Classic Series Rankings Day 3: 140-131
- The Visitation
Peter Davison is very good in it. So are Michael Robins and Michael Melia. No-one else has characters, just banal monikers like ‘Scythe Man’. The Doctor loses his sonic screwdriver but picks up a gun, and proudly declaims, ‘I never miss’ which should instantly have alerted everyone that Eric Saward should never have been allowed anywhere near the script editor’s chair. There should have been another way.
- The Horns of Nimon
The production isn’t up to much, but I really enjoy the idea of the moving labyrinth, the Nimons have an interesting approach (even if their realisation isn’t very good), and Lalla Ward is very impressive. Her side-step to visit the victims of a previous Nimon incursion opens the story up, and demonstrates what will happen if she loses in a way that’s much more effective than the similar scenes in Pyramids of Mars and Image of the Fendahl.
- Time and the Rani
Much, much better than Colin Baker’s introductory story, mainly because it makes the new Doctor likeable, heroic and fun. Plus, Kate O’Mara’s imitation of Bonnie Langford is one of those moments only Doctor Who could give us. If this had been Baker’s exit, as planned, it would be one of his better stories.
- Black Orchid
Like Terence Dudley’s other stories, incredibly slight and inconsequential. In the context of Season 19, it works though: a little one-week breather between Kinda and Earthshock, and pretty much the only time we see this TARDIS crew have anything that passes as fun.
Notable for Tom Baker becoming a prickly, domineering monster. Ahem. Meglos is a consciously and deliberately absurd Doctor Who villain, which makes its dreams of galactic conquest even funnier. The jungle sets are good as well. I’m not convinced there’s enough story to keep this going for four episodes, and some of the acting is distinctly sub-par (although not Brotodac), but it’s largely quite amusing.
- The Web Planet
It’s quite ambitious and worthy, and the first episode is creepy and quite good in the same way as The Dead Planet or World’s End. You have to admire the intent.
I really enjoy the first episode, and the other three have their moments. Mostly, though, it pitches for Kinda-like metaphor and lands on Ainley dressed as Aladdin’s Grand Vizier. The crew of Golf Victor Foxtrot deserves its own sitcom. Much, much more fun than the weakest 1980s’ episodes.
- The Ark
Quite interesting, in a witless kind of way. The first episode, which treats the destruction of Earth in the same slightly off-handed manner as in The End of the World, is particularly impressive. The mid-point cliffhanger is classic. It’s downhill from there though.
- The Keys of Marinus
Patchy, but quite good. It’s a shame they didn’t make more of the Voord, and the jungle/ice segments are boring compared to the cool Brains of Morphoton plot, and Hartnell playing Columbo in Millennius. While I think the middle episodes are quite plodding, I can see why a lot of people pick this as the first recognisably Doctor Who-ish story.
- Planet of Giants
They really, really wanted to make the Minuscule story, didn’t they? The sets are very impressive, and I like how mundane the murder plot, is but, as the DVD recently confirmed, there’s barely enough content to string out for three episodes let alone the planned four.
Next time: 130-121
I have a soft spot for Nimon and Black Orchid, and I think you pick out their slim but definite virtues here correctly. Time-Flight is just ridiculous, but apart from the words “much, much” I’d agree with your take on it.