Archive for the 7th Doctor Category

Doctor Who 06/09/89 – Battlefield

Posted in 7th Doctor, Doctor Who on December 18, 2010 by watsonprime

While a lot of people think Curse of Fenric is the best Sylvester McCoy serial, my favourite story featuring the 7th Doctor is probably Battlefield. Battlefield finds the Doctor teaming up once again with the Brigadier to fight invaders from a parallel dimension. Filled with references to previous series without being too indulgent, the story deftly mixes old myths and legends with Doctor Who continuity, as well as showing more of the darker side to the Seventh Doctor that would be explored throughout McCoy’s run.

As well as showing the darker side of The Doctor, we also see the consequences of some of his unseen travels, as the group of interdimensional invaders, based on Arthurian legend believe him to be the wizard Merlin, suggesting a parallel universe Doctor, or perhaps or the one we’re familiar with using a pseudonym. A lot of this is referenced by Steven Moffat in the most recent series, particularly River Song’s claim that most wizards in stories usually turn out to be The Doctor, as well as the The Doctor going back in time to assist himself.

The appearance of The Doctor at a UNIT site requires Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to be called out of retirement, where he quickly (after a lengthy helicopter ride) finds himself face to face with the main villain of the story – Morgaine. However, unlike the shoot first, ask later Brig we all know and love, he appears to have grown a bit wiser in his old age and has a discussion with the witchqueen, in which we find out that while she may be an evil witch, she still has her morals and her honour. Compared to the more traditional villains that The Doctor has faced, Morgaine is possibly one of the most interesting he has ever encountered, offering to cure a barmaids blindness in payment of her son’s large bar tab, while still being happy to kill anyone in her way.

The Seventh Doctor is known for being the most manipulative incarnation of the Time Lord, and in Battlefield this is very apparent, outthinking his enemies and even a possible version of himself. Not only is he manipulative, he shows the ability to perform a Jedi Mind Trick and hypnotise people into going against their will. We also see more of Sylvester McCoy’s serious face when he threatens to decapitate an enemy soldier, although the threat is quickly retracted, this is Doctor Who after all.

While the Brigadier has returned, he doesn’t really add anything to the story, apart from being a more violent counterpart to The Doctor. Although he does make a great return to form in the last episode when he tricks The Doctor in order to risk his own life saving the world. The Brig returning isn’t the only reference to the 3rd Doctor, Bessie makes a brief cameo, as well as a quick nod to Liz Shaw.

There are several great moments in this serial such as the relationship between the new Brigadier Bambera (a black woman which suggests that there is finally some diversity in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) and the lone knight Ancelyn sent to fight Morgaine’s forces. Sylvester McCoy’s performance is also one of his best, effortlessly switching from threatening to carefree to remorseful without seeming forced. I also consider Morgaine to be one of my favourite villains from the whole of Doctor Who history.

Battlefield is a fantastic example of the direction that Doctor Who was heading in towards the end of the 80s and while it is sad that it ended only a few months later, the new series starring the 11th Doctor shows plenty of similarities to this serial, especially with references to The Doctor being a mythical being.

Doctor Who 22/11/89 – Survival

Posted in 7th Doctor, Doctor Who on November 26, 2010 by watsonprime

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do.”

I’m pretty much all about Doctor Who. If you were to go into my bedroom, you would see two Doctor Who posters, a shelf full of Doctor Who DVDs, action figures, a programme from Doctor Who Live and the centrepiece of my collection, a framed copy of Jon Pertwee’s record “Who is the Doctor”.

Thanks to this blog, I’ve realised that I enjoy writing reviews (although I’m still not sure whether or not I’m any good at it) and I figure that I should write some reviews of Doctor Who. So when I can, I will write a review of one of my Doctor Who DVDs.

So which one to review? Well, why not start at the end? (To be honest, I’d start at the beginning but my girlfriend has that DVD and she lives in Birmingham)

In 1989 the last serial of the classic Doctor Who series aired, the Doctor was on his seventh incarnation, played by Sylvester McCoy, and while it wouldn’t be the last we saw of him – he returned to the role for the 1993 charity special “Dimensions In Time” and the 1996 TV Movie which saw him regenerate into his eighth incarnation played by Paul McGann – it is the last proper chance to see him in action. It’s also the last proper look at the Master, played by the increasingly camp Anthony Ainley, before he turns into a CGI snake and possesses Eric Roberts.

“Survival” aired on the 22nd of November 1989 and concluded on the 6th of December, a rather ironic name given the series was about to be put down, but then considering the series’ Time Lord-like ability to regenerate, in hindsight it seems strangely fitting.

The serial opens with The Doctor returning Ace to Perivale, the town she once promised she would never go back to, but considering the traumatic events of “Ghost Light” and “Curse of Fenric”, it’s not surprising that she might want to see some old friends. Of course being Doctor Who, there’s something wrong with the town and people have gone missing. The Doctor, being his usual enigmatic self, senses there’s something wrong and for reasons at first undisclosed to the audience, start suspecting the local stray cats. The real reason for the disappearances is revealed to be anthropomorphic, horse-riding ‘Cheetah People’ who have the ability to teleport from their home planet to Earth. Of course, being a Seventh Doctor story, there’s a greater evil behind the scenes, and after the Doctor is brought to the Cheetah Peoples homeworld, he soon comes face to face with his old nemesis “The Master” who confesses to the Doctor that he needs his help.

Overall it does seem a fitting end for the Doctor, while the Cheetah People seem a bit of a rubbish enemy, the idea of the Doctor’s last battle being with his evil counterpart seems appropriate. Also interesting is the symmetry between this and the very first episode, Doctor Who ends as it began, in contemporary London. Additionally the ending implies the Doctor continues his voyage through Time and Space which, of course, now we know continued through several more regenerations – to put a full stop at the end of the 1989 series wouldn’t have been true to the character, as the audience and the writers knew he would never stop travelling.

The Seventh Doctor is as manipulative and secretive as ever and it’s a shame that we don’t get to see more examples of his strategic ability, but the fact that we see him admit to a group of scared humans that he’s waiting for one of them to start to transform into a cheetah person so he can use them is a great demonstration of just how far his character has changed from his ‘wacky’ first appearance in “Time and The Rani”

There are some negative points, the fact that the Master has a teenage boy on a leash and then takes him shopping, seems a bit bizarre, but considering the amount of theories surrounding the Masters sexual orientation, it’s not completely surprising. The motorcycle crash in the serial’s climax is pretty ridiculous and requires some suspension of disbelief. Also the fact that the “Kitlings” are reminiscent of Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch is pretty distracting. But these are minor points in a pretty decent episode.

This was the first Sylvester McCoy episode I ever saw, and when I first saw him, I admit, I didn’t like him. I didn’t see him as The Doctor, just an eccentric man, but once I watched it again after watching some more of his episodes, I realise that I was wrong and that McCoy is a fantastic interpretation of The Doctor and it’s a real shame that his run was cut short. At least he got closure with the TV movie, although his demise was far from dignified,  but then nothing could be worse than his previous incarnations death, which I’m sure I’ll cover at some point.

So in summary, a pretty good last episode for the Doctor, and now we know that the Doctor goes on to have many more adventures, his final monologue/voiceover is all the more fitting.