The Time Warrior
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Death to the daleks
The Monster of Peladon
Planet of the Spiders
Season Eleven


Old and stale...? by Joe Ford 22/7/02

Jon Pertwee has been in the role for four years now. He has foiled more invasions on earth than I've had snogs. UNIT who were once great figure heads of army power now hang around with hippy haircuts having arguments about fungus (or roast beef whatever you call it!). Dizzy Jo Grant, the girl everyone loves left to be with her new sweetheart. Things were not looking promising for that crucial last year for the third Doctor, let's see how he got on...

The Time Warrior: Very, very funny! One of Robert Holmes' best scripts... the dialogue is just beautiful and the characterisation is perfect from our master craftsman. Elisabeth Sladen bolts onto the screen like a gale force wind... she's sexy, intelligent, bossy, arrogant, funny and resorceful. Sarah Jane has arrived and she wants to let EVERYONE know! The story itself is a highly enjoyable action tale with the honours going to Linx for most compelling character. It is another Holmes classic bad guy, he has worked a complex background for these monsters and his hard work pays off in spades. Kevin Lindsey gives a great performance. Irongron and Bloodaxe make an amusing duo (Especially when taking on Sarah!) but even small roles like Hal and Elenor are well played. Good fun and proof that the show could still surprise in the Pertwee years: 9/10
Top dialogue: "Why don't you take of that ridiculous gear and go home to your butchers shop!" You go girl!
Top moment: Linx vs The Doctor... a battle to the death, The Doctor fighting in the courtyard, the Doctor in the firing practise scene... Pertwee lives up to his action hero status with true style!

Invasion of the Dinosaurs: The biggest surprise of the year. The direction is flawless... and I mean FLAWLESS! Aside from the action shots (FX out of the director's hands!) every shot is perfect, from the moody and atmospheric opening episode to the exciting Doctor chase to the claustrophobic work in the 'spaceship'. The performances are great too and it's littered with wonderful character moments (Benton asking to be knocked out, Sarah 'going out to play', The Doc trying desperately to make his machine in peace!). All the stuff with Yates is good development and The Brig seems to have found his brain again (amazing!). The issues are relevant and interesting and considering it is six episodes long (and admittedly padded) it's surprising how it NEVER seems boring. I would mention the dinos but even they are more than acceptable in some shots... hell if you can't suspend your belief over some effects I dunno why your a fan in the first place: 9/10
Top dialogue: Pertwee's final speech with Sarah expressing the wonders of Florana.
Top moment: The whole first episode. Very exciting!

Death to the Daleks: Hmm I think I'm the only person who actually likes this. I admit it's not the most original script in the world (and coming from Terry Nation that's saying something!!!) and that Jill Tarrant IS the stupidest, buck toothed, up-chuckingly useless character the show ever vommited at an audience but then nobody's perfect. The first episode is a great scene setter with all the atmospheric shots on Exillon and the city just looks great (stop laughing it does!). The Pertwee/Sladen interaction continues to shine and their intimate moment before he steps into the city always makes my heart melt. The Daleks are at their devious best and I think bullets suit them (and completes the Nazi metaphor!). Admittedly the inside the city games drag on but mostly it's harmless action stuff played with enough conviction and a decent budget. Hell watch for the wonderful quarry fight with the Exillons alone: 8/10
Top dialogue: "I can sink anywhere!" and later "It's as if the TARDIS was dying."
Top moment: The first scene... man stumbles along smoky sand dune, gets hit by arrow, falls into water... very intruiging.

The Monster of Peladon: Hmm, how will he defend this one I hear you say. Nope, I can't. It's not bad per se, just dull. And it's padded out with horrible scenes of the beaver miners' boring revolt. It ain't a patch on the wonderful Curse of Peladon and even the arrival of The Ice Warriors isn't that great as they look pretty stupid this time round. Even the sets feel sparser than the earlier story and they were pretty empty in the first place. Only three things save it from the rubbish bin. The decent Ice Warrior score Mr Simpson gives them. Lis Sladen who sells her scenes for all their worth. And of course Mr Pertwee who is on form as ever. I've just finished Amorality Tale, a third Doctor/Sarah PDA and all throughout I kept thinking this should have been made instead of Monster of Peladon: 4/10

Top dialogue: Anything that isn't re-hashed from Curse... oh wait that's the whole script!
Top moment: Anything that isn't re-hashed from... you get the picture.

Planet of Spiders: You could split this story into three segments, earth (good), Metebelies Three (shockingly poor) and The Great One (excellent). It all starts well with Mike excellently brought back into action and Sarah given more good stuff to do but then we take a trip to the awful sets of Met 3 full of godawful actors (even that thing from The New Avengers!) and I start to nod off. There's a good chase along the way which is quite exhilerating until we start flying against an awful blue screen. The spiders are good, I love creepy monsters and like the maggots last year they are memorably scary. The final episode with The Doctor coming up against his greatest fear is not only a good exit for the third Doctor but gives Jon Pertwee and Lis Sladen a marvelloue opportunity to emote. It's a terrific end to an up and down story: 7/10

Top dialogue: Come on... sing it with me... "Um padme, padme, um... Um, padme, padme, um..." and Sarah's marvellous "I don't think I can take much more..."
Top moment: Definately the ending.

Well, maybe I surprise for some but I happen to enjoy this year a heck of a lot. It has quite a lot in it's favour... only two UNIT stories and one showing them at their very best for one. The outstanding Lis Sladen for another. Barry and Terrance may have been out of ideas (none of these stories is terrifically original) but they sure know how to spin a yarn and milk it for all the excitement and tension they can. Pertwee was on the ball until the very last story and his charged performances help elevate all of the stories here (he practically holds up Peladon with his bare hands!). An underrated jewel then and since I seem to be one of only a small number who like it I shall take a little extra pleasure in enjoying myself watching these stories.

A Review by James Neiro 11/8/10

Season 11 would be Jon Pertwee's final outing as the Doctor. Early in the season, Pertwee announced he would step down as the Doctor in order to resume his stage career also citing typecasting in the role as a reason for quitting. The season's premier, The Time Warrior, introduced us to another foe: the militaristic Sontarans. It would also be the debut episode of fan favorite companion journalist Sarah Jane Smith who would later be given her own series.

The following story, The Invasion of the Dinosaurs, was a popular adventure set in London under martial law and would see the appearance of the dinosaurs. It would also see the first plot-related major betrayal by a main cast member.

Death to the Daleks would come next showing the metallic enemies in a new light; a rather vulnerable one. Drained of power, the Daleks would remain defenceless and for the first time in the show's history join forces with the Doctor on a barren alien world.

The following story, The Monster of Peladon, saw the reunion of all major players from the previous story, its prequel The Curse of Peladon and was just as fun to watch as it's predecessor.

Jon Pertwee would leave the role in the season finale, The Planet of the Spiders where he would die from radiation poisoning from crystals within a spider's cave. It was a sad event as Jon had become so well known as the Doctor playing the part far longer than William and Patrick had. His regeneration, however, would have its benefits as fans were soon to experience...

How Big is Your Season Eleven? by Stephen Maslin 16/2/16

Seasons are a useful shorthand, but they can also be a straightjacket. In terms of lead actor and overall tone, for example, The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet really belong in Season 3. Likewise, Evil of the Daleks and The Wheel in Space feel like they should start the following season and Terror of the Zygons is the superior finale that Season 12 never had. Season 11 is, like every Pertwee season, a unity. It's the "Third-and-Sarah" season, starting with her arrival and ending with his regeneration. All very neat and easily digestible.

Quality considerations aside, one reason why the 30th anniversary radio tale The Paradise of Death and its 1996 sequel The Ghosts of N-Space are so little regarded is because of where they are supposed to fit in: shoe-horned into a season that is already precisely the proper length. Inter-season filler is fine (14a, 19a, every Christmas special since 2005, etc) but retrospectively crow-barred into the midst of a season? It just doesn't feel right. Besides, Season 11 already has its own problems. It has some appalling stodge in the middle and boasts (if 'boasts' is the right word) the most criminally damaged story of the show's entire run. It does, however, begin with a genuine classic...


The Time Warrior

15 December 1973 - 5 January 1974

Average audience: 8.0 million viewers

Highest (ep.4) 10.6 million; lowest (ep.3) 6.6 million

Doctor Who has been a British Yuletide fixture since its 2005 return, but it was not always so. After the black-and-white era, it was rare for it to be on our screens around Christmas. (Exceptions being The Power of Kroll, Horns of Nimon and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. It would be hard to find a less Christmassy trio.) Commonly, a season would either start just before or after New Year, or there would be a couple of weeks' break for people to concentrate on over-eating and family arguments. Yet, in late 1973, with a soccer World Cup due to start on June 13th the following year, Doctor Who was forced, uncharacteristically, to be 'on' over the festive period.

In light of this, my only caveat about The Time Warrior is that it would have worked a better as a winter story (though, being filmed in May, this would have been hard to achieve, even with bucket-loads of Seeds of Doom polystyrene snow). Irongron and his not-so-merry men tramping through snow and shivering in their BBC furs would have been so much more evocative than the benign and indifferent British springtime in which the outdoor action actually takes place. That aside, the story is an absolute peach: Robert Holmes' trademark split-level villainy (Lynx on the upper floor, Irongron on the lower) and glorious turn of phrase; Sarah Jane making her rousing anti-screamer debut; Jon Pertwee at his very, very best. There are more quotable lines here than in the rest of the season put together and more memorable characters too. (To name but two, Donald Pelmear deserves a bloody medal for his portrayal of Professor Rubeish and Kevin Lindsay achieves that oh-so-rare accolade of making a Doctor Who alien totally believable.) It remains one of the show's most under-rated stories: reliable, confident, durable. Would that such a high standard could have been maintained for the whole season.

In a word: impregnable



The Paradise of Death

27 August - 24 September 1993

The first of two retrospective Season 11 inserts and much the better of the two. In fact, The Paradise of Death is quite a pleasant surprise. All right, so second-string companion Jeremy doesn't really work, but an otherwise fine cast (Gilbert M from The Happiness Patrol, Nyder from Genesis of the Daleks, Azmael Edgeworth from The Twin Dilemma) and some great BBC sound design make this quite diverting. Particular brownie points to Nicholas Courtney and Elizabeth Sladen, who fit right into the audio medium, and to Peter Howell for some great music. If The Paradise of Death really had been a part of Season 11, it definitely wouldn't be considered one of its low points.

In a word: theatrical




12 January 1974

11.0 million viewers

Stunning. An extraordinary sense of displacement, of the familiar rendered unfamiliar. Even something as mundane as waiting for a bus becomes sinister. Gritty, dark, ominous. Right up until the last few seconds...

In a word: eerie



Invasion of the Dinosaurs

19 January - 16 February 1974

Average audience: 9.5 million viewers

Highest (ep.3) 11.0 million; lowest (ep.6) 7.5 million

The title changes, the curse having been revealed. Dinosaurs. Crap dinosaurs. Utterly tragic crap dinosaurs, as in almost every other respect, Invasion of the Dinosaurs is truly exemplary. There are still some excellent moments, but one is never too far away from some rubber monstrosity bringing the whole thing crashing down. It's all very well to point the finger at an untrustworthy special-effects company failing to deliver, but the alarm bells should have been ringing long before they ever got involved. If only the production team had chosen a threat more readily imagined (or if only Barry Letts hadn't been of such a trusting nature.) If only.

In a word: wrecked



Death to the Daleks

23 February - 16 March 1974

Average audience: 9.5 million viewers

Highest (ep.3) 10.5 million; lowest (ep.1) 8.1 million

Like many a Terry Nation story, we have an intriguing first episode and a particularly good excuse for some top notch design work (here the Exxilons, very well realized). That, however, is all there is. The plot-narrative (is there one?) is all over the place, but if that were all that was wrong, we wouldn't so much as flinch. There are, however, so many more downsides: one of the show's lamest ever cliffhangers; a city far too ambitious for a 1970s BBC budget; no reason for the Daleks to actually be there, other than to trundle along specially prepared swamp-beating duckboards and expire in flames; a climax about as anti-climactic as you can get. Worst of all, our female lead has returned (after her brief sojourn of empowerment) to helpless screeching and dependency on men. The only other female character, Jill Tarrant, is even more badly portrayed. Death to the Daleks is merely another undeserved cheque for Terry Nation's estate and another 100 minutes of your life wasted.

In a word: tired



The Ghosts of N-Space

20 January - 24 February 1996

The second of Season 11's two audio inserts, this one dating from 1996. The Ghosts of N-Space has always received a very bad press, yet not all of it is deserved. Fair enough there are contrivances aplenty (synchronicity) and redundancies too (the nineteenth century) and Barry Letts' re-definition of N-Space seems almost designed to infuriate. There are also a few characters who are below par (especially those beginning with the letter M) and an ending that tries the patience. (The cover of the CD release is no damn good either.) Yet in spite of all that, it is not the disaster area that many people say it is, with an ear-friendly sound design, an accomplished balance between retro and re-imagining, and Messrs Pertwee, Sladen and Courtney jumping in with both feet. For all its faults, The Ghosts of N-Space would have been a far better penultimate story for Season 11 than the one we actually got...

In two words: temporally misplaced



The Monster of Peladon

23 March - 27 April 1974

Average audience: 7.6 million viewers

Highest (ep.1) 9.2 million; lowest (ep.2) 6.8 million

Other than filling six twenty-five minute gaps in the television schedules and keeping a few people in work, there is simply no reason for The Monster of Peladon to exist. One would not think it possible to serve up something that is even worse than Death to the Daleks, but here it is, all the poorer for being a sequel to one of the Third Doctor's best stories. If you took away The Monster of Peladon's only two redeeming features - Dudley Simpson's music and the performance of Elizabeth Sladen - you are left with almost nothing at all, save for a motley collection of less-than-convincing aliens standing around wittering and a lot of wigs hell-bent on a very bland revolution. (It does not take us long to wish that everyone hiding under those wigs be put out of their supporting-cast-misery and shot.) It is astounding that Doctor Who was able to survive the early 70s at all when at least a quarter of each Pertwee season was taken up with such guff as this: Season 8's Colony in Space, Season 9's The Mutants, Season 10's Planet of the Daleks... If anyone remembered anything from Saturday evenings in March and April 1974, then it would be Abba planting themselves on the cultural map by winning the Eurovision Song Contest a few hours after we'd all been bored rigid by Episode 3. No one would remember being even slightly entertained by The Monster of Peladon.

In a word: empty



Planet of the Spiders

4 May - 8 June 1974

Average audience: 9 million viewers

Highest (ep.1) 10.1 million; lowest (ep.4) 8.2 million

I've always felt it sad that Doctor Who was thought to be a science-fiction show. At its best, it was something else, somewhere between Sherlock Holmes, M R James and a sexually neutralized James Bond world, with its sci-fi elements only as a back-drop, as a necessary intrusion. Planet of the Spiders shows just how difficult it used to be to pin Doctor Who down. Stylistically (and locationally), it's all over the place. (In terms of spatial distribution, one might also point to stories like Hand of Fear, The Stones of Blood, The Leisure Hive, Logopolis and Arc of Infinity: from Earth to the farthest reaches of the cosmos and back again.) At times, one could be forgiven for thinking the Third Doctor once again exiled on Earth here; at others, there are the usual human-ish folk, with silly names and silly clothes, being tediously oppressed on some far distant planet of cliche.

Sci-fi dates badly: Doctor Who in its other guises has not (whatever those guises are actually called; Fantasy? Adventure?) The location sequences in Planet of the Spiders have that frisson of a lost world just out of reach; one can forgive the endless chase sequences (and some decidedly primitive blue screen overlay) for it is all balanced with unexpected character development and the sense of everyone pulling together to make the Third Doctor's send off something special.

In a word: forgivable


(On July 7th, after three and a half weeks of competition, the final of the World Cup was played, the Sontarans beating the Metebelians 2-1.)