Companion: Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Directed by: Christopher Barry
Background & Significance: Jon Pertwee left the role of The Doctor after five solid years of stories. Again, he left a void, one to be filled by incoming producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and story editor Robert Holmes.
Hinchcliffe's vision of the show saw a departure from much of his predecessor, Barry Letts, who had relegated The Doctor to UNIT and Earth-based stories for about five years. Hinchcliffe (and his co-brain, Holmes) wanted The Doctor to get back to his pre-exile roots: as a traveling wanderer on the search for the next cool thing to see.
Interestingly enough, Tom Baker's kickoff story is not "Gothic horror" in the way the first three seasons under Hinchcliffe/Holmes are "Gothic". Outgoing script editor Terrance Dicks penned the story (under Robert Holmes's script editing) and - because Doctor Who was filmed in "production blocks", with the last story filmed in a given season's production blog being the first story broadcast for the next season - the story itself still fell under the production purview of Barry Letts before Hinchcliffe's assumption of the role, meaning that what we get is essentially a traditional UNIT story with Tom Baker as The Doctor.
But we get to see what it's like when Tom Baker picks up his role as The Doctor, bringing as much energy and strength to the role as he ever did, long before he became complacent and began going through the motions (which you can definitely see in the post-Hinchcliffe era when he starts, for lack of better term, phoning it in).
No. Each decision here is specific and well performed and well thought out. And it's damn good Tom Baker. Damn good. Probably my favourite of his so far.
So let's get to it!