|No matter how much she points at the naked lady|
with the Dalek, Steven’s attention will not be swayed
from the burly Vikings.
It’s July 3, 1965. The number one single is going to trade back and forth between Elvis and the Hollies before The Byrds storm in and take #1 with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Although the Byrds are American, this still seems like the completion of a deal that started back in The Reign of Terror, when Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to drugs. In turn, the Beatles, indirectly through The Byrds, introduce Bob Dylan’s sort of music to rock, creating folk rock. The day after the last episode of The Time Meddler, Bob Dylan plays his infamous electric concert at the Newport Folk Festival.
The comparisons to The Reign of Terror are apt, as this is the second time Dennis Spooner has been tapped to write a season finale. I was none too fond of his first story, and his second did not particularly endear itself to me either. The flip side of that, however, is that he’s been the script editor since The Rescue, which means he’s presided over an era that has, on the whole, been of more consistent quality than David Whitaker’s run of the first season. (Here we get the first script edited by Donald Tosh, who has no solo scripts on Doctor Who and is thus hard to judge in comparison with Whitaker and Spooner. But more on Tosh’s reign when we get to the end of it.)
With very few exceptions, it’s hard to draw clear lines of “eras” in Doctor Who. Doctor changes provide some sense of it, but, ignoring the 8th and 9th Doctors for obvious reasons, with only two exceptions these changes do not correspond with companion changes (The 3rd and 11th Doctors both started off with brand new companions), and only twice has the creative team shifted at the same time (The 4th and 11th, although the 4th was technically completed over two stories. To be fair, the 3rd and 7th Doctors had partial creative shifts as well, but only the 4th and 11th did full overhauls of the creative team). In many ways producers work better, but that’s not a perfect measure either. Seasons might work, except in the early days of the program stories were routinely produced at the end of one season to carry over into the next, requiring a distinction between production seasons and transmission seasons.
I say all of this because, muddy as it is, there’s a clear era shift going on here that is worth remarking on. The first season of Doctor Who was largely defined by its inconsistency. Significant chunks of it were not very good – The Keys of Marinus being the most uncontroversial example, though as I’ve said, I was no fan of The Reign of Terror (though I’m in the minority on that) or Marco Polo (I seem to be the only person to think that was a horrifically overlong mess of a story).…