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Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (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 Hand of Fear originally aired in 1976.

Come on, where are we?

We’re in a quarry.

Yes, I know we’re in a quarry, but where?

Well, how do I know? I don’t know all the quarries that–

– the Doctor and Sarah Jane get a bit meta

The Hand of Fear is odd, because it’s the end of an era – but it’s not the end of the era for the rather obvious reason that it bids farewell to one of the franchise’s best-loved companion character. The Hand of Fear is best known as the final story to feature Sarah Jane Smith. Indeed, the DVD comes with a helpful sticker informing any potential purchasers of the story’s significance.

However, watching The Hand of Fear with the benefit of hindsight, it isn’t Sarah Jane’s departure that is the most striking part of the show.

Keep it handy...

Keep it handy…

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Doctor Who: The Visitation (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 Visitation originally aired in 1982.

It’s survival, Doctor. Just as these primitives kill lesser species to protect themselves, so I kill them.

That’s hardly an argument.

It’s not supposed to be an argument. It’s a statement!

– the Terileptil is in no mood for debate with the Doctor

As far as writing débuts go, The Visitation is not a bad first script. Writer Eric Saward had experience writing for radio, but The Visitation was his first live action script to be produced. It’s a pretty solid piece of Doctor Who, even if it’s not anything exceptional. Then again, Robert Holmes’ first script was the perfectly average The Krotons. So there’s room for improvement, and The Visitation is not a bad place to start from.

Of course, Holmes feels like the appropriate comparison here. Not only was Saward a massive fan of Robert Holmes, with the treatment of the ailing Holmes during The Trial of a Time Lord serving as one of the reasons for his departure from the show, but it also seems that The Visitation was very clear attempt to emulate Holmes’ approach to Doctor Who. In fact, it feels like an attempt to update Holmes’ Third Doctor story, The Time Warrior.

Death stalks the countryside...

Death stalks the countryside…

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Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon (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 Monster of Peladon originally aired in 1974.

Oh, have a heart, Sarah. I’ve been meaning to pay a return visit to Peladon for ages.

I can’t think why.

– the Doctor and Sarah Jane

What made The Curse of Peladon so fantastic was the fact that it felt so unique and different, as compared to all the Third Doctor adventures that had appeared before. Sure, the Doctor had travelled in time and space in Colony in Space, but The Curse of Peladon was really the first time that the colour television series had indulged in designing a truly alien world populated with truly alien creatures. Since the series had begun transmission in colour with Spearhead from Space, there had been nothing quite like it, and that was what made The Curse of Peladon so refreshing.

As such, the idea of doing The Monster of Peladon seems a bit questionable, especially when it’s going to feature the same world, the same aliens and be two episodes longer than the original adventure.

Not an underrated gem, I'm afraid...

Not an underrated gem, I’m afraid…

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Doctor Who: The Time Warrior (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 Time Warrior originally aired in 1974.

Look, will you excuse me? I’ve got to go and find a young girl. I’ll see you later, I hope.

Young girl? I should have thought he was a bit old for that sort of thing. Oh well.

– the Doctor and Rubeish discover that Jo’s departure isn’t affecting him too much

The end of an era is fast approaching. Jon Pertwee departed Doctor Who after spending five years in the title role. The end of his fourth year saw the departure of his longest-serving companion, Jo Grant. The start of his final year would see the introduction of Sarah Jane Smith, perhaps the most iconic companion of all time. However, watching the first serial of his last year – The Time Warrior – there is a sense of pending change in the air, a sense that show in the cusp of a very significant shift. The Time Warrior isn’t necessarily explicit about this, but you can almost feel it.

Time is running out...

Time is running out…

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