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Doctor Who: Frontios (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.

Frontios originally aired in 1984.

“You know, we can sort this all out in no time at all, if everyone just stays calm.”

– The Doctor sums up the tragedy of Peter Davison’s time as the Timelord

Towards the end of Peter Davison’s time in the title role, Doctor Who was becoming gradually darker. While Colin Baker’s brightly-coloured take on the character would convert this grim fare into a surreal and grotesque pantomime, there was something tragic about Davison’s iteration confronting a quickly darkening universe. Steven Moffat once explained, “this Doctor takes the emphasis off the eccentricities and turns it into a pained heroism of a man who is so much better than the universe he is trying to save but cannot bear to let it stand”, and that’s very much the case here. While the cynicism and pointless darkness would reach their zenith during Resurrection of the Daleks and pay off spectacularly in The Caves of Androzani, Frontios feels like the perfect illustration of these ideas.

The Doctor's surgery...

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