The Highlanders is the first story to feature Frazer Hines as Jamie. It is also the first story since I started my Marathon where I haven’t reviewed a story. This is only Patrick Troughton’s second story as the Doctor and it’s the first proper historical since the poor The Massacre. There is a reason why pure historical stories don’t work and its because its hard to find the right balance between being truthful to historical events and being a good piece of drama. What also works against it is that it doesn’t exist on video and the story has to work harder to make it more enjoyable. This story has been written by two people including the co-creator of the Cybermen which is just hard to believe but then again. The creator of the Daleks wrote The Keys of Marinus so it just proves that because someone has created something wonderful doesn’t mean its going to be a guranteed success. The historical events are not what I got from this story, its some of the characters. I found Donald Bisset (The Laird) to be a good character whilst Hannah Gordon was the stand out supporting character as Kirsty. She gets to spend some time with Anneke Wills and the two seem to get on really well. This means that Ben and Jamie get to also share some scenes.
Its odd that the Doctor doesn’t really drive this story and its down to Polly and Ben to drive the narrative. The story does allow Troughton to fine tune his comedy skills as he gets to pretend to be a Doctor and also dress up in women’s clothing. Its hard to believe William Hartnell would do this. I do think that Troughton is better that he was in Power of the Daleks but its still not quite what it would be like in future. I think also that Frazer Hines doesn’t quite has the best introduction into Doctor Who. It seemed that the decision to keep him beyond this story was made at the very last minute but as we all know it would work out in the end.
The Highlanders is a story that doesn’t really do anyone any favours. It seems like it was designed to protect Troughton who was in only his second story and was probably still trying to get a feel for the character. This transitional time for Doctor Who still feels unstable and as a result the story will remain exactly as I have always thought of it. Not very good.