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Doctor Who: Time-Flight (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.

Time-Flight originally aired in 1982.

I’ve never heard such an extravagant explanation.

– Hayter’s gonna hate

Time-Flight is a much maligned piece of Doctor Who, and hardly the best way to round out a season that has, generally speaking, done a reasonable job introducing a new lead actor following the departure of the most iconic actor ever to play the role. The show’s nineteenth season holds together reasonably well, with Earthshock generally highly regarded and only Time-Flight considered to be a complete failure.

And yet, despite that, I can’t hate Time-Flight. That’s not to suggest that the traditional criticisms of the serial are off-base. They are entirely spot-on. The production is shoddy, the plot is nonsense and the dialogue is terrible. It seems like everybody was trying to push one last story out the door before breaking for holidays, and nobody cared too much about the final product. And yet, despite that, I find myself able to forgive quite a lot of the show’s problems.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not good Doctor Who. It’s not even passable Doctor Who. However, I’d argue that it is nowhere near the worst that the Davison era would produce.

Keeping the nose clean...

Keeping the nose clean…

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Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday (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.

Four to Doomsday originally aired in 1982.

Come along, children. Not in front of our hosts.

– the Doctor finally manages to strike the right tone with his companions

Four to Doomsday is an interesting story, if only because it’s so rarely discussed. The second story of a particular Doctor seems to set the tone for their era. William Hartnell’s second story, The Daleks, introduced the iconic pepperpots. Patrick Troughton’s second serial, The Highlanders, introduced the companion Jamie, who would remain with him for the rest of his tenure. Jon Pertwee’s second story, The Silurians, saw Barry Letts taking over the role of producer. Tom Baker’s second story, The Ark in Space, is one of the most memorable and definitive instances of horror in the history of the show. Colin Baker had the misfortune to have Attack of the Cybermen as his second story, an adventure that set the tone for his time in the TARDIS. Sylvester McCoy didn’t really develop until his second season, but he’s probably the exception that proves the rule.

Peter Davison’s Four to Doomsday, on the other hand, just sort of… is.

Ground control to Major... dammit, why couldn't I get this image a year earlier in the show's run?

Ground control to Major… dammit, why couldn’t I get this image a year earlier in the show’s run?

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