The Dominators
The Mind Robber
The Invasion
The Krotons
The Seeds of Death
The Space Pirates
The War Games
Season Six


A Review by Mark Irvin 17/12/01

As the only example of a Patrick Troughton season that nearly exists in entirety, season six is comparable to a nugget of gold. Imagine if it had been lost along with the majority of seasons 4 and 5, people like myself would never have realised the brilliance of the Second Doctor and his era. Season 6 is pretty darn good - and actually frustrates - as it makes you really wish for the opportunity see all of the Troughton episodes that are again, sadly missing.

The Dominators kicks things off and although it is an often slated adventure, I must say that personally, I rather like it. Strangely it's difficult to pin point exactly why, as on face of it, appears unoriginal and pedestrian. Yet somehow I still find it to be very enjoyable. The Mind Robber in contrast is surreal and imaginative, and impressively produced within the constraints of the episode's tight budget. (The White Robot costumes were reused from another show for example) Definitely worth a look for bizarreness alone.

The Invasion is an almost perfect tale of alien invasion that works nearly everywhere, apart from a slightly abrupt conclusion. Kevin Stoney was simply superb as the supervillain Tobias Vaughn, and his incompetent 'Yes Man' named Packer was always worth a laugh. A sort of pilot for the Pertwee years in many ways, UNIT never really worked a great deal better in their following adventures than as seen here.

I have only seen The Krotons once about a year ago, and all I can honestly say is that it was disappointingly awful. One to avoid and a slight blot on an otherwise splendid season. The Seeds of Death on the other hand is great. The Ice Warriors manage to look menacing, the music is very appropriate and the proceedings always keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. Underrated indeed.

Unfortunately I know absolutely nothing about the predominantly lost adventure The Space Pirates, so obviously I can't make any relevant comments about that one.

To be truthful I've always found The War Games to be somewhat dull (Ten episodes! Crikey!) but the majority of fans appear to love it so I guess it just might not be my type of story. The last episode wasn't bad though.

Perhaps the best aspect of this season is the wonderful chemistry and amusing interplay between the three regular cast members. Jamie and Zoe stand up beautifully alongside the Second Doctor, and together are easily close to the best team that Dr Who has ever seen. This aspect alone makes these outings compulsory viewing.

Interestingly, many off screen problems where plaguing the show at the time, involving poor ratings and budget concerns that lead to a change in approach with the Pertwee exile on Earth. However in spite of this, season 6 is still manages to be praiseworthy and has a great deal about it to recommend.

A Review by Joe Ford 8/5/05

The Dominators: There are very few Doctor Who stories that drag as much as The Dominators (Underworld, Timelash and The Monster of Peladon are the only three I can think of) and it is only five episodes long. Coupled with the fact that it follows the disappointing Wheel in Space six parter that climaxed the previous season you might be under the impression that Doctor Who has finally run out of steam.

It is the first story of the season of Christ's sake! Where is the money? The imagination? The style? After a pretty consistent and lavish season five this is really a dip in quality. The production looks extremely inadequate with bare, underlit sets, cheap props and really embarrassing monsters (the Quarks are so cute can we really call them monsters?). The ability of the guest actors is limited and it is very difficult to give a damn about the fate of toga-wearing Cully and his gang. Even the Dominators themselves are staggeringly dull, a potentially gripping idea wasted on this talky script, they lumber their way through the story, assessing but not actually doing much and talk... really... slow... as... if... to... highlight... just... how... tedious... educational... TV... should... be...

Besides Doctor Who already covered pacifism in the series' far superior second story, going as far as dramatising (gasp!) the idea so it isn't driven into your head with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Even Troughton, Hines and Padbury cannot lift this material and that is an unthinkable claim... if three actors of this calibre cannot bring anything from a script it must be poor indeed. Thank Christ we were spared the sixth episode...

Verdict: E (One of the worst Doctor Who stories of all time, easily the worst Troughton by a long shot)

The Mind Robber: How Doctor Who can jump from the mundane to the magical between stories never ceases to amaze me but it is rarely more evident than between The Dominators and The Mind Robber. Is this the same series? Well you could never claim the series doesn't keep you on your toes.

This is something very special. The rush-written first episode is a spooky success in minimalist horror, drawing on the alien unknown to creep out its audience (and its characters). What did viewers think when the TARDIS exploded? I was slack-jawed when I first saw it and desperate to see the next episode. The subtle terror creeping into the TARDIS is fabulously directed, with the regulars slowly getting more and more creeped out and hysterical (with Zoe's ear piercing scream the final expression of mind numbing horror). To throw such bizarre images at your audience without an explanation is very brave but that is The Mind Robber all over, brave and format shattering.

The rest of the story is injected with a formidable imagination, plucking fictional creations from history and finding clever ways for the Doctor and company to interact with them. It has a stylish, post-modern feel to it, not because of its execution (although that is good enough) but because of its brilliant ideas that never date (the Doctor making up Jamie's face, Jamie and Zoe being killed by a book and thus becoming fiction, the Doctor and the Master writing their story for them...). The dialogue alone is a treat, with lots of playful banter between the regulars (on top form) and lots of fun set pieces ("What can you make of a sword?", "That's it, you're supposed to use the sword like Perseus!").

Perhaps the climax is a little simplistic given the intelligence of what has come before but the ambiguous final shot caps things off perfectly, leaving the viewer none the wiser as to what the hell has really happened in the story. Five episodes of deliciously surreal, dramatically directed magic. And a little nod to Troughton who is at his hilarious best here.

Verdict: A plus (Relentlessly re-watchable Doctor Who)

The Invasion: Something very different again, this is a welcome return to Earth after three stories away. Douglas Camfield is so in tune with the script he breathes life into every shot turning what could potentially be just another Cyber-invasion into something far more memorable. The story has a vast number of locations, actors and set pieces that will trick you into thinking it had a far bigger budget than it really did. At times it reminds me off a Hitchcockian thriller, scenes such as UNIT first approaching the Doctor, the decidedly scary sewer scenes and the blood-pumping invasion scenes are shot-for-shot perfect, immaculately put together for immediate effect.

The writers understand perfectly how to utilise the Cybermen. Not by filling the screen full of them every five minutes and having them spout rubbishy dialogue... no they are kept in the shadows for much of the story (the first time we see one is at the climax to episode four!) but their presence is constantly felt. It only takes the threat of their presence to make an impression and when we do get to see them properly they are deranged and causing havoc in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the sewers. By the time they are punching open manholes and swarming outside St Paul's cathedral we are perfectly aware of what damage they can do. We are finally treated to an action-packed final episode with lots of exciting Cyber battles.

The story is packed full of excellent performances, notably Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier and Kevin Stoney as Tobias Vaughn, the leaders of their respective organisations. Troughton, Padbury and Hines are once again engaging and have already shaped up to rival the season five regular cast.

At eight episodes this should drag like hell but taking two or three episodes per sitting you'll wonder where the time went. As proto-Pertwee Doctor Who it rivals the best of his output and it is one of the most expensive-looking stories in the series canon. I love it.

Verdict: A plus (Stylish and exhilarating, one of my favourites)

The Krotons: A step down in budget certainly but not in imagination. Whilst there are a few nods to The Dominators (especially the fairly useless Gonds, who have lashings of Dulcian impotence) this is an infinitely superior story thanks to a firmer grip on the regulars and an intriguing central threat.

David Maloney seems to get Doctor Who and even when he clearly has limited resources he still manages to squeeze the script of its tension. Take a look at the scenes in the Dynatrope for example, bare sets, hardly any props but a tank of bubbling water and he manages to make it seem as though something fascinating and scary is happening. Robert Holmes' stunning dialogue helps, he is an expert world-builder and he backs up his ideas with some clever lines that produces aliens far better than the budget could ever manage.

Jamie is pushed aside in favour of some hysterical banter between the Doctor and Zoe. They make a great pair, like a couple of kids squabbling and clinging on to each other when things get frightening. I could watch them in anything (except The Dominators).

Forget how cumbersome the Krotons look (if you really care what the monsters look like why are you watching black and white Doctor Who?) and concentrate on this entertaining little tale. Budget issues aside, I would have no problems putting this forward as an example of how to structure and motivate a good Doctor Who story.

Verdict: B plus (Blessed with good scripts and great regulars, this gets a thumbs up from me!)

The Seeds of Death: Considering its cliched nature it is surprising to note that it was this DVD release that prompted me to watch more old Doctor Who after almost giving up thanks to the lack of new material. It is another example of season six doing something very different to the story that preceded it (fans of the time must have been unsure what on Earth they were going to get next, a far cry from the familiar base under siege story from season five) and surprisingly the first six parter of the season.

It takes the base under siege formula to the next logical step, World Under Siege. And despite the repetitive nature of the scripts (there is a horrific amount of running about for no plot purpose) there is a genuine threat to the world here, given credibility by some excellent location work showing an Ice Warrior stalking across a hill and seed pods exploding and foaming up the countryside. The story is extremely fast-paced with lots of comic book action (which suits Troughton wonderfully) and some moments of unexpected depth (such as Fewsham's cowardice/bravery, the Miss Kelly/Radnor power struggle and the Doctor's defiant stare into death at the climax when he knows he has won and going to be killed).

It is a textbook example of a director taking hold of a saggy script and slapping it on screen with a lot of spit and polish. The Seeds of Death is mercilessly entertaining thanks to Michael Ferguson's breathless direction which keeps the story chugging on for its entire length. He shoots through walls, from above, below, zooms, fades... you name it, every camera trick in the book is applied. Like The Invasion there is the impression of a bigger budget but the sets are actually pretty basic, it's how Ferguson keeps his camera moving that pulls off this clever visual feast.

Verdict: B plus (Fun and fluffy with as cracking musical score)

The Space Pirates: What is the big deal about The Space Pirates? I realise it isn't the tightest Doctor Who story ever and is weighed down by some interminably long space journeys but this is still quite entertaining with Holmes' trademark witty dialogue and a bouncy musical score. Even the model work is pretty good.

Perhaps Star Trek has tainted me. I have a strange love for space opera that deals with human issues and pushes aliens to the sidelines and this tale of space piracy is intriguing. It does take the Doctor and co ages to get involved (they are unforgivably scarce in the surviving episode) but when they do things really pick up, especially as the action shifts to give Milo Clancy, a hysterically good westerner who clogs up the space ways in his rickety old ship, Liz 79.

Yes it's Doctor Who trying to do Thunderbirds with real people but is worth sticking with the story to reach the climax to discover Madeline Issigiri's treachery and Clancy's innocence. Troughton is clearly trying to compensate for the long moving plot and comes across as more eccentric than ever. He sounds quite tired and given the amount of episodes he has had to produce this year it is hardly surprising.

Verdict: B minus (Overlong, terrible accents, but still worth a look)

The War Games: Epic. Forget The Daleks' Masterplan (as fabulous as that is), this is THE Doctor Who epic. Ten episodes long, covering a vast array of locations (from wartime Britain to civil war America to the far future), with a massive cast (there must be over fifty guest actors here) and a bold central concept (aliens creating a War Games scenario as a pre-empt to invasion) that sees the length through. It is an unmissable look at the quality that was poured into practically every story of the Troughton era with a polished production, memorable dialogue, astonishing plot twists and three terrific regulars.

The first four and last two episodes are my favourites because the middle ones do tend to cover the same ground somewhat but I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for cutting out any of the material. It's priceless. Watch as the Doctor is executed for treason! Or as he bluffs his way into a prison as an Examiner from the War Office ("HOW DARE YOU SIR?"). Gasp as Jamie gallops into a scene and rescues Lady Jennifer. Laugh as the Doctor tricks the brainwashing professor into reversing his mind tricks and leaves him simmering in his own machine. Cheer as the resistance starts to pull together a fighting force to take over the control centre. Boggle as the Doctor calls for help from his own people. Watch slack jawed as he is put on trial for his interference in the affairs of others and is exiled.

Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke deserve plaudits for hammering out such a fun script, which gives the regulars so much to do. We get to see each of them at their best before they are forced to split (was there ever going to be another way?) in a final tear-jerking scene. Their brainwashing so they forget everything bar their first adventure with the Doctor is typical sixties Who, shocking and very unexpected.

Verdict: A (Patrick Troughton gets the swansong he deserved and luckily it never met the flames in the seventies and we can still enjoy it today)


Season six comes in for far too much flack in my book. Whilst it doesn't have the flashy consistence of season five it is avoids the pitfalls of season four and storytelling-wise it emerges as the strongest of the three Troughton years. There is something fresh and interesting about this year mostly because the base under siege formula was tossed out the window in favour of more experimental storytelling and for the most part it was a tremendous success.

Looking at the season as a whole it covers a lot of ground. You have a preachy pacifist tale, a surreal mindfuck, a flashy invasion, an intelligent monster tale, a shallow action adventure, a space thriller and a psuedo-historical. Add to the mix stories of varying lengths (4,5,6,8 and 10 parts) and you have a good opportunity to see what Doctor Who is capable of. Unlike the repetitive formula of season five (made unique by each story's setting) fans must have had no idea what was coming next a few stories into this season.

Of course this is where the Troughton viewing figures began to dwindle, particularly during his final tale. It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why so many people were abandoning the show; the stories were just too long. It is fine for us fans to appreciate a story now by watching the whole thing through, or over a few days in a few sittings (I would suggest this with The Seeds of Death, The Invasion and The War Games) but viewers at the time would have to commit to two entire months or more to get through some stories this year. Go look at the figures for Trial of a Time Lord and history repeats itself. It is no secret that viewers loved tuning into a new story but the most they expect these days is a two parter (that's two 45 minutes episodes so about the regular length of a four part Doctor Who story). If you asked somebody to wait two and half months in 2005 to conclude ONE story I fear you may lose them somewhere in the middle. It is simply unfair to expect somebody to stick to a schedule for ten weeks, you and I know that The War Games is utterly fabulous but its length works against it.

Which team do you prefer... the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria or the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe? It's a tough one and no mistake. I would opt for the latter and not just because we get to see more episodes of them. Victoria was a wonderful character and brought the best out in both the Doctor and Jamie but Zoe is far more interesting because she doesn't fall into the same trap of belting out a scream and being kidnapped every week. Despite some real ear-piercers that would keep the female emancipators wagging their fingers, with Zoe we saw the emergence of the stronger female companion. Here was a woman (girl?) who can stand up for herself and won't take nonsense from anybody. She has a formidable mind which she doesn't mind everybody knowing despite making her seem a little miss know-it-all. And pairing her with Jamie only goes to stress her strengths, her brain and his brawl makes for an impressive combination. And her relationship with the Doctor is beautifully rocky, at times he seems embarrassed by her superior intellect and does something stupid just to take the attention away from her and back to him. And it helps that Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines are clearly both in love with Wendy Padbury, their chemistry beams from the screen and makes every story a joy to watch. Season six belongs to Zoe in my book, season five saw the Doctor and Jamie at their best but here it is Zoe who shines the brightest here, throwing a spanner in their relationship with hilarious consequences.

Monsters and villains are a real mixed bunch this year with as many hits as misses. At the bottom end of the scale you have the Dominators and the Quarks along with the silly looking Krotons and the devious Madeline Issigiri and her Argonite Pirates. None are especially memorable thanks to their onscreen presentation but most could have worked with a little tweaking, certainly the Krotons were a stunning idea. The Master Brain of The Mind Robber is a wonderful idea given real weight as we see the Writer enslaved to his post, forced to write the words that will condemn Jamie and Zoe. Slaar, leader of the Ice Warriors is memorably vicious and the only one to standout from his Ice Warrior pack. The trio behind the war games are certainly worth a look, the War Lord, the War Chief and the Security Chief all come across well and their squabbling banter reminded me of the regulars in all the best ways. James Bree's Security Chief stands out though thanks to his both sinister and hilarious delivery of his dialogue. Best of the bunch though is the sadistic Tobias Vaughn who was foolish enough to make a pact with the equally devious Cybermen. He is a really nasty piece of work, torturing whoever gets in his way of power (his mindfuck with Professor Watkins is horrible, giving him a gun and telling him to shoot). When the Cybermen shoot him in the back for his betrayal you can only cheer them on.

When the regulars are so strong can the villains really hope to match up?

With three sweltering classics in its belt, two very strong stories, one passable and only one truly diabolical story I feel season six deserves a major re-evaluation. Why do so many people feel this where Troughton's era started to go wrong?

A Review by James Neiro 24/1/10

Season 6 would be Patrick Troughton's final season and thus would call for his replacement. It would also be the final season aired in black and white and unsually would not feature the Daleks for the second season in a row.

Season 6 would be notorious for its one good/one bad episode airing. The season premiere, The Dominators would be a slightly dull adventure set on the planet Dulkis but the season would make up for it with The Mind Robber, a colorful yet deadly 'romp' as the crew would battle fictional characters. The Invasion saw the return of the Cybermen completely redisgned. The Krotons followed, equally as dull as The Dominators but the following story, The Seeds of Death, would see the return of the Ice Warriors and a higher level of quality. The penultimate episode, the easily forgettable The Space Pirates, came and went and it was then that everything would change once again.

The War Games, an epic and massively played out 10 episode story, saw the departure of every single main cast member. Zoe and Jamie would leave the show, as would Patrick Troughton. The Doctor would meet various members of his own people for the first time ever. And the "first's" kept on coming as we finally saw the Doctor's home planet. The Doctor would be put on trial and forced into regeneration and exile on Earth and be left without a TARDIS. At last a lot of mystery surrounding the Doctor would finally be answered but we would lose a great actor only to gain another in the following months...

Season Six Against the World by Stephen Maslin

5 > 4 > 6.



The Dominators


The Abominable Snowmen & The Web of Fear

In case you didn't know, half of Norman Ashby (a one-off pseudonym for the Haisman & Lincoln writing partnership) went on to write 'Holy Blood and Holy Grail' (which in turn gave us The Da Vinci Code). If there were any Doctor Who episodes less likely to result in such mega-bucks as Dan Brown hoovered up, then it would be The Dominators. (Lord knows they tried: the Quarks were supposed to be the new Daleks.)

In a punch-up with any other Troughton story, The Dominators wouldn't stand a chance. The Dulcians are the epitome of dreary, the Quarks are just daft and the Dominators themselves never stop bickering. Such was the bitterness between the writers and production team that the former refused ever to write another Doctor Who story, for which we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Or perhaps not, as they were also the writers of The Web of Fear, a true classic, whose recovery has not disappointed. Every expectation was met: the sets, the claustrophobia, the template for things to come... Yet there must have been a few raised eyebrows when this was first suggested: "Er, Yeti where?" It's not as if the Yeti's first outing in The Abominable Snowmen was so amazing that it demanded a sequel.



The Mind Robber


Power of the Daleks

(or The Highlanders)

Maybe one is not making a fair comparison here: the three stories are all 'new' but in different ways: new direction, new Doctor, new companion (and Jamie doesn't become a companion until very late on in The Highlanders.) Compared with the Pepperpots' first outing sans Hartnell, The Mind Robber, for all its goofiness and rambling plot-lines, is a fantastic example of just how varied Doctor Who once was (and 'varied' is really under-selling it).

It may seem heresy in some quarters, but I've never quite understood why The Power of the Daleks has held fandom in such thrall for so long. It does have Ben and Polly (in their only story before Jamie 'Cuckoo in the Nest' McCrimmon comes along), which should be enough for me to love it to bits, and it does have that magical quality of 'missingness'. Yet with all the post-regeneration silliness, some very straight sci-fi and a lot of daft-sounding Daleks, I don't think it screams "classic" at all. In short, were it to be fully recovered tomorrow, I suspect we would be closer to Tomb of the Cybermen disappointment, than to Enemy of the World reappraisal, or Web of Fear triumphant confirmation.



The Invasion


The Moonbase (Season 4) & Tomb of the Cybermen (Season 5)

Before its recovery, Tomb of the Cybermen ranked as one of the show's finest hours, based entirely on the psychological damage that a few short seconds of it had caused way back in the 1960s. After its recovery, one could still understand why it'd had such a lasting effect, but only if one remembered the generally primitive TV sets of 1960s Britain. Now its flaws are all too easily spotted and it is saved neither by script nor by acting. The Moonbase is more fun (not always for the right reasons) but neither can hold a candle to The Invasion which, in spite of a good deal of padding, is a tense and mature piece of work, superbly directed by Douglas Camfield and with one of the show's best human villains in Tobias Vaughn.



The Krotons


The Underwater Menace (Season 4) & The Enemy of the World (Season 5)

Although The Krotons does revisit the curse of the annoying, wimpy aliens (this time known as the Gonds), there's a lot to recommend it - Robert Holmes, Philip Madoc, Troughton & Padbury, David Maloney, Brian Hodgson - and, at a mere four parts, it doesn't outstay its welcome. Neither does The Underwater Menace, but it is about as unsophisticated as you can get. Though I would still rather watch such B-movie fluff as this than a lot of the po-faced finger-wagging of the early 70s, it is hardly a banner-carrier for a great franchise. Season Five's mid-season tale was The Enemy of the World, and one of the nicest surprises of its 2013 return to the fold was just how good it actually was. A lot more polished than anyone had suspected.



The Seeds of Death


The Smugglers (Season 4) & The Ice Warriors (Season 5)

I must admit to a bit of a blind spot with Mars' finest. With no hiding-behind-the-sofa memory to fall back on, I can lay no claim to a long-repressed fear of frozen Martians. With only a slightly more modern eye, I cannot understand how anyone could have found the Ice Warriors anything other than sssslow. Perhaps they conform to an archetype of childish nightmare (something rather well captured in some of the strange outdoor scenes in The Seeds of Death), but most of the time one wants to scream at them not out of fright but to get a bloody move on (and scream the same thing at the scripts in which they appear). The Smugglers is, of course, not a Second Doctor story, so perhaps we're not comparing like with like (and yes, one also realizes that, unlike its icy rivals, almost nothing of it remains). Yet for all its idiocies, it is a real period piece: not because it deals with 17th century Cornwall but because for us its context is actually the mid/late 20th. No one makes this kind of "theatre in a box" any more, and I really wish they did. Dudley Simpson's jangling music score almost brings The Seeds of Death into contention but...



The Space Pirates


The Faceless Ones (Season 4) & Fury From the Deep (Season 5)

Handing out awards? We can safely rule out The Space Pirates as a true contender for anything (anything positive that is). There are glimpses of the genius that is Robert Holmes (which would come into full-flower less than a year later), but in truth it's hardly a Doctor Who story at all. A far more interesting stand-off would be the one between those two stories to which Pirates comes a very poor third. One might think that, after a decent tussle, Fury would ultimately triumph and yet... The two episodes that remain of The Faceless Ones are genuinely impressive (certainly better than some of the creaky, trudging fare that late Season Six was to serve up two years later). Moreover, Fury's ending does not impress. For all its great moments, one feels that it might not stand up so well to scrutiny were it to be fully restored to the archives (though I would dearly love the chance to disprove that theory). Either way...



The War Games


Evil of the Daleks (Season 4) & The Wheel in Space (Season 5)

In spite of Wheel's glorious radiophonic soundscapes, no one would consider it worthy of that many plaudits, so the only serious finale challenge to Season Six here is Evil of the Daleks. Yet The War Games was really only a great finale in its latter stages and all these years later, Evil of the Daleks feels more like a beginning than an end. You would, however, be hard pressed to choose one over the other in terms of oomph. Evil just sneaks it as The War Games is at least three episodes too long and has too many Mexicans.