Wrong place. Wrong time. Again.
Baker ( With a C )


Oh blimey and yerse indeed...This is where things really go wild/off the rails for 'Who's' first run on TV. ( '...first run on TV...' Wouldn't have believed I'd be typing such fifteen odd years back. Marvelous Vicar.) But yes, way too much continuity wonk, backward looking stuff and behind the scenes fractiousness/fallout. It cannot be emphasized enough that this is absolutely nowt to do with Colin Baker. 'Who' has never been miscast yet in me humble. Look at the 'never more a butterfly' moment in 'Two Doctors', his sharp yet warm playing in 'Revelation' and 'Mysterious Planet'. Right man, wrong time (and costume! )

'The Twin Dilemma'
'Do you want to jump cut to the end of the episode?.....Story?.....Season?.....Oh dear.......'

Here for unfortunate meta-significance all over the shop but also just straight up significant and outstanding in a bad way. No two ways about it, script-wise, production/presentation and in a sartorial sense, 'Who' has never dropped the ball so clangingly as it does here. Well, there could be a couple of contenders down the line but this gets mention for being a debut story that all but dooms this run of the show.

'Attack of the Cybermen'
'A Cyberman with a saunter- says it all really.'

Ill conceived fan-wank, misconceived (if sometimes effectively delivered) violence. Shallow, sour and soul-sappingly clunking. Significant for all the wrong reasons again.

'Vengeance on Varos'
'But suddenly we're in a world of relative quality...'

It doesn't quite work but Philip Martin's first script for TV 'Who' is clever, knowing and generally well delivered by cast and crew. So an outstanding entry for the right reasons. Lawks.

'Revelation of the Daleks'
'...and another, arguably even better. Lawks. It surely can't last?'

Not quite up to Graeme Harper's 'Androzani' standards but very, very darn good all the same. A sourcaustic, consumer culture popping dark gem. Outstanding.

'Yes, I somehow doubt it.'

'The Trial of a Time Lord'
'The Sixth Doctor actually regenerated when the sartorial time bomb that was his costume went radioactive.'

Yerse...The four segments and over-arcing plot here don't really hold water over the long haul. Meta-significant for being 'Who' on the back-hoof and under pressure, this version bowing out with a whimper rather than a bang. Although in truth they were likely over a barrel with precious little room for maneuver. Shame. Also significant for the 'in media res' intro for new companion Mel, not a stunt TV 'Who' has pulled before or since. Game-changing for introducing the dark future Doctor, 'tween Twelve and Thirteen, the Valeyard. That part does have some impact although it's teeth are drawn, largely neutered, like much of the vacuous, 'violent' vamping of the JNT/Saward era.

Yes, a troubled era, troubling and inconclusive on TV. And I should emphasise that I'm restricting myself to TV 'Who' in this particular wibblethon. There's been product alongside broadcast 'Who' from the beginning, for sure. From World Distributor's annuals to Target, the comic strips, BBC and Virgin books, Big Finish and beyond. In which there have been outstanding and significant contributions all over the shop but for now, idiot box/download/streaming it is.

'Ah, cobblers to this!'

Yer diametric opposite of dull but worthy this is darkly worthwhile into the bargain. There are scattered remnants of Bob Holmes humour amidst the pinpoint, super-implosion black/bleak but boy oh boy.....I can fully get down with its frequent 'all time best' poll winner status. But have to confess as with the Blake's 7 finale 'Blake' this is a heavyweight I can only occasionally watch such is the sucker punch. Best cliffhanger ever with episode 3 in me humble, period.

First Contact: Original '84 transmission.

The Lowdown: Power, corruption and lies.

Preramble: Upper Echelon innit?

'The charming and hospitable environs of Androzani Minor'

Episode 1

A walk on the wired side.

Bob Holmes really is the most Graham Greene of 'Who' writers for meself. Sharp but functional, not a word wasted or in excess. Even when playing with yer florid inanity in the likes of 'Talons'. And always that faith in/hope for humanity beneath the horror and cynicism. Mr Holmes, yer a bigger romantic/idealist than dear old David Whitaker at heart. Although here we encounter you at your most Graham Greene via Joseph Conrad. Certainly paints us a picture but by crimminy it ain't a pretty one...

Love the idea of Five's glass collection and wanting to replace the broken Androzani bottle. Wish they'd kept that initial TARDIS scene in. Utterly charming and dovetails so poignantly with what's to follow. Although truth be told, I think you can see early signs of Six'n'Peri's snarkiness creeping through with Five and Peri here. Roger Limb's score is very intense'n'foreboding from the off. It's almost like we've arrived at the wake before the funeral: Davison is definitely a dead man walking. Everyone's firing on all cylinders but it's an absolute stand out from our leading man. John Normington's Morgus is also particularly sublime. Love all those 'to camera' asides, really adds to the building intensity.

'In too deep'

The FX and design are very good for their time and budget. The Magma Creature is.....okay. Graeme Harper does his damndest to work around it. But it's the writing, both plot and dialogue, that encompasses everything and underpins it all with razor sharp brutality from the off. The Doctor and Peri falling afoul of the raw Spectrox nest and subsumed by circumstances. Sharaz Jek, lurking and laughing madly in the background. (And that's a really good mad laugh-Christopher Bowen (Mordred) and Clifford Rose (Rorvik) take note! Well twisted.) Yep, it's a back of the net, assured 13++ thus far for me.

'Your host, the very charming Mr Sharaz Jek!'

Episode 2

Thin ice.

Gosh'n'Wow. Davison is just superbly wry'n'worldly here. Very Smith in a way, but much more contained and contemplative. Christopher Gable's treading a tightrope of ham as Sharaz Jek but pitches it perfectly. Very hard one to call but he nails it. Peter Davison's reactions to Jek are great here, really helping convey the depths of Jek's madness and the Doctor's concern for Peri. And it continues to be a standout score of impending doom from Roger Limb.

'Who's responsible? Not me matey'

But as said, above and beyond everything it's the words that count here. Dialogue to savour and pinpoint precise plotting. The gunrunners stuff is very adult in tone: 'Come on you slut! Bite!' Yerse. Jek not realising that it's the hated Morgus who's supplying him with arms. His insane desire to preserve Peri's youth forever with Spectrox. And John Normington's Morgus again stands out. A truly, truly chilling villain, perhaps 'Who's' plain nastiest and most ruthless ever. Seriously no redeeming features: Love his changing the minutes silence to half a minute! Closing factories in the west to open them in the east, as what are effectively slave labour camps. Darkly philosophical and uber cynical, it's Holmes's bleakest and greatest script. The Magma Creature wobbles about a bit and Davison gets his final dodgy monster cliffhanger. (The creature seems to have had roaring lessons from 'Dinosaur Invasions' T-Rex.) But 13++ again here, no doubt about it.

'No you can't have any more! Bloody tourists!'

Episode 3


'I owe it to my friend because I got her into this...so you see, I'm not going to let you stop me now!' Davison is pushed from pillar to post in this but still comes defiantly, wryly through. Morgus's killing the President is still shocking in its casual brutality. Quite took me aback on first viewing. Also the Doctor's allowing Morgus's paranoia free reign and the latters effectively playing himself for a fool. Nice.

Maurice Roeves's Stotz is a deep end, nasty shark of a character, forever circling with menaces. And Jek has truly gone off the deep end with Peri-'We could think of the future'. It's truly pathetic and sails dangerously close to bathetic. This is probably the standout episode of an all time standout story. The Doctor's never seemed more alone, or more vulnerable, surrounded by idiot military and a jeering gallery of mercenaries and madmen. Peri's utterly lost and it's only by sacrificing himself that he'll save her but so be it. Davison's vulnerable, Orlando-esque Doctor is the perfect match for the scenario, the lamb to the slaughter that aces it. And oh that cliffhanger...13+++.

'Davison Masterclass XII: Death with Cleavage. Phenomenal.'

Episode 4

Crash dive ascent.

There's really very little left to say about this. 'Salateen-hold me'. Yes indeed. Bleak poignancy all over the shop. Everyone dies (well, nearly)-Salateen, Chellak, Stotz, Morgus, Jek, the Doctor. It's relentless. While Krau Timmin survives. (To perpetuate the corruption?) That location pursuit of the Doctor is some of the best quarry work ever in 'Who'. So dark and so adult, it's Holmes's greatest and grimmest gift to 'Who'. 13+++ here and 13+++ overall without a shadow of a doubt.

Although I gotta quibble Davison's name being left off the end credits-a JNT pettyism, nose out of joint when Davison turned down a fourth season? Who knows. And so weird to go from this to 'Twin Dilemma', which JNT apparently held to be the gem of the season. Double yerse. But sticking with 'Androzani', no it's not hard to see why it's topped the polls so many times. There're probably at least half a dozen that'd vie for the position for meself but I can understand the big ups. Burns itself into yer memory akin to 'Blake' at the conclusion of 'Blake's 7'. Unforgettable and a personal valediction for the Doctor amidst the soulless, money grubbing politicking'n'business.

'I have seen the future-it is murder.'


Peter, Peter, Peter...An astonishingly good, subtly mannered actor. An era with some astonishingly good, subtly mannered writing'n'production. But.....This is undeniably where an overly backward looking malaise starts to creep into 'Who'.

'Dream Time'

Studio bound or no (You can do a 'Jungle Pot Plant' Face Off with 'Planet of the Daleks') this is a lyrical but disturbing piece, very uncompromising with the predatory Mara. From within and so without and vice versa- Time's Wheel stuck in a fast splintering rut. Oh for a third TV Mara script from Mr Bailey...Simply outstanding.

'Adric bricks it as the Doctor refuses to back down over a celery lapel being essentially pointless.'

The diametric opposite of 'Kinda', plot'n'tropes wise but easily it's equal if still something of a guilty pleasure. And yeah, once you've seen the episode 1 cliffhanger and the close.....it still has real, erm, impact actually. Sorry Adric. Significant for a companion death involving someone who's been there over the longer haul in the TARDIS. Plus outstanding in a guilty pleasure way as said, 'Kinda's' opposite it may be but same director in Peter Grimwade. Deft moves guy.

'Glorious self-delusion- all that we are is but an illusion within an illusion. Sublimation'n'Compensation fur immer.'

One of those stories where you can trot out the 'Ben Johnson/Shakespeare/Aphra Behn in Space' line but it holds true. Very cultured, lyrical, poetical, wise. All hands rise to the occasion, in front of and behind the cameras. Utterly outstanding, arguably Davison's best, equaling if not quite surpassing 'Androzani'. I've seen accusations of 'dull but worthy' but check yer chakras Reverend/M'aam, this has got soul I tell ye.

'The Five Doctors'
'Who's wearing the Time Trousers?'

What more is there to say about 'The Five Doctors'? Why is it on this list? To take 'em in order, not a lot really- Pertwee shines, Davison's great, Troughton's a grouchy comic skit and they get his hair wrong, Hurndall's passable. Tom is taking the proverbial in answer to the second: Meta-significant for the first (only?) utilisation of footage from a previous unbroadcast story to fill in the cracks/gaps. It's watchable but only here for the latter point truly.

'The Caves of Androzani'
'Brutal Bob. Beautiful but brutal.'

Unique (if ripped off- Bob re-running himself), so ugly it's beautiful. (Saward will imitate this to varying effect the following season.) A breath-taking, out of breath finish for Five. Davison goes out on 'Who's' arguable all time high point thus far, power, corruption'n'lies writ dark/stark. Outstanding all over the shop. Meta-significant for Davison getting hurried out the door by JNT and Colin Baker swiftly ushered in, a jarring 'in season' regeneration that did not turn out well in any aspect. Hey-ho...

Yeah, still with the meta-significance, Davison latterly pondering maybe he should've done four seasons. Losing the Dalek finale in season 20,going out a story early in 21- nineteen stories as opposed to a potential/rightful twenty-onetwo*. H'mm...A shorter run (and things'll get shorter in the near future!), there are isolated instances of the truly outstanding here but they're lost amidst a rising tide of bland, overtly-backward looking box-ticking. Borrowed time, I greet ye...

*Sensational maths there Gantry.
Absolutely nothing compares, before, since or at the time- in a class/dimension of its own. Others are its equal but also uniquely their own thang....

First Contact: Original ’79 transmission.

The Lowdown: Which came first, the Chicken or the Jagaroth?

Preramble: Upper Echelon.

'Lovely day for it.'

Episode 1

A crack in time saves Four innit? Sometimes you’ve just gotta’ go with the flow. This one sings. All of it. Lovely model work for the Jagaroth ship on prehistoric Earth. Yes, we’ve got a hilarious ‘spaghetti head’ alien but it works. And then some. Tom and Lalla are just masterful here. All the location stuff in Paris from director Michael Hayes compliments them perfectly. Dudley Simpson’s score is his best ever for ‘Who’ without a doubt, a thing of joy. Yeah, I’m singing from a formulaic hymn sheet of praise but sometimes you’ve just gotta’ go with the (time) flow (analogue)…

'The Countess Scarlioni-Discretion and Wilfull Blindness a speciality.'

Julian Glover and Catherine Schell as the Count and Countess Scarlioni are absolutely superb. Glover, especially, is gloriously languid. And I adore Tom Chadbon’s Duggan, storming in at a right angle from ‘Bullldog Drummond’. Loving the genre crash. The inane’n’sly meta-commentary on the ‘Boys Own’ adventure tropes amidst the effortless daftness of it all. Also the ‘wankers’ sign from the French extra in the background as the Doctor’s group conflab in the café! 13+++ with 24 carat, diamond encrusted gold plating. G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

'Heavens to Betsy! The omni-rumour was true! It's the complete seasons two through six! You old devil Scarlioni!'

Episode 2

That prosthetic Jagaroth head is just daring you to laugh-they really, truly don’t care: We are ‘Doctor Who’ and this is what we do. Suspend your disbelief or don’t forget your coat on the way out. Mind the dodgy backdrop. This is on fire, lordy but it’s good. A juggernaut of class. Tom and Lalla are on electric form, sparking off and sparring with Julian Glover and Catherine Schell. Ably supported by fall guy/straight man Duggan. Glover, once again, is just purring his way through this. Sharp dressed alien to boot.

'Brown study'

Dudley’s score remains superb, lifting things still further. As for the script, you could quote the whole damn thing. You know the drill:

What a wonderful butler-he’s so violent!
You’re a beautiful woman. Probably.
Duggan! What are you doing?! That’s a Louis Cairns!
My dear, no one could be as stupid as he seems.
Or my personal favourite, after Duggan’s whacked the Sonic Screwdriver into life: ‘Would you like to stay on as my scientific advisor?

And so on and so forth…The atmosphere builds deliciously with the discovery of the bricked up Mona Lisas. Spooky touches such as Scaroth’s true face turning up in the time gubbins. A serious, serious contender for greatest ever individual episode of ‘Who’ in what’s arguably the greatest ever story. 13+++. Lordy.

'Romana-she probably knows what we're thinking too'

Episode 3

And it continues to be pretty effortlessly glorious. The Duggan-Romana dynamic is priceless: ‘You know what I think?’ – ‘Probably’. Tom’s 16th Century interrogation by the Captain Tancredi version of Scaroth is hilarious. Peter Hawkins is great value as the guard. But there’s a real sense of build here as well, with Tom running through the streets of Paris back in the 20th Century. I find myself having very little to say because frankly, that would be silly in the presence of genius. Douglas Adams’s greatest gift to ‘Who’, this’ll outlast the heat death of the universe I tell ye. There’ll always be Paris.

'Although she may be in difficulty with Duggan here-he appears to be having trouble getting the thought out'

The Count ageing Professor Kerensky to death is an abruptly cruel moment. Lovely amused sadism from Glover. Granted this is generally as daft as a hatstand but it’s underscored with some real dark philosophy fer sure. David Graham, as Kerensky, has maybe been slightly too caricature but if you’re looking for a weak link, he ain’t it. What can you really say? It’s a thing of beauty innit-beautifully shot, scored, acted, designed. And as for the script-wowzas! 13+++ with knobs on again.


Episode 4

John bloody Cleese and Eleanor Bron. Best. Scene. Ever. The frantic location running about the place-‘Is no one interested in history?!’ And of course, ‘the most important punch in history!’ Lalla Ward is just commandingly good here. And I do feel the tiniest, strangest bit of sympathy for Scaroth-psycopathically ruthless alien jerk that he was. One of the best villains ever from Julian Glover, up there with Davros and Sutekh for meself. Could he have survived, fractured still further, I wonder?

'Great ship'

But I’m back on the quotes: ‘I can’t let you fool about with time.’ – ‘What else do you ever do?!’ Lovely. And oh that sweeping, atmospheric ending, panning up and away from the Eiffel Tower. And how I wish they’d kept Duggan on as a Season 17 companion, could have dropped him back in Cambridge with ‘Shada’. (‘Shaaadaaa!!’ Sorry.) Missed a trick there I tell ye.

‘City of Death’. It has no cause to be here and thus it is. Embrace. Enjoy. Celebrate. Makes me glad to be alive, glad to be a fan and puts a broader and broader grin on my face every time I watch it. So be thankful yer living, march to your front like a true fanboy/girl and go and watch it now. ‘Who’ to die for. 13+++ yet again here and 13+++ overall.

'Sharp dressed spaghetti head'
Baker (With a T)

Yes, an era wherein I'm not including opening or closing stories. Neither is particularly outstanding and the game-changing moves are to be found elsewhere in the run. Yes, arrival and exit of titular character is significant, granted, but here it really ain't, I'll come the long way round back to that...

'The Ark in Space'
'Icky, innit?'

Significant as the true start of the Fourth Doctor's TV tenure. And by crimminy did that bubble wrap grub'n'transformations scare the heck out of me as a kid. And a truly outstanding tale from now script editor Robert Holmes. Gloriously icky (if occasionally wobbly) and a very human heart (and playing of) at the core of the antiseptic space doughnut. As it were.

'Genesis of the Daleks'
'The Doctor may get the upper hand but the moral degradation and squalor are Davros's fur immer Reverend'

I mean, wowza's...Outstanding for Michael Wisher's Davros alone but there's so much more...script, direction, ye aulde (a)morality, giant clams...yerse. Now granted, Pertwee was 00Who on occasion, sent on a Time Lord mission or two but this is more Rassilon Supremacy/Conspiracy. Game-changing on the count of a first, blatant instance on TV of the Time Lords encouraging the Doctor to, er, 'nudge' history a tad. Significant in giving us a Dalek creator figure/origin story with Davros and apocalyptic, radiation blasted Skaro. One of the greats whichever way you square it.
'Pity? That word is not registered in my vocabulary bank.' Shivers.

'The Pyramids of Mars'
'A big (spare third) hand for Sutekh, Last of the Osirans'

I just love it Reverend. Several contenders for this sorta' outing with Baker T but I reckon this is the truly outstanding ace in the pack. Yep, there's a pyramid sized plot hole you could drive a thousand fold slaves through in episode 4 but...A pseudo-historical, goth(ish) horror, Osiran zombie grotesque classic. Significant also for the 'blasted alternate future'/'We have to go back' moment in episode 2 which would seem to contradict 'Genesis' 's 'a bit of a nudge doesn't matter' vibe. So meta-significance also in flagging up the 'making it up as we're going along' feel of the era. But basically glorious. (And yeah, I know, 'fixed points in time' but I'll come back to that with Ten!)

'The Brain of Morbius'
'Scary Faced Morbius, he gonna' glower at you in stone.'

Oh but this is a contentious one for some. But there's no dodging the fact that the production team intended those extra 'Mind Bending' faces as pre-Hartnell Doctors. So a bit of a game-changer in establishing the possibility of pre-'Unearthly Child' shenanigans with other Doctors, although it remains largely unexplored. That aside it's significant for the introduction of a key figure in Time Lord mythology, rebel would be dictator Morbius plus The Sisterhood of Karn. Also confidently outstanding for our core cast and a smoothly stunning guest turn from Philip Madoc as Mehendri Solon.

'The Deadly Assassin'

'A situation so hysterical the Master has quite literally corpsed.'

Much feted but, as with 'Pyramids', does go off the boil a tad in the last episode. But nary mind 'cos this is again outstanding: Roger Murray-Leach's set design, the performances, the snarky tautness of the politically literate script, episode 3's Matrix nightmare. Significant for the alteration of the presentation of Time Lord society, the grubby underbelly of the pomp'n'circumstance. Plus tantalising insight into the Doctor's background, a Prydonian renegade no less vicar. And game-changing in that quiet insertion of the 'Thirteen Lives' maxim. (For now.)

'The Robots of Death'
'Yer Creepy Mechanical.'

Well wow again. Simply outstanding. Beautiful to look at as well as being beautifully played/written/designed/directed. Props. And great headgear abounds. Which is nice.

'The Talons of Weng-Chiang'
'Magnus Greel- he plays the game for the merciless sadism's own sake'

Time bent out of shape. (Literally) warped future criminal caught in the unedifying altogether in merciless Jack's bloody London. Reality may I introduce you to this pantomime recreation? Mama, weer all sketched by Bob's uncomplimentary, unforgiving (unreconstructed) eye now. Beyond outstanding.

'The Ribos Operation'
'When we were walking up the stair, we met ourselves- we were not there. We were not there again today- best do as Guardian asks, hooray!'

Well a game-changer fer sure, in inserting Guardians Black and White into the 'Who' canon. Celestial Absinthe? Don't mind if I do. Although not a trope that's latterly been made much of, bar various licensed fanwank of 'The Additional Guardians of Pastel Wax Crayons'. Which was nice but not ultimately much of a thing. The story here as is, well, it's Bob Holmes's oft overlooked masterpiece for meself. Spearing the cosmic and the commonplace with a brutal eye, low key outstanding. Beyond outstanding for the 'you were right' scene with Binro and Unstoffe. And a little bit significant for our first (and to date only) Time Lord companion (Missy's something different again) in Romana, capable of out-thinking and out-smarting our main character when needs must.

'City of Death'
'Glorious my dears, glorious.'

Significant for seeing our first overseas filming in 'Who' and very nice it is too. Impeccably outstanding on every other level (special mention to Dudley Simpson's score) from teeth and curls to the double waters and the fracture in time.

'Not back in time for tea. Because tea never happened. Or did it?'

One that always causes a pang- partial absence making the heart grow fonder in my case. So some unfortunate meta-significance for being the (to date) only 'Who' actually terminally stalled in production. Shame as I seriously think it could have been on for an outstanding if complete, Season 17's silver to 'City's' gold.

'The Leisure Hive'
'End of the pier preja-vu: Everything's about to go a bit pantomime horse.'

Massively significant for the huge change in tone as the production team changes (JNT- initials that'll loom large over the remainder of '63-'89 vintage 'Who') and Tom Baker's Doctor enters his twilight period, end of the pier indeed, no shore-line in sight...Splish, splosh, sploosh...is that entropy between me toes?

A long-running era that rarely looks to the past (Chris Chibnall please take note!*) but rather coalesces and effervesces on the spot/hoof, really rather gloriously...and yer, returning to me original thortlets...Outside of the opening and closing seasons twelve and eighteen, the central five, from autumn '75 through early winter '80 are singular. The one instance when it wasn't a case of '... ..... is Doctor Who' but 'Doctor Who is Tom Baker.' Geezer. Although interestingly not a majorly game-changing era or one with many truly significant moments. And the game-changing stuff is often backgrounded or throwaway lines that have impact/come back to haunt us down the line. More just consistently brilliant in a creative sense, concerned mostly with having fun'n'scares'n'atmosphere and selling 'em hard: 'Doctor Who circa Baker T Era- 'Everybody's Programme That It's Hard To Ignore' (Chris Chibnall please take note again!**)

Okay, mildly giving the game away that I'm in a 'hold'n'repeetz' with minor tweaks phase at present..

But truth be told, I think Chibnall made good on both of those with Series 11 and long may it continue for meself- although I'm 5 odd months into one of me periodic 'turning a blind eye to news/forums/fandom/gossip' and thus far have succeeded in remaining gloriously unaware of anything going on with/down with the current TV incarnation. Which as burbled elsewhere earlier, I hope to carry through to April 2020 and come to Series 12 (or absence of!), in whatever form that may be, totally fresh/unprepared.

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Kert Gantry

Author:Kert Gantry
Loving the Who from a very early age and invariably banging on about it. Hence the blog.

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