Timestamp: Fourteenth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Fourteenth Series Summary

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The Fourteenth Series had a hello, a goodbye, and an experiment. It also was par for the course for the Timestamps Project.

The first two episodes were a farewell to a loved companion. Sarah Jane Smith was smart and strong, and was very capable. She also had fantastic chemistry with the Fourth Doctor. Her departure was simultaneously sad and humorous – “He blew it!” – but it was a long time coming for the franchise. Elisabeth Sladen’s run was the longest to this point in the franchise, and as amazing as she was, it was time for a change.

The final three episodes were a welcome for Leela, a character who is still settling for me. In some ways, she’s very much like Sarah Jane in her strength and inqusitive nature. She’s also impulsive and quick on the draw, often with fatal results. I’m looking forward to how she evolves over the next season.

The low point, relatively speaking, is the story in the middle: The Deadly Assassin. It was the first (and only) story in the classic series to feature the Doctor on a solo mission, and while it was a story rich in franchise mythology, I didn’t find it to be particularly strong. Additionally, it made clear that the Doctor is too strong a presence to not be balanced by a companion. Or, in years past, companions. The Doctor is a god in a machine, a literal deus ex machina, and his companions humanize him enough to be a relatable and loveable hero.

The reasons that I called this series par for the course of the Timestamps Project is because its score is the average of all of the series to date. That tells me that the franchise is in its stride, but that it also has plenty of room to grow. I hope that it continues to do so.

By the numbers, this series’s performance is exactly the same as the Thirteenth: On par with the Seventh and Tenth, and tied for fifth overall behind the Twelfth, Fifth, Eleventh, and Ninth, in ascending order.

 

The Masque of Mandragora – 4
The Hand of Fear – 4
The Deadly Assassin – 3
The Face of Evil – 4
The Robots of Death – 4
The Talons of Weng-Chiang – 4

 

Series Fourteen Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock

 

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: Thirteenth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Thirteenth Series Summary

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The Thirteenth Series showed us the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith in their grooves.

With respect to this project’s reviews, the thirteenth year of the Doctor’s travels series has seen ups and downs, but none of the downs were severe. The high point was definitely Pyramids of Mars, which was a fun adventure with a complex story where the villains actually won until a last minute (almost deus ex machina) save. I would normally dislike a deus ex machina, but Doctor Who is formed from the premise of an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation. the Doctor is, from the human perspective, a god who emerges from a machine. So, it works for me.

The lows were Terror of the Zygons and The Brain of Morbius: Terror of the Zygons felt like a paint-by-numbers romp filled with Scottish stereotypes, and The Brain of Morbius shared the problem of a story built strictly on tropes. Both also used famous monsters to drive the story, but instead of making Frankenstein’s monster or Nessie a clever nod, the routine stories made the monsters almost groan-worthy.

It’s worth noting, however, that neither of them fell below a mid-range grade.

All of that aside, I am still enjoying the dynamic between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane. I admire his whimsy and her strength, and together they make a fantastic team. It’s going to shake things up a bit when she departs in the next series, but from the experiences of this project, it’s also good to shake up the formula from time to time.

By the numbers, this series is on par with the Seventh and Tenth. It is tied for fifth overall, coming in behind the Twelfth, Fifth, Eleventh, and Ninth, in ascending order.

 

Terror of the Zygons – 3
Planet of Evil – 4
Pyramids of Mars – 5
The Android Invasion – 4
The Brain of Morbius – 3
The Seeds of Doom – 4

 

Series Thirteen Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora

 

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: 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.