Planet of Giants
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The Web Planet
The Space Museum
The Time Meddler
Experimentation = Oddities by James Allenby 8/3/01
After the superb season 1 where nearly all of the stories where classics season 2 was a bit of a let down. Not a massive let down but it definitely is not as good as the 1st. I think the producers were experimenting with new kinds of stories and that led to there being certain oddities. So let's start at the beginning.
Planet Of The Giants is one of my favourites because it's one of those out of the ordinary stories like Inside The Spaceship which is a refreshing break from the norm. I've heard it be accused of being silly and stupid but I disagree. The only complaint I have is Susan who is once again screaming for no reason. But it's enjoyable and the sets are rather good for that time.
We then have The Dalek Invasion of Earth which is possibly my favourite of the season and I think it's a classic. If the season has an epic then it's this one. The Daleks are shown as evil and menacing and nothing the Daleks do in this story make you laugh like they do in The Chase. We also have the departure of Susan which I was quite please about. We got too much of her but I don't dislike her.
The story moves on with The Rescue and we now have a much fresher and kinder Doctor. Maybe because I think this was the first story to be made of season 2. It's a good 2 parter that nicely introduces us to Vicki our new companion. She's likeble and much better than what she eventually becomes. The story is full of mystery and so far the season is progressing well.
The Romans comes next. It's a good story I think. Lighthearted with strange bits of comedy but enough adventure to keep you interested. It's also got it's more serious tone with the bits with Barbara and Ian being taken in as slaves. It's good character development though and you can see a bit of flirting between Ian and Barbara.
The Web Planet sends the season downwards a little bit. This story could really have done with being only 4 episodes long because it's just too long. However I think the story is ok and the sets are pretty good. It feels like an alien planet and not just a studio set. But it just feels as if the season went downwards from here. The Doctor had little to do and once again it's left to Ian and Barbara to do all the work.
The Crusade follows which is a charming piece of history. Even with only two episodes remaining visually you can still enjoy it with the audios. But the season continues it's look at developing Babara more than anyone else. Just think about how many stories in the season concentrated on Babs. Not my favourite historical but still a minor-classic.
Oh no! The Space Museum! I used to like this but after the first 2 episodes I found my self wanting to fast forward (which I did) and got straight to the end. It's clearly the dull part of the season with Vicki being the only character really getting much attention. But at the end we get the chance to see the Daleks again for their second time this season...a mistake maybe?
The Chase is fun and enjoyable but in one word it's useless. I don't hate it though. But it seems as though it was just made to give the fans and kiddies more Daleks. I feel that 12 episodes of Daleks in one season is just too much. It does though mark the end of Ian and Barbara. I was glad to see them go in a good way and I really liked them as companions. We also see the introduction of another of my favourite companions - Steven.
And we end with The Time Meddler. I actually like this. Maybe it's because I remember watching it when it was repeated on Beeb 2 and it holds a special place in my affections but I think it's fun. We finally find out a great bit of information about the Doctor when the Monk is introduced. So by the end of the season we have had a big change in the space of just 9 stories. It was Doctor Who's biggest change at that point and the viewers must have been feeling slighting uneasy with what was going on. But one thing is for sure is that Doctor Who was changing with the times and addapting so it could carry on and progress. An interesting and experimental season.
A Review by Alan Thomas 21/4/01
After a very successful first season of Dr Who, the second is still very good, seeing a bit of experimentation in the style.
Planet Of Giants is a story that is enjoyable simply because of its unusual style. The special effects are wonderful for the mid-sixties, and the acting by the regulars is very good. That is, except for Carole Ann Ford. I usually don't have a problem with her, but in this story she is just utterly annoying.
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth is a gritty classic, and everything about it makes this a wonderfully atmospheric story, with the Daleks having a considerable effect on the impact of the tale. Susan's departure scene is touching and emotional.
The Rescue is also enjoyable, as it concentrates much more on character development than plot. Maureen O' Brian always impresses as Vicki, and she is brilliant in her introduction.
The Romans is a story that shows Dr Who's potential in presenting comedy stories. The last two episodes are fitfully amusing, but the first two are quite grim, and seeing Ian and Barbara as slaves is truly shocking.
The Web Planet is a story that is either enjoyable if seen as a dated epic, or a bag of useless rubbish if it is seen as a silly insect drama. Personally, I find it enjoyable and weird.
The Crusade features some of the best acting from early Dr Who. The whole story is a very good historical, that is accurate and still endearing today.
The Space Museum is not as bad as some would think. The first two episodes are great, particularly the first. I hate the acting in this story. Nobody except the regulars are even slightly good here. Vicki gets a lot more to do than she usually does, and she really shines.
The Chase is a story that is sloppily produced and hysterically performed. However, the story is still enjoyable. The last episode really stands out. Peter Purves gives a good debut performance, and my heart ached when Ian and Barbara left. They defined the Hartnell era, IMO. The Doctor's sadness at their departure was convincing and beautifully played by William Hartnell.
The Time Meddler ends the season on a high note. Peter Butterworth is brilliant as The Monk, and Peter Purves builds on a great first appearance. The chemistry between Vicki and Steven really works, and the Doctor is great too.
A great season, and the first of many changes for the series. There are many more in season three...
A Review by Alex Keaton 30/4/01
Season 1 had been a very stable season following the rather formulaic procedures of the settings and situations in which the TARDIS crew encountered, stabilised with educational input as had originally been devised for the series. Indeed I'm not implying that it had started the series off as a rather run-of-the-mill production as this would be false. However it was a routine based format that was in need of change.
To this end Season 2 contrives to alter the already implemented story format for the show into being more less predictable, more imaginative and less routine-based. The production team had just the seen the series rapidly increase in popularity mainly due to the sweep of 'Dalek Mania' so they basically give the series a glitzier look with the introduction of new and imaginative ideas and concepts, glossed over with improved production values, in order to show the viewers just how vast and unpredictable the show could be. Such concepts and ideas include; The TARDIS crew being miniaturised, a parasitic intelligence known as the Animus taking control of the TARDIS and of Barbara, The TARDIS experiencing time shifts and turning the crew invisible and of course new ways of containing those exterminating menaces called the Daleks in order for public satisfaction and to maintain popularity. It was obvious that the production team were relying on such new and unpredictable ideas to be enough entertainment for such serials in which they are contained, however the novelty soon wears off and often the ideas are left without a decent and plausible enough plot to fall back on. Indeed, though, it is undeniable that such ideas would prove to be good indicators to future stories in future seasons by showing their faults and high points. Nonetheless, the ratings in this season were incidentally high with The Dalek Invasion on Earth bringing ratings up to 12 million and successors, The Rescue, The Romans and The Web Planet all peaking at an average of 12.5 million, a high that the series would only be topped by in the glorified Tom Baker era.
Despite the shortcomings of such earlier ideas there are latter ideas in this season which manage to strike as being plausible and effective enough for the season while proving to be a great virtue to the future success of the series such as; the injection of humour - which initially starts of as out and out comedy routine in The Romans, but is modified within the season into basic and subtle quantites as the production team decided that such an idea needs no further experimenting, the TARDIS crew's encounters with famous historical figures and events - an idea that was actually retained from the previous season, the meeting of a being from the Doctor's own race, discussion of the TARDIS chameleon circuit and finally the combining of the fields of science and historical to form a pseudo historical. By the end of the season, the ideas begin to even open new fields about stories that could discuss the Doctor's own origins. There are no limits as to how far this season will experiment.
In reality this season focuses purely on story formatting as the factor of character roles is left unchanged and unexperimented, but in truth this a factor which would remain unchanged right until the end of the series. We would always be treated to the Doctor as the hero, fighting (not with guns of course) and defeating evil while companions would always play that submissive role of asking questions, running endlessly into danger and screaming (and in general it would be true to say that all of the future companions would serve at least one of the above roles if not all of them), however in this era of the series though, despite the roles being the same, the parts that companions had to play was much more active than in the future because of the less physical attributes that William Hartnell could commit to. In this season the original three companions bid farewell, but of course their roles would be merely handed over; for example Susan would pass that relative child-link role over to Vicki and Ian would pass the young, physically active male role over to Steven (though Steven would never be as Sir Lancelot-esque as Ian). In reality though, Season 2 begins to give the Doctor a bigger part to play in the action, while still sharing responsibility with the companions. In the future though, the Doctor would take even more responsibility reducing the companion to an even heavier submissive role because of his getting older.... but looking younger - which becomes a little confusing to explain.
In conclusion Season 2 is, in contrast with the future of the series, a forerunner as it experiments with ideas, as James Allenby mentioned, and conclusively justifies whether they work or not so that the series could learn from such results and embark on a more organised collection of ideas for it's story format. This season allows for the series to become unpredictable and showcase it's ability to combine humour, drama, science intellect, fact and imagination all in one. The strain of the plans originally devised for the series would become less and less concrete and the TARDIS would not be forced to travel to Earth's past in order to show it's wanders but would soon travel to worlds out there where the sky would burn and the rivers dream, people would be made of smoke and cities's made of song. There would be danger, injustice and ... well, that's another story. Season 2 is not an altogether well structured season in itself but it didn't need to be as it was already a highly significant one for the progress of the series.
Dr Who Awards: Season 2
The awards below are to indicate the serials which contain outstanding achievements in the applicable categories. In context it is decided by fans who have reviewed such stories and have highlighted categories which are particularly outstanding within them so then I can make an overall decision of which serial is the 'best' in that category based on reasoning. Note however that there is no 'Make Up' category as it is not applicable in this season.
The Time Meddler (4): Best Serial, Best Director (Douglas Camfield), Best Supporting Cast Actor (Peter Butterworth), Best Film Editing.
The Dalek Invasion on Earth (4): Best Sound, Best Music, Best Visual Effects, Best Cliffhanger Sequence (Part 1) - a surprise to those viewers who weren't expecting the Daleks to show up in this episode.
The Crusade (2): Best Original Screenplay (David Whittaker), Best Costume Design.
Planet of Giants (1): Best Art Direction.
The Rescue (1): Best Regular Cast Acting.
Finding a New and More Durable Format by Peter Niemeyer 31/7/01
In my review of the first season, I included Planet of Giants and The Dalek Invasion of Earth because, like the first eight serials, they were shot together in a single series of filming blocks, and they are the only ones to feature the original cast. So, I will omit comments about those episode here.
Like Season One, Season Two had a significant number of accomplishments. The one with the longest impact was the notion of companions coming and going. Susan was written out of the show at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but you don't really know for a fact that this is permanent until the start of the The Rescue when she doesn't rejoin the cast. There was also a fair amount of dialog that established Susan was gone. By the end of the season, Ian and Barbara had also left, and Vicki and Steven had been introduced.
In my opinion, this was an excellent move. I think characters like Susan, Ian, and Barbara, who are less able and less faceted than the Doctor, have a limited shelf life. Susan had done all she could do (or all she would be allowed to do). And although Vicki and Susan share similarities, there were important differences. Susan was the "girl from some distant, incomprehensible future" whereas Vicki was the "girl from our future". This allowed her to make more humorous comments, such as remarking that she learned calculus from a machine and calling the Beatles' music "classical". Steven also added room for new exploration, though the only thing we really saw by the close of the season was a return of the incredulousness-to-acceptance of time travel seen by Barbara and Ian in An Unearthly Child and The Daleks. The notion of rotating companions gave us some stinkers (yes, Dodo, I mean you), but it also gave us some wonders (Tegan, Nyssa, Ace, Sarah Jane, Jamie, Romana, Jo, Evelyn, et cetera...)
Season Two also changed the primary motivation of the TARDIS crew. Season One was focused almost exclusively on getting back into the TARDIS. Only The Edge of Destruction breaks this mold. Season Two was more exploration. In The Rescue, The Romans, and The Time Meddler, the Doctor had several opportunities to just leave but chose not to out of curiosity and/or altruism. The Space Museum and The Chase have the travelers solving more original problems (avoiding an undesirable future and avoiding the Daleks, respectively). Only The Web Planet offered motivation similar to Season One, and even here there is still a hint of altruism. This change was inevitable, of course. Either Ian and Barbara were going to get home, or they were going to abandon hope of getting home. And when either of these happened, what was to motivate the travelers to get involved? I believe it is in Season Two that the Doctor begins the behavior that will later lead to the "Time's Champion" nome de plume.
The one other thing of note, and at this point it is just a minor note, is that we do see the beginnings of Gallifrey. The Time Meddler introduces us to the first character who is the same race as the Doctor and Susan, as well as the first TARDIS other than the Doctor's. The Monk himself was something of a minor character. He makes only one return appearance, just one year later in Season Three's The Dalek Masterplan. But this opens the door for what would eventually become Troughton's jewel in the crown, The War Games.
For most of the companions, Season Two had no real character arcs. The Doctor, Barbara and Ian are essentially the same people from the start of The Rescue to the end of The Chase. Steven Taylor, who appears in only five episodes, doesn't have much time to have an arc. Vicki is the one exception. In The Rescue, she is completely dependent on Bennet for her survival, and quickly transfers this dependence to the Doctor. This continues through The Crusade, but she proves to be quite resourceful in The Space Museum and The Chase. By season's end, she's much more adult in her behavior, breaking in the new kid in the TARDIS.
However, Season Two maintained the series' consciousness of continuity. (The genesis of fan wank, perhaps?) The Rescue clearly takes place after the departure of Susan. In The Space Museum, Vicki states that the Dalek invasion of Earth happened 300 years ago (from her perspective), and Ian tells her they were there. In The Chase, Barbara makes an off-handed comment that Ian plans to yet again demolish her cardigan (a reference to The Space Museum.) Assuming that the end of The Chase happens in the same year that it was televised, we see confirmation that Ian and Barbara have been gone for two years. And even in The Time Meddler, the Doctor muses about Barbara and how her historical knowledge would be of use. In later years, the stories would lose this tight integration. But like Season One, Season Two was virtually a single serial of 30 episodes.
Best Single Episode: The Chase part 6 (with Ian and Barbara gone and another new companion introduced, this proved that the format can and would be changed, and a Daleks vs. Mechanoids battle to boot)
Best Serial: The Crusade, Doctor Who does Shakespeare, and does it brilliantly
One Serial You'd Have To Pay Me To Watch Again: The Web Planet
A Review by James Neiro 13/9/09
Slightly more extended than the first season, Doctor Who returned with an amazing second season premiering with a drastically different story entitled The Planet of the Giants featuring the entire cast vastly reduced in size compared to their surroundings (i.e Honey I Shrunk The Kids). It was, however, the following episode that blew fans away. The Dalek Invasion of Earth brought the Doctor's deadliest foes back into the fold and this time on planet Earth in an invasion of global proportions. At the conclusion of the episode we saw the first ever departure of a main cast member when Susan decides to remain on Earth with her love interest, David.
The following episode, The Rescue, saw the introduction of new main cast member Vicki, who would take over Susan's absence. The following story, yet another favorite of mine, took place in Italy in the episode The Romans; another historical story becoming quite popular among the child fans. The following episode, The Web Planet, yet again saw a departure from tradtional Doctor Who stories, most notably in the way it was filmed: a shiny, blurry tint to the episode's image.
The Crusade followed The Web Planet which was followed by The Space Museum most notable for a cameo appearance by a Dalek in the story's first part. The Daleks return in the next episode, The Chase, which had a somewhat Keys of Marinus feel to it, due to its multiple plot lines and locations. The Chase was most notable for the departure of Ian and Barbara, the show's most popular companions. Steven joined the cast as the next companion but was not yet discovered until the season finale episode, The Time Meddler, which shocked both the Doctor and fans by making the enemy of the story one of the Doctor's own people!
Season 2 was full of twists and turns, notable cast departures and several returns of the Doctor's deadliest adversaries. A strong season even though we lost what had become the perfect ensemble cast.