Friday, 8 November 2013

Overview: Doctor Who Classic: Season 13
The Doctor begins the season with a Scottish theme.
Doctor Who - Season 13
Written 28/5/13

Hinchcliffe and Holmes, now free from the pre-ordained stories set down by the previous show-runners, had their chance to shine. Their Gothic influences really began to shine through, and their statement against the continual presence of UNIT made most definitely known as this is the final season to feature them until Season 26, a good thirteen years later. As such with the Gothic theme, many stories are lifted from more classical allusions, and good deal of them feature psychopaths and their henchmen.
     For some reason, the characterisations felt very different to the previous season. While the loss of Harry once again gave Sarah Jane the prime companion position, her development since her first season seems to have taken her down an odd route. The confident, staunchly Feminist icon that so defined Pertwee's final season seems to have given way to a classic Who screamer who runs around in pjamas. Luckily, she does have the incredible knack of saving The Doctor at least once a serial, which is generally a positive thing. The Doctor himself spent far too many serials acting grumpily, the worst being his totally uncharacteristic taciturnity in The Pyramids of Mars.
     The season's villains followed three main trends - opportunistic alien invaders, transformative substances and insane evil geniuses. These are all of course taken from standard literature - the third being a given in Who at large but especially prominent here, and the second being taken from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the one hand I am tempted to scream about the season's clear lack of originality, and go on some mislead diatribe about how the popularity of this season in the fandom shows an underlying self-loathing due to the rejection of the show's own new ideas. But then I take another sip of my tea and realise that it's the way these themes are so well transcribed to what it a Saturday tea-time show that makes it so ingenious.
     I will admit that I found the first three serials of the season to be a little lacklustre. Terror of the Zygons and Pyramids of Mars, although fan favourites, were not stories that I really enjoyed. With Zygons it was due mainly to a malaise from all the bagpipe music and the terrible special effect used for the Skarasen. Pyramids was a little more overall negative; I just found it to be overwhelmingly boring despite itself, and didn't see any redeeming features beyond the decent execution of the villain by the end. The second story, Planet of Evil, suffered from several poor design choices all rolled into one. My favourite story of the season by a country mile is The Android Invasion, whose sheer sense of fun and mystery is exactly what I love about the show.
The Doctor mindbends with Morbius four serials before
we finally see Gallifrey.
     The comfortable days of Four and Sarah are almost over, and in these six stories we see an attempt by the new producers to properly stamp their influence on the series with as little fuss as possible. There may be a few stories which aren't to my tastes, but there is an undeniable sense of professionalism that runs through the season and even if you don't agree with the borrowing of story themes from classical literature, you have to admit that Season 13 has some of the most memorable and iconic villains and stories in the entire Classic era.


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