Doctor Who – Season 9

Source: Critical Myth. Copyright by BBC.

My mission to complete a chronological viewing of Doctor Who before the 50th anniversary continues. With the completion of season nine, I’m over halfway through the Pertwee era. Unfortunately, I’m not yet halfway through the classic series.

This season was the most location-diverse season yet for Pertwee, which is a plus. Unfortunately, I struggled to stay interested in some of these stories. However, there were some interesting ideas, specifically the idea that the Time Lords were starting to use the Doctor as an errand boy. This was an inspired idea and brought some diversity to the season. So, let’s get to it.

  1. Day of the Daleks by Louis Marks
    A renegade group from the future go up against the Doctor and UNIT in their attempt to assassinate a diplomat that they believe started a World War which left the Earth defenseless to a Dalek invasion.
    I saw the special edition of this story, which included new visual effects and re-dubbed Dalek voices. The changes were excellent and really enhanced the story. It was a great idea with some wonderful performances by the guest cast. Unfortunately, I found UNIT to be a bit bumbling at times. Have I mentioned that I miss the UNIT and Brigadier from season seven? This complaint aside, this is an enjoyable story and, at four episodes, it doesn’t wear out its welcome.
    My Rating: 3.5/5
  2. The Curse of Peladon by Brian Hayles
    Forced to visit Peladon by the Time Lords, the Doctor and Jo join a conference of delegates who are evaluating Peladon’s desire to join the Galactic Federation. Unfortunately, someone is trying to stymie the efforts of peace.
    I found this story to be a boring experience. For whatever reason, I could not get engaged. Maybe it was the bleak sets (well done, but the planet felt rather sparsely populated) or maybe it was Alpha Centauri’s grating voice. This story was tedium. It isn’t without its good moments, however. The Ice Warriors are in this story, but they are allies rather than villains. I loved this twist and enjoy the idea of the Doctor being prejudiced against a race that he has fought in the past, only to find they are valuable allies. I also enjoyed the Venusian Lullaby. Unfortunately, these elements were not enough to spark excitement for further Peladon stories.
    My Rating: 1.5/5
  3. The Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke
    Despite being imprisoned, The Master has found a way to contact a colony of Sea Devils, an aquatic race of Silurians. Can the Doctor finally broker a peace between humanity and the Silurians?
    There were many things to like about this story: the setting was amazing, with lots of ocean shots and even a boat chase; excellent performances; the cooperation of the Royal Navy in filming; and the return of a fascinating race. Unfortunately, the main problem with this story is that it is essentially the same story as The Silurians. The main difference is the Master working as an antagonistic force to bring war between humanity and the Sea Devils. I wanted to like this story more than I did, but The Silurians already told this story, and it was arguably better and tighter. The Sea Devils just covered too much ground (so to speak) that we had already covered.
    My Rating: 3/5
  4. The Mutants by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
    On yet another mission for the Time Lords, the Doctor must deliver a container to someone on the planet Solos. The problem, he doesn’t know who. To make matters worse, Solos is about to be returned to its native people, an act that is strongly opposed by the Marshal of Skybase One.
    Did you get all that? This story is nothing if not ambitious and complex. This is a plus. There are some great ideas in this story and the apartheid allegory brings a bit of social commentary and substance to this story. Unfortunately, some of the performances are poor and the dialogue-heavy scenes feel slow and plodding. And at times, the ambition of the story is just out of reach of the production values. Make no mistake, the crew does the absolute best they can with the resources at their disposal. I found myself rooting for them and willing to forgive because, bless them, they were trying really hard. I think that is the biggest tragedy of The Mutants, it is a great script, stuffed with great ideas, and has a thought-provoking subtext, but is let down by a budget that just doesn’t quite make it, and a couple of poor performances. And it is just a bit too long.
    My Rating: 2.5/5
  5. The Time Monster by Robert Sloman
    The Master has reappeared as a professor in charge of the TOMTIT project, a project that theorizes the transportation of matter through time. But his real goal is to gain control over Kronos, a creature that feeds on time itself.
    The season ends on a high note for me. I loved this story. At no point did it take itself too seriously, and as a result, it was a lot of fun. The characters were well-written and performed, the story was fast-paced, and there was a genuine epic quality about it. The Master was at his best in this story. In some ways, this story felt like the equivalent of an RTD series-long-arc, but done in six, tight half-hour episodes. Plus, baby Benton may be my new favorite character. So long as you don’t want your Doctor Who super serious, this is a great story.
    My Rating: 4/5