Starring Tom Baker as The Doctor
with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
and Louise Jameson as Leela

86 Masque of Mandragora

Tom Baker continues the swagger he had in "Seeds of Doom", dragging a mediocre story along through sheer wild-eyed energy. The rest of it is a bit of a mess, with the Mandragora itself less than convincing and the Italian setting failing to convince, despite lush filming at Portmeirion. The supporting performances are either sheer ham or utterly damp, with no middle ground. Pretentious dross.


87 The Hand of Fear

Elisabeth Sladen deserved a better last story, even if her final scenes are excellent. The script is an idiot plot, relying on coincidence and unwarranted stupidity from the characters and wasting some nice ideas in the process. Judith Paris excels, but it's a typically campy Baker/Martin story, not helped by poor production.


88 The Deadly Assassin

This must have made no sense to the general public in 1976, especially with the Doctor having no-one to explain things to, but as part of a larger whole it's hugely important. The Time Lords are revised in a gripping conspiracy thriller, and the Master is nearly realised at last (only the cop-out fake death really spoils things). Excellent stuff for the most part, and the definitive Gallifrey story.


89 The Face of Evil

The great idea of making a sequel to an untelevised story is a welcome innovation, while Leela is quickly established and the Sevateem are fleshed out nicely. Despite some neat ideas it falls apart a bit when the Tesh are brought into the mix, and once the reveal about the nature of Xoanon is made, the story loses direction.


90 The Robots of Death

Stunning design, a good setting and a carefully unfolded plot combine to provide a real classic. It helps that the supporting characters are well defined and superbly acted. Tom Baker puts in an excellent performance, while Leela is coming along nicely. Even the effects are good - one of the all-time best stories, and an ideal starting point for new fans interested sampling the older stuff.


91 The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Adeptly blending Victorian London and science fantasy, "Talons of Weng-Chiang" is literate and colourful. Both the bluff Jago and fascinated Litefoot are great, and get better when they're paired up later on. It does drag in places, not quite being up to supporting six episodes, and is ever-so-slightly overrated, but it's still incredibly good for the most part.