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.

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Timestamp: Eleventh Series and Third Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Eleventh Series and Third Doctor Summary

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The Eleventh Series bounces back from the slight dip in the Tenth Series, but that’s not without caveats. Two of the stories were easy marks: The Time Warrior was a straight-up 5, and The Monster of Peladon – rest in peace, brave Aggedor – was a solid 4. But each of the other ones in this series took a little, shall we say, extra consideration. Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Death to the Daleks benefitted from optimistic mathematics, but Planet of the Spiders only scored well because of the regeneration handicap and the addition of franchise mythology in an already heavily padded story.

This season heralded the passing of the torch for the Third Doctor’s run: UNIT is phased out more and more as one of the strongest companions so far gets introduced. Sarah Jane Smith is so fantastic, from her journalistic inquisitiveness to her proactivity and fiery nature. She definitely has not let me down.

Out of the Third Doctor’s run, this one was the second highest rated behind the Ninth Series. It’s also the second highest rated for the entire Timestamps Project to date, barely edging out the Fifth Series. But I think a lot of the turbulence for me in this series has a lot to do with one major component of the Third Doctor’s era: Convenience.

 

The Time Warrior – 5
Invasion of the Dinosaurs – 4
Death to the Daleks – 4
The Monster of Peladon – 4
Planet of the Spiders – 4

Series Eleven Average Rating: 4.2/5

 

Timestamp Third Doctor

 

Remember how I referred to William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton as anchors for the audience? I think it still holds here. Jon Pertwee’s introduction ushered in a lot of changes for the franchise, and it meant that the Doctor had to change a bit as well. If the First Doctor is the Wise Grandfather and the Second Doctor is the Sly Jester, then the Third Doctor is the Secret Agent Scientist.

The James Bond influence is strong in Pertwee’s run, from the Lazenby-style ruffles to the ad hoc gadgets and super-powered vehicles. Unfortunately, those efforts to appeal to modern audiences come at the price of adding convenience to the franchise. I wanted to know how often I called out the convenience in the stories, so I searched the Timestamps Project for the term and came up with sixteen hits. Of those, half of them were in the Third Doctor’s run alone.

In The Ambassadors of Death, it was the antagonist’s communicator and a gadget on Bessie. In The Curse of Peladon, it was the plot device that removed the TARDIS as an escape vector and the Time Lord interference that sent the Doctor there. In Carnival of Monsters, it was Jo’s skeleton keys. In Frontier in Space, it was the quick clearing-of-the-stage appearance of the Daleks. In Planet of the Daleks, it was the secret information that the Time Lords provided to the Doctor about the large Dalek force. In Invasion of the Dinosaurs, it was the selective nature of the time bubble machine. In Planet of the Spiders, it was both the Whomobile’s sudden flight mode and the ability of Yates and Tommy to survive a blast that essentially killed a Time Lord.

In the one that I can excuse, The Three Doctors kept an infirm William Hartnell confined to a time eddy.

But that’s still seven occurrences in five series related to one Doctor. Hartnell and Troughton each had four hits on my search, and I’m willing to admit that it’s probably more prevalent, the fact remains that it really stood out during this Doctor’s run. To me, that represents a substantial change in the franchise overall. This isn’t the same Doctor Who as it was under Hartnell and Troughton.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Doctor Who had been running for seven years before the Third Doctor, and those seven years were, for the most part, pretty consistent. Television shows these days are lucky to get three or four years unless they’re medical procedurals (ER, Grey’s Anatomy), crime procedurals (Law & Order, Bones), or Supernatural. Star Treks generally got seven seasons (arguably, four of which were consistent). Babylon 5 ran for five years (and some extras) and Farscape ran for four years (and a miniseries). Closer to the 1960s, the original Star Trek only got three years, and depending on who you ask, it was consistent for two.

With those odds, it made sense that Doctor Who would have to evolve (regenerate) in order to survive. It will likely happen again.

So, what did I think of the character? I liked him, though not as much as the scores would indicate. In my opinion, the Third Doctor’s episodes were generally superior to those of his predecessors, but the character himself suffered from his exile. He was frequently snotty, condescending, and downright rude, and while that made sense to the story, those aren’t character traits that I admire. I loved that he brought science back to the forefront with his constant experimentation and exploration, but he didn’t really start to shine for me until he got his keys back.

He’s a man defined by his wheels – Bessie, the Whomobile, the TARDIS – and that makes him kind of shallow.

And I seriously hope that one of those, the Whomobile, stays in the garage.

The Third Doctor’s run consistently has some of my favorite work in the series, and it scores the highest as a result, but outside of the numbers I still favor the Second Doctor as a character.

 

Series 7 – 3.8
Series 8 – 3.4
Series 9 – 4.8
Series 10 – 3.8
Series 11 – 4.2

Third Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.00

 

Ranking (by score)
1 – Third (4.00)
2 – Second (3.67)
3 – First (3.41)

Ranking (by character)
1 – Second Doctor
2 – Third Doctor
3 – First Doctor

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Robot

 

 

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.

Timestamp: Tenth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Tenth Series Summary

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The Tenth Series is still a strong performer, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Ninth Series.

The Tenth had some great high points, including an adventure with all three incarnations of the Doctor and the phenomenal strength of Jo as a companion. As soon as the Doctor got his keys back from the Time Lords, Jo’s eyes were opened to the sheer potential of everything. I adored Liz Shaw for the strength she brought to the franchise as the Third Doctor started his exile, and I consider Jo’s time while the Doctor is still chained to Earth to be much weaker than Liz’s run, but as soon as the Doctor could fly again, a switch flipped in Jo’s character. She became so much more proactive and creative, and she reminded me a lot of Donna and Clara from the recent years in how similar she was to the Doctor.

That’s why I’m going to miss her.

It’s also why I’m apprehensive going forward. I’m on a high with such great chemistry between the Doctor and a companion, and next series brings fan-favorite Sarah Jane Smith to the stage. I’m hoping that she doesn’t let me down.

On a similar note, the Tenth Series was a season of saying goodbye to franchise icons. We said goodbye to a companion, and I praise the show for allowing us to actually see her off and for giving her a happy ending. Her final scenes were so powerful and touching. We said goodbye to a Doctor with William Hartnell’s final performance as the First Doctor, which was bittersweet because it was such a wonderful story coupled with the real-world knowledge of Hartnell’s condition. We said goodbye to the first incarnation of the Master, and even though it wasn’t planned to be his final performance, Frontier in Space is one of my favorite portrayals of the Doctor’s nemesis and friend by Roger Delgado. I didn’t consider it to be a strong story, but he brought so much heart and soul to bear.

The Doctor is finally back to being more high-spirited since he’s returned to traveling in space and time thanks to the Time Lords. His arrogance and rudeness has been scaled back, and I think it’s because he’s free to travel again and free to have fun again. It’s apparent in how crestfallen he becomes when Jo turns him down for a jaunt to Metebilis III in The Green Death, and it’s obvious that there is still a disconnect between them no matter how close they grow. She was a mirror image of the Doctor as her time as a companion progressed, and a key to gauging his recovery from his exile. He started out tied to Earth and ended with the ability to run again. She started out without a distinct course to travel and ended up locked down into a defined future. The parallels are amazing.

This series is one of the highest rated among the average seasons so far. It was fun, but not phenomenal, and it was a good vehicle for transition as the franchise continues to grow.

 

The Three Doctors – 5
Carnival of Monsters – 3
Frontier in Space – 3
Planet of the Daleks – 4
The Green Death – 4

Series Ten Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Time Warrior

 

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.

Timestamp: Ninth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Ninth Series Summary

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The difference between the Eighth and Ninth Series is night and day.

Where the Eighth got bogged down in the series-long Master arc, this series got back to telling relevant and moving stories. The Master even returned in The Sea Devils and The Time Monster, which both still used the same trope of the Master trying to take over the world with power he can’t control, and they were still better than the majority of the Eighth Series because they felt fresh.

The feather in the cap for this set was The Mutants, which nearly broke my rating scale with how dense and symbolic it was. If there was a low point for me, it was The Time Monster, and not because it wasn’t good but because it wasn’t as good for me.

This also marked a major return to space/time travel for the Doctor, despite the fact that his TARDIS is still locked out, and it really shows how much of a critical component it is in the Doctor Who formula. Having that power, despite being limited by the Time Lords who are still using the Doctor as a puppet, seems to lift a burden from the Doctor’s shoulders. He’s high-spirited again, and even though he’s still arrogant and rude, he’s less rude to those around him. Whether that’s because he’s grown to respect Jo, the Brigadier, and the UNIT team, or just because he enjoys his slackened leash, it’s made these stories much more enjoyable.

Meanwhile, I still don’t like the Time Lords. They obviously get off on yanking the Doctor around by that leash, and have no problem with the hypocrisy of sending him off to meddle in affairs of space and time so they don’t get their hands dirty. You know, despite the fact that they punished the Doctor for doing exactly what he’s doing at this point with their blessing.

Contrast that with Jo, who has become absolutely fantastic as a companion now that she and the Doctor can (in a limited fashion) travel in space and time. Her fear has been replaced with bravery, and her horizons have been broadened by getting off the planet and seeing how humanity evolves. Series Eight Jo has climbed the ranks of my favorite companions.

This series is the highest rated (so far) in the Timestamps Project, and the closest contender is Fifth Series at a 4.1. I really hope things keep climbing, even if there is so little room to do so.

 

Day of the Daleks – 5
The Curse of Peladon – 5
The Sea Devils – 5
The Mutants – 5
The Time Monster – 4

Series Nine Average Rating: 4.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Three Doctors

 

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.

Timestamp: Eighth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Eighth Series Summary

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It’s not looking good for the Third Doctor. Series Seven started on a major high, and even though it slipped as the stories rolled on, it ended up finishing with a strong 3.8 score. Series Eight also started strong, but it fell fast and finally ended up third from the bottom in my rankings, only beating the Third and Sixth Series.

The strongest serial was Terror of the Autons, which brought back the Autons and Nestene Consciousness, a villain with strong but untapped potential, and introduced a strong nemesis in the Master. It also started a loose series-long arc in the Doctor battling the Master, who kind of stood in for his frustrations against his own people. Sadly, the stories got progressively weaker, and the battle with the Master (whose role in each story was essentially the same) wasn’t enough to hold them. That’s not Roger Delgado’s fault by any means, as he has been fantastically evil in the role. I think the writers started to depend too much on that element and less on a good plot to support it.

As I’ve noted in previous reviews, the Doctor is beginning to parallel James Bond in his arrogant attitude and physicality. He is rude, considers himself above everyone around him, and is prone to assault people more and more. The Third Doctor has taken the grumpiness and arrogance of the First Doctor and melded it with his frustration at being locked in one place and time against his will. He’s not a nice man.

As a result, I’m still not sold on his relationship with the Brigadier. Sure, the Doctor is saving the world on a routine basis, but he’s consistently condescending and rude toward the Brigadier, and I don’t know how a man who lives and breathes in an environment that depends on a certain degree of respect for people can tolerate such blatant disrespect.

I do have a degree of sympathy for the Doctor’s situation because the Time Lords are far more arrogant and abusive. They exiled the Doctor as punishment for meddling in time and space, yet they call on him (sometimes without his knowledge) to solve their problems. They know that he’s bitter, and they build and capitalize on it. If his exile is supposed to be teaching him how to be a better Time Lord, I don’t know how it’s supposed to work when they’re constantly making him more and more angry toward them.

And yet, despite how much he claims to the contrary, the Doctor is more like his people than he realizes. It’s quite the dynamic.

 

 

Terror of the Autons – 5
The Mind of Evil – 4
The Claws of Axos – 3
Colony in Space – 3
The Dæmons – 2

Series Eight Average Rating: 3.4/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks

 

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.

Timestamp: Seventh Series Summary

Doctor Who: Seventh Series Summary

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This series started so well. Between Spearhead From Space and Doctor Who and the Silurians, I was really enjoying this new era of the show. Like I mentioned in Spearhead From Space, this series felt like a soft reboot of the franchise with the increased production values and budget, refreshed mythology, slightly altered format and premise, and the shift from monochrome to color. The changes to the show helped rejuvenate the excitement that got dampened with reconstructions.

But that crashed with The Ambassadors of Death and Inferno and the stories that either lacked an overall direction or felt padded with open-ended resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, they were still entertaining and decent enough presentations, but they felt lacking after strong start in the front half of the series.

It feels like growing pains have affected the show at this point. They’re trying so hard as this point in history to regenerate the franchise to accompany the Doctor’s new face that they stumbled under their own weight. And that actually parallels the Third Doctor in a lot of ways. He’s had to re-invent himself to survive, and while he seems cheerful at first, he has a frustrated bitterness that often derails him in the end. The final moments of Inferno encapsulate it nicely.

This series was still one of the highest rated in the Timestamps Project behind the Fifth Series, so I don’t fear a complete demise of the show at this point, but I certainly hope that the downward trend doesn’t hold.

 

Spearhead From Space – 5
Doctor Who and the Silurians – 4
The Ambassadors of Death – 3
Inferno – 3

Series Seven Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Terror of the Autons

 

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.