Season 21 of Doctor Who, after the fairly light-hearted adventures of both the twentieth anniversary season and Davison’s first, going for a more serious, darker tone as the Doctor’s adventures start to come to great cost to his companions and allies.
The first adventure of the season has the Doctor once again involved in the war between the reptilian Silurians/Sea Devils and humans, with the added wrinkle of a human cold war also going on. Although the Doctor once again tries to broker a peace, distrust on both sides ultimately ends with everyone dead but the Doctor and his companions. The Doctor laments:
There should have been another way!
The next adventure finds the Doctor and co. involved in a re-enactment of the English Civil War, which is also being manipulated into a ‘real’ war by an alien entity. This adventure ends up somewhat better.
Next, in the far future, the Doctor helps the survivors of a colony ship in the far future from being exploited by the mining slug creatures, the Tractators. However, when the Doctor is about to leave, the TARDIS is dragged into a “time corridor”, a sort of cheap time vortex-a technology used by….
Daleks. This time, their plan is to free Davros, held on an Earth prison station in the future after being captured and put on trial by the Fourth Doctor. The Daleks have mostly lost their war with the Movellans, when the Movellans released a virus that attacked their organic components-and they need their creator for the cure. The samples of the virus are kept on twentieth century Earth, and being investigated by the army and later, the Doctor, who eventually learns that his old enemies are behind this. In addition, since their ranks have been thinned by the virus, the Daleks are also supplemented by mercenaries (led by a man called Lyyton) and a group of brainwashed clones. They also plan to make a clone of the Doctor, and use that clone against Gallifrey.
Davros is revived, but has plans of his own-he intends to bring the bring the Daleks under his control, correcting the flaw that led to his initial demise. He is able to brainwash a group of Daleks into following him, which doesn’t sit well with the regular Daleks.
This begins a Dalek civil war of sorts, with the two factions of Daleks battling each other. The Doctor and his companions (as well as Lytton and Davros) survive the carnage, but the adventure leaves Tegan fed up with the death and destruction of the Doctor’s latest adventures, and she decides to leave.
“Braveheart, Tegan. Doctor, I will miss you!”
The next adventure wraps up Turlough’s story, as the Master is once again up to no good. Seizing control of the Doctor’s shape-changing robot friend, Kamelion, the Master takes control of the TARDIS, which has another stowaway-young Peri Brown, an American student on vacation with her stepfather at an archaeological dig. Turns out the Master is trapped on the planet Sarn-a colony of Turlough’s people-and wants to use the restorative flames to revert him back to his normal size after a failed experiment with his deadly shrinking ray, the “Tissue compression eliminator”. The Doctor is able to defeat the Master-and unfortunately forced to kill Kamelion. Turlough, in the meanwhile, discovers his exile from his planet has been lifted, and decides to go back home. The Doctor takes Peri as his companion.
The next adventure takes the Doctor and Peri to the caves of Andorzani minor. The planet is, however, the site of a brutal drug war. A restorative drug called “Spectrox” is being mined on the planet, but is being hoarded by the masked criminal Sharez Jek and an army of androids. Androzani Major’s army-led by a dubious company official who disfigured Jek many years ago is trying to defeat Jek and free the Spectrox supply. The Doctor and Peri are caught in the crossfire and manipulated by both sides, and what’s worse, they’re dying-while exploring the mines they unwittingly pick up a deadly infection from unrefined Spectrox, causing them to break out in rashes and suffer nerve damage. As the war heats up (literally, as the caves are also filled with scolding mudbursts)-The Doctor rushes to find a cure, hidden in the deep bowels of the caves and harvested from bats. Retrieving Peri from Jek’s lair, he runs to the TARDIS, and is able to give Peri the antidote. Unfortunately, he loses his portion, and succumbs to the virus. As Peri helplessly watches, he starts to regenerate. He begins to hallucinate his companions encouraging him to survive-including the deceased Adric-as well as the Master asking him to give up and die.
“You must survive, Doctor!”
Finally, the regeneration is complete. The Doctor is now a slightly older, curly-haired man with blond hair and a somewhat arrogant look. The Doctor is now in his sixth incarnation-and things won’t be quite the same way again.
“Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon.”