Thursday, August 29, 2019

Doctor Who: in defense of "The Leisure Hive"

A set of seven underrated Classic Who serials that I consider worth revisiting, one for each Doctor. The series commences with "Terminus," then continues with "The Ark," "Delta and the Bannermen," "Death to the Daleks", "The Wheel in Space" and "Attack of the Cybermen."

The last of my seven “neglected or maligned” Classic Who serials, perhaps “The Leisure Hive” is the least likely entry. When its author David Fisher died in January of 2018, most fans hailed “Androids of Tara” or “Stones of Blood” as their favorite of his Who stories, but I saw quite a few single out “Leisure Hive.” And when the serial’s director Lovett Bickford passed away six months later, there were polls asking folks how they felt about his “Leisure Hive” helming (the serial went wildly overbudget, and Who producer John Nathan-Turner never asked Bickford back), and most thought quite highly of it. So I couldn’t argue that “Leisure Hive” is a maligned serial. But neglected? Yeah, I think so. I suspect if fans were asked to name their favorite Tom Baker stories, “Leisure Hive” wouldn’t make a lot of top-10 lists, but when I did my Classic Who countdown in the summer of 2018, “Leisure Hive” was my sixth favorite Fourth Doctor serial. It’s easily my favorite story of Season 18, and sits comfortably among my top-30 serials in the entire Classic Who canon.

How many fans would say that?