The Three Doctors
Carnival of Monsters
Frontier in Space
Planet of the Daleks
The Green Death
Pertwee!!!! by Terrence Keenan 14/4/03
Is there anything important to say about season 10?
Possibly. It is the first Who season to do a little navel-gazing. It also breaks the format from the past three seasons, yet proves that the creative staff wasn't too sure how to proceed in a new direction. There's also closure to a character arc which began two seasons before, when a certain flibbertigibbet named Jo Grant appeared in the Doctor's lab at UNIT HQ.
It all begins with the nostalgia romp The Three Doctors. Granted, the story is rubbish, and features some really bad acting by Katy Manning and Nick Courtney. However, the fun is in watching Troughton and Hartnell outshine Pertwee. Hartnell only looks like he's line reading during the famous "dandy and a clown" line. Otherwise, he?s wonderfully crotchety with his successors and the Time Lords. Troughton is having a ball and steals almost every scene. Pertwee is in cruise control -- neither all that bad, nor brilliant. As far as story lines go, the Doctor wins his freedom for dealing with the Omega crisis, and we see the first overt hints that Jo loves the Doctor in more than just a friendly way -- a theme which will play out through the season.
Carnival of Monsters is atypical Pertwee. Robert Holmes shows his enjoyment of hustlers and con men for the first time, and creates some very interesting aliens in the Inter Minorans. The real fun bits are in the double team of Vorg and Shirna, and the Tribunal of Kalik, Orum and Pletrac. Katy gets to show a bit of character and range in this one, and Pertwee is much less pompous and arrogant in this one. Holmes touches on the Doctor's more human qualities -- He has to back into the scope to rescue Jo because he's responsible. He's also far less than Mr. Know-it-all that is prevalent in other Pertwee stories. Acting all around is brilliant. It's a story to be savored.
Hmmm... Until Big Roger Delgado shows up in episode three to liven things up, Frontier in Space is definitely the Pertwee cliche story. Chases, captures, escapes, high handed moralizing, etc. Pertwee and Manning go through the motions, except in the scene in the cell on the Master's prison ship, which works as a big summing up of three seasons worth of events, along with a hint of the feelings between the Doc and Jo. The themes are similar to The Silurians and The Sea Devils, only tossed into the 26th Century. Only this time, the humans and lizards (Draconians.... yes, yes I know) manage to put their differences aside. For once the Doctor manages to make the peace. It's still bloody boring, only livened up by Big Rog having fun and stealing every scene he's in. The end is a bit of a mess, as we have no idea what happened to the Master in those final climatic moments.
Planet of the Daleks is a direct follow-up to Frontier in Space. Allegedly, Frontier/Planet are supposed to be a redo of The Dalek Master Plan. Planet of the Daleks borrows from The Daleks for many of its plot points. There's lots of running around, squawking pepperpots and capture/escape/capture stuff going on. Some of the set pieces are good -- the parachute escape, Wester's sacrifice -- but a lame attempt at a romance between Jo and Latep doesn't work, and Pertwee is a one dimensional gasbag in this one. The low point of the season.
The Green Death is good DW. It plucks your heartstrings with Jo's story line and entertains with a loopy computer and some gross maggots. The three big story lines -- the environment angle, BOSS & Stevens, Jo's departure -- are set up early and are paid off well in the end.
Jo goes hasta la vista. Everything is set up in the first couple of episodes, the conversation between the Doctor and Jo and the initial meeting between Clifford Jones and Jo. In fact the first time Jo and Cliff meet is a dead ringer for the first meeting between the Doc and Jo in Terror of the Autons. Professor Jones is set up as a Doctor-clone purposely, making it blatantly obvious that Jo loved the Doctor and vice versa. By the end of The Green Death, Jo has been proposed to twice, and accepts Cliff's over the Doctor's promise to show her the Universe. We see the Doctor slip out the back and ride off into the sunset, heartbroken. It's a touching moment and the second best leaving scene, ever. What's even more interesting is that not only is this love story set up in The Green Death, it's something that's been hinted at since The Three Doctors (and possibly much earlier).
So, in the end, season ten is uneven. Two strong stories are surrounded by an Anniversary romp and cliche Pertwee. The big theme of the season is actually the relationship between the Doctor and Jo, which adds some depth in unexpected places.
A Review by James Neiro 8/5/10
The show's tenth season would produce some of the best stories in the show's history. The season premiere, The Three Doctors, would bring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton back as the Doctors. While the plot was a little silly and the writing quite dull, seeing The Time Lords, Gallifrey and our old favorites back was reason enough to celebrate and adore the story.
The Carnival of Monsters was another unique piece of storytelling, having the Doctor and Jo trapped within a zoo. The following two stories melded together; Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks became one epic story featuring the Master and the Daleks joining forces. It also brought the Daleks back to Skaro and the return of the Thals gave us memories of earlier Doctor Who seasons.
The season finale, The Green Death, would see the departure of Jo Grant and made way for a few changes in the following season.
Season Ten Against The World by Stephen Maslin 15/10/15
Seasons form patterns: the 4-4-4-4-4-6 of an 'average' Tom Baker season for example, or the slightly different 4-4-4-4-2-4-4 of a Davison. More recently, especially from Season 2007 onwards, we've had something along the lines of 1-1-1-2 1-1-2 1-1-2: a template; a distillation; an idealized pattern. If one were really bored, one might further finesse one of these patterns by, say, adding authors who cropped up most regularity, or stories of a particular style or length or placement.
After weeks of comparing statistics and drawing lines on graph paper, one might come to the conclusion that Season 10 is almost, but not quite, the archetypal Pertwee season. That particular non-existent prize should really go to Season 8: a Robert Holmes 4-parter, followed by a weightier 6-parter, then a Baker & Martin 4-parter, a 6-part Malcolm Hulke story to pad things out and a Sloman & Letts confection to round things off.
If that is indeed a kind of template for a Pertwee Season (and let's assume for the sake of argument that it is), then how does Season 10 fare by qualitative comparison?
THE BAKER & MARTIN STORY
The Three Doctors versus
The Claws of Axos (Season 8) & The Mutants (Season 9)
We can discount The Mutants right from the off: it's awful, the 'awkward sophomore outing' in extremis. The Three Doctors (Baker & Martin's final story for the Third Doctor) tends to be given a certain benefit of the doubt due to its personnel (and I am no exception in this regard; Patrick Troughton is a real joy, while Nicholas Courtney and John Levene give two of their best performances). Yet what still baffles about the first story of Doctor Who's tenth anniversary year is just how cheap it looks, how half-assed. For all the big splash made at the time, the whole celebration seems distinctly under-powered, even by the standards of the mid-Pertwee years. By the time we get to episode 4, the universe, even in its most magical realms, is a very dreary place. If one had to choose only one Baker and Martin story from the Pertwee era, then it would have to be The Claws of Axos as, in spite of some dreadful dialogue, it's such a uniquely odd piece of television.
Verdict: Season Ten loses
THE ROBERT HOLMES FOUR-PARTER
Carnival of Monsters versus Spearhead From Space (Season 7), Terror of the Autons (Season 8) & The Time Warrior (Season 11)
An impossible choice. The list of the four Robert Holmes Third Doctor stories might easily double as a list of the four best Third Doctor stories. Jon Pertwee was never better than when he had Holmes' dialogue rattling round his tonsils, and this is never more true than during Carnival of Monsters. ("Topping day, what?") The dialogue throughout just sings, with less emphasis on facts and more on folks; and what a great bunch of folks they are to be sure: Major Daly ("By jingo, a memsahib!"), Lieutenant Andrews ("Twenty times round the deck is a mile"), Vorg ("That must be the live terminal"), Shirna ("Are you all right, dear?"), Kalik ("One has twinges"), Orum ("Take over!?")... It is stories of the calibre of Carnival of Monsters that meant Doctor Who survived as long as it did.
Verdict: Season Ten Wins
THE MALCOLM HULKE STORY
Frontier in Space versus The Silurians (Season 7), Colony in Space (Season 8), The Sea Devils (Season 9) & Invasion of the Dinosaurs (Season 11)
Malcolm Hulke, it always seemed to me, made a rod for his own back by being properly professional. With their (2x4)+(3x6) format, the production team were always going to be need to pull two or three longer stories out of the hat; in Mr Hulke, they had someone who could be relied upon to produce. His stories have a reputation as solid, workmanlike and rather earnest but (above all) they could be stretched to fit. Frontier in Space may be our farewell to Roger Delgado (and in cultural terms, the Ogrons stomping around London's brutalist Hayward Gallery is a very twentieth-century juxtaposition indeed), but it is not as good a script as Invasion of the Dinosaurs, nor as iconic as The Sea Devils, and it doesn't have The Silurians' occasional flashes of bleak brilliance.
Verdict: Season Ten loses
THE A. N. OTHER SIX-PARTER
Planet of the Daleks versus The Mind of Evil (Season 8) & The Monster of Peladon (Season 11)
With the possible exception of Genesis of the Daleks, Terry Nation's later Dalek stories rely on our already finding his famous creations scary. Having done the job reasonably well in the early sixties, he then seemed to absolve himself of any further effort. (Lest we forget, the three best Dalek stories - Power of, Evil of, Day of - were written by other people.) Though Planet of is better than The Monster of Peladon (how could it be worse?), its poor plotting, unrealizable ambitions and bewigged dullards means that it falls far short of the much more sophisticated Mind of Evil.
Verdict: Season Ten loses
THE SLOMAN & LETTS SEND-OFF
The Green Death versus The Daemons (Season 8) The Time Monster (Season 9) & Planet of Spiders (Season 11)
Though I'm not one of those who think The Time Monster to be one of British television's all-time nadirs (it's not even in my bottom five Pertwee stories), it is by far the weakest story here. The Daemons, on the other hand, though it may creak and groan a little when scrutinized by modern eyes, is a worthy adversary, and although Planet of Spiders sags under the weight of some very tedious oppressed humanoid aliens and primitive bluescreen effects, it is the fitting, over-the-top send off that Jon Pertwee deserved. Yet The Green Death comes out on top, managing to highlight ecological concerns while still causing chills.
Politicians have never fared well in Doctor Who for the simple reason that politicians have never fared well with the British Public. Disrespect comes with the job. Though Doctor Who has frequently dealt with politicians (and none too generously), it has generally steered away from politics. The Green Death is the most overt nod towards the contemporary political world outside that the show ever attempted. The fact that this is done successfully without being boring or preachy is a real achievement.
Verdict: Season Ten Wins
The Ultimate Adventure versus Canonicity
Does The Ultimate Adventure, a stage play from 1989, really belong as a postscript to Season 10? Strictly speaking no, but it does have one claim to canonical status superior to any novel or comic strip: it had a living, breathing Doctor played by the 'right' actor (two of them in fact: Colin Baker took over the lead for the end of its run). This should surely give it greater cachet than a sequence of line drawings (however good) or after-the-fact prose with a photo-shopped image on the cover. And if The Ultimate Adventure is closer to 'proper' Who, then there's only one place in the accepted narrative sequence that it could go. The Doc drives off by himself at the end of The Green Death and hooks up with a French bloke with 80s hair (1780s hair perhaps), the TARDIS translation function ensuring that there is not the slightest whiff of a French accent whenever he opens his mouth. Et voila! C'est reparti!
There was once an audio recording doing the rounds of a performance of The Ultimate Adventure, Pertwee giving his all, edited into short 'scenes' so that one could leave out those dreadful songs. From the sound of it, it must have been a pretty solid evening's entertainment, something that the Big Finish 2008 audio remake singularly fails to recapture. (There's even an audio-only sequel, Beyond the Ultimate Adventure, which is, alas, truly dreadful.)