Doctor Who: Frontios (Story #132)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Nice story set-up

Typical Doctor Who uneven balance


Last one to take their hand off the TARDIS is the winner!!!

The Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding), and Turlough (Mark Strickson) find themselves at the boundaries of time on a planet called Frontios where the last humans are fighting for survival against the attacks of an unseen enemy.  The Doctor discovers the men are facing a constant bombardment of meteors targeted by an unseen source…which the Doctor realizes is coming from within Frontios.  The Doctor must seek out the cause of the asteroid rain and what it has to do with a race called the Tractators and their leader Gravis.

Doctor Who:  Frontios aired in season twenty-one of the popular BBC series.  The serial aired in four episodes from January 26, 1984 to February 3, 1984.  Following Doctor Who:  The Awakening, Doctor Who:  Frontios was collected as part of The Peter Davison Years as Story #133 (or story #132 depending on how you count the unaired Tom Baker story Doctor Who:  Shada).  Doctor Who:  Frontios is currently out-of-print on DVD.


Ok..this thing is just weird

Doctor Who—Season 21 is the swan song of Peter Davison as the Doctor and much of his run was less than spectacular (mostly due to poor writing and companions).  It is a bit of a shame because Davison isn’t the worst Doctor and suffers from following the best Doctor and the best period of Doctor Who…which by this time was in a slump.  Doctor Who:  Frontios is like a lot of the Fifth Doctor’s run…not bad but not great.

Honest, one could easy argue the “not bad but not great” theme could be applied to most of Doctor Who (at least the early stuff), but I enjoy it due to the nostalgia and honestly the goofiness.  The problem is that there is often the conflict between fun and serious in the series and it isn’t often found by the actors and the writers.

Doctor Who:  Frontios is one of those serials that suffers from this.  The basic set-up is great.  The Doctor and his companions are stranded on this besieged planet when the TARDIS is destroyed?!?!  Unfortunately, much of the serial set up is the typical “we don’t trust the Doctor” storyline combined with a cheesy alien story.


We are being destroyed by telekentic pill bugs?

I do like in this storyline the real concern the Doctor places on not upsetting the Time Lords since this theme is sometimes forgotten.  The “rules” for the Doctor seem to change over and over again and I wish there was a little bit more stability in the question of if he’s breaking the rules by assisting people or not.  Obviously in the current series this was made moot by the destruction of Gallifrey (sort of), but in the old stuff, the Time Lords often were used as a crutch when the story was stalled.

The Tractators are quite lame.  I like creature episodes of Doctor Who, but you are almost always left disappointed…but that kitschy nature of Doctor Who is what makes it endearing.  If the Tractators (who also are plagued by a horrible name) looked great, it would have been totally out of character of the series.

Doctor Who:  Frontios is a rather typical Doctor Who entry for this time of Doctor Who.  It won’t wow you or raise really great sci-fi questions, but it does still entertain (if not running a bit long).  Peter Davison’s reign is beginning to run down so watch and enjoy a Doctor who should have had a better shot.  Doctor Who:  Frontios is followed by Doctor Who:  Resurrection of the Daleks.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Awakening (Story #131)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  Resurrection of the Daleks (Story #133)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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