The Doctor Who Experience, Episode 1

2 Feb

I am beginning a massive journey into the world of Doctor Who.  Last time I talked about this undertaking I invited all of you to join me as started with the adventures of the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker.  Some of you who did not read the last entry in “The Doctor Who Experience” may be wondering why I decided to start in the middle of this long-standing series.  Why not start at the beginning?  Or the newer episodes that are airing now?  Valid questions.  I decided to start with Tom Baker, because I already know and love Tom Baker.  Mr. Baker played Puddleglum in the BBC production of the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair.  The reasoning there may not fully make sense, but I have already begun the journey, and I started with Tom Baker.

Since I started in the middle of the series, I suppose it only makes sense that I also started in the middle of the Tom Baker years.  The Doctor was played by Baker from Season 12 through Season 18.  All of the adventures from these seasons have not been released on DVD yet.  The ones that have been released are still quite hard to find at rental locations.  The stores around here have a comparatively good selection, but that does not mean they have everything I need for this journey.  The only complete season I could find anywhere was Season 16, and I felt that I needed to start with a complete season.  Thus, “The Doctor Who Experience” begins with Season 16.

This particular season was composed of six adventures.  The first five adventures were made up of four episodes each, while the sixth was made up of six episodes.  All together these adventures make up “The Key of Time” storyline.

In the first episode of the first adventure, The Ribos Operation, the White Guardian gives a mission to the Doctor.  The White Guardian is the personification of Order in the universe (there is also a Black Guardian who is the personification of Chaos).  Whenever the balance between Order and Chaos is offset the Key of Time must be assembled so that all may be set right.  The pieces of the Key are scattered throughout the universe and disguised so that no one can use them, except in an emergency.  The White Guardian gives the Doctor a new companion, Romana, and sends them off to assemble the key.

Mary Tamm as Romana

Pretty simple, yeah?  Well, each adventure is about the Doctor and Romana, who is a young and inexperienced Time Lord, landing on a planet and trying to find the piece of the Key as quickly as possible.  Considering every adventure is at least four episodes long, things very rarely go according to plan.  We get to watch their quest be disrupted by planetary real estate deals (The Ribos Operation), pirates who pilot a planet (The Pirate Planet), alien Druids (The Stones of Blood), medieval androids (The Androids of Tara), a giant octopus (The Power of Kroll), and a nuclear war between two planets (The Armageddon Factor).  And believe me, the disruptions that sound the coolest, definitely are.

I thoroughly enjoyed every single one of these serials, but I absolutely loved The Stones of Blood and The Power of Kroll.  Both of these adventures have perfect examples of what is wrong with this series, but it also shows how the story and characters always make more of an impression than the bad special effects.  I don’t care that the miniatures look terrible or that the evil aliens in The Stones of Blood really are just giant blocks of stone that somehow slide around and smash people.  Watching Tom Baker interact with the other characters more than makes up for these problems.  Romana is extremely annoying at times, but I always forgot any problem I had with her because I was so entranced by the explanation I was getting for how this octopus got to be so gigantic.  This show always had brilliant stories, even when they didn’t have the budget to actually do what they wanted.

Kroll, from The Power of Kroll

Basically, as an introduction to Doctor Who, I think Season 16 was a huge success.  I have totally fallen in love with this show.  I realize I have not really talked in detail about much of anything.  I apologize.  I have learned that an entire season is too much to talk about in detail.  It’s overwhelming.  The next entry in “The Doctor Who Experience” is going to be about fewer episodes and it will be much more detailed.  For anybody keeping up with me, I will be watching the beginning of the Tom Baker years next.  That would be Season 12.  I recommend just jumping in.  It’s awesome.

hoping for lots of Doctor Who dvds for my birthday,

david

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