Timestamp: Twentieth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Twentieth Series Summary



It’s a bump up at the very least.

The Nineteenth Series was a low water mark, and this group of serials recovered enough to join several others in a grouping just below the to-date average. The focus of the Twentieth Series appeared to be revisiting the greatest hits of the franchise, but it’s worth noting that very few of them were from the black and white era.

The high scoring stories – Arc of Infinity and Mawdryn Undead – revisited Omega and the Brigadier, both of which were primarily Third Doctor elements. Snakedance and Enlightenment brought in the middle ground with the Mara and the White and Black Guardians, the former being a Fifth Doctor enemy and the latter being from the Fourth Doctor’s era. The low marks – Terminus and The King’s Demons – bade farewell to Fourth Doctor companion Nyssa and welcomed back The Master, a Third Doctor and beyond enemy.

Before The Five Doctors, the references to the First and Second Doctor were minimal and (with minor exception) limited to their colorized era appearances. Sure, the majority of the franchise has been in the colorized era, but it seems rather disingenuous to run a greatest hits series without much mention of the show’s roots.

The Five Doctors fixed a lot of that by pulling in elements from the entire scope of the twenty-year history, though I feel that the entire twentieth-anniversary celebration could have been improved by solidifying those connections throughout the seven-story run.

The companions have also been a point of vexation: Kamelion is a big ol’ mystery box right now, Turlough is irritating, and Tegan has never been particularly strong. After Nyssa’s departure (in a story where she spent most of her screentime in her underwear) there isn’t much for me to identify with among the Doctor’s assistants.

The upside is that the Fifth Doctor has been evolving and getting more comfortable in his skin. He’s becoming more of a father figure, which I appreciate.


Now for the numbers: This series joins the Sixth, Fifteenth, and Seventeenth in a four-way tie for fourteenth place. It’s also below the average-to-date for all of the twenty series so far, which is 3.7.


Arc of Infinity – 4
Snakedance – 3
Mawdryn Undead – 4
Terminus – 2
Enlightenment – 3
The King’s Demons – 2
The Five Doctors – 5

Series Nineteen Average Rating: 3.3/5



UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep


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.


2 thoughts on “Timestamp: Twentieth Series Summary

  1. If it helps at all, I think season 21 is definitely the Fifth Doctor’s best. I think that they didn’t include older elements in the rest of the season because most of their long-time viewers from the Pertwee and Baker eras. Most Hartnell and Troughton era fans grew out of Who. Organized Who fandom didn’t start until late in the Pertwee era, so it makes sense that that’s when lifetime viewership began to emerge.

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