Apparently, there was some off-screen drama that occurred before the filming of this season regarding the production crew and budget for the show. The drama had its effect on the quality of the show.
The fourth season with Tom Baker as the Doctor begins inauspiciously, with the appearance of a predatory luminescent alien jellyfish hunting humans during Victorian times in a foggy foreboding English lighthouse. Sadly, things don’t get much better as the season progresses. The next few series present a giant crustacean intent on conquering the universe, a coven of warlocks with murderous alien slugs and a glowing psycho-kinetic skull, a megalomaniac corporate executive, and black and - umm... - white-hooded slave-drivers. This all sounds like fun and games, but the tone of the show this season, with some exceptions, is far too serious to be combined effectively with the silly elements/humor of the show. It simply doesn’t work. The only notable exception is The Sun Makers. When watching it, turn your brain off and enjoy the campy humor and exemplary "over-the-top" comedic acting. Even a return to Gallifrey and Sontarans can’t save this season. I give you exhibit A: During a very important ceremony, important Gallifreyian relics are solemnly carried on - wait for it - red plastic inflatable pillows. Oh... and the end of the Chancellor’s staff is clearly wrapped in bubble wrap. And the Doctor saves the day using a [email protected]
$$ gun??? How sad...
On a positive note, Leela returns. Her character was written and acted wonderfully. Strong, intelligent, and capable, yet compassionate, sensitive, and sympathetic (when she isn’t filleting someone), she is one of the Doctor’s best companions of all time IMO. K-9 makes its first appearance and saves the Doctor’s unappreciative hide numerous times.
Highlights include a scene showing number two control room of the Tardis (closed for redecoration, according to the Doctor - In reality, the previous season’s “steam-punk” set was damaged during the break). Something you wont see very often: The Doctor fires a shotgun at an alien. In The Invisible Enemy, look closely, and you’ll find a red sign that reads “Kryogenics Sekshun”. then another that reads “Shutle Airlok”, and another “Egsit”, and another “Isolayshun Ward”, and yet another “Imurjinsee Egsit” - LOL. The Doctor and Leela, after going on a ... “fantastic voyage” ... get vaporized, leaving only the Doctor’s scarf, and Leela’s hair and knife on the ground - OMG - so funny. Oh... and Leela gets dressed in a green plastic bodytight... nuff said.
There were many moments and character’s behaviors this season that left me scratching my head (The Invisible Enemy practically made me bald...). For example, the Doctor refers to humanity as a disease (when humans come together in large numbers, he says). In another scene (one among many weird events/behavior), the Doctor uncharacteristically becomes easily mind-controlled. Also, there are “primitives” on Gallifrey??? And Leela’s ridiculous departure??? Yikes...
Streaming quality was excellent, well worth the britbox fee.
Overall, although most of the series were mind-numbingly slow and poorly written/produced for my taste, the season was still fun to watch at times, and worth a watch for any fan, at least once so that you can say that you’ve seen it. Sorry, I wish I could honestly rate higher, but I’ve gotta sadly give this season only 3 stars.