9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Delta fits the new series format better than most other original series stories, 25 Mar 2009
Delta and the Bannermen is not the most loved Doctor Who story of all time. It comes from the season least liked by fans on every major poll be it Outpost Gallifrey or Doctor Who Magazine. That'd be Season 24 broadcast in 1987, Sylvester McCoy's first. I'll go into why I think that later but first to the story and my premise alluded to in the title.
As lowly regarded as that season is the funny thing about it is that Delta would fit much easier and more readily into the new series with the fewest amount of changes to the basic story then say The Seeds of Doom and many other of the lauded classics. Delta has a lot of regular people set in an urban style environment with a comic air while The Seeds of Doom has politicians and scientists and is set in spartan areas be they the outpost in the first section of the story or out in the country. Very unlike the new series.
I could easily see Delta as a new series Christmas Special. Set it at Christmas, add a world destruction threat and you're there. I mean Gavrok is totally a new series baddie type. Scorby's villainy is way too intense for the new series as is the Keeler transformation and all the violence.
The new series is very much an Earth and urban based show with a lot of characters with an East Enders style slant to them. That is to say common on the street people. Not scientists, military or "elite" type people that the series had a lot of in the past.
If you're someone new to the original series and want an introduction to it that has a new series feel then I'd recommend this story over most other releases. It's fast and fun, McCoy's Doctor is very new series style here where he's out to have a good time but annoyingly has to deal with OTT alien baddies that are such downers and McCoy and Tennant do share a lot of characteristics in common. Must be the Scottish connection.
A lot of fans that don't like this era and season in particular seem to think that the producers weren't trying anymore and find it poorly done. I think the idea that anyone wasn't really trying is just so unlikely in the extreme at any period in the show's history including now and I think the new series has had it's fair share of mediocre and poor stories.
The thing that I get from everything I've read, heard and found out about this period tells me that not only were they trying hard but that they were trying harder than at just about anytime in the series history.
They were trying to find a way to make the show to please the most important audience of all. The guys actually in charge (BBC Head of Drama and BBC1 Controller). The problem being those guys had no idea what to really make of the show because they really didn't care for it in concept regardless of who was actually producing it.
So you have a show where the higher-ups are totally fiddling with you by cutting your budget, giving you less preparation time and money than ever before and on top of that are sending mixed messages on the kind of show Doctor Who should be as opposed to what it had been and which they didn't care for. For these guys producing things like Spearhead from Space or Vengeance on Varos would be frowned upon as too serious, disturbing and inappropriate for children. It was like the show was starting all over again only without even half of the resources and virtually none of support that was necessary.
Head of Drama Johnathan Powell took the tack that Doctor Who was a kid's show and after S23 that was the tactic that had a large part in shaping the season. Think about the approach taken, the kind of stories done, the tone of the show, the way the Doctor was conceived and the reason why Sylvester got the job. Consider the other actors who were also up for the part like Ken Campbell and Chris Jury. S24 is very much Doctor Who as a more light-hearted vein, a colourful and comedic live action cartoon. It's not nearly as "serious" in a story sense and doesn't have the same approach to the baseline Doctor Who story sense seen in of any of the seasons before or after it.
Looking at the shape of the season you can see the style constantly moving and shifting as they try and balance those elements into the programme. From T&R which in many ways is the straightest story with those colourful elements imposed on the more semi-traditional type Who story to Paradise Towers which was the real start of the season in terms of that story intent. By the time they did Dragonfire they had come closest to balancing off the new and previous elements which is probably why that is the one that usually rates the highest in overall fan polls.
Delta is like the apex of the season in terms of the type of story the BBC seemed to want or at least what JNT interpreted them as wanting. I think after S24 they weren't as scrutinized at the planning stage so from then on they came to a better mix of the styles. Certainly in fan terms the progression is tremendous.
Outpost Gallifrey 40th Anniversary Season Average (McCoy)
05. S26 - 3.81
13. S25 - 3.46
26. S24 - 2.63
Imagine where S27 would have been and what they might have done if they did have 20-26 episode seasons.
Also to note Delta isn't as nearly as low rated by fans as people might think. It's low but not in the bottom 15 and still rates as being passable by the majority of fans.
OG 40th Anniversary Poll
139 Colony in Space 2.78
140 Meglos 2.77
141 Paradise Towers 2.76
142 The Horns of Nimon 2.75
143 Warriors of the Deep 2.73
144 Four to Doomsday 2.71
145 The Monster of Peladon 2.65
The Invisible Enemy 2.65
The Power of Kroll 2.65
148 Delta and the Bannermen 2.62
149 The Sensorites 2.61
150 The Time Monster 2.60