Battle of the Seasons – Quarterfinals


It’s on to the quarterfinals, as we aim to find out which season of Doctor Who was the best ever… 


How do you like your eggs done? Sunny-side up or hard-yolk Gothic? It’s all a matter of taste, and neither season can sustain the flavour long enough to be the ‘definitive’ Fourth Doctor season (if there is such a thing). By Season 17, the series is winging along without a care in the world. Tom Baker could do no wrong, and Lalla Ward was the delight of the nation. The scripts were witty and life was high. But when push comes to shove, it’s Season 13, because spine-chilling cliffhangers built the series, and it’s the programme’s birthright to every young sofa-shielded viewer.  


Now the weak parts begin to show themselves. The Key to Time season – the first ‘arc’ in many a year, is, sadly, an imperfect beast. It has its ups and its downs, and structurally, it’s a bit wobbly with Megaran meanderings and a finale that’s at least one episode and an OTT performance from the lead too long. They say memory cheats, but Season 19 does have a more pleasant ‘aftertaste’ about it that Season 16, more fonder moments. So Season 19 it is. And by God, Season 19 – it’s so YOUNG! 


Mummy! Monsters everywhere – which to choose from? Season 14 definitely has the scares, but Tom in his ‘back off, I’m an alien’ phase does lack the warmth of Pat Troughton’s cosmic fun uncle. If all of Season 5 were still about and intact the answer might be different (as it was with its last-recovered story), but for many it’s still a gem waiting to be unearthed. People, it’s worth the dig. The quality of the stories, the acting and the heart behind Season 5 is a tough call to beat, and Season 14 just hasn’t the chops to stand up to it. 


What a difference fifteen years make, eh? Season 26 is a series in its dotage, still learning new tricks through denial of the old ones. Mysterious? Aloof? Unearthly? Done that – here’s another spin before tea-time and an early night. Truth be told, some of Season 26 creaks a little after all these years, and while Series 1 is by no means self-assured, it symbolically opens with a buzzing alarm clock, the rest has clearly done it good, and those old criticisms and bad jokes about Daleks, stairs and wobbly sets get sent packing. General “fan” opinion certainly makes this match-up a foregone conclusion, but when you consider the scripts and the care that was taken, and the gloss (taking into account the budget available)…well, in this case, the fans are right. Series 1 is the winner.

3 Responses to “Battle of the Seasons – Quarterfinals”

  1. Alden Says:

    I think that last one should be titled “Season 26 vs Series 1″ :)

  2. Thad Ritchards Says:

    The problem with comments like that is that now people are going ‘What?’
    (Although they might have been doing that anyway. How is Series 1 lasting so long??)

  3. Peter A Says:

    Being a child of the throwaway age and blessed with the attention span of a gnat, I’ve been known to swap my ‘series’ and ‘season’ references around mid-sentence!

    How about we rename Series One ‘The Eccleston Era’? :)

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