“Square One”

squareone“Square One” is the second audio play in the first “Gallifrey” series. There’s really not much more of an introduction I can give for it here, so let’s just go to the description and discussion, shall we?

A few spoilers ahead. I’m not going to describe the whole plot.

While the Temporal Powers are responsible for overseeing time, lesser time-sensitve races want their say in the way the the universe is governed, and to work these things out, the Powers schedule a summit, where issues can be discussed and treaties can be forged. However, since the Powers, as well as the other races, really don’t trust each other all that much, they don’t want anyone, especially Gallifrey, to dominate the proceedings. So, they draw up a set of rules by which the summit must operate. The high leaders of the Powers or other races may not attend the summit, but instead must send lesser individuals to represent them. The actual proceedings are to be broadcast to the universe, but nothing outside the summit chamber may be released, so that the delegates can feel secure about meeting with other races and making treaties and alliances without the media watching. During the summit, the delegates cannot leave the planetoid, so entertainment is brought in to give them relaxation and recreation. Contact with their homeworlds would be limited. All of the security is handled by a secure network of droids, and any other computers or androids that are brought in have to be connected to the network, and any advanced circuitry disabled. The summit itself is organized by a Time Lady named Hossak.

For the Time Lords’ part, Lady President Romana sends Narvin as the Gallifreyan delegate, but she suspects that there is more going on, and she sends Leela to the planetoid with K-9, posing as an exotic dancer (Leela, not the tin dog). Arriving at the planet and settling into her role, Leela doesn’t find anything untoward, except for a very lecherous Nekkistani delegate named Flinkstab who tries to appropriate her for himself, until she finds another dancer, Lexi, dead. Though she realizes that the only person who could have done it is Flinkstab, she’s discovered with the body by the security droids and is immediately accused of the murder. And then she arrives at the planet and settles in to her new role, and when she meets Lexi, she realizes that she saw her dead. Later that night, as she’s dancing, Narvin is having a discussion with Pule, a delegate of the Unvoss, when Pule’s drink explodes and kills him, and the Time Lord is accused of the murder. And then Leela arrives as the planet and before settling into her new role, she knows that she’s living through the same day over and over, and contacts Romana to come figure out what’s happening.

The episode is an enjoyable story, with plenty of machinations and schemes to unravel. So far in this series, I am really loving how well-drawn the characters are. Narvin, who, as a more traditional Time Lord than Romana or Braxiatel, is always convinced of his superiority and is insulted to find that Romana used him to her ends. He rants and sputters at her about it, and she calmly shows him how she’s made him look better, not worse, for the role he played. Romana and Leela two strong women, completely opposites of each other but equally capable. Leela is not clever, but she sees clearly where others do not and is steadfastly moral and always brave. Romana is savvy and not blinded by the grandeur of being a Time Lady, and though she knows that her people don’t agree with her on a lot of things, she’s strong enough to stand against them when she needs to. And, having had more contact with other civilizations than most of the Time Lords have had, she’s more able to understand and predict the other Temporal Powers’ attitudes and actions.

I think one of the things that really appeals to me about these “Gallifrey” audios is that the audience is not being persuaded to think that the Time Lords are right or good. Since the story is being told from the Time Lords’ view, we have a predilection for thinking so, but as things progress, we start to see how petty and manipulative they are, and some of their goals are not necessarily good for anyone but themselves. This allows for a deeper exploration into the Temporal Powers, and makes for far more satisfying political storylines.

I’m very happy so far: I was eager to start listening to this series, and after two episodes, I’m still excited to hear more. I will say that audios take a lot of energy and concentration to listen to, because there aren’t any visual effects to distract you, so there are no pauses and the 1.5 hours of a play is thick with important dialogue, so I can’t really listen to more than one every couple of days, but I’m definitely loving them when I can.

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“Weapon of Choice”

Gallifrey_Weapon_Of_Choice“Weapon of Choice” is the first in the Gallifrey range of Big Finish audios. I don’t know if it’s significant or not, but the Gallifrey range does not bear the name Doctor Who, possibly because the Doctor isn’t a main character in this line (perhaps he appears sometimes, but I’m not going to comment on that now). The series, as far as I know, is set mainly on Gallifrey (surprise!) and is centered around Lord President Romana and the politics of the High Council. I’ve been looking forward to listening to his range for a good two to three months now, and I finally received the CDs for the first three series in the mail (they weren’t available for download), and well, here we go!

Spoilers, of course, though more about the general series itself than the episode.

There’s a bit of backstory that comes out in the episode that you need to know. In order to oversee time, the Time Lords form a coalition called the Temporal Powers between them and three other time-sensitive races, whose names I can’t remember except for the Monans. As you can probably expect, there’s a lot of political maneuvering between the races, as each has its own goals and schemes, but the big point is that the Time Lords aren’t the only ones watching over the universe anymore. One of the things that the coalition did was establish a planet where lesser races were sent if they attempted unauthorized time travel. (Not the whole race, just the individuals who were involved.) The planet’s name is Gryben, and when the coalition investigates the offending people’s case, if the people do not agree to abandon their pursuit of time travel, they are confined to Gryben for the rest of their lives. Thus, Gryben is a rather lawless place, full of multiple species just trying to survive. Among those people, a group of dissidents called Free Time have arisen, trying to rebel against the Time Lords and their allies to obtain the right to use time as they want.

At the beginning of the episode, a Free Time dissident steals an experimental weapon called a Timonic Fusion Device and takes it to Gryben. This was a device that the Time Lords had once tried to build but found that it was too dangerous and unstable and had abandoned it, and they had thought that all knowledge of it had been eradicated, but obviously not. The other Temporal Powers don’t trust the Time Lords, that their intentions were noble (after all, the only way anyone could have built one now would be if the Time Lords were behind it, right?), and Romana has to get the weapon back. She sends a CIA agent named Torvald, Leela, and K9 to the surface of Gryben to infiltrate the Free Time movement, and there they find an even more sinister plot hatching.

The story itself was interesting and compelling, but what really made the episode was that it set up Gallifrey and its politics. Personally, I don’t know much about the Time Lords other than what I’ve seen in the TV show, but there’s a huge history and storyline going on there, and it is fascinating learning about it. So here’s a bit of the characters and setup.

The thing about the Time Lords as we’ve seen in the TV show and audios is that they’re imperious, conservative, and so absolutely sure they’re doing the right thing. They do have a reason to be this way, of course, since it was revealed in “Zagreus” that Rassilon decided what the future until the end of the universe should be, and so their defense and maintenance of the Web of Time boils down to making sure that what Rassilon chose is what happens. They’re used to being the overlords of the universe and expect that everyone will accede to them. With this coalition of Temporal Powers, though, they’ve ceded some of their power to other races, and now they have to work together with them.

Romana is at the center of this. She’s a strong, clever Time Lady, but it’s very obvious that she’s learned from the Doctor to see things from other angles and to consider other viewpoints, to care about things other than the rules that Rassilon laid down and the glory and power of the Time Lords. As Lord President, she walks a fine line of setting Time Lord policy while also trying to change Time Lord attitudes towards what she feels is a better path. She’s a fascinating character, because she doesn’t wholeheartedly embrace the Doctor’s ideals (and that’s a good thing, by the way: the Doctor is as insane as the Master, by Time Lord standards [and to be honest, by human standards as well], and his beliefs and motivations are not what Time Lord policy should be based on), but she definitely incorporates some of his viewpoint into hers while maintaining her own steely personality and values.

Then there’s Coordinator Narvin. He’s the head of the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), which is a secretive organization dedicated to preserving the Web of Time at pretty much any cost. They do the things that the Time Lords can’t be seen to do, due to their non-intervention policy. Narvin advises Romana, but he is a straightforward action type, often unable to grasp the political maneuvering that surrounds the Lord President and the Temporal Powers.

Cardinal Braxiatel rounds out Romana’s inner circle. From the audio itself, you can tell that he’s a wise Time Lord, someone who knows what’s going on throughout Time Lord society, and has extensive knowledge of history. An interesting tidbit that is not mentioned in the audio (but you would know if you were familiar with other audios, particularly the Bernice Summerfield line) is that Braxiatel is the Doctor’s older brother, and has always been fascinated with exploring the universe and investigating history, though he approached the idea very differently from his younger brother. Romana relies on him for advice, as she knows that he’s got his fingers everywhere (like Petyr Baelish in A Song of Fire and Ice, though not greedy or amoral).

Lastly, we have Leela, the Sevateem human and former companion of the Doctor who left him and remained on Gallifrey to marry the Time Lord Andred. In this episode, Leela is trying to find her path after Andred vanished without a trace. She interpreted the Time Lords’ claim that they didn’t know what happened to him as a lie and began to distrust them. Romana convinces her to go on this mission for them, and afterward, became Romana’s bodyguard. She provides a straightforward, honest, and blunt foil to the maneuverings of the Time Lords.

With these four characters driving Gallifreyan politics and relations with the other Temporal Powers, the Gallifrey range holds quite a bit of promise of drama and adventure that’s far different from the regular Doctor Who fare, and I’m very much looking forward to all of this storyline.

“The Wrath of the Iceni”

Wrath-of-the-Iceni-The-cover“The Wrath of the Iceni” is the third audio in Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures, and it’s the first one that I think is really worth it.

Spoilers, ho! I mean, these next four paragraphs tell the whole story, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip down to the paragraph that starts with “Now first…” (and there are still a few spoilers after that).

If you know your British history, you know that the Iceni were a Celtic tribe that led a revolt against the Romans who were occupying the British Isles. Now, I don’t know my British history (at least, not that far back), so I really didn’t know what to expect from this audio. At the start, the Doctor and Leela land in Britain as part of the Doctor’s continuing efforts to educate Leela about her ancestral history, but he doesn’t check to see when they landed. Leela hears the sounds of battle, and though the Doctor doesn’t think it’s real, they investigate and meet up with the Iceni in the middle of a conflict with the Romans, and they’re led by Boudica. The Doctor explains to Leela the history of these people, that Boudica and her husband had made a treaty with the Romans that their kingdom would be left jointly to their daughters and Roman emperor at his death, but when he died, the Romans seized the kingdom and raped her daughters. Thus, Boudica was leading her people to revolt against the Romans, for revenge and to evict them from Britain.

Leela, always the honorable warrior, immediately sides with the wronged queen and wants to fight for her righteous cause, but the Doctor tells her she can’t, because the Iceni are defeated and completely wiped out. However, she insists, willing to die for an honorable cause instead of walk away from it, and leaves the Doctor to pledge her fealty to Boudica. Their conversation, however, is overheard by Bragnar, a cook and warrior, and she confronts the Doctor, asking how they can change the fate of her people. The Doctor can’t change it, but can save one person, and he and Bragnar flee to the TARDIS. They’re discovered before they reach it, however, and, considering the Doctor a Roman spy, Boudica locks the two of them up and condemns the Doctor to death.

In order to save the Doctor’s life, Leela tells Boudica that he’s a soothsayer and predicted the doom of the Iceni, and Boudica demands that he tell her what the prophecy is and how they can avoid it, promising that she would let him go free afterwards. The Doctor refuses to tell her, so Boudica threatens to kill Bragnar until he relents and tells them how the Romans have set up the Iceni’s next target, Camulodunum, a town for crippled, retired soldiers, as a decoy so that the Roman army can outflank them and defeat them. With this knowledge, Boudica revises her strategy so that they will be ready for the outflank and defeat the Romans.

As soon as she has the foretelling, Boudica has the Doctor imprisoned again, figuring that she needs him for more future knowledge, angering Leela, who is also appalled that the queen was going to murder Bragnar just to get the Doctor to talk. At the battle of Camulodunum, Boudica orders the wholesale slaughter of all of the town’s occupants – not just the soldiers, who are retired and crippled, but also the women and children, and Leela realizes that while Boudica’s original goals were honorable, she’s given in to bloodlust and has lost sight of what she was trying to do. Leela challenges Boudica and wins the fight, though she refuses to kill the queen. While Boudica rails at her for being a traitor and for not having the courage to finish off her opponent, Leela frees the Doctor and they and Bragnar flee the tribe. The Doctor and Leela leave Bragnar to find herself a new life, while Boudica leads the Iceni further on their path. The Doctor reveals later that he lied – the Iceni are defeated by the Romans, but not at Camulodunum; he made up the Roman ploy to make Boudica think she was changing her future.

Now first, you have to understand that I love Doctor Who historical stories. I love history in general, and like to see how the Doctor gets involved in historical events, without all the aliens and sci-fi stuff interfering. There are very few purely historical television episodes: I believe the last one was “Black Orchid” (and that wasn’t really historical, just a murder mystery – Mr. Davison has said that a writer at the BBC was asked to write an episode for Doctor Who and he just reached in the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a murder mystery he had written that hadn’t been used yet), and the last one before that was in either the First or Second Doctor’s run. So, this audio was perfect for me. It’s taught me about the real history of Boudica (or at least, I read the Wikipedia article), as well as woven the Doctor into the events.

Apart from that, I very much enjoyed the depiction of the savage Iceni tribe and the anger of the queen at the Romans. Then, of course, the story here is really about Leela, from her decision to follow Boudica due to the Doctor’s description and not from actually knowing anything about the queen or her people themselves, to her slow realization that the queen is not the ideal, honorable warrior she seemed to be. Then, when she realizes she’s wrong, she does her best to rectify the situation, and has the strength to stand up to Boudica. Moreover, Leela is not able to sway Boudica; Boudica stays true to who she is, and is not “redeemed” in the eyes of the audience.

This audio also has Mr. Baker giving what I feel is his first truly good performance in this series. I noted in my previous reviews of the Fourth Doctor Adventures that he hadn’t quite seemed to get into character yet, but he’s great here. His voice is strong and he sounds like the Fourth Doctor we all know and love. I also think that his dialogue was better this time around, giving him more to chew on. There were a lot of “What did he just say? Oh, that’s the Doctor being the Doctor” moments.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend “The Wrath of the Iceni” as a great Fourth Doctor audio. Looking forward to the next!

 

“Renaissance Man”

renaissancemanthecover_cover_large“Renaissance Man” is the second of the Fourth Doctor Big Finish adventures, featuring Leela as the companion again.

Spoilers!

The Doctor brings Leela to a research institute in the future to see the unveiling of a new wing of its museum. When they arrive, they meet a lepidopterist who tells them about her work. Some time later, when they meet her again, she’s amnesiac and confused, and tells them that “they’ve taken it all.” The Doctor also notices that a bit of information that he tells the museum curator, that the curator didn’t know, appears a few minutes later in an exhibit. The Doctor experiments with this, telling the curator some false information, which also later appears in an exhibit. To make a long story short, it turns out that in the quest for acquiring all of the knowledge in the universe, the curator has been stealing the knowledge from people to put it into the museum, leaving them without memories or skills and barely alive. While he’s able to acquire knowledge from what the Doctor says, the Doctor is immune to the mind wipe, though the curator does steal Leela’s hunting skills. The Doctor realizes that misinformation unravels the curator’s web of information, so he continues to feed lies to the curator, and it all comes apart. When the web is destroyed, the information is returned to its rightful owners, and everyone recovers.

While this concept of this story was unique and interesting, its execution left a lot to be desired. First, the setup of the conflict – the Doctor figuring out what was going on – was rather boring, with too much talking and no action at all. Then, the Doctor realizing that he could destroy the whole thing by feeding in lies means that he didn’t need to do anything: since he had already fed in lies at that point, the web was going to collapse eventually, taking out the need for the Doctor to effect any solution. The most disappointing part of the story, though, was that the Doctor was never in any danger, because the mind wipe didn’t affect him. It would have been a much more interesting story if the Doctor had had to race against the impending mind wipe to figure out what the solution was.

The one thing that did stand out in this story – and I think this is becoming a trend here – is Leela. She was superbly written and performed, and at times, she made me laugh out loud. I leave you with my favorite line from the entire audio.

Villain (paraphrased): There’s nothing you can do, so you’d better just give me that knife.

Doctor: You’d better give it to him.

Leela: AT LAST!! RAAAAH!! (attacks the villain)

“Destination: Nerva”

Destination_NervaDestination: Nerva, to my understanding, is the first Big Finish audio to feature the Fourth Doctor. It was in 2012, and featured Leela as the Doctor’s companion.

Spoilers ahead!

It begins just after the Doctor and Leela leave London at the end of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” with Leela wondering if they’ll ever meet up with Jago and Litefoot again. The Doctor sends the TARDIS following a beacon, and lands only about ten years later, to find a dying alien called a Drelleran who claims that some humans stole his spaceship and have flown off. Chasing after that ship, the TARDIS takes them into the future, to a ship bearing constructions workers to a space dock called Nerva orbiting Jupiter. It’s a new station and its facilities don’t quite work right yet, but ships from intersystem flights can dock here after its passengers pass decontamination.

The Doctor discovers that something seems to be infecting the occupants of the space station, turning them into an alien lifeform that collects all of its newly-transformed individuals into itself, making one big mass of alien. The alien lifeform is led by Lord Jack Corrigan, the original person who, over two hundred years before, had stolen the spaceship from the Drelleran. The Doctor and Leela escape with the only human left uninfected, Doctor Alison Foster, back to the construction worker ship, and discover a new Drelleran ship, which they travel to, to talk to the Drelleran to figure out what’s going on.

Originally, the Drelleran ship had landed on Earth to make contact with the humans and offer them new technology, but Lord Jack, determining that the Drelleran were corrupt because they didn’t adhere to human (mostly Christian) practices, denounced them, killed them, and stole their ship in order to go into space and teach them “better” ways. When the humans reached the Drelleran homeworld, the Drelleran, disgusted with the primitive humans, infected them with the alien lifeform and indoctrinated them with the desire to absorb all humans into the alien mass. Thus, centuries in the future, the ship returned to destroy humanity, first landing at Nerva on its way to Earth.

The Doctor, Leela, and Dr. Foster pleaded with the Drelleran to reconsider the doom they had pronounced on the humans, explaining that the humans were simply not advanced enough at the time to handle the gifts or the new philosophies the Drelleran had offered and making the case that the entire race should be punished for the actions of a few. The Drellerans relented and administered an antidote to the infection, freeing all of the individuals subsumed into the alien mass.

Simply as a story, this was an adequate episode. The dialogue at the end, when the three are pleading with the Drelleran to stop, is a bit preachy. The story was nothing exciting, though it had a very classic show feel: the Doctor’s role here was to gather the evidence to figure out what had happened and to get the characters out of trouble, as opposed to taking a direct role in defeating the menace. One thing I did notice in this piece was how effective the sound effects can be for painting a picture of what’s happening. The alien lifeform that the humans were becoming was never adequately described, but the squelching noises they made as they transformed were very evocative, allowing me to paint my own picture of what it looked like in my head. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. These audios really allow you to exercise your imagination while you listen to them.

It was fantastic to hear Tom Baker take up the mantle of the Doctor again, though his performance in this one was nowhere near as good as it was in The Light at the End, the most recent audio he has been in. In this one, his voice was nowhere near as strident and commanding as we are used to. I would chalk that up to this being his first time back, so he hadn’t yet hit his stride with the character he hadn’t played for over thirty years. Similarly, Louise Jameson wasn’t quite Leela, though she was better than Mr. Baker. I am looking forward to the rest of the audios in this series, as I expect that they will both just get better and better.

 

“The Face of Evil”

In case you might have noticed, I’ve changed my display name, from “chorenn” to “Shivver.” If you’re wondering why, “chorenn” is an old name I used about ten years ago when I was keeping a blog about a roleplaying campaign I was running back then, in a self-created realm called Chorenn. Since I was the gamemaster telling this story in this world, I thought the world name was the appropriate display name for the author of the blog. Well, that was a long time ago, and when I decided to use the same account to create this blog, I didn’t bother to change the display name. I’ve changed it to “Shivver” now because that’s the online name I’ve been using for my Doctor Who activities, in specific my fanfics, and I thought it was time to bring all of it together.

Over the weekend, we watched the classic episode “The Face of Evil,” and here are my thoughts on it.

Spoilers ahead!

face of evil

The Doctor and Leela are brought in front of the chief and shaman of the Sevateem.

“The Face of Evil” is the Fourth Doctor episode that introduces Leela of the Sevateem, his companion through the latter half of Season 14 and all of Season 15. In it, the Doctor arrives on a planet populated by a tribe of savages called the Sevateem, who live in a tiny area of land surrounded by a wall that keeps out the Phantoms, invisible monsters that devour anything that ventures outside. When the tribe first meet him, they call the Doctor “the Evil One,” who was prophesied to return to destroy them all, and indeed, he finds that his visage is sculpted into the side of a cliff face, to remind the tribe just what the Evil One looks like. He discovers that the tribe worships a god named Xoanon, who carefully nurtures them to fight against another people, called the Tesh, which they attack whenever the wall opens and lets them across. However, all of their attacks have always failed.

Long story short (and this is where you should stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled), the Doctor figures out that the people, both the Sevateem and the Tesh, came from a spaceship that landed on the planet. While the spaceship had been in flight, the Doctor had visited it and his personality had been imprinted on the computer just as it became sentient, giving it a split personality and causing it to go crazy. When they landed on the planet, the survey team went out to explore while the technicians stayed in the ship, and the computer, which named itself Xoanon, separated them and developed their cultures along different lines – one strong and savage, the other weak and intelligent – then set them against each other to see which was more viable. To stop the senseless fighting, the Doctor removes his personality from the computer, and it heals and the two cultures begin to try to work together. As the Doctor leaves, Leela dashes into the TARDIS so that she can travel with him.

As the audience, you see everything from the Doctor’s point of view, which means from the Sevateem side, as that’s who he encounters first. At first, they seem like simple savages, but then you start seeing weird things: the throne the chief sits on has brushed metal surfaces, the shaman’s ceremonial gear is threaded with bright yellow plastic-sheathed wires and has a spacesuit glove as a headdress, the shaman’s prayer cloak includes a crash helmet, etc. The history of the Sevateem is revealed slowly through visual and linguistic clues: “Sevateem” comes from “survey team,” for example), and the worship gesture the tribesmen make is the gesture one would make when checking the air seals on a spacesuit.

When the Doctor arrives, Leela has just been exiled, and though she knows he’s the Evil One, she accepts his help and then helps him because she doesn’t have much of a choice: either she does or she goes beyond the wall and gets killed. However, the story follows a number of Sevateem characters who slowly learn to trust the Doctor and realize that what they’ve believed their whole lives is not true. Especially interesting is the story of the shaman, Neeva, who is the last to realize that Xoanon has lied to him his entire life, and who sacrifices himself at the end to save everyone else.

The Tesh are less interesting, mostly because you don’t get to get to know them all that well. Their society is highly structured, and they are pompous and contemptuous of the savage Sevateem. Also, their culture hasn’t changed much, since they live on the grounded spaceship, though they do still consider the computer a god, not a technological device, like the Sevateem do.

The only weak part of this episode is the same as many of the classic episodes: the slow, boring action sequences when the Sevateem are battling the phantoms and Leela is trying to hold off a squad of Tesh. I think in general, it’s important to expect that action sequences in classic Doctor Who are going to be slow, especially for the first four Doctors.

So far, I’ve liked all of the Leela episodes I’ve seen, and this one is very good. It’s gotten to the point where I want to watch all of the Leela episodes, so that’s the next project, after watching “The Key to Time.” Donna is still my favorite companion, but Leela is easily up in the top five, if not in the top three.

Hard classic data

As a quick note, I’m going to be out of town for the next week. While I’ll have access to computers at the hotel and I have a keyboard and the WordPress app on the iPad, I’m not sure I’ll be able to post regularly, and certainly anything I do post won’t have images. But rest assured, I’ll be back. (I haven’t tried out the WordPress app yet. I hope it’s easy to use. For some reason, the workings of “productive” iPad apps still elude me.)

IMDB average ratings for classic episodes, with Doctors indicated

IMDB average ratings for classic episodes, with Doctors indicated

Yesterday, I wrote about the TV ratings graphs on GraphTV and discussed the ratings trends of the modern Doctor Who, and today, here’s the graph for the classic series. You can see the real graph here, but the image to the left has the Doctors indicated. I don’t have much time today to really look at this graph, but here are few interesting points.

First, there are few very important things to note about the data itself.

  • The dots indicate episode parts, not episodes themselves. For example, “The Caves of Androzani” is made up of four parts, and so there are four dots on the graph for it. Another important point is that the early episodes had different names for their parts, such as the first episode is in total made up of “An Unearthly Child,” “The Cave of Skulls,” “The Forest of Fear,” and “The Firemaker.”
  • The number of user ratings per dot are much lower for the classic series than for the modern series. These averages are calculated from 100-200 user ratings, while the modern series’ averages are calculated from 1000-2000 user ratings.

In general, it seems that the average rating for each season is about 7.5 across the whole classic series, with a couple of very notable exceptions: the Second Doctor’s second season, the Third Doctor’s first season, the Fourth Doctor’s first three seasons (Sarah Jane and Leela), and the Seventh Doctor’s first season. I don’t really know much about the history of the show itself, so I don’t know why his first season was so bad, but… wow. Not a single episode rated above 7.0. He definitely makes up for it in his last season though.

It looks like the show’s best and most consistent time was from the beginning of the Third Doctor through the third season of the Fourth Doctor: only rarely did the episodes dip below 7.0. I’d be interested in seeing what kinds of changes in the production staff happened at the beginning of season 15 that caused the quality to even back out to 7.5 again. The show’s most inconsistent season is season 6, the Second Doctor’s last season, which has some of the lowest- and the highest-rated episodes in the entire show.

One season that’s worth looking at is season 21, the Fifth Doctor’s last season. Mr. Davison has been quoted as saying that if he had known how good that last season was going to be, he wouldn’t have left the show at that point, and the ratings show this: it started with a low episode (“Warriors of the Deep”), but then shot up and ended the Fifth Doctor’s tenure on one of the best episodes in the entire series. Sadly, the average and slope of the ratings line are destroyed by the Sixth Doctor’s debut episode “The Twin Dilemma,” which unusually counts for season 21, instead of the Sixth Doctor’s first season, season 22.

One other thing that I noticed was that while “The Trial of a Time Lord” is usually mentioned as being one of the low points of the series, on this graph its episodes average around 7.5, the same as most of the other seasons’ averages, and its ratings are tightly clustered around that average, so there aren’t any truly poorly-rated episodes.

That’s that for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to write regularly, but if not, see you all next week! To days to come!