Friday, 27 September 2013

Overview: Doctor Who Classic: Season 12

http://www.doctorwhoreviews.co.uk/4A_files/Robot%206.jpg
I like to think that Harry was a little piece of UNIT
that The Doctor could carry around with him.
Doctor Who - Season 12
Written 21/5/13

Returning to Classic Who has been exceedingly enjoyable. That was helped, by no end, by the fact that Season 12 is just so marvellous. Tom Baker's Doctor, even from his first few appearances, exudes a constant fun demeanour that finds ways to transform average scripts into instant Classics. The Holmes and Hinchcliffe era is oft considered a Golden Era for Doctor Who, and for very good reason.
     One of the best things about Season 12 is probably the attempt to rekindle the continuity that existed between episodes in the early Hartnell Era, where serials didn't really exist and the show was managed on an episode-to-episode basis with individual episode titles. While the season doesn't go that far, the six stories produced as part of this season (including next season's premiere, Terror of the Zygons) follow a continuous plot from Harry's entry into the TARDIS in Robot to his departure at the end of it. There are plot elements that end up spanning the entirety of the arc, including the re-occurrence of the Nerva space station, humanity's escape from Earth in the future and The Doctor's messy divorce from UNIT.
     Harry Sullivan goes through a half-decent amount of character development as the series progresses, from chauvinist ass in The Ark In Space through to loyal and brave friend come Genesis of the Daleks. I don't think that the character is a particularly memorable one, as the continuity makes his trip on the TARDIS feel remarkably short, but he is a nice enough presence while he's here. Ian Marter, the guy who played Harry, would later go on to become a big Who novelisation writer and was still working with the show up until his unfortunate death in 1986.
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Sarah-Jane remains the constant companion for a while yet.
     My favourite story of the season is the fun runaround that is The Sontaran Experiment, which continues the ideas from The Ark In Space except with a fun romp around Dartmoor. Vying for the Best story is probably a tie between the gory Ark In Space and the absolute masterpiece that is Genesis of the Daleks. My least favourite story of the season is most definitely Revenge of the Cybermen, which is misguided at best and utterly deluded at worst about not only its star villains but the competency of its writing.
     One thing I have noticed is that Tom Baker's stuff hasn't drawn out the same level of sheer emotion in me as the JNT era (and the stuff immediately surrounding it) does. Perhaps because at this point everything is fine and dandy - there really aren't any big examples of backroom politics gone wrong, and the people in charge of the show knew what they were doing and just did it well. If anything can be said of this era so far, it's that there is some consistency to it, even when the standards slip below what we've come to expect.

Thanks.

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