This Tom Baker story is a prime candidate for the strangest story ever attempted. Strange because it contains some interesting aspects that could have worked quite well – androids impersonating real life people, an astronaut tricked into betraying his own kind, and an alien race committed to destroying the earth through a hideous virus. It’s pretty standard fare for Doctor Who.
Dear readers – we are almost 30 posts into my countdown through 137 Doctor Who Serials!
I hope you have been enjoying the journey so far – I am sure there have been shocks and eyebrows raised, whether it is my brutal dislike of Sylvester McCoy’s era (or anything from the 80s for that matter) to the fact that no Patrick Troughton serial has made an appearance yet. Such disagreement is fantastic, because it shows what a varied fanbase the show enjoys.
Ahead of continuing my countdown, here is a quick reminder of the serials we have counted through so far – do tweet me at @dantalksdrwho with your comments on where I have placed each story – agree, disagree or just plain baffled!
108 The Android Invasion (Coming Today)
109 The Sensorites
110 The Web Planet
111 The Time Monster
112 The Power of Kroll
113 The Ribos Operation
114 The Creature from the Pit
115 The Claws of Axos
116 Planet of the Spiders
117 Revelation of the Daleks
118 The Awakening
119 The Two Doctors
120 Silver Nemesis
123 Warriors of the Deep
124 The King’s Demons
125 Ghost Light
126 Black Orchid
127 Time and the Rani
131 The Greatest Show In the Galaxy
132 The Twin Dilemma
133 The Happiness Patrol
134 Four To Doomsday
136 Delta And the Bannermen
137 Paradise Towers
Rather uniquely among the episodes reviewed so far, I had no real prior expectations when it came to watching this adventure from William Hartnell’s first season. Obviously The Daleks had left a lasting impression upon me, but I had been less impressed by The Keys of Marinus and The Aztecs – so really wasn’t sure what to expect.
This story carries novelty value as the one and only time I’ve actually felt embarrassed while watching Doctor Who. On the whole I was quite looking forward to watching The Web Planet – I had vague hopes that it might be similar to Planet of Evil in terms of feel and menace. So when I bought a big stack of DVDs as a Christmas present to myself in late 2010, this was one of the first I popped on. Rather unfortunately I chose to watch the 6 part serial in the living room of my shared accommodation, and didn’t really have a ready made defence when my housemates began ridiculing the costumes and the acting.
I have only the haziest memories of first catching glimpse of this serial – my dad was watching it on UK Gold, who very helpfully liked to insert ad breaks into the middle of 25 minute episodes. Being quite young I was greatly amused by the sight of what I thought then was a filing cabinet (now know was a massive computer) materialising into the middle of what I took to be Ancient Greece. Later researches of course revealed that the serial was none other than The Time Monster and I felt suitably intrigued.
If there were a Doctor Who story-writers’ FAQ then one entry might read like this:
Q: I want to write a story featuring the largest monster ever seen in the show. What should I do?
One of my most enjoyed experiences of watching Doctor Who as a child was the gradual introduction to the ‘Key to Time’ story arc of Season 16. The entire season was given over to the Fourth Doctor tracking down the six segments of the eponymous Key To Time – conveniently one segment per story! The Key was meant to be an extremely powerful artefact that could be used to bring equilibrium to the universe. And thus Tom Baker is dispatched by the White Guardian to assemble the Key so that he can bring order back to the universe.