Friday, 21 September 2012

Overview: Doctor Who Classic: Season 25

The 25th Anniversary Season was a mixed bag of stories. It was also a very small bag; like the two seasons preceeding it, and every season afterwards, it only had 14 episodes. Half of the season was given over to thought-provoking satires that asked challenging questions, while the other half was given over to crowd-pleasing Monster slideshows, with varying degrees of success. Because the characters haven't much changed, I'll do that other kind of overview where I look at the bests and worsts of the season.

He makes sweets that kill people.
Best Story
By far my favourite story from the entire season has to be The Happiness Patrol, a story with delicious satire and just the right percentage of madness. Everything, from the scathing Thatcherite parallels to the demented Kandyman, is perfectly fine-tuned to make this one of the most interesting stories in the entire Seven era. I loved it from beginning to end, warts and all. Happiness prevailled. My favourite moment was most definitely the Doctor's trick, where he manages to cause a civil war amongst the Patrol simply by pretending to lauch; they wanted to shoot him for causing a riot but couldn't in fear of violating their own dogma.

Worst Story
Poor Silver Nemesis. The story upon which so much importance was placed, it's another "checklist" story where the producers gave the writer a list of things that needed to be here. This time, it was a "silver" theme, the Cybermen, and something to do with the royals. Somehow this was interpreted into a 17th Century Lady, some Neo-Nazis and a Cyber-fleet that does almost nothing. It's not an unpleasant story, but it's certainly one that I don't want to visit again, for the simple reason that I've got much more interesting things to be doing. It really is an empty shell, and the worrying Cartmel Masterplan overtones only make it more throw-away.

See what I mean?
This is a season with a lot of great villains, but the scariest and spookiest are definitely the Circus from The Greatest Show In The Galaxy. Even Ace thinks that clowns are scary, and the army of eternally smiling robots are incredibly creepy. Add that to the Gods of Ragnarok and their devatatingly biting metaphorical meaning as an unappreciating British audience. And, from The Happiness Patol, you know that I love Thatcherite Helen A and the Kandyman. Worst villains? It's going to have to go once more to Silver Nemesis. On one hand you've got Lady Peinforte, who looks  and acts like a reject from Horrible Histories. Then you've got Herr Flores and his army, who have to be some of the weediest Nazis I've ever seen, not even one bloody swastika. And then there's the Cybermen. Given a silvery paint job, they stand about being impotentand being blown up by impact with a gold coin. It's so utterly disappointing on every level.

Success of the Story
The most successful story - that is, it succeeded in being what it was trying to be - was Remembrance of the Daleks. It was a much better anniversary story than Silver Nemesis, which of course is the least successful.It managed to celebrate the series using not only setting-based and visual cues, but also in the way it revitalised the Daleks and made them awesome again after the post-Genesis Davros stories made them weak. It's the standout story of the season, the one I saw first and the one that everyone is going to remember, standing beside Doctor Who's greats.


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