For the last week I’ve been fighting what is arguably the worst summer cold I’ve ever had. Because of this, I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed and taking cold meds. However, in-between coughing and sneezing, I needed something to do. So I decided to watch some of the classic Doctor Who episodes that I haven’t seen for one reason or another.
Actually, I know the reason I haven’t watched these particular episodes: they star the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, my least favorite Doctor. The only Pertwee stories I have seen are “Spearhead From Space,” “Inferno,” and “The Three Doctors.” I didn’t care much for Pertwee’s version of the Doctor, so I’ve avoided his era since. But now that I have Britbox, I figured I should give the third Doctor another chance.
I just finished season 8, which stars Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, and his companion Jo Grant, played by Katy Manning. Also starring this season are Brigadier Lethbridge-Steward (Nicholas Courtney), and The Master (Roger Delgado). Season 8 was broadcast, consisted of give serials with total of 25 episodes which aired from late January to late June of 1971. These stories were:
“Terror of the Autons”
“The Mind of Evil”
“The Claws of Axos”
“Colony In Space”
These stories had a loose story arc running through it, which introduced the popular recurring villain, The Master. But if I’m honest, having the Master as the main villain in so many back to back stories took away from what makes the character special. For one thing, he didn’t seem to have any specific goal in mind. This seemed to change with every story, and all he ever really did was hypnotize the poor UNIT guys. By the time I got to “Colony in Space” I was tired of seeing the Master show up again.
“Terror of the Autons” (4 episodes) is the first appearance of the Master. In this tale, the Master constructs beings out of plastic to kill people. I thought this was a nice story with some genuinely scary moments throughout. There’s also plenty of action involving the UNIT guys and a surprisingly high body count.
The next story was “The Mind of Evil” (6 episodes). This was a long story with a lot of characters involved. But “The Mind of Evil” is probably also one of the most interesting Doctor Who stories from this era. This time, the Master creates the Keller Machine which we are led to believe is a new way to rehabilitate prisoners. However, we later learn that there is more to this than meets the eye.
“The Mind of Evil” has even more action than the previous story. Not only do we get prison riots, but in the second half an atomic missile comes into play. We even learn more about The Doctor and his greatest fears.
The third story of the season is “The Claws of Axos” (4 episodes). This one deals with a group of aliens called Axos, who crash-land on earth. After making contact with the Doctor and UNIT, the group proposes to help humankind with one of their minerals. But everything is a cover for the destruction of mankind, and of course The Master is helping Axos. But at one point, this story sees the Master and Doctor helping each-other for the first time.
My favorite arc of season 8 was “Colony in Space” (6 episodes). This was the first time Jon Pertwee’s Doctor left earth. This occurs when The Time Lords feel that someone or something is about unbalance the universe, so they transport the Doctor ans Jo to another planet 500 years in the future. From there we get plenty of politics, class warfare, lizard people, and a giant robot. But later on The Master shows up to spoil things.
Season 8 wraps up with “The Daemons” (5 episodes). This is one of the more supernatural Doctor Who tales. Here, the Doctor tries to thwart a magical Master. This was an interesting thing to see. I don’t know if I’d call it great, but it was definitely interesting.
Going into this season, I fully expected to hate the “earth-bound” doctor era. But I found myself enjoying the stories more than I would have thought. I think it all came down to the regular supporting characters from UNIT, and the guest stars in every story. Heck, even Jo Grant grew on me. I wouldn’t say she’s in my top 10 companions, but she’s definetly higher than many.
But don’t get me wrong, Jon Pertwee is still my least favorite Doctor. I think the Third Doctor was very selfish being, often only thinking about his own problems. He appears to hate everyone and everything around him, maybe except for Jo Grant. Too often he’d help others only because it help him in some wat. It’s no wonder that the Master tries to convert him on more than one occasion. There was even a moment during “Claws fo Axos” where I believe a part of him wanted to join the Master.
Even so, I’m glad I watched this season of “Doctor Who.” I learned a great deal about the third Doctor and about UNIT. I enjoyed the action, and some of the new races we met. Maybe the Master was overused, but it was still fun to see the original version. Now on to season 9!