View Poll Results: Which season did you prefer?

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  • "Now will you shut up.... sir" Season 3 is better

    8 50.00%
  • "It's far from being all over" Season 4 is best

    8 50.00%
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  1. #1
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    Default Hartnell's Last triumphs v Troughton's First Night

    Seasons 3 and 4 were a hugely transitional time for Doctor Who. Two new producers, two new script editors, huge changes to the cast of the show and a wealth of styles, scripts and bases under seige.

    But which season did you prefer- the oddness of season 3 where no two stories were the same, or the start of the base under seige stories under Innes Lloyd in season 4

    Vote now!

    Si xx

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  2. #2
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    I'd say Season 3. Mostly because of The Daleks' Master Plan. Twelve episodes was very daring, and the fact that they pulled it off so successfully makes it even sadder that there's hardly any of it left.
    For every fail, there is an equal and opposite win.

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  3. #3
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    I think that Evil + Power of the Daleks outweigh anything in Season 3. And Season 4 doesn't have anything as stinky as The Celestial Toymaker!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

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    it's difficult for those early seasons because everything flowed more or less continuously. So what you have is a great start to Season 3 ("Daleks Masterplan", "Galaxy 4" etc.) petering out into he pretty barron end of the Hartnell era ("The Savages" is quite good but overall the quality was a bit ropey, to whit "The Celestial Toymaker", "The Gunfighters" etc.) and then a poor start to Troughton's reign as he found his feet - "The Moonbase", "The Underwater Menace" and co were all a bit shaky. But then it picks up right near the end with "Evil".

    So I'd say Season 3 - I prefer the better bits of Hartnell's last stories to Troughton's mostly dire first season when he was still feeling his way into the role. Unlike Steve, I don't think one "Evil" and a "Power" tops "Masterplan", "Savages", "Massacre" and "The Ark" - all fairly good stories and it's a pity they are lost.

    Si.

  5. #5
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    I'm going with Three. There's nothing in season 4 that matches up with the wit and cleverness of The Myth Makers or The Gunfighters, or that has the epic scale of Master Plan, or (and I'm no big fan of the story) the bleakness of The Massacre. I think on sheer scale and breadth and imagination season 3 wins out.

    Season 4 is fine and has some good stories in it - Power especially so, but there's the beginnings of the dreary season 5 base under seige storylining, the two historicals are deadly dull, Troughton is feeling his way slowly into the role...

    But season 4 has better companions on the whole!

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  6. #6
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    Good thread, Si!

    Let’s start with season three, which has the epic classic that is The Daleks' Master Plan but is sadly surrounded by either absolute dross (The Celestial Toymaker), the painfully average (Galaxy 4, The Ark) and the relatively dull (Mission To The Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Savages). The show really went downhill during the latter half of the third season; there were obviously changes in the production team which shook things up, the stories were almost half-baked in places and some really bad choices were made. Here's an example: Katarina. John Wiles and co made a brave if somewhat naive decision to introduce a character from Earth history and soon realised their mistake, in that Katarina did not understand anything that was going on around her. She had no frame of reference for anything; everything would need to be explained to her, which just got in the way of the story. Luckily she was replaced (albeit temporarily) by a more capable companion in the form of Sara Kingdom - who then got killed off. Well done guys…

    You'd have thought they had learnt their lesson but no, in the following story The Massacre, they introduce a new character called Anne Chaplet. She's likeable enough, but again it’s clear that they just can't incorporate her into the sort of stories they want to tell - it's as if the production team got to episode four, having forgotten what went wrong with Katarina and thought "Oh God what are we going to do?” – which results in the absolutely ludicrous ending wherein the Doctor to all intents and purposes leaves a young girl to die in Paris (totally at odds with what we would expect of him), only to bump into her supposed descendant only ten minutes later in 1966 - give me a break! I can suspend disbelief but that’s just silly.

    And what's worse, Dodo is awful! I've covered my dislike for how they wrote the character in another thread, but she really is a joke. She’s irritating, loud and stupid, and she nearly wipes out the human race! Even in The Gunfighters, a guilty pleasure of mine, she brings the whole thing down whenever she appears. Thankfully she only lasted four complete stories before Innes Lloyd came in and saved the day by introducing the wonderful Ben and Polly in The War Machines, which literally brought Doctor Who back to Earth and got things back on track, while giving us a tantalising glimpse of what the show would become.

    But let’s not be totally negative, because the third season did give us some worthy moments; the final episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan is one of the tensest episodes in the show’s history, with what sounds like a terrific performance by Hartnell as he struggles towards the TARDIS – always gives me the chills. Speaking of Hartnell, he’s on top form at the end of The Massacre giving the Doctor’s monologue about the family and friends he has lost, and once again displays his talent for comedy in The Gunfighters; a story that I feel has been unfairly maligned down the years. Okay, there’s that inexcusable bit where Dodo and Steven manage to play the song note-perfect on the piano, despite saying they've never played one. Steven's a spaceman, for goodness sake!

    It could have all been so different though, had John Wiles got his way and removed William Hartnell from the series during production of The Celestial Toymaker – it’s highly unlikely the show would have made it beyond the 1960s had that happened.

    Season four gave us not just a new Doctor but on the whole a stronger run of stories. It was sad to lose Hartnell but it was clear his declining health was proving to be too great an obstacle for the series. The Smugglers is a pretty low-key, average story to start a season with but things soon perk up with The Tenth Planet, a landmark story with lots of drama and good performances, despite the plot being somewhat flawed, padded and worst of all rushed towards the end to accommodate the regeneration.

    The Power of the Daleks on the other hand is a terrific story, perfectly paced at six parts and managing to re-establish the Daleks as a really devious, creepy enemy after recents camp runarounds (The Chase). It’s so downbeat at the end, the colony having been largely massacred and the Doctor only just having managed to stop the Daleks – he must have felt a bit responsible, having let his curiosity get the better of him at the start. As you might expect the new character of the Doctor is a little vague but he does a good job with what he is given, and is never less than fascinating.

    It’s not all plain sailing though – The Highlanders is a real disappointment. I seem to recall former PS poster Andrew Hardie calling it his favourite story of all time, though I could never quite understand why as the plot is terribly thin, particularly for four episodes. Of course it doesn’t help that the story only exists as an audio recording, but it is a tough listen. The Doctor acts very curiously too, dressing up as a woman and putting on a very ropey German accent for a large part of the action, and the way he deals with the situation on the ship is completely at odds with what we know about the Doctor; he basically tells everyone to grab a weapon and fight! And I don’t like the silly “I would like a hat like that” catchphrase, almost as if they needed to give the new Doctor some sort of eccentricity while they worked out what his character was to become (much like they did with McCoy). Bizarre. Still, it gave us Jamie McCrimmon, which meant the TARDIS has four occupants again, for the first time since Ian and Barbara’s departure.

    I listened to The Underwater Menace a couple of months ago and thought it was a great shame that it was episode three which survived the archive purge of the 60s and 70s because it is without doubt the worst of the four. But as a whole it's a pretty enjoyable listen actually, particularly the final moments as the companions try to escape the flood and Zaroff goes off his rocker. The Moonbase is arguably the first story to feature the Troughton Doctor we came to know and love. There’s some nostalgia attached to this story for me, as I recall watching episodes two and four on the Cybermen Early Years tape and thinking how crap the picture quality was for the final episode. Despite being a retread of The Tenth Planet it looks great (the redesigned Cybermen look and sound so much better) and there’s something rather wonderful about the Cybermen’s bizarre plan to take over the Moonbase via sugar.

    The Macra Terror is pretty off the wall but fun to listen to, a great shame that it doesn’t exist for us to enjoy. The Faceless Ones is also odd in its own way – seeing Troughton up against an airport controller for the first few episodes, rather than a race of monsters – but again it’s enjoyable stuff, and genuinely creepy in places (the cliffhanger to episode one for instance). The final story, The Evil of the Daleks, is a tad overrated by fans these days (too much padding for my liking) but it’s still got some superb performances by Troughton and Hines, who work much better as a double act.

    So, overall, it’s season four for me - for the lack of Dodo.

  7. #7
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    Great post Pip

    Though I think The Myth Makers is rather better than painfully average myself.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  8. #8
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    I'm with Pip on The Gunfighters being a guilty pleasure, and Masterplan is an epic masterpiece, but Power, Evil, Highlanders, Moonbase with Tenth Planet thrown in for good measure, stunning season, just stunning. Every season has its dogs, but these are surrounded by glory in Season 4!
    One Day, I shall come back, Yes, I shall come back,
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  9. #9
    Pip Madeley Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    Though I think The Myth Makers is rather better than painfully average myself.
    Well actually I said it was relatively dull

  10. #10
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    Ahh yes. So you did.

    Though I think The Myth Makers is rather better than relatively dull myself.

    That's how I'd describe The Tenth Planet

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  11. #11
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    John Wiles and co made a brave if somewhat naive decision to introduce a character from Earth history and soon realised their mistake, in that Katarina did not understand anything that was going on around her. She had no frame of reference for anything; everything would need to be explained to her, which just got in the way of the story. Luckily she was replaced (albeit temporarily) by a more capable companion in the form of Sara Kingdom - who then got killed off. Well done guys…
    Are we sure this isn't a Jeremy Bentham-ism that we have clung to all these years? It strikes me that it would be more likely that the character was created purely to be killed off in the next story to stoke up some drama into "Masterplan". Adrienne Hill recorded her death scene before any of her other scenes - so why would they decide she wasn't working before she had even recorded anything? It seems a bit unlikely to me.

    You'd have thought they had learnt their lesson but no, in the following story The Massacre, they introduce a new character called Anne Chaplet. She's likeable enough, but again it’s clear that they just can't incorporate her into the sort of stories they want to tell - it's as if the production team got to episode four, having forgotten what went wrong with Katarina and thought "Oh God what are we going to do?” – which results in the absolutely ludicrous ending wherein the Doctor to all intents and purposes leaves a young girl to die in Paris (totally at odds with what we would expect of him), only to bump into her supposed descendant only ten minutes later in 1966 - give me a break! I can suspend disbelief but that’s just silly.
    I think you totally miss the point of the ending of "The Massacre" Pip, which was that the Doctor couldn't take Anne with her or he'd be damaging the web of time - she was tied up with those events. True, you could argue that Dodo was as much a part of history as Anne, but the implication is that the Bartholomew Eve Massacre is what the Tenth Doctor would later call a "fixed point" - a special event to history and that's why it was important Anne couldn't go with the Doctor; he's clearly agonised over it, as he falls out with Steven. It's not just him being whimsical, it's the thrust of the whole last part of the episode. So it's not "ludicrous".

    And I think the failure of Jackie Lane was less to do with them not being able to "incorporate her into the sort of stories they want to tell" (she's such a generic character I find that hard to believe), more likely that Lane wasn't considered very good, but most likely to be simply because of the rapid changeover of the Production Team, each of which had different ideas about the companion character.

    It could have all been so different though, had John Wiles got his way and removed William Hartnell from the series during production of The Celestial Toymaker – it’s highly unlikely the show would have made it beyond the 1960s had that happened.
    It's not clear what the series would have been like if Hartnell had been written out in "The Celestial Toymaker", but I don't remember ever reading that it would have continued Doctor-less! Wouldn't they just have used the Toymakers magic to turn him into Patrick Troughton that way? In other words, it would have continued on in exactly the same way, just a bit sooner? Perhaps in a parallel Universe the Toymaker returns every few years to regenerate the Doctor, and somewhere the UK will be sitting down this Christmas to see him come back and magic us up a Matt Smith?

    Si.

  12. #12
    Pip Madeley Guest

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    I think you totally miss the point of the ending of "The Massacre" Pip, which was that the Doctor couldn't take Anne with her or he'd be damaging the web of time - she was tied up with those events. True, you could argue that Dodo was as much a part of history as Anne, but the implication is that the Bartholomew Eve Massacre is what the Tenth Doctor would later call a "fixed point" - a special event to history and that's why it was important Anne couldn't go with the Doctor; he's clearly agonised over it, as he falls out with Steven. It's not just him being whimsical, it's the thrust of the whole last part of the episode. So it's not "ludicrous".
    It's easy to say that in hindsight Si but it's clear to me that the Doctor doesn't know that it was a fixed point, he merely says he feels he was right to act as he did and may have been right to do so. It's pure guesswork on his part, and watching the story, at that point in the episode, all we have is the truth that the Doctor has left a young girl who was already being hunted down by very angry men right in the centre of a violent, bloody massacre! The Doctor leaves her to die there, that's why Steven leaves. For a brief moment, the series is totally up the creek - no companion and an unlikeable Doctor. They then tack on a completely unbelievable conclusion where the Doctor randomly lands on Wimbledon Common in 1966 and without even leaving the TARDIS meets a girl also called Chaplet who may or may not be a descendant of Anne. That is what I find ludicrous. And suddenly the Doctor is vindicated, Steven is happy and everything is alright again. I felt totally patronised by that.

    I think the failure of Jackie Lane was less to do with them not being able to "incorporate her into the sort of stories they want to tell" (she's such a generic character I find that hard to believe)
    Er, I said Anne Chaplet, not Dodo.

  13. #13
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    I can't really add much personal comments as I kjnow very little about either season and as so much of both seasons is missing (and I've not listened to the audios) it's IMO very hard to judge either season fairly.

    I think if I had to chose I would go for season 3 simply because of Dalek Master Plan which stands head and shoulders over any other story in the Hartnell/Troughton eras,

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    Oh yes, sorry Pip, my mistake.

    All the same, there's no evidence that Anne was ever intended to be a companion. The Anne/Dodo business does add up to a pretty strange sequence of events I agree, but I don't suppose we'll ever know what they were going for with it.

    Si.

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    well what ever your feelings about Dodo, you all have to agree the way she was written out was pretty awful.

  16. #16
    Pip Madeley Guest

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    Jackie Lane definitely didn't deserve an exit like that, but the character really did need to go - what I don't understand is why they didn't film a goodbye scene for her outside the TARDIS. I suppose Jackie Lane had officially left the series with episode 3 but they could've filmed it with the scene at the start of episode 1... but who knows?

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    Maybe it didn't fit in with the ending they wanted to do with Ben and Polly stumbling into the TARDIS. That wouldn't have worked if Dodo had been there. She'd have waved the TARDIS off then gone "Oy! Don't go in there! It's not really a police box y'know!" when B&P tried to barge their way in.

    Si.

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    I've always said that season three is a really diverse series given that the it swings easily from the historical to the sci-fi stories at will, starting off really well with my favourite Galaxy Four, perhaps my not so favourite, and least remembered, Myth Makers, before branching off with DMP, my most fondly remembered as it spanned my tenth birthday in 1965. It even has The Celestial Toymaker, although on a recent replay of the existing audio of that one it came across as disapponting, but never mind, The Ark, The Savages and The War Machines more than make up for any lacklustre stories.

    So, it's season three all the way for me.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morgan View Post
    , The Ark, The Savages and The War Machines more than make up for any lacklustre stories.

    So, it's season three all the way for me.

    well I've always been quite fond of The Ark,and IMO a very under rated story. it is I believe one of the very few stories where we do actually get to see the consequences of The Doctor's actions .,

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    I've just re-read Pip's post. It's always good to see another point of view about our favourite series, and that we have a bit of mixed feeling about season three. Yes, I'd agree that some of the stories are lacklustre in presentation and style, Yes, I'd agree that Dodo is awful, but for those of us who were there when they were first shown, and as time has told, the only time that we saw most of those episodes, they were truly exciting stories, even The Gun Fighters has its merits, but it doesn't get good press within fan circles. I love season three despite its faults.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    All the same, there's no evidence that Anne was ever intended to be a companion. The Anne/Dodo business does add up to a pretty strange sequence of events I agree, but I don't suppose we'll ever know what they were going for with it.
    Time for an unsubstantiated fan-theory, methinks!

    I reckon that the Doctor had to leave Anne behind, since the massacre was a fixed point in history (like the destruction of Bowie Base One), and that meant that altering it even slightly would produce larger-than-normal historical ripples, which would attract the attention of the Time Lords. And that would not be good.

    For what it's worth, I think that's also why he stopped Barbara from changing history in The Aztecs - not out of concern for the Earth or its history, but so that he could remain unnoticed.
    For every fail, there is an equal and opposite win.

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    Yes really enjoyed reading that post Pip. Thankfully they resisted the TimeLord Victorious in Hartnells era.
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

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    Quote Originally Posted by shada pavlova View Post
    Time for an unsubstantiated fan-theory, methinks!

    I reckon that the Doctor had to leave Anne behind, since the massacre was a fixed point in history (like the destruction of Bowie Base One), and that meant that altering it even slightly would produce larger-than-normal historical ripples, which would attract the attention of the Time Lords. And that would not be good.

    For what it's worth, I think that's also why he stopped Barbara from changing history in The Aztecs - not out of concern for the Earth or its history, but so that he could remain unnoticed.
    There's some sense in that, even with the Doctor's showing some fondness for Barbara since The Edge Of Destruction.

    I think I'd prefer the third series. The Ark and The War Machines are clever and exciting stories despite the slightly odd-looking monsters; DMP lives up to its epic tag; The Massacre and Mission are also excellent; The Savages is good. These offset the abominable Myth Makers; the badly-executed CT and The Gunfighters, which I list on the naff side because I'm not fond of Westerns or that song.

    Whereas the fourth series, well i agree about the undemanding historicals; The Tenth Planet is good, but it doesn't really have too much sense of excitement once the Doctor reveals they're going to win; The Macra Terror is alright i suppose, but nowt special; The Underwater Menace is let down by part 3; and it's only the Dalek stories and The Faceless Ones that offer VFM.

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    I'm not that familiar with either season really. Obviously I've seen what remains to be seen, but I've by no means listened to much of the rest.

    For season 4, I have a sneaking suspicion that if it were to turn up, The Smugglers would be a real rompy favourite, maybe Hartnell's final finest hour. The Power of the Daleks sounds, based on the audio, like a real gem, although Evil I still think drags a little in comparison. Of the rest, only the episodes of The Faceless Ones really impress, and that's mainly down to the wonderful Colin Gordon.

    For season 3, flaws notwithstanding I think The Ark is a really good story, with a stunning part 2 cliffhanger. I enjoy The Gunfighters and The War Machines. Plus, rightly or wrongly, I think The Massacre is just such a great story, arguably the finest and purest historical the show ever did - in the sense that the Doctor is absent, and even Steven is only really there as a POV for the audience, strolling from one side of the action to the other. There's something about it which totally sucks me in, and of all the missing material this is the one I'd most like to turn up. Of the rest, Toymaker is pretty ploddy (although to be fair, I think episode 4 is the worst of the lot, it's a shame we can only see that one) and DMP starts and ends superbly...

    Oh I don't know - for The Massacre alone, I'm going for season 3, so there!!

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