In some ways, the Seventh Doctor era is a return to form. In others, it is something completely new.
After the chaos that marked the Sixth Doctor years, Doctor who needed a new vision. Andrew Cartmel was hired as script editor and he came in with an approach that was a little punk rock. The Seventh Doctor stories are not so far removed from other artistic works of the time. This is the same era of England that birthed Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Grant Morrison. Trade in the occult for Time Lord magic and you are pretty close to Doctor Who in the late 80s. And one of the big goals of the era was to put the “who” back in Doctor Who. The seeds were sewn but they didn’t quite come to fruition because the show was cancelled in 1989, although many fans like to say it went on hiatus instead. You can argue it either way.
But something interesting happened. Doctor Who continued, not on television, but in print. For the first time in the show’s history, the flagship forged on in novel form. Up to this point there had been novelizations of episodes, but the main drive of Doctor Who was the televised series. Now, the novels provided the continuity. The New Adventures took Doctor Who through the 90s, building on the groundwork of the Cartmel era and introducing new companions, included the massively popular Bernice Summerfield. The Seventh Doctor continued even though Sylvester McCoy was no longer playing the part.
I enjoy this era. It was truly trying something new, trying to steer this massive, bulky ship in a new direction. It remembered the past but had its eyes set on the future. The Doctor was an enigma again in a way he hadn’t been since the Second Doctor: brilliant, a bit of a clown, pretending to know less than he did, and possibly very, very dangerous.