchable and some of the characters have no depth. But I loved the underwater setting and the “return” of an old “friend” in Icthar, even if we never met him before.  Plus an unexpected ending where the Doctor fails on a grand scale to actually do any good… that’s novel.

The Awakening

RP: 9 – …and then suddenly everything goes right, especially the script editing.  A fast-paced Doctor vs Evil masterpiece, with school book history crashing into real history crashing into horror crashing into Doctor Who.

ML: 6 – High end of average, because it is an interesting story and I love the mix of horror with science fiction, but somehow could never buy into the animatronic face in the wall.  But I still say: there’s a tranquility to this episode that pushes it to the upper end of average.

Frontios

RP: 6 – Some fascinating ideas, including the Doctor traveling beyond the point he should ever go, and a proper Doctorish defeat of his (badly designed) enemy.  But a Bidmead script was always going to be big on ideas and small on realistic or emotionally meaningful dialogue.

ML: 9 – A fascinating story with ambiance that was superbly captivating.  I loved the idea of something living beneath the sand and the TARDIS being destroyed is always an edge-of-the-seat thing.  I will never forget the first time I saw this story and, while it’s not perfect, it is one of those classics that stand out.

Resurrection of the Daleks

RP: 1 – Doctor Who made as nasty and gratuitously violent as possible.  Lots of ideas thrown into the mix, but mostly bad ones.  Like Warriors of the Deep, it steals an important moment from Doctor Who’s past, and then completely fails to understand the point of it all originally.

ML: 7 – Non-stop action, the return of Davros, and a silent explosion that I can recall and play back instantly, I always liked this story.  Why it sits at the low end of above average is that it was needlessly violent and the plot is one we’ve done before in one form or another.  Plus the title… oh my giddy aunt, can’t we come up with better titles?

Planet of Fire

RP: 7 – A valiant effort to put something together with an impossible shopping list of elements to include, and the payoff to storylines that were never developed before.  Miraculously, this all works pretty well, but we can’t ignore the fact that this is the moment fanservice in Doctor Who gets taken to another level.

ML: 5 – Oh, guess who?  The Master.  That was unexpected…. not.  What was unexpected was the miniature Master and the death of Kamelion.  Ok, right in the middle of below average.  But wait!  Turlough leaves, he’s not human, and we <ahem…> see Peri for the first time.   So I’ll throw in two extra points there!

The Caves of Androzani

RP: 1 – A nasty, nihilistic story that I detest.  When the most sympathetic character is a psychopath who objectifies the fan-service companion, that says something about the degree of moral bankruptcy being inflicted on the viewers here.  The story revels in virtually everyone dying.  I’ll repeat what I said in my article: “Doctor Who abandons its morality and hope, and becomes a nasty and violent action thriller that objectifies women and makes disability monstrous… just the once, and this is it.”  I give it a 1 through gritted teeth because it has Robert Glenister in it.

ML: 9 – I get Roger’s thoughts on this; it is violent.  But for me, this was the first regeneration I ever saw.  To say it left an indelible impression is an understatement.  This story single-handedly made me a life-long fan.  And it taught me to always pay attention to the elevator before stepping in … just in case!  This was the start of something magical!

The Twin Dilemma

RP: 0 – This doesn’t have Robert Glenister in it, so I don’t have to give it a 1.  So atrociously bad that I stopped watching Doctor Who at the time.

ML: 0 – And then this happened.  A Doctor that was utterly despicable and a story that no one could like, including having a cross-eyed slug as the main enemy.  WHAT???  His arms were shorter than any T-Rex too.  When the best thing you can say about an episode is that it had a lot of colors… you’ve got nothing!

Thankfully for me, The Twin Dilemma did not follow Caves during my first viewing.  No, NJN decided to totally confound me by putting Jon Pertwee on the week after Caves, so I REALLY had no idea what was happening.  Still, Davison brought the show back for me with some stunning moments and I will forever be indebted to this era.  Roger and I are usually in alignment on most stories, but with this season we diverge quite a bit.  At least we both agree the slug gets a ZERO!   ML

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