Despite containing the two highest ever rated stories in the history of Doctor Who (Destiny of the Daleks
and City of Death
) -- though admittedly this success can be attributed to industrial action which put ITV off the air -- season seventeen is not generally held in very high regard.
Though this is mainly due to a perceived general decline in production values brought on by the rampant inflation of the late seventies, some have blamed the drop in standards on the more comedic themes favoured by Douglas Adams. Others have even pointed the finger at Tom, citing what they belive to be his over the top performance.
Yet despite the general feeling held by fandom -- reflected by a recent DWM poll, which placed the final three stories of the Graham Williams era in 184, 167 and 189th place respectively -- all three stories attracted an average audience of nine million viewers.
The most successful of the final three stories, 1979's The Creature from the Pit
was watched by ten million people, and is my second favourite story of the season, only losing out to the mighty City of Death
Boasting an impressive cast consisting of the strangely erotic Myra Francis, the wonderfully sinister Eileen Way and one time potential fourth Doctor, Graham Crowden, David Fisher's script -- albeit light weight -- is full of slapstick humour, memorable scenes and is positively littered with terrific one-liners, though I think it is safe to assume that Tom -- ever conscious of pleasing his young audience -- would have had a lot of input into his lines. Certain members of the supporting cast also get in on the act, with Adrasta's wonderfully absurd outburst "Point the dog at the rock...!"
A truly disastrous, yet hilarious piece of dialougue!
In fact it is testimony to his acting talents and larger than life performance that Tom could take such a troubled production and turn it into a work of art, though he is helped along the way by some terrific performances from Francis, Way and Crowden, and despite the frankly awful realisation of the Tythonian ambassador, Creature from the Pit
never fails to entertain, and is long overdue a DVD release.
Rating: 3 Tom's out of 5