The Eleventh Hour

eleventh

Writer: Stephen Moffat

Director: Adam Smith

Producer: Tracie Simpson

Series: 5, episode 1

Companions: Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)

Summary: As a result of “The End of Time”, the newly -regenerated Eleventh Doctor is repairing a crashing TARDIS. It lands on its side on the yard of a little girl named Amelia Pond.  She has been praying for someone to check out a scary crack in her wall. After satisfying his craving for fish fingers and custard, the Doctor investigates.  He hears a deep voice warning that “Prisoner Zero has escaped”.  But before he can do anything else, the Cloister bell goes off.  The Doctor tells Amelia to wait five minutes and he’ll come back for her.  However, he returns to find her all grown up and with a job as a kiss-o-gram.

Meanwhile, Rory Williams, a nurse at the nearby hospital, has discovered that comatose patients have been calling for the Doctor, and he is told to take time off.

Amy and the Doctor find Prisoner Zero and the sonic screwdriver is damaged in the ordeal.  They escape and discover the voice belongs to the Atraxi, who have been broadcasting their message over anything electronic.  They meet Jeff Angelo and his grandmother, who recognizes the Doctor from Amy’s drawings as a child.  With Jeff’s laptop, the Doctor discovers the message has been broadcast worldwide.

The Doctor and Amy head to the town square, where he discovers a vacant duck pond.  That’s when they meet up with Rory, who’s the only townsperson not taking pictures of the blocked sun.  He is instead taking a picture of Prisoner Zero, who has taken the form of one of the comatose patients.  The Doctor realizes Prisoner Zero has been using the patients as a psychic link.  The Doctor attempts to use his sonic screwdriver to attract the Atraxi, but it’s to damaged.  He uses Jeff’s laptop and Rory’s phone to create a virus instead.

The Doctor has Amy and Rory head back to the hospital, where they are chased by patients Prisoner Zero has revived.  Fortunately, the Doctor arrives.  Prisoner Zero then forces Amy into a coma and creates Amy’s younger self and a duplicate of the Doctor. The Doctor tells Amy to imagine Prisoner Zero’s true form, forcing Prisoner Zero to copy itself, which alerts the Atraxi.  Prisoner Zero is apprehended, but not before telling the Doctor “Silence will fall!” (the arc words for this season) The Doctor calls the Atraxi back, and changes clothes while heading to the roof. He tells off the Atraxi, ending with “basically…run!” He runs back to his newly-repaired TARDIS. Two years later, the Doctor picks up Amy and the adventure continues.

Review: While the story was interesting, to be honest, I didn’t really get to like Matt Smith’s portrayal of the new Doctor at first.  That didn’t really happen until a few episodes later. Amy and Rory were pretty fun. I was intrigued to see where this new direction was taken.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Continuity: Perception filters were also seen in “The Sound of Drums” and the Torchwood debut episode, “Everything Changes”.  We again hear “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” from “Blink.” The Doctor opens the TARDIS by snapping his fingers like he did in “Forest of the Dead.” We see images from “Rise of the Cybermen”, “Doomsday”, “Fires of Pompeii”, “The Runaway Bride”, “Planet of the Ood”, “The Time Warrior”, “The Sea Devils”, “The Christmas Invasion”, “Father’s Day”, and “Silence in the Library” during the Doctor’s “basically…run!” speech. The Doctor references his previous incarnations solo adventures (“The Next Doctor”, “Planet of the Dead”, “The Waters of Mars”, and “The End of Time”). When Prisoner Zero is forced to reveal its true form, the Doctor’s line is reminiscent of The Master’s taunt to Adric in “Castrovalva” when he made a copy of him to lure the Doctor and his companions.  The Third and Eighth Doctor also stole outfits from hospitals in their first appearances.  This is the third time the sonic screwdriver has been destroyed. (“The Visitation”, “Smith and Jones”) The Doctor meeting Amy at different points in her life mirrors the plot of “The Girl in the Fireplace”. The Doctor fought menacing beings residing in cracks in “The Awakening”.  Earth was called a Level 5 planet in “City of Death” and “Voyage of the Damned.”  This is the fifth time that the Shadow Proclamation has been referenced. It was also referenced in “Rose”, “The Christmas Invasion”, “Partners in Crime”, and “The Stolen Earth”. The Cloister Bell rang for the first time in “Logopolis”. The Doctor mentions the TARDIS’s swimming pool, which was first seen in “The Invasion of Time.”

Trivia: Caitlin Blackwood, who played the child version of Amy, is actually Karen Gillan’s cousin.

The Christmas Invasion

christmas

Writer: Russell T. Davies

Director: James Hawes

Producer: Phil Collinson

Series: 2, Christmas Special

Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke)

Summary: After “The Parting of the Ways”, the new Tenth Doctor takes Rose back to Earth.  Rose is both distraught and confused, as are Jackie and Mickey. Jackie dresses the Doctor in Howard’s bathrobe (which has fruit hidden in it–Chekov’s Gun!) and put him in bed.  While this happens, Harriet Jones and Daniel Llewllyn are giving a press conference for Guinivere I, a space probe headed for Mars. However, the probe is swallowed up by a spaceship belonging to the Sycorax.

While Rose and Mickey go shopping, they are attacked by robot Santas. They rush home and discover a new Christmas tree which spins and attacks them.  Rose rushes into the bedroom to wake the Doctor and gives him his sonic screwdriver.  The Doctor stops the tree, but it’s too soon.  The Santas are actually “pilot fish” who’ve tracked his regeneration energy.

The Sycorax have sent messages to the UN, prompting Harriet Jones to put word out to Torchwood.  Suddenly, several people with A+ blood enter a trance and start walking up to the highest places they can to jump.

The Sycorax transmat Harriet Jones and UNIT staff and demand surrender. Llewllyn is reduced to a skeleton when he tries to reason.

Meanwhile, Mickey and Rose have moved the Doctor into the TARDIS, but the Sycorax transmat them as well.  Rose and Mickey rush out, but Mickey inadvertently drops his tea flask, and the Doctor breathes in the fumes as the console sparks from the tea.

Rose botches the Shadow Proclamation and the Sycorax, which signals to her that the Doctor is awake. The Doctor assesses the situation and realizes the Sycorax are using blood control on the jumpers. He disables this, calling their bluff.  He then quotes The Lion King and challenges their leader to battle.  In the midst of their fight, the leader cuts off his hand, but there’s still enough residual energy to regrow his hand.  The Doctor successfully gets him to surrender, but as he walks away the Sycorax advances toward him and the Doctor hits him with a satsuma hidden in the pajamas.  He tells the Sycorax to back off: Earth is defended.

After everyone is safe and sound, the Doctor tells Jones there are more aliens out there. Jones gives the order and the Sycorax ship is destroyed by Torchwood as they retreat.  Harriet justifies her actions as self-defense, but the Doctor isn’t happy and whispers into her aide’s ear as he leaves.

When our heroes return home, they discover from TV that Harriet is having to fend off rumors of ill health and a vote of no confidence.  The Tenth Doctor, now dressed in his trademark suit and pants takes Rose to new adventures.

Review: I have to admit, when Eccleston left after only one season, I began to doubt the new efforts.  If they couldn’t keep a Doctor for more than one season, what’s the point of being invested in him? Fortunately, Tennant quickly me new confidence. His himor and mellower attitude is well-played. It’s also interesting that this is a program that doesn’t forget the Doctor is fallible.  Was Harriet justified? Was the Doctor? This is one of the great strengths of New Who–not shying away from showing that actions have consequences. I think this was a great episode.

Overall Rating: 10/10

Continuity: The Doctor quotes the Brigadier from “Spearhead From Space”. Harriet Jones’s reaction to the Sycorax is similar to the Brigadier’s reaction after defeating the Silurians in “Doctor Who and the Silurians”.  The UK also manned a mission to mars in “The Ambassadors of Death.” The Doctor’s ability to regrow a hand suggests a rationale to the numerous bodies Romana went through before deciding a new one while regenerating in “Destiny of the Daleks” The old hand is retrieved by Jack Harkness in “Everything Changes”, the first episode of Torchwood.  It is returned to the Doctor in “The Last of the Time Lords”.  It created the Meta-Crisis Doctor and infused Time Lord DNA into Donna in “Journey’s End”. In the Doctor’s wardrobe, we see clothes worn by Steven Taylor in “The Celestial Toymaker”. We also see the Sixth Doctor’s waistcoat from “The Two Doctors” and a scarf similar to the Fourth Doctor’s that the Seventh Doctor wore in “Time and the Rani.” The TARDIS also materializes in motion in “The Runaway Bride”. Harriet Jones’s line about the Doctor not always being there is a theme of the Torchwood: Children of Earth mini-series.  The Eleventh Doctor also complains about not being ginger in “The End of Time” part 2. The robot Santas return in “The Runaway Bride”.  The Sycorax return in “The Pandorica Opens.”  It is Harriet Jones’s forced resignation that would later allow the Master, as Harold Saxon, to become the new prime minister in “The Sound of Drums.” Other stories where the Doctor engages in swordfights are “The Sea Devils”, “The Masque of Mandragora”, “The Androids of Tara”, and “The King’s Demons.”
Trivia: This was not the first Christmas episode for Doctor Who. That would be “The Feast of Stephen”, part 7 of “The Daleks’ Master Plan”.  “The Unquiet Dead” could also count as a Christmas-themed episode, despite not airing on the actual holiday.

Rose

rose

Writer: Russell T. Davies

Director: Keith Boak

Producer: Phil Collinson

Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) (Note: as far as I’m concerned, although Noel was never given top billing, I still feel his character counts as a companion. He’s a big help in many stories)

Summary: Rose Tyler is an ordinary girl with an ordinary boyfriend named Mickey, an overbearing mother named Jackie, and an ordinary job at a department store named Hendrick’s.  One day, she’s closing up shop when she’s suddenly surrounded by Autons.  That’s when the Doctor shows up, telling her “Nice to meet you Rose, run for your life!”  As she runs out of the building, it explodes.  She comes home with an Auton’s arm and Mickey consoles her.  Then Mickey is asked to take the arm home but he drops it off in the trash instead.

Next morning, the Doctor shows up, having tracked the arm’s signal. He’s then strangled by the arm it flies for Rose’s neck as well. The Doctor deactivates it and rushes out. Rose follows him and the doctor tells her the Autons’ plan before leaving in the TARDIS.  Rose decides to find out more with the Internet and discovers a conspiracy nut who tells her the Doctor is an alien.  Mickey is kidnapped and made into an Auton. When the Doctor saves her from the Auton, Rose follows him into the TARDIS. The Doctor tells her that the Autons are associated with the Nestene Consciousness and it needs a round satellite. Rose realizes that the London Eye is just what the Nestene needs and they head there, where it’s discovered that it’s become an underground base. As the Doctor tries to negotiate with the Nestene, it discovers his last resort–the vial of anti-plastic.  Rose frees a rope and swings down, freeing the Doctor and Mickey, but also knocking the vial into the Nestene. The Doctor takes Rose and Mickey into the TARDIS and to safety.  Then the Doctor offers to make Rose his new companion, but she initially refuses. A split-second later, he returns and reminds her that the TARDIS is also a time machine.  This is all Rose needs to change her mind. She runs inside the TARDIS and our show begins anew!

Reviw: Now this, this is a pilot episode done right, not like the Eighth Doctor’s first story.  We’re given just enough info to understand the set-up and a fresh start for those who didn’t watch the old show.

Billie Piper is great as Rose. I think it’s a stroke of great writing that the entire story told her eyes. This is what the companion is for. Christopher Eccleston displays this Doctor as someone who’s lost everything–his people, his friends, his sense of purpose.  He’s questioning his life as a lone wanderer and the consequences of his actions. Rose comes in and he’s back in the right frame of mind.  If you’re curious about Doctor Who and are unsure where to start, I recommend starting with this episode.

Overall: 10/10

Continuity: The Doctor invokes the Shadow Proclamation, which is also invoked (erroneously) by Rose in “The Christmas Invasion” and again by the Tenth Doctor in “Partners in Crime” and we finally see its purpose in “The Stolen Earth.” According to Clive, the Doctor was a witness to the JFK assassination.  He was actually accused of it in the audio drama Zagreus. He shows his ability to speed read, a trait that was used by the Fourth Doctor in “City of Death”, the Eighth Doctor in Invaders from Mars, and the Eleventh Doctor in “The Time of Angels”. Rose’s final episode is with the Tenth Doctor in “Doomsday”, but she returns in “Partners in Crime” to begin the series 4 arc.  The Doctor mentions an encounter with Genghis Khan, which the Sixth Doctor also mentions in the audio drama City of Spires. The Doctor’s ability to sense the Earth’s movement also occurs in “The Hungry Earth”. The Doctor’s disappointment in his new ears was referenced in “Day of the Doctor.”

Trivia: This episode bears a strong resemblance to Jon Pertwee’s first episode “Spearhead From Space.”  Nicholas Briggs makes his first appearance on Doctor Who, as the voice of the Nestene. (He’s the founder and show-runner at Big Finish). Davies is the first writer on Doctor Who to have written a spin-off novel, Damaged Goods. This was the first episode to have a Companion’s name in the title.

The TV Movie

tvmovie

Writer: Matthew Jacobs

Director: Geoffrey Sax

Producer: Peter V. Ware

Executive Producer: Alex Beaton, Phillip Segal, and Jo Wright

Companion: Dr. Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook)

Summary: The Master has been taken by the Daleks to be executed on the planet Skaro, but his last request is for the Doctor to transport his remains back to Gallifrey. But en route, the Master breaks free of his confines, crashing the TARDIS on Earth in San Francisco on December 30, 1999.

A gang member named Chang (played by Yee Jee Tso) is being chased by a rival gang when he happens on the TARDIS.  The gang opens fire, and when the Seventh Doctor comes out, he is shot and taken by Chang to the hospital.

At the hospital, Dr. Grace Holloway attempts to revive the Doctor, but fails because she is confused by the two hearts in the Doctor’s X-ray.  In the midst of these events, the Master possesses a paramedic named Bruce. (played by Eric Roberts) He then hatches a plan, using Chang as a pawn, to steal the Doctor’s remaining lives, giving him a new regeneration cycle.

Review: This movie has divided the fanbase immensely. I’m one of those who actually enjoy it. (In fact, this will not be the only time I review an Eighth Doctor story. That’s right, I review audio dramas on this site!)

Let’s get what I don’t like out of the way. My main gripe is that Eric Roberts is terrible as The Master. Why didn’t they get Anthony Ainley, who played the Master starting with “The Keeper of Traken”? Sure, he wasn’t nearly as good as the late Roger Delgado (who died in 1973), but with the right script, he could be pretty good. (And before any of you say it, he died in 2004, and this movie came out in 1996, so it’s not like it wasn’t feasible to get him) He makes the Master seem more like the Terminator rather than an evil schemer.  I’m also not a fan of the revelation that the Doctor is half-human “on his mother’s side”, as I don’t think it was a necessary motivation for him to favor humanity and Earth so much (my head-canon was that he’d crashed on Earth prior to “An Unearthly Child”, and he and Susan had met several humans prior to meeting Barbara and Ian, and then it was Barbara and Ian who warmed him up to obtaining more companions. Heck, he practically invites Vicki to join them in “The Rescue”) The Seventh Doctor’s death is a terrible way for him to go. (in an interview for Doctor Who Confidential‘s first episode, Sylvester McCoy said he felt his regeneration should’ve occured in a separate episode of what would’ve been the subsequent series) It lacked the heroism of most of his predecessors (excluding the Sixth Doctor just hitting his head on the walls of his TARDIS in “Time and The Rani”, and the First Doctor simply dying of old age in “The Tenth Planet”).

What I do like is Paul McGann’s performance as the Doctor. He does a fantastic job, especially after the Doctor finally regains his memories (and even before). Daphne Ashbrook is great as Grace Holloway and I really hate the fact that Fox retained partial copyright of this movie (which is why it took so long to get on DVD), which bars Grace and Chang from appearing in any Eighth Doctor story (of course, this means nothing to fanfic writers).

The production work is fantastic. The TARDIS is beautiful, and this “desktop theme” is what inspired the revival to redesign the TARDIS. While the arrangement of the theme is somewhat different, I do like it. Overall, I say check it out if seeing the web mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor” intrigued you.

Overall Rating: 7/10 (I’d rate it higher if it weren’t for the continuity errors)

Continuity: The Seventh Doctor has his sonic screwdriver, which was destroyed in the episode “The Visitation”, during the Fifth Doctor’s era. The Master had used up all his regenerations in “The Deadly Assassin” during the Fourth Doctor’s era. Then in “The Keeper of Traken”, he got a new body. In “Utopia” we see that either his body has aged or he possessed another one prior to his memories being restored.  During the Seventh Doctor’s regeneration, we see that an orderly is watching Frankenstein. This is a link (sort of) to the Big Finish dramas, where Mary Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein, became a companion of the Doctor, beginning with In the Company of Friends (note: this is an anthology) and ending with The Army of Death. (played by Julie Cox) The Doctor has a 900 year diary, a nod to the 500 year diary that appeared in the Second Doctor’s first episode, “Power of the Daleks”. The Third and Eleventh Doctors also stole their trademark clothes from hospital lockers in their first appearances (“Spearhead From Space” and “The Eleventh Hour”) The Eighth Doctor also seems to have retained the Second and Fourth Doctor’s love of jelly babies (please bring this back for Peter Capaldi’s run, Moffat!) The Eye of Harmony was introduced in “The Enemy Assassin”, but nothing there was said about it needing a human to look into it in order to open it (nor is it within the confines of the TARDIS). The revival has acknowledged the Eighth Doctor subtlely in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood”, “The Next Doctor”, and “The Eleventh Hour” by using images from the movie.  His final adventure was chronicled in the web mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor”, which can be found on YouTube.

Trivia: While Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso have not repeated their roles in the movie for Big Finish, they have played in some of Big Finish’s dramas featuring the Eighth Doctor.  Daphne appears in The Next Life as Perfection and as UNIT captain Ruth Matheson in Tales From the Vault and Mastermind. Yee Jee Tso appeared as Reece Goddard in Real Time (a webcast Big Finish story), Major Jal Brant in Excelis Decays and Warrant Officer Charlie Sato in Tales From The Vault and Mastermind. The movie also had the working title “The Enemy Within”, which is how many fans have viewed it prior to its DVD release.

Time and The Rani

timeNo of Episodes: 4

Season: 24, ep. 1 (1-4)

Writers: Pip & Jane Baker

Director: Andrew Morgan

Producer: John-Nathan Turner

Companion: Melanie “Mel” Bush (Bonnie Langford)

Summary: The Rani has shot down the Doctor’s TARDIS and during the crash, the Doctor regenerates.  When it crashes on the planet Lakertya, The Rani kidnaps the new Seventh Doctor with the help of a Tetrap, a bat-like monster with a poisonous tongue. It is revealed that The Rani has kidnapped various geniuses to feed data into a humongous brain.

Review: A regeneration episode has two purposes. First, it has to establish the new Doctor’s persona.  Second, it has to present a new crisis so we can see how the Doctor approaches it.  Sadly, “Time and the Rani” fails at both. The Seventh Doctor would really not be established until Ace arrives in “Dragonfire”.  The concept of the humongous brain is silly, even by Classic Doctor Who standards.  The Tetraps are ridiculous and very clumsy monsters who feel like they stepped out of a sentai show.

So, is there anything positive? Certainly. McCoy does his best to make his new Doctor endearing, and his pratfalls are amusing. Kate O’ Mara is far and away the true star.  She captures The Rani well, especially when she impersonates Mel.

To wrap this up, I’d say it’s not the worst Doctor Who story. It’s a notch below average. But if you want to see what the Seventh Doctor was all about, skip it.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Continuity: This is The Rani’s last story, unless you count the god-awful “Dimensions in Time” charity special, which most Whovians who were around to see it try to forget.  During the obligatory costume change. McCoy tries on outfits belonging to the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and finally Second Doctors before settling on his famous sweater-vest outfit.

Trivia: This is the only serial in the Classic period that starts with a cold open, rather than the new opening credits. This is probably because it did not start off from a previous episode, like all the other regeneration episodes did.

 

The Twin Dilemma

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No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 21, ep. 7 (21-24)

Writer: Anthony Steven

Director: Peter Moffatt

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Companion: Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant)

Summary: Having just regenerated after saving Peri’s life in “The Caves Of Androzani”, the Doctor has succumbed to fits of mania so uncontrollabe that he’s even strangled Peri.  Meanwhile, an old man named Edgeworth has kidnapped twin boys named Romulus and Remus, who are math prodigies.  With the help of Lt. Hugo Lang, an intergalactic policeman, the Doctor and Peri set out to rescue them from Edgeworth, who is working for an alien slug named Mestor.

Review: In 2009, there was a poll that asked what the best Doctor Who story was. This one was at the bottom of the list, meaning it’s considered the worst classic story.  Does it deserve such a dubious award?  I would certainly say so.  It’s not just the manic fits that bother me.  It’s also how contrived the whole plot is.  For instance, there’s the part where the Doctor decides to be a hermit, with Peri as disciple, and exiles himself to Titan III. When he arrives, he happens upon Hugo Lang, who crashed there.  In fact, the whole story is built upon contrived coincidences like that one.  The cliffhangers are so silly that they don’t convey a sense of dread that cliffhangers are supposed to have.  The motivation for kidnapping the twins–rearranging planetary orbit–makes no sense whatsoever.  In short, skip this story completely. It is not worth your time.

Overall Rating: 1/10

Continuity: We see outfits worn by the Second and Third Doctors and Tegan in the TARDIS’s wardrobe.  The Sixth Doctor says “Brave heart, Tegan” to Peri, which was one of the Fifth Doctor’s companions.

Trivia: Dennis Chinnery, who plays Sylvest, also appeared as Albert C. Richardson in “The Chase” and as Gharman in “Genesis of the Daleks”. This story marks the second time a new Doctor’s era started during a season, rather than waiting til the next season. (the first time was when Patrick Troughton started as the Second Doctor.)

Castrovalva

castNo of Episodes: 4

Season: 19, ep 1 (1-4)

Writer: Christopher H. Bidmead

Director: Fiona Cumming

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Companions: Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding)

Summary: After the events of “Logopolis”, the Fourth Doctor has regenerated. The Master hatches a plan and traps the newly-regenerated Fifth Doctor and companions in Castrovalva, a mental projection created by Adric’s mind.

Review: Before I start, I should say that the story really is meant to be a continuation of “Logopolis”, unlike most regeneration episodes, which are meant to start a new path. It still kind of stands on its own, but it continues the concepts from that episode.

John Nathan-Turner meant for the Fifth Doctor to be an opposite of the Fourth. He felt Tom Baker’s Doctor was invincible and wanted a humbler hero.  The Fifth Doctor is more cautious than his predecessor and considered the gentlest Doctor overall. Also, unlike the others, he is completely dependent on his companions. They work as a team to resolve the crisis at hand.

This story is a favorite of mine, but it’s not without its problems.  The main one is that the pacing really doesn’t pick up until the third and fourth episodes.  The Doctor’s trauma isn’t as quickly resolved as it was in “Robot” or “Power of the Daleks”.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Continuity: While suffering from regeneration trauma, the Fifth Doctor regresses to the personas of all his predecessors (and does a pretty good impression of Troughton, I might add)

Trivia: This was the first episode to refer to the Doctor as “The Doctor” in the credits, rather than “Dr. Who” or “Doctor Who”.

 

Robot

robotNo. of Episodes: 4

Season: 12, ep 1 (1-4)

Writer: Terrance Dicks

Director: Christopher Barry

Producer: Barry Letts

Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter)

Summary: After the events of “Planet of the Spiders”, the Doctor has regenerated. He’s eager to go out into space again, but the Brigadier has a new mystery that needs his help.  A robot has stolen parts for a disintegrator gun. Not only that, but the robot has been manipulated by a rogue group of scientists who are plotting world domination.

Review: Terrance Dicks (or “Uncle Terry”) is considered one of the show’s best writers.  While this story lacks the grand scope of his most famous serial, “The War Games”, it has something else going for it: fun. There’s some very funny moments throughout, and the story kept me entertained.

Tom Baker is a great actor, and he quickly shows us his Doctor: a childish but clever man who defies predictability.  His carefree attitude seems to contradict the seriousness of the situation.

Sarah Jane is good also.  I’ve always felt her earliest stories, when the writers truly knew how to write her feisty persona, were her best.  She is a great help to the Doctor. In fact, it is her kindness to the robot that prevents it from harming her.

The Brig and Harry don’t really lend much to the story. Lethbridge-Stewart seems perplexed by the new Doctor, while Sullivan has very little to do.  (Then again, I never much cared for Harry)

The overall story isn’t the best way for a new direction to start, particularly in the final part, where the robot grows. (Yes, his creator explains it, but it’s still a sloppy idea)The special effects suffer when it grows.  Other than that, I did enjoy it.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Continuity: The Doctor quotes “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” upon finishing regeneration and mentions Sontarans, referencing “The Time Warrior.” We see that his TARDIS key is in his shoe, as it was in “Spearhead From Space.” This is the last story to regularly feature Sgt. John Benton (now Warrant Officer) and Lethbridge-Stewart (although the latter did make special appearances in a few fourth Doctor stories until “The Deadly Assassin”, in the Fifth Doctor story “Mawdryn Undead”,  the Seventh Doctor story “Battlefield” and the Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Enemy of the Bane”). It’s also the only Fourth Doctor story to feature the Third Doctor’s canary roadster Bessie. (Bessie would make two more appearances: “The Five Doctors” and “Battlefield”)

Trivia: The new opening was the first opening to feature the TARDIS. This would not happen again until the Seventh Doctor’s era.