I remember Sylvester McCoy’s premiere like it was yesterday. I sat in my room so excited to see the first brand new episode. And it began with a new opening, modernized… ah, those were glorious days. Nothing would derail my enjoyment of this Doctor! Well, nothing until I started to take a critical look at it… then the truth would come out!
RP: 6 – Everything about this is an immediate step up in quality from the Colin Baker era, apart from the storyline which is another workmanlike job from Pip and Jane. The post-regen stuff is dreadful. The bubble special effect was astonishing at the time. Much better than its reputation would suggest though, just like this entire season.
ML: 8 – Say what you will, I thoroughly enjoy this story. It’s weird and silly and manic, but it’s fun despite the Rani, who I find deplorable in this story. New music, new special effects, comedy, and a cool alien race (two, in fact)… I just find this story very watchable!
RP: 8 – A dystopian story that is actually tailored to the Doctor Who demographic, unlike Varos, tapping in to the concerns about high rise living, which allows for storytelling within a vertical space. All sorts of interesting things going on: politics, gang culture, a cannibalistic older generation and oppressed youth, and a Hitler parody that is off the scale. Suddenly Doctor Who is aiming high again.
ML: 3 – This one never did a thing for me. A red TARDIS is my real highlight. I mean, in fairness, I’ll give a few points for trying some new ideas and giving us a very clear message about sacrifice and courage, but for me it still ranks below average! *Taking a pop culture class has drawn my attention to things in this episode that warrant another viewing, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about the story!
RP: 8 – A brilliant subversion of gender stereotypes, an alien race inspired by the social structure of bees, and it brings the familiarity of a holiday camp to British viewers, tapping into an aspect of British life every bit as much as the tower block previously. Brings in Ken Dodd for a cameo and then shoots him in the back. Only some issues with the acting are stopping this, and the two stories that surround it, from deserving 10/10.
ML: 5 – Roger has made some really great points about this story and I needed to give it some points for that, but as a viewing experience, I find it a hard slog. The setting is enjoyable and the characters of Hawk and Weismuller help elevate this story, but again, nothing spectacular. Sadly.
RP: 9 – Probably the most underrated Doctor Who story of all of them, because people can’t get past one cliffhanger ending, which functions as a critique of the 25 minute format anyway. A story that subverts expectations in all sorts of interesting ways, which I can’t possibly summarise here (read my article!) and throws in some horror for good measure.
ML: 9 – Barring the series dumbest cliffhanger, this story amazed me. I loved new companion Ace, and Kane was a really scary bad guy! I also loved the special effects of melting Kane. Glitz is back and he’s even more likable than before. Overall, an underrated episode because of a damned stupid attempt at a cliffhanger!
Well, not the best opening season for a Doctor, but it started and ended on high notes for me. Ironically Roger felt the middle two were strong as well, but I just never saw it. I’m glad we both agree with Dragonfire though; it’s worth watching, and I was always fond of the shorter story format, because you could tell a full story without having to stretch out the story so much! ML