Douglas Adams and Season 6 of "Doctor Who"

We know that Adams was a big DW fan in his younger days. My theory is that the Golden Age of DW dates from the season when the viewer was 9. In my case, that was season 14, which pretty much was the greatest season of al time. In Adams's case, of course, he was 9 in 1961, so that doesn't work. Instead, he have to assume that by the time he reached the sixth form, he, for some reason, found himself in a state particularly suited to absorbing influences from the programme.

  • "The Dominators". So bad even the producers noticed and cut it down by an episode. Here we have rubbish aliens, the Dominators, invading a planet where the indigenous race, the Dulcians, is even more rubbish. And the Dominators have robot sidekicks, the Quarks, who are... rubbish. Also this compounded by inept direction and ludicrous casting. But watch as though it were meant to be funny and it's suddenly a Hitch-Hiker episode. It also clearly was something Adams was channelling "The Pirate Planet", which is, of course, much, much better, but the Mentiads owe something to the Dulcians
  • "The Mind Robber" is, in contrast, great and not just the first episode added to replace the deleted episode from "The Dominators". Gulliver speaks only lines from Gulliver's Travels, the kind of thing that a bright A-Level English Literature would pick up on. The revelation about the characters being embedded in Story agains feels like something that could have been in Hitch-Hiker as does the generally surreal feel of the whole confection
  • "The Invasion" is less obvious at first sight, but the computer receptionist at International Electromatics and the Cybercontroller are obvious influences on Adams's many uncooperative AIs (the Doctor famously states "I hate computers and refuse to be bullied by them", which seems a strong opinion in the 2010s). Also, the Cybermen are a rubbish monster
  • "The Krotons": a Bob Holmes script, the first for DW. The planet feels very Hitch-Hiker again. The Krotons are another rubbish race of imperialist aliens lording it over a cowed indigenous population that is rubbish. Lawrence Miles did do something to rehabilitation of the Krotons in Alien Bodies.
  • "The Seeds of Death" again has rubbish aliens, the Ice Warriors, aliens even more rubbish than the Cybermen, which is, frankly saying something. Also the transmat feel quite Adamsian as well as the rocket technology now being confined to a (rubbish) museum. Professor Eldred is clearly a model for Slartibartfast
  • "The Space Pirates": not generally well-regarded. But supposed to have good model work. This is another Bob Holmes story and the dialogue in the episode that survives seems snappy enough to me. I suspect this is one that worked a lot better at the time and the general space opera vibe is quite Adamsian
  • "The War Games" is good. But the idea of the different groups of soldiers endlessly unknowingly continuing to fight out their wars on an alien planet feels like an Adams idea. As, of course, so the god0like Time Lords and even the fates of the Doctor and Jamie and Zoe.

By season 7, we are into the UNIT years, which aren't really very Adams-like. Of course, earlier stories also influenced Adams ("The Key of Marinus", rubbish aliens in "The Sensorites" and "The Space Museum", the weirdness of "The Web Planet", the picaresque quality of "The Chase"), but coming after a season of base under siege, I thin it's clear that it was the opening out of the programme in 1968-9 that really planted the seeds that bloomed in Adams own work. We might wonder what DW would have been like had it continued along the season 6 lines, as, of course, it eventually did do. But season 6 was the nadir in terms of ratings, so perhaps without the Pertwee relaunch, the show would have ended. The last episodes of "The War Games" do conclude the story arc of the six seasons and there are timelines out there in which that's all we have and if DW is remembered at all, it is remembered as a strange 1960s curio and for for the Cushing films