Come on, you could have had dinosaurs
We’ve enjoyed a great deal of the Fifth Doctor’s freshman season, as our previous episodes can attest. From ‘Castrovalva’ forward, there’s been a great deal to enjoy with his young and fresh take on the titular character, the idiosyncrasies, strengths, and foibles of his companions, the transition to BBC Radiophonic Workshop for episode score, and even the (cutting edge at the time) experimentation with in-studio and postproduction effects. The stories have varied in quality and compelling nature, but some have been true gems, while others were more dime-store jewelry. And that’s fine.
But you can’t always rest on your laurels.
Season 19 closes with a story that has too much of some things, not enough of others, and a thing or two that never should have been. ‘Time-Flight’ took off (pun intended) with all the right components and execution, but quickly began to break up by the midpoint in the tale. We do appreciate the true return to time travel as part of the plot development, and the idea of the Master playing “the spider in the web” drawing things back through time is a totally acceptable one, but the added layer of the ancient Xeraphin species and the wasted time swapping TARDIS parts to and fro leaves the whole viewing experience shaky at best. We won’t even get into the Kalid character choice.
By the time the story closes with what should be a dramatic and alarming cliffhanger — Tegan back at Heathrow just as she wanted, but not like this! — we felt too distracted by what was still unresolved, uncomfortable, or implausible in our minds from the 30 to 40 minutes of scenes just prior to appreciate where we were left.
Perhaps ‘Earthshock’ should have been the season finale…