Timestamp: Twelfth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Twelfth Series Summary

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The Twelfth Series marked the debut of the Fourth Doctor, and it is a strong performer.

The series kicked off with the regeneration and introduction of Tom Baker as the Doctor, and I fell in love immediately. The rude (almost cynical) nature of the Third Doctor is gone as the Fourth Doctor follows his own advice in being grown up while acting childish. In fact, he uses it much like the Second Doctor did as a method to drill into a situation while looking innocent or incompetent. He’s less of a threat to evil plans, and he can observe without being observed.

As much as I came down on the topic of convenience with the Third Doctor, there is one aspect of it that I’m glad was maintained: The Doctor’s pockets. It adds to the air of whimsy to have a wild assortment of random objects trapped in those nearly extra-dimensional pockets, and feeding both the Doctor’s character and the humor that keeps the show light while it tackles serious topics.

The other character I have really grown to love is Sarah Jane Smith. She proved herself with the Third Doctor, but she has an undeniable chemistry with the Fourth Doctor that exceeds the previous stories. These two characters just click, almost on the level of the Third Doctor and Jo in her later stories, and the show is better for it.

The main sticking point for me is Harry. He’s competent as a doctor, but he’s an extraneous imbecile otherwise. His continued sexism is annoying, especially since Sarah Jane tells him to knock it off at least once (if not more) per story. I get that he’s a product of the era, but four decades later he’s irritating.

The loose Nerva Beacon arc was fun, if not uneven, and did a fine job of driving the characters without the TARDIS around. I did miss the Doctor’s silent partner, but at least there was some motivation for the characters to stick around and solve the problems instead of ducking out. There are some obvious production growing pains, from the shark-jumping Robot and somewhat scientifically baffling Sontaran Experiment – if humans haven’t inhabited the planet in centuries/millennia, why exactly is the Sontaran running experiments on their capabilities? – to the lackluster Revenge of the Cybermen. However, in between those rough moments were beauties like The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks.

This series ranks fourth overall, only being surpassed by the Fifth, Eleventh, and Ninth, in ascending order. It was fun and a little uneven, but gives me more than enough hope for a good run with Tom Baker’s Doctor.


Robot – 5
The Ark in Space – 4
The Sontaran Experiment – 4
Genesis of the Daleks – 4
Revenge of the Cybermen – 3


Series Twelve Average Rating: 4.0/5


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.


8 thoughts on “Timestamp: Twelfth Series Summary

  1. This is an interesting analysis to me. I always say that Sarah worked better with Pertwee, since it felt to me that there was more frisson there and I liked her being an investigative reporter. It seems to me that she becomes more and more of a generic companion under Tom where the far flung locales that they go to don’t allow her to use her reporting skills and they don’t come to odds about anything.

    I do get your issue with Harry, although I don’t think that there was ever any intention of malice with the character, only cultural confusion at changing values. I don’t get your issue with Pertwee, though, as I thought it was fairly clear throughout his stories that he’s only difficult with the kind of officious, pompous types that we’re supposed to be rooting against.

    What is really interesting to me is your analysis of the fourth Doctor’s character. A friend of mine is at the same point that you are and he’s talking about how he expected the fourth Doctor to be a lot more silly like the second based on the various memes and such that he’s seen. He’s surprised by how serious his Doctor is, comparing him to Holmes. There’s definitely an air of whimsy there, but I never felt that Tom went full on clown like Troughton until much, much later in his tenure. I can’t wait to see what you think of season 13.

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