The Doctor (Peter Davison) attempts to return Tegan (Janet Fielding) to Earth, but instead finds the TARDIS has materialized on an alien ship. The ship is run by the Monarch (Statford Johns) and his Urbankans. The Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) find it is a collection of humans from different time periods of Earth who have seemed to live for centuries. The Doctor must find what the Monarch is planning and why he has an interest in Earth.
Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday aired during the nineteenth season of the long running BBC series. The serial aired in four parts from January 18, 1982 to January 26, 1982. Following Doctor Who: Castrovalva, Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday was collected as part of The Peter Davison Years as Story #118 (or Story #117 depending on how you count the unaired Tom Baker serial Shada).
Peter Davison is trying to find his legs in this serial though you wouldn’t know it. There is little reference to the fact that Davison really doesn’t reference his recent regeneration…this is kind of the short-sighted nature of the early seasons of Doctor Who which (like a lot of television) didn’t consider rewatching and the invention of VHS, DVD, and beyond. It can be seen in recent Doctor Who seasons how regeneration is something that has a lasting effect (this was explored a bit more with Davison’s replacement Colin Baker).
The main villain in this serial is pretty weak and never fully develops. It has lots of filler with strange ceremonies and dancing Chinese dragons. The Monarch and his crew feel like they are the bottom of the Doctor Who barrel. It would have been more interesting to have less involvement from them and more of “the Four” who also feel a bit shafted by the script since we only really seem to care about Bigon (Philip Locke).
This series was also meant to get rid of Nyssa. The writers wanted only two companions for the Doctor and Nyssa was picked to be “booted out of the TARDIS”. Davison alleged wanted Nyssa as a companion (more so than the irritating Adric or the “I wanna go home” Tegan). When the decision to keep Nyssa was reversed, they had to fix the next story Kinda which featured very little of Nyssa since she wasn’t supposed to be there.
Doctor Who is in a rather stale place at this point. With unlikable companions and a new Doctor trying to fit in after one of the best Doctors is a hard sell. Reflecting, I don’t feel Peter Davison is that bad of a Doctor, but he seems to have been given a bad shake with where Doctor Who was when he took over. Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday was followed by Doctor Who: Kinda.