Ladies and gentlemen, I HAVE SEEN EVERY EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO. Well, heard the soundtrack and seen telesnaps in some cases, but still. I’ve experienced every single televised story; every last moment of every single Doctor and every single companion. I have completed Doctor Who, until Christmas Day at least. This feels great.
And what a cracking story to end on. It felt like it was designed especially for me, not least because the Earthbound bits are set and shot within walking distance of my house. The pub where Ace empties the fruit machine is my nearest pub. Doctor Who literally went to my local. Although I’ve never seen Hale & Pace working in the shop next door. That was a bizarre piece of casting, but a successful one.
The authentic mundanity of the setting helped to sell the more surreal elements, and it made for an imaginative and exciting adventure, with the show doing what it does best by making the everyday unsettling. While the animatronic cats were the least convincing I’ve seen since Sabrina The Teenage Witch, the Cheetah People were nice and fearsome. The action sequences were fun, and the anthropomorphised cat-like behaviour was not quite as good as the stuff Danny John-Jules was doing at the time, but it was great nonetheless.
And my favourite foe The Master was back, after a very long gap by the standards of Ainley’s era. I’ve always harboured a theory that The Master’s characterisation directly matches whichever Doctor he’s up against, and the more sinister, mysterious and macabre portrayal here seems to confirm this. His single-minded pursuit of The Doctor, as a way of channeling the effects of the virus, was a joy to behold.
It was a fitting swansong in just about every regard, with Ace once more getting the chance to do things that were asked of very few previous companions. Sophie Aldred did a brilliant job when it came to flitting between normal and cat modes, and as a cat person myself – another reason this story was perfect for me – I identified with her relationship with Karra. I love my cats dearly too, despite the knowledge that they would happily hunt and kill me if they were hungry enough.
I don’t know whether it was the occasion making me emotional, but Karra’s cruel death – and Ace’s reaction to it – made me well up. She thought she’d lost The Doctor too, of course, and I’m not entirely clear on how he survived the giant motorcycle-based fireball and subsequent battle with the Master on an exploding planet. Nevertheless, his triumphant return to deliver a bittersweet yet rallying final speech was joyous, deeply satisfying and incredibly apt.
Not quite perfect, clearly the slightly botched results of unexpected circumstances, but doing the best it can and with its heart in the right place. It was an ending that expressed the ethos of the classic series perfectly. Thank goodness it was only a temporary pause in the grand scheme of things, but while it’s a crying shame that the curtain was brought down just as the show was back to its best, at least it ended on a high.
SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 7.75
- Seasons/Series watched: 26 of 35
- Stories watched: 155 of 263
- Individual episodes watched: 695 of 826
So what now for this journey, and this blog? A little over two years ago, I decided to set about filling in all the gaps in my Doctor Who knowledge, and now that objective is complete. But like I say, thankfully, the story doesn’t end here. I’ve watched from An Unearthly Child to Survival in order, but Survival isn’t the last episode of Doctor Who. And besides, I may have seen every episode, but not every special and spin-off. The only sensible option is to keep going.
As for the blog, well it’s probably going to simultaneously become both more frequent and less regular. Running times of my viewing material will vary, so I won’t always have time to watch daily. But on the other hand, the days of stories spanning several episodes are mostly gone, so whenever I do sit down to watch, a blog entry will usually follow. Out of necessity, these may be shorter than the current format, but if you’ve enjoyed joining me on this adventure so far, I’ll do my best to make you stick around.
And to those of you that have joined me, a huge thank you. I’ve loved doing this so much that I just have to tell people about it, and I’m just as excited to revisit the new series, and of course to tackle the various delights of the wilderness years first. Come on readers, we’ve got work to do.