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Doctor Who: The Chase (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Chase originally aired in 1965.

You’re from Earth?

No, no, Ma’am. No, I’m from Alabama.

– Barbara and Morton set things straight

There are times when Doctor Who seems to straddle the line between genius and insanity, when the viewer is left completely unsure whether they’ve witnessed something profoundly clever, or infuriatingly stupid. The Chase is one of those stories, one of those rare cases where I’m honestly not sure if I’m reading too much into a piece of television or simply scratching the surface of a whole wealth of complex meaning and symbolism. The Chase is, as near as I can make out, either a desperate attempt to cash-in on the then-current Dalek craze, or one of the craziest attacks the show ever made on the fourth wall. It’s either completely terrible or breathlessly brilliant, and I refuse to rule out the possibility that it is both, possibly at the same time.

Cutting to the chase...

Cutting to the chase…

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Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Seeds of Doom originally aired in 1976.

Very impressive. What do you do for an encore, Doctor?

I win.

– Chase and the Doctor

“The mixture of styles is charming,” Miss Ducat notes of Harrison Chase’s impression mansion, and it’s also true of the story itself. I think that part of the reason that The Seeds of Doom works so well is because it’s actually a rather wonderful blend of any number of pulp subgenres, mixing a spy adventure, a trashy sci-fi adventure, an end-of-the-world catastrophe story, a gothic horror tale and an alien invasion saga, all within one six-part story. The story’s meglomaniac, Harrison Chase, might believe hybrids are “a crime against nature” (which opens up all sorts of avenues of plant racism), but I think this works quite well.

Hamilton Chase goes green…

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Doctor Who: The Android Invasion (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Android Invasion originally aired in 1975.

Is that finger loaded?

– the Doctor

We’re in the middle of one hell of a season here, aren’t we? Indeed, The Android Invasion is sandwiched between two stories that could legitimately vie for the title of “best Doctor Who story ever.” Perhaps that’s why it feels like such a let-down. The Android Invasion isn’t the worst Doctor Who story ever. Indeed, it isn’t the worst Tom Baker Doctor Who story ever, nor is it the worst Philip Hinchcliffe Doctor Who story ever. It is just sort of… there. It’s a very dull and mundane piece of television, one that feels all the more dull and mundane for the fact that it’s positioned in one of the strongest seasons that the show ever produced.

He needs a Doctor...

He needs a Doctor…

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Doctor Who: Planet of Evil (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Planet of Evil originally aired in 1975.

He used the neutron accelerator. If he hit Sorenson, it could be disastrous.

You mean things can get worse? I don’t believe it.

– the Doctor and Sarah Jane make sure we understand the stakes

I feel a bit sorry for Planet of Evil. I mean, it sits near the start of one of the best seasons of Doctor Who, and yet it’s generally overlooked. It’s not that Planet of Evil is bad – The Android Invasion from the same season is actually bad, and is remembered as such. It’s more that Planet of Evil doesn’t really feel as exceptional as it could be. The Hinchcliffe and Holmes era of Doctor Who was cranking out classic adventures and iconic images to beat the band, but Planet of Evil just wound up feeling relatively generic. That’s not necessarily entirely fair. The opening two episodes of Planet of Evil are superb, but it is let down by a fairly average conclusion and undermined by a fairly weak supporting cast.

It is nowhere near the best story of the season, but it’s hardly a spectacular failure. there are times in the history of Doctor Who where Planet of Evil would be a welcome relief. However, it suffers from being a reasonably mediocre adventure in a fantastic season.

In the jungle, the peaceful jungle...

In the jungle, the peaceful jungle…

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