Doctor Who: Fifteenth Series Summary
The Fifteenth Series was a stumble.
It’s hard to watch the series take a tumble, especially one so severe as this. The first two episodes were strong with Horror of Fang Rock and The Invisible Enemy turning in fantastic performances. The next three, however, were exercises in great moments immersed in terrible execution. Image of the Fendahl – a title that still gives me issues when I try to type it out – took the show to a bleaker, darker place than it had previously been, which was a shock. The highlight was Louise Jameson’s acting, which seemed to blossom when she stopped wearing contact lenses.
After that, The Sun Makers and Underworld both did what science fiction does best: They each explored elements of the human condition through existential metaphor. Sadly, they used the metaphor as a mallet to bonk the viewers on the head with the message. The Sun Makers built a soapbox to expound on Robert Holmes’s anger about the tax system, and Underworld basically retold The Face of Evil with a veneer of the Greek myths and a lot of terrible blue screen work.
Once again, the only thing that really saved those stories for me was Louise Jameson’s performance.
And that’s why The Invasion of Time was shocking. The story was smart and the performances were sharp, but the ending stole the perfect score by creating a “Leela falls in love and wants to remain on Gallifrey” subplot in about thirty seconds, and it made no sense. She helped save the planet, but she’s still an alien, and the Doctor’s tenure as president was (supposedly) lost in the de-mat gun’s explosion.
But the franchise has never been strong on writing out companions, has it?
Looking at the numbers, the last time a series scored this low the Sixth, which was the final regular season for the Second Doctor. It’s also the second to worst, just ahead of the Third Series.
Horror of Fang Rock – 4
The Invisible Enemy – 5
Image of the Fendahl – 2
The Sun Makers – 3
Underworld – 2
The Invasion of Time – 4
Series Fifteen Average Rating: 3.3/5
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation
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.
5 thoughts on “Timestamp: Fifteenth Series Summary”
I’ll be very interested to see how you rate the rest of the Baker seasons. I personally think season 16 is pretty good, but especially with this season although I agree with you generally that it’s a stumble from what went before, I disagree about a lot of the specific episodes, so really looking forward to seeing your assessment of the rest of the Baker years.
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