Continuing my plan to post what I think to be the highlights of every season of Doctor Who, old and new.
For each series I choose 2 or 3 of what I consider to be the best stories, and a selection of also-rans. "Stories" may comprise any number of actual episodes (somewhere between 1-14, typically 4 or 6). Older Who is nearly always episodic, with NuWho most episodes are self-contained. Feel free to expand on my brief comments, agree, disagree etc. This is, after all, purely subjective.
Another solid season overall, this one, although it's a shame to see the departure of Sarah-Jane. Leela is an admirable replacement and features in a lot of fun moments, but as a "noble savage" she lacks the everywoman qualities of Ms. Smith. Once again, cast and crew are firing on all cylinders for some memorable Who stories.
Season Fourteen (1976-1977)
The Robots of Death
– I love this one for two reasons. One is the opulent design, of the robots, the crew quarters and the crew’s costume, at odds with the industrial nature of the sandminer but strangely appropriate nonetheless. For once, with the “future costume” design, different characters have their own styles rather than all being clad in identical foil outfits. The other is one effects shot which literally made me gasp. A slow pan in from the exterior of the (obviously model) sandminer, to a window where we see the crew in a composite shot, then through
the window into the live action. I was not expecting that level of sophisticated compositing.
The Talons of Weng Chiang
– maybe the Sherlock Holmesian costume is a bit much, and then there’s that “yellowing-up” again, but a classic all the same. The endearing double-act of Jago and Lightfoot. The delightfully sadistic Peking Homonculus. Leela using Janus thorns, leaping out of windows, throwing knives and trying to be ladylike. Great fun.
The Masque of Mandragora
– good location use of Portmeirion, some good effects shots where the overlaid mandragora energy interacts with the scenery, and an entertaining historical setting. The plot is a little obtuse, unfortunately.
The Deadly Assassin
– famous for revealing more about Time Lord society, and for scaring Mary Whitehouse, although much of it is disappointingly bland and it demonstrates perfectly how the Doctor needs a companion as a dramatic device to enable exposition.