A Critique of the Gothic Seasons

Yes, I know I’ve already done that joke… but it’s too good not to overuse.  Here’s my stuff from Timelash II for the first three years of Tom’s tenure, generally regarded as the “golden age” (or something) of the old show.  Not much extra stuff.  Sorry.  Oh, one warning: at several points in the essay below I will be going into gush mode.  You have been warned.


Dafter than the Rt. Hon. Lady Daftetta Daftington-Dafton of Daftwood Hall, Daftfordshire. A robot that grows to the size of King Kong (and starts acting like him)… a disintegrator gun kept in pieces and scattered in different locations… a government think tank that turns out to be a cover for fanatical right-wing scientific ‘progressives’ who think a good way to take over the world would be to destroy it first… umm, well actually the last ten years or so have made that last one seem quite plausible.

This is set in a world in which ‘bad’ scientists are spottable by their evil suits and ties, their evil black armbands and their evil black leather gloves; meanwhile ‘good’ scientists all work on renewable fuels, have bottle-end spectacles (as distinct from the evil little Himmler spectacles worn by ‘bad’ scientists) and cardigans and wildly unkempt hair.

But all that is nothing compared to the idea that, as Wikipedia puts it: “to ensure peace, the governments of Russia, China and America decided to give the locations and launch codes of their nuclear weapons to a neutral country — Britain — for safekeeping”.

Words fail me.

As in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’, people who have an ideological desire to make a better world are portrayed as deluded, ruthless, callous fanatics.

Of course, you can simply decide not to worry about any of this (just as you can decide not to worry about the fact that the giganticized robot spends a lot of time carrying a wobbly doll and attacking tonka trucks) and enjoy this for the utter hokum that it is.

This is the last gasp of the detumescent Letts/Dicks comfy-cosy-nicey-wicey-matey-watey style (complete with the usual bit of largely-fatuous liberal/moralistic political comment). There’s something melancholy about watching a story with the Brigadier, Benton, UNIT HQ, Bessie, etc… but no Pertwee. I understand why they did it that way: if this new guy drives Bessie and the Brig calls him “Doctor” then he must be the same guy. But it just feels wrong somehow. And the style is past its prime. It’s done good service for a few years but now is clearly the time for it to be retired… which, fortunately, is precisely what happened. There are some eras that feel truncated wheras others end right on time, and ‘Robot’ is evidence that the Pertwee/Letts era was one of the latter.

I’ll post something about ‘The Ark in Space’ seperately, and I’ve done ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ here.

‘Terror of the Zygons’

Brilliantly done hokum. The direction is some of the best in the series: stylish, pacey, scary, beautifully cinematic (especially the location sequences which are amazing – they could be from a movie).…

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