How good can a story be before its bad aspects are excusable?

The Talons Of Weng-Chiang
is notable for many things — it’s the last story for Philip Hinchcliffe as producer (and he let the show go so far over budget to make it a good one that the budget was slashed for future series…), it’s the last story that David Maloney ever directed for the show, it’s one of Robert Holmes’ best scripts — but there are two things that make it especially notable — the blatant racism, and the terrible special effect of a rat

Through the millennia, the Time Lords of Gallifrey led a life of peace and ordered calm, protected against all threats from lesser civilisations by their great power. But this was to change. Suddenly, and terribly, the Time Lords faced the most dangerous crisis in their long history…

I deny this reality. The reality is a computation matrix!

1975 was the last year that everything changed for Doctor Who. We’ve seen that there are three main forces behind the feel of Doctor Who , the producer, the script editor, and the star. Season 12, which started in the last week of 1974, was the last time that all three would change at once during the show’s original TV run. (Technically, producer Barry Letts stayed on for the first story of the season, after Pertwee and script editor Terrance Dicks had already left).

This means that Tom Baker’s first series was very different from anything that came either before or after.

It was the end…but the moment had been prepared for.

Far more than The Tenth Planet, The War Games was the end not just of a Doctor, but of Doctor Who itself as it had been known up to that point.

Sometimes the best creative work comes from having to work within restrictions imposed from outside. The Mind Robber is a perfect example of this. The story before, The Dominators, was originally meant to be a six-parter, but had to be cut down to five (thankfully, as it’s the most awful mess imaginable from every possible standpoint).

For some reason the scene above is a favourite of straight men, but few others…