Watching Doctor Who: Season 2
A time of changes and experimentation
I’m currently watching the classic series of Doctor Who on Britbox, attempting to watch all 26 series in 26 weeks. You can find my take on Season 1 here and I’m collecting my thoughts as I go in a Twitter thread.
There’s a process of transformation that takes place throughout the second season of Doctor Who, as a series that started as something that might be running for just thirteen weeks understands that it’s been a hit and is going to be carrying on for a while. One of the consequences of that realisation is the production team having to decide exactly what sort of TV it is that they want to make, and by the end of this season they’re just about there in making Doctor Who as we understand it.
They do a lot of experimentation on the way there and season two features some pretty wild swings in style between stories. The quality also swings wildly too, but what’s interesting from my experience in fandom is that just about everything here will have people willing to laud it as the series at its best and an equal number willing to denounce it as just plain terrible. In that spirit, please accept that any opinions here are purely my own and praise or damn me as you see fit.
Season 2 starts with the series coming close to landing on a formula that will serve the series well for decades to come. The TARDIS lands on contemporary Earth and the crew get drawn into a tale where a scientist’s discovery is going to be exploited in a way that could lead to the end of the world…except they’re now only an inch tall, so their more pressing concern is being threatened by stock footage of a cat or by someone washing his hands. The regulars being shrunk was an idea the production team had wanted to do since the very first episode, but Planet Of Giants really doesn’t work as a story, looking more like a series of acting exercises (“now pretend you’re striking a giant match”) and you can see why it was hastily cut down from four episodes to three before transmission.
There are lots of flaws with The Dalek Invasion Of Earth: it’s too long and even by the standards of 60s Doctor Who the Daleks’ plan is utterly nonsensical, but when it works, it really works. This is where the Daleks as we know them — space Nazis, obsessed with…