Right now, Louis and I are sitting down and pulling this out of our posteriors, slightly below the coccyx.... well, sorta... :-)

Since we have a little time, we decided to write a joint review of the John Nathan-Turner era of Doctor Who.

To help place the time, the year is 1980. Tom Baker is starting his seventh year as the Doctor, and the man in the Hawaiian shirt takes over as producer....

The Leisure Hive

The Doctor bypasses the randomizer and brings the TARDIS to the planet Argolis; a planet devastated by an 18 minute conflict with its old enemy, the Foamasi. The story involves the attempt to sell the hive on Argolis to the Foamasi and its violent opposition by Pangol, an Argolin. Pangol uses the Tachyon Recreation Generator to produce an army of himself (gee, instant cloning...). The Doctor thwarts Pangol (obviously... he's the hero...) and Pangol and his mum are returned to a younger age by the TRG.

The story has an excellent appearance: good sets, good sfx, and an excellent premise. The story line, however, is quite dull. Overall, this is a mediocre story, but it is a refreshing change from Graham Williams and anyone before him. The opening credits and theme provide a shock to someone not expecting a change, and disgust for any who don't like the change.


The Doctor travels to Tigella to visit an old friend, Zastor, because of a problem with the Dodecahedron. The Doctor is tossed into a chronic hysteresis (sounds like something most women wouldn't want to get near...), manages to get out by throwing it out of phase (if he didn't, we wouldn't have a story...). Once he gets to Tigella, however, he finds that he's already been there... well, Meglos has been there and impersonated him. Meglos is a cactus-like alien from Zolfa-Thura, the neighboring planet. The Dodecahedron is an immense power source for some planet-frying ray gun (the ultimate six-shooter... all right, twelve-shooter...). He manages to save the day (yet again...) by impersonating Meglos, destroying him, and the Dodecahedron in the process.


The only possible redeeming feature is the reappearance of Jaqueline Hill as the high priestess.

Full Circle

A Charged Vacuum Emboitement causes problems for our heroes by sending them into E-Space and putting them on a planet at the same coordinates as Gallifrey, only tack a negative sign on the front. The planet is called Alzarius. When they arrive, it is time for Mistfall (quite an original name, don't you think?). The Marshmen (yet another original name...) come out of the marsh (where else??) nearest the Starliner (again, where else??). They try to take over the Starliner, but are countered by the Doctor. Adric tags along at the end, unknown to the Doctor, Romana, and K-9.

Eeegad!! Boring!! Preachy!! We've actually figured out what that negative sign means: rather than being inhabited by time-geriatrics, Adric is from this planet. To top it off, this story was done by a then 19 year-old Doctor Who fan.

State of Decay

Still in E-Space, the TARDIS lands on a medieval-like planet. The castle turns out to be a space ship and the three rulers are the original officers, whereas their subjects are descendants of the original inhabitants (no wonder those three were so hungry...). The Doctor discovers that the Great Vampire, last of a race destroyed by the time lords (non-interference, huh?) is here and turned the three officers into vampires. Using a scout ship as a stake, the Doctor kills the Great Vampire.

Louis: this is easily the best story of the season.

Joe: this is one of the two best stories of the season.

This story finally made it to the screen after being bumped by the Beeb, eventually to be replaced by Horror of Fang Rock - yet another of Michael Grade's intelligence attacks. Only bad part is the appearance of the Great Vampire. Great Marionette might be a little more appropriate.

Warrior's Gate

A time-sensitive Tharil (looks like a Thundercat...) takes control of the TARDIS. The Doctor and Romana manage to free Biroc (the live Thundercat...) and his people. K-9 is damaged in the process (gee, JN-T, you're clever...), Romana and K-9 stay behind, and the Doctor leaves E-Space with Adric in the TARDIS (MISTAKE!!!!).

Confusing, though once you figure it out (or read the novelization --Louis), it is actually quite good. Having to do all that works against it.

Louis: certainly one of the clumsiest exits of companions.

The Keeper of Traken

The Keeper of the Source (yet another original name...) asks the Doctor for help during the trying times of succession. Tremas (rearrange, please... rather literally...) is to be the successor, but his wife, Kassia doesn't want him to be the new Keeper. An evil statue (guess who...) suddenly appears, wreaks havoc (what else?) and gains control of the source for a period of time. The Doctor winds up confronting his old enemy (if you rearranged properly before, you'd know who...), defeats him, and by process of elimination, since Tremas, Kassia, and Seron bought it, and Katura didn't want it, Luvic becomes the Keeper. Tremas's body is appropriated by... well, you'd better know who by now...

Flop! Right on its face... or posterior, slightly below the coccyx (take your pick... we don't pick ours, personally...). A nice idea thrown out the window with a crummy plot. Oh well... Redeeming factor: Denis Carey, who played Professor Chronotis in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency... er, Shada.


The city of living math, or logic, or whatever, is visited by the Doctor in an attempt to repair the chameleon circuit in the TARDIS. Unfortunately, you know who tries to take over.
The city's inhabitants become dust, because they can't speak the language of mathematics, so they can't keep the CVE's stable (now where did we hear that term before? By the way, did anyone know what happened to the Second Law of Thermodynamics in this story?). The Doctor has to collaborate with you know who to save you know what before the end of the universe... considering it's past the point of natural heat death and the CVE's (here we go again...) are keeping the universe alive (neat... get a physics prof to explain the whole thing... bet he can't...). After stabilizing a CVE, the Doctor has to fall from the Jodrell Bank Observatory so he can regenerate... Two new companions are also introduced: the brain and the mouth on legs....

Louis: episode 4 is the best of the season, but it's a pity that the Master hasn't been that good since, except maybe for The Five Doctors. Where's an entropy field? Didn't you hear? It's just outside of Leeds.

Joe: other only good story of the season. The showing of the companions and enemies during his "hang-out" and "lay-out" are a nice touch, considering the length of Tom's tenure. The story itself starts off a bit slow, but picks up as it goes on, and finishes with quite a blast, so to speak....

Season overall

Much better production values, probably because they cheated with the episode length (21 minutes as opposed to the old 23 minutes, with each having 2 minutes of recaps, plus longer titles --Louis). The music became "mod." Make your own decisions, but this was probably the best version of it during JN-T's time.

Louis: the incidental music seemed quite tinny and the stories weren't even up to the previous season, except where noted. With the exception of Leisure Hive 1 and 2, Meglos 1, and Logopolis 3, the cliff-hangers were pretty bad and unmemorable.

Joe: the season definitely marked a change of producers. New music (theme and incidental), a whole new production crew, a new personality and scarf for our best friend, bad stories, and some bad companions are all forebodings of things yet to come under JN-T's reign.

Seasonal trivia


No, we're not drunk... just quite silly... if you have any comments or complaints, don't bother trying to get our phone numbers... Just imagine if we were drunk................ >:-)

                              --Me and him...

(Note: Phone numbers deleted due to a desire to sleep |-) )

First posted to rec.arts.drwho on 1 Oct 88.

Go on to Part 2
Return to the index