Mission to the Unknown
The Myth Makers
The Daleks' Master Plan
The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve
The Celestial Toymaker
The War Machines
A Review by Alan Thomas 23/4/01
Season Three sees more change in Dr Who than there ever has been.
Galaxy 4 seems like a good and interesting story, but I've never seen it.
Mission To The Unknown is, despite the fact that it doesn't feature The Doctor or any of his companions, very good. Judging by the script, it is well written and must have come as quite a shock to the viewing audience.
The Myth Makers has some of the most polished dialogue yet seen in the series. It's also funnier than The Romans, but the last episode is quite grim in tone. Vicki's exit is sad, and Katarina's entrance is bewildering.
The Daleks' Master Plan is a shocker. So much is crammed into this story that it is difficult to review. The Doctor and Steven are the only constants throughout the story. Katarina's very short tenure is shocking, and her death is made all the more shocking. Jean Marsh is great as Sara Kingdom, and her death is very gruesome. Kevon Stoney steals the show as Mavic Chen. He is superb. Nicholas Courtney's early appearance as Bret Vyon is very well acted. All in all, a very defining story in early Dr Who, and pivotal.
The Massacre Of St. Bartholomew's Eve is incredible. With Hartnell absent for much of the story, Peter Purves gets an opportunity to shine. The final scenes also have a pathos that is unusual for much of early Dr Who. Dodo's entrance is quite abrupt and unusual at the end of the story.
The Ark isn't bad. It's got some great sets, and the first two episodes are entertaining. Sadly, the last two episodes aren't very good. It's just a simple case of bland aliens.
The Celestial Toymaker is a classic. Michael Gough absolutely steals the show as the Toymaker, and the whimiscal fantasy contained within the story was a new concept. Almost every story that immitated this idea was successful. A brilliant story.
Now, The Gunfighters. Awful. Terrible. I know it's supposed to be a comedy, but it isn't funny. It's not clever, and the acting is not convincing. THE WORST story of the Hartnell era.
The Savages is not worthy of its poor reputation. Granted, it is a little bit boring, but it contains an amazing idea. Peter Purves has a good exit, and is sorely missed.
The War Machines is much more like a Jon Pertwee story. Dodo has a terrible exit. She just vanishes during the middle of the story. Ben and Polly are excellent, however. They're the most realistic companions since Ian and Barbara. Hartnell seems to be getting worse with his lines, making the worst fluff he ever makes. Yes, it's the "coffee" line.
A great season, and one of considerable change.
Short trips and Side steps by Alex Keaton 18/5/01
Season 2 had been very accommodating, experimenting with new ideas and less routine-based storylines so that future seasons could build from the results. Consequently, Season 3 brings more sophistication into the different stories through it's underlying ideas. However in the way of characterisation and companions it brings scrambled oddities and 'side steps' and one can almost comment that this was due to the fact that such an area hadn't been experimented with in Season 2 due to the higher concern for storylines and settings.
The regular cast companions seem to 'drop like flies', treated to only 'short trips' in this season, and it is basically because of the fact that the Doctor begins to take more of a complete lead role throughout and characterisation in companions seems to be an area that is less and less of a concern. Instead they are present just to aid as back up for William Hartnell's ill-health as well as fulfilling all the typical requirements of a companion - which is mostly just aiding as back up to Hartnell's ill-health and asking re-affirming questions.
Throughout the season, there are overall 5 arrivals of companions (Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Dodo, Ben and Polly) and 5 departures (Vicki, Steven, Katarina, Sara Kingdom and Dodo - who is blatantly snubbed of a farewell scene or death scene unlike her predecessors). The whole area is extremely scrambled and one that can be reflected in the changes undergone in the roles of Producer and script editor - from Verity Lambert to John Wiles then finally to Innes Lloyd as Producer and Donald Tosh to Gerry Davis as script editor. Such changes only lead to the recipients not having enough time and effort to make any significant changes in this area and rather solve such problems by replacing one companion with, basically, a replica character with a different name.
Instead the production team concentrate on the area that has already been experimented with - story formatting. As such this season is much more sophisticated, or more likely elaborate, in the underlying storylines of, mainly, science fiction such as - the TARDIS crew encountering a women-dominated planet about to spin out of orbit, a space ark on a 700 year voyage from Earth, an immortal being who dominates a fantasy world and a megalomaniac computer that wants to take over the world. There is also supremacy and sophistication in other areas such as the evidence of more realistic violence - an area that would soon become 'too excessive' and thus be criticised for in the future, new monsters and villains, better achieved cliffhangers, improved production values (I always use the word improved - after all it was an improvement for Doctor Who and not a revolutionary one for it's time) and even a balance of humour that is at the acceptable level of basic and subtle. Another benefit of improvement in this season revolves around the area of titles, by this change, which occurred to the end of the season, it had become more and more clear to the viewers as to when a serial ended and began based on the captioning of EPISODE ONE etc. instead of individual titles - perhaps the brightest idea that this season had.
All of the serials have a sophisticated quality about them which indicates that Doctor Who had grown up a bit and was less formulaic in story areas than before, it is a pity that the ratings could not show for this and instead Galaxy Four comes out with the highest ratings of the season with an average of 9 million viewers - purely because it was the first serial of the season. By the end of the season it was clear that the series was 'wearing a bit thin' and was in need of fresher change rather than an improvement of Season 2's experimenting. But in fact it would acquire a more organised and planned change next season - in more ways than one.....
Dr Who Awards; Season 3
This season's serials are rather sharing, with most serial's achieving at least one award. Indicating how the production team didn't heavily concentrate on one serial but rather all equally.
The Massacre at St Bartholomew's Eve (4): Best Serial, Best Acting by the regular cast (especially since it is obvious that William Hartnell relishes playing the chance to play both the Doctor and the Abbot in one serial), Best Original Screenplay (John Lucarotti), Best Costume Design.
The Ark (3): Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound.
The Daleks Master Plan (2): Best Director (Douglas Camfield), Best Film Editing.
Mission to the Unknown (1): Best Make Up.
The Myth Makers (1): Best Music.
The Celestial Toymaker (1): Best Supporting Cast Actor (Michael Gough).
The War Machines (1): Best Cliffhanger Sequence (Part Three - the Doctor stands tall and brave as a war machine heads straight toward him ...)
Doctor Who in a nutshell by Joe Ford 12/3/03
Often unfairly neglected in favour of the blockbusters of season two (shit!) and the freshness of season one (fair enough) this season is my favourite Hartnell year for many reasons. The usual excuses for hating it are ridiculous, "it went on forever", "it has Dodo in it!", "The Gunfighters...". In truth it is a dramatic goldmine, a time of great diversity and a brave production team that is willing to try anything to see if it works. The format was stretched in limitless ways (the twelve part epic, the one episode prelude, the mixture of vastly different genres from high comedy Westerns to sharply played historical drama to SF morality tales). And the writing was just superb...
Galaxy 4: Interesting and a nice reversal of an old story. The ugly monsters are the good guys and the beuatiful 'humans' are the bad guys. The TARDIS team of the Doctor, Steven and Vicki continues to impress, each of them giving highly charged performances and sharing a great chemistry. The Drahvins are a well thought up race given a lot of background information and the Rills are memorably ugly yet sensitive. The script isn't perfect, its a bit slow and the sets are a little poor but the moral and heart of the story are firmly in place: 7/10
Mission to the Unknown: Brave to exclude the main characters for an entire episode but to be honest you hardly notice they are away. The story is absolutely gripping, a fine prelude to The Dalek's Masterplan. There is a real atmosphere on Kembel even before you realise what the Daleks are up to, the planet is terrifyingly alien with superb sound effects and some clever and unexpected traps. Marc Cory works well as the hero and his fate remains a dramatic high. What's even more brilliant is that they didn't follow this up with the next installment of this story, they kept you waiting in suspense for four weeks: 9/10
The Myth Makers: A fine story for Vicki to depart on. Only Donald Cotton, one of the most audacious Doctor Who writers would put the Doctor in the role of God and Hartnell plays these scenes with much humour and pride. The joy of this story is seeing how the Doctor and Vicki are treated and react on different sides of the conflict. The last episode is actually quite dramatic considering the laughs elsewhere but we can forgive them that because the trojan horse plot is just so much fun (and the model is superb). It is actually saddening to see Vicki go, I had grown quite fond of her by this point. A love interest... ah well it worked for Susan and it's not that tacky here: 8/10
The Dalek's Masterplan: Wonderful, this story contains some of the most dramatic moments in Doctor Who's entire run. Katrina might be a bit of a useless companion but her struggle in the airlock and Hartnell and Purves' disquieting reactions to her death are about as adult as Doctor Who can be. The final episode is Hartnell Who at its finest, the destruction of Kembel (and Sara) is devasting and well worth twelve weeks of adventure to reach. There are just too many joys, the marvellous return of the Monk ("Now I've trapped you on the planet Tigus!"), Kevin Stoney's tour de force as Mavic Chen, the return of the Daleks of old, not the useless comedy victims of The Chase but a genuine, terrifying threat. Douglas Camfield is the only man for the directing job and he milks the excellent scripts for all the humour and drama they are worth. And what's more the Christmas episode is an absolute hoot! Hartnell is astonishing in his range and once again Peter Purves reminds us how brilliant male companions can be: 10/10
The Massacre: I can only think of one other time when I have given two stories 10/10 back to back but this is another masterpiece and in such a different vein from The Daleks' Masterplan they are beautiful in their symmetry. This is as far from action adventure as you can get but it's still just as gripping. Steven gets to go solo and gets a charming and superbly acted 'companion' in Anne Chaplet. The acting is of the highest calibre and the political intruige and fascinating period detail only compliment the rising tension of the approaching massacre. Hartnell turns in his best performance as the Doctor/the Abbot, he is deliciously childlike as one and horribly malevolent as the other. The last ten minutes with the Doctor insisting Anne most go back home even though she may die just to protect the course of history are shocking and Steven's reaction (utter disgust) just shows how sophisticated their relationship was. Hartnell's lost, emotional speech prickles my eyes with tears just to think about it: 10/10
The Ark: Hmmm well I suppose we had to come back to earth sooner or later, didn't we? Its not that The Ark is desperately poor but it certainly not of the same calibre of the two preceeding stories. Okay, Dodo is really annoying in this one with no character (or accent!) of her own and the Monoids just look daft but there are a fair few compliments to throw at this production. The excellent direction for one which means no matter how slow things are it always looks good and the jungle set with lots of exotic animals gives the story a genuine feel. The two set up, two conclusion structure of the story is unusual but works here and the cliffhanger to episode two is a corker. Not bad just a bit average, plenty of ambition and that should always be applauded: 6/10
The Gunfighters: Hysterical and good clean fun. The production team has decided to let their hair down and dress up the studios as a tacky Western, slap a ballad across the story and let Hartnell, Purves and Lane run riot! Donald Cotton has written a gorgeously witty script around the dullest genre of all and the set designers have done the idea proud. The first episode is the best, full of laughs (Steven's gunslinging antics, the Doctor's reaction to the giant tooth outside the Dentist!) and ending on a fantastic cliffhanger. Anthony Jacobs provides a wonderful Doc Holliday and his double act with 'Kate' works a treat. Even the final shootout looks sumptous, lots of action and gunplay to reward a bloodthirsty audience. So saddle up partner and sing along..."Till there's blood upon the tombstone at the Last Chance Saloon....": 9/10
The Celestial Toymaker: Which has come in for quite a lot of stick lately because of its qudio release, well listen up peoples it wasn't made for audio... it was a terrifically conceived and designed televison story that veers between the playful and the utterly sinister. The Toymaker is given a grand portrayal by the magical Michael Gough and it really doesn't matter that Hartnell was too ill to appear in much of this because Steven and Dodo are highly engaging and the games are a whole lot of fun. The only surviving episode is exquisite: 8/10
The Savages: The incidental music gives this story a unique feel, it is quite superb and provides some wonderful scares. The story itself appears simple but turns out to be surprisingly clever, what appears to be a welcome invitation for the Doctor and his companions turns into a moral nightmare of the most dramatic order. Hartnell's angry response to the Elders secret left me speechless and even Dodo gets lots of good bits in this. It is tragic to see Peter Purves leave after creating such an involving companion but, astonishingly, his departure really works (and the Doctor's "You're the only man for the job" is really touching). Judging by the telesnaps this looked good too and the location shots are stylish and well chosen. All in all an underated treasure, well worth listening too again: 8/10
The War Machines: Stylish and clever, this gives the show that much needed kick into the real sixties. I still can't quite get over the Doctor hanging out in the 'Inferno' club but Polly and Ben (corrr!) make instantly engaging companions. Wotan might not be the most original of creations but his influence is superbly put across. The War Machines themselves are a bit cumbersome but just to see them patrolling London in some gorgeous location work is fantastic. And who can forget Dodo's non-departure, a companion so (apparently) worthless she doesn't even get written out! No it's the direction and the sudden shift in the TARDIS lineup that mark this one out. It might not reach as high as some points of the season but season three certainly doesn't go out with a whimper. Hypnotic fun: 8/10
Well, well, well what a line up. With only The Ark dragging it down somewhat season three remains one of the most consistently enjoyable and yet highly versatile seasons in the shows history. It might not have the brilliant production values of season fourteen or the driven adult tone of season seven but season three remains engaging and a whole lot of fun. It is clear that much thought went into the writing this year and the shifting creative team meant that the vastly different styles used kept things fresh and interesting. Hartnell gave his last full year his all with too many wonderful moments to mention and his chemistry with Purves was quite exquisite. Even Jackie Lane after a less than stellar start managed to make Dodo fun, if a bit unmemorable.
Doctor Who had better seasons than this but I don't think it would ever again try out so much in one year. Doctor Who is the ultimate exploration of the imagination and season three proves that statement perfectly.
A Review by James Neiro 7/10/09
The third season came with many casting surprises; the two most notable being the constant departures and additions to the TARDIS crew and the revelation that this would be William Hartnell's final full season as the leading role of the Doctor. As well as a range of twists and turns that would never reach such heights again in the series.
The first episode of the season, Galaxy Four, was another story way before its time introducing us to the complexities of cloning. The following episode, a first for the series and one never to be repeated, was a single episode story without any main cast members present. Mission to the Unknown showed us the adventures of Marc Cory, the main and only cast member of the episode. The story was a prequel to an adventure yet to come.
The following story, The Myth Makers, saw the departure of Vicki from the cast, having remained in the show for just a few stories. This story also gained a new addition to the cast, albeit an extremely brief one. Katarina joined the TARDIS crew and for the first time in the show's history a companion was killed off in the following episode, The Dalek Master Plan - which happened to be one of the most awaited stories of the season ( with its own prequel episode Mission to the Unknown). But the shock's weren't over yet: new companion Sara Kingdom was also killed off in the same story. Never before and never again would two companions be killed off in the same episode. The killing of two main cast members shocked the public and gained large intrest from viewers making season 3 a ratings success.
The Massacre saw the introduction of new companion Dodo Chaplet. The following episode, The Ark, finally gave the show some stability: no major deaths, no departures and no new additions to the cast. Next, The Celestial Toymaker brought the ever popular Michael Gough to the fold. The Gunfighters, the following episode, was deemed the worst story in Doctor Who history and ratings took a bit of a tumble also due to the ever-increasing unpopularity of companion Dodo. The next two episodes saw the cast change once again with the departure of Steven in The Savages and by Dodo in the season finale episode, The War Machines. Ben and Polly joined the cast to replace the recent departures.
Fans both eagerly awaited and dreaded the upcoming fourth season for further surprises were in store...