The Faces of the Doctor

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  • #2289
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Some nice character profiles on the BBC Who site.

    This one for Troughton’s Dr – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kn6bv/profiles/the-second-doctor

    Bit grumpy they haven’t got one up for Zoe tho… Victoria, Ben, Polly, Jamie… no Zoe 🙁

    #2343
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    A quite amusing summation of the second Doctor for the uninitiated.

    #2347
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift

    Just rewatched The Invasion, which I had seen before but not with the animated ‘missing episodes’. In my day I had to make to with narration from the Brigadier. It’s a cracking story — probably one of the best of old Who and pretty much the template for much of the Pertwee era. And just UNIT either, surely Tobias Vaughan is the template for the Master, or at least the Delgado iteration of him?

    #2349
    Anonymous @

    Some thoughts on the Second Doctor.

    Perhaps even more than Hartnell and Pertwee, the second Doctor was very much a Target Doctor for me. I was dimly aware of having seen the others in clips on TV and the like but when I was growing up and learning about the show, which was mostly through the Target novels anyway, my only frame of reference for the second Doctor was through said novels.

    And I have to say that partially this meant that my initial interpretation of him was a little off and this was largely due to the covers of the novels. When I was young I found the second Doctor looked a bit scary, with dark features and this forbidding scowl in most of the illustrations (and many of the reprinted photographs, courtesy of Doctor Who Weekly in those days). And although the typical Dicksian description of the Doctor highlighted the character’s lighter, comic side, I didn’t really buy it until I actually saw the deftness and lightness of Troughton’s performance.

    As it was, and this might solely be my interpretation, I’ve never really seen that much difference in how Terrance Dicks viewed the Second and Third Doctors. There are obviously the superficial appearance differences and the maybe the Third is a little more arrogant, but on the page at least they seem to me to be largely the same character. And this is the Doctor I grew up with — much more a literary character than a television one for me.

    It was not until the Five Faces of Doctor Who season of reruns in the 80s that I actually saw the second Doctor in the flesh. And I’d have to say that it was the rerun of The Krotons that was the highlight of that season and the one that stuck with me the most. It’s not a brilliant story, not exactly vintage Robert Holmes but Troughton is amazing in it and it’s in seeing him actually in the part that you can see that he’s miles away from both his predecessor and his replacement. And the best testament I can give to Troughton is that when I see the actual televised versions of his stories I’m always less disappointed by the disparity between what I envisaged from the novels and what was represented onscreen than I am with either Hartnell or especially Pertwee. For some reason, that disparity is much less marked than in either Hartnell or Pertwee stories and I’m putting that largely down the sheer charisma of Troughton’s performance.

    It’s interesting how he’s very much a Doctor’s Doctor. Many of those who came after him clearly owe him an influence, more so than any other actor to play the Doctor I reckon. No one except possibly Colin Baker really consciously takes on the traits of the First Doctor. But you can see Troughton’s influence in a great many of the Doctors that came after him. Tom Baker took on his humorous elements — including the legendary jelly babies. Peter Davison took on his flustered, not-quite-in-control panicky qualities. Sylvester McCoy, while not turning out to be remotely Troughton-esque by the time he’d found his feet, did seem to emulate his dress sense. And Matt Smith does seem to me to be like the Second’s better-looking, younger brother* (I realise that I risk Geoffrey’s ire by saying that but he doesn’t seem to have followed us here, so maybe I’m safe.)

    But in terms of the long-term mythology of the show, this is the era that we start seeing the real humanisation of the Doctor, the compassion and the taking an interest in his companions (see the clip posted by @phaseshift above). It’s also the era in which we start learning a bit more about the character and in which the  Time Lords and Gallifrey are first introduced. While the Hartnell era pretty much stuck to the formula of the ‘mad man in a box’, it is the Troughton era that largely set the foundation for what we recognise as the show today — monsters, Time Lords and regeneration (as let’s not forget that it fell to Troughton to convince us of the concept of regeneration, something which has now become a central (I’d argue maybe too central in the current show) concept of the programme. This, I think he managed incredibly well and for that, if nothing else, he would deserve his privileged place in the show’s history.

    ############## POSS SORT-OF SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH############################

    * Smith seems to be tackling a lot of Troughton-era foes too. We’ve already had the Cybermen and it looks very like the Ice Warriors and the Yeti and the Great Intelligence will be making returns also. All we need is the Quarks to show up and the set would be complete.

    ############ END POSS SORT-OF SPOILERS IN THAT PARAGRAPH##########################

     

    #2411
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Just thinking about the number of Doctors. While we think of Hartnell as the 1st and Matt Smith as the 11th, why do we assume that there were no versions of the Doctor beffore Hartnell?

    Or do we? As we approach the 50th, it might be cool if that question were addressed.

    If Moffat could bring back the Daleks en masse in “Asylum” then presumably the possibilities are endless in terms of the Doctor’s backstory.

    (Or has this been dealt with thoroughly elsewhere?)

    #2415
    Anonymous @

    @blenkinsopthebrave — not sure if you could say it’s been dealt with thoroughly but in the Doctor’s mind lock battle with Morbius, there are some indentified faces (actually members of the production crew, I believe) who appear to be previous incarnations of the Doctor, mingled in with those of Morbius. I believe it’s one of those things that still causes anguish in certain fan circles

    #2997
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    It’s the Third month of the Year, and so surely a time to examine Jon Pertwee.

    Third Doctor

    It was 1970, the Doctor entered the world of colour with a Doctor who was a bit more action hero. A bit more John Steed perhaps, with a love of transport of all types, fine wines, spiffy clothes and more fisticuffs than you could shake a fist at.

    It seems a role Pertwee was made for, having served in Naval Intelligence during WWII with Ian Fleming. Anyone wanting to read up on him, his wiki entry is a good place to start.

    I’ll post some of my other thoughts on him later, but just to leave you with the inevitable. Jon, doing for Who what Shatner & Nimoy did for Trek:

    #3025
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Ah, yes, Jon Pertwee. This is the stage of Doctor Who when I start being able to remember the episodes from watching them on broadcast, rather than on video and DVD.

    Since I don’t remember Liz Shaw at all, and my clearest memory of Jo Grant is The Green Death, I can only conclude I started watching near the end of Pertwee’s reign. This would certainly explain why I was so bewildered later on during The Deadly Assassin. Who was this decaying creature, and why on earth was he considered important?

    I liked Jon Pertwee, but he was never ‘my’ Doctor. He was very much the action hero; I enjoyed the show and it quite frequently drove me into the hallway. But I never felt that Pertwee’s Doctor was an alien; for all the Venusian Akido stuff, Pertwee’s was very much the Doctor of ‘science and rationalism’.

    I do have a clear memory of where I was during Pertwee’s regeneration, because my Dad was playing in a cricket match. Since this was the time before home recording, that meant the cricket ground was populated with a group of children who’d been dragged away from the most important Who episode of the last few years. Fortunately, it turned out that one of our sullen little group lived near the ground – and his mother, bless her, decided she’d done her duty once she’d helped out with the cricket tea and invited us all to come back home and watch Who.

    So I watched Jon Pertwee regenerate into Tom Baker in circumstances somewhat akin to the Coronation. A living room full of children all crowded round the television, plates of sandwiches being passed around, sun streaming in through the French windows and the sound of the second innings being played in the distance.

    #3027
    janetteB @janetteb

    @bluesqueakpip Your delightful story reminds me of just how different the experience of watching Dr Who was in the U.k. to Oz. In Oz it was shown on weeknights and once the new series was done they ran repeats so I got to watch the “old” Pertwee stories in the late 70’s after watching the newer Baker episodes. Then in the 90s ABC repeated old Whos again, and they repeated the entire lot in 2004-5 before nu-who hit the screens.

    So Baker was “my doctor” but I was able to watch concurrently many old Pertwee stories. I too found the action hero, Bond style character less appealing. I also disagree with Pertwee on confining stories to earth. Much though I enjoyed the earth set stories the stories were getting rather repetitive. One of the great strenghts of Dr Who is its ability to try new ideas and play with new concepts, somthing that was limited during the tenure on earth, (in the U.K.).

    Cheers

    Janette

    #3029
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    It’s funny looking back at how “Spearhead” was received at the time (link to AI report). New Doctor, in colour (for those that had sets), and the return of the Brigadier (who had been very popular judging by feedback from “The Invasion”) and the main response from viewers seemed to be “well – it’s no replacement for Star Trek, is it?”

    People at the time also seemed to express some dissatisfaction that he’d been restricted to Earth. You could imagine how an announcement along those lines would go down these days on various internet sites.

    I’ll agree with @janetteb that the stories did seem to get stuck into a more obvious template at one point, especially with The Master stories, but I have to forgive them for this because Delgado is a joy to watch in the role (I would say that, wouldn’t I).

    I think Pertwee bought into the role lock, stock and barrel. The production team really indulged in his pet loves, especially innovative transport solutions. He used to do an amazing amount of public events in character, the first one of the Doctors to really do that. There’s a great clip of him here discussing the creation of the Whomobile.

    #3031
    janetteB @janetteb

    I did not realise that the Who mobile belonged to Pertwee. Must have quite a side trundling down English country lanes.

    cheers

    Janette

    #3043
    Anonymous @

    @janetteb — I believe the Whomobile is too wide to drive legally on British roads without special permission so I don’t think it’s seen out and about too often. I also wonder where it is now since Pertwee passed away. Is it in the hands of a Who collector or languishing in a garage somewhere.

    Not that I’m too worried as I’ve always hated the bloody thing. That ‘runaround’ episode of Planet of the Spiders is a strong contender for my most hated episode of Who ever….

    #3047
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Wheee – it’s March and Pertwee already. We’ll be on the 50th before we know it!

    Interesting, as @phaseshift points out that Who was picking up (unfavourable) comparisons with Star Trek. I remember being distinctly pissed off when ST was slotted into the Who slot, and being particularly unimpressed with its polystyrene rocks – give me a wobbly corridor any day!  It did grow on me (a lot)  but I still preferred Who’s more open format to ST’s Western-in-space style.

    I liked Pertwee, tho I didn’t identify as much with him as with the first 2 or Baker 1.  A lot of the stories were thought provoking, with a tendency to hang about your head (and your nightmares).  I remember 1 (or maybe more) which involved a North sea oil platform and foamy things in the pipes being very scary – and being very wary of the beach foam next time I was on a beach on east coast of Scotland. Not to mention a fear of gurgling pipes.

    #3079
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @jimthefish

    In the clip, Pertwee talks about being challenged on its legality (it was legal – just). It is in Private hands now. There is an article about it here (the story of how it left his hands echoes other stories I’ve heard about his generosity).

    http://www.retrothing.com/2010/08/the-fate-of-the-whomobile.html

    I love the fact it ended up being classified as an “invalid tricycle” by the DoT. It could do 100mph!

    Loving the new avatar BTW.

    #3081
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @scaryb

    Thanks for confirming that Trek was in DW’s slot. I was a toddler at the time and didn’t realise that was the case.

    I was quite surprised to hear that “Spearhead” is going to get a Blue Ray release. It’s being prepped now because it was the only classic to be shot on film. I can’t help but think that high def won’t be kind on the special FX for the tentacle acting though!

    #3133
    Anonymous @

    In many ways the Third Doctor was ‘my’ Doctor. But I have to admit that I’ve never cared for Pertwee’s Doctor that much.

    The essence of this contradictory statement is that, as I’ve said before, my introduction and childhood passion for Who has come much more through the Target novelisations and less through the TV programme itself. And the Third Doctor was the first one I met.

    The first Target novelisation I read (as I think I’ve said elsewhere) was Planet of the Daleks. That cover is still indelibly burned into my memory. Pertwee and the recently departed Bernard Horsfall wrestling a Dalek in an alien jungle. It is, to my mind, one of my favourite all-time Dr Who stories, purely because it is my first proper introduction to the show.

    After that, I was devouring up to three or four Target novelisations a week and while I covered all the different eras, in written form the Third Doctor’s (especially the stories set around the UNIT family) were my favourite. I see some have complained about the repetition of them on this thread and I can see what they mean, but it honestly never occurred to me at the time. I loved the family of Jo, Benton and the Brigadier. And the Doctor seemed to me this admirable, Sherlockian figure. A true hero in every sense of the word.

    And then I saw Pertwee playing him. Unlike Troughton, who completely filled (and perhaps exceeded) my idea of the Second Doctor, Pertwee didn’t seem ‘quite right’ somehow. There was nothing I could put my finger on but he didn’t manage to come up to my interpretation of what the Third Doctor was like from the written page. I found him to be a slightly irritating, pompous, patronising neck-rubbing twat.  It’s odd, because much of that is there on the page anyway, but there’s something in Terrance Dicks  (and occasionally Barry Letts’s) writing of him that takes the sting out of it — or at least it does in my interpretation of it.

    And so, sad to say, Pertwee’s Doctor comes at the bottom of my ‘which Doctor would you like to go to the pub with’ league table.* It has to be said that Pertwee’s Doctor is the only one that I have that kind of disconnect between the written and the TV versions. With T Baker and Davison, perhaps the fact that I was also by then watching them on TV also provided a corrective to my imagination for my creation of them. Perhaps if I’d been reading their adventures solely in literary terms then my view of them would be decidedly different also.

    Or maybe it’s because Dicks had much more of a love for the Pertwee era himself — it is, after all, the time that he was involved with the show — and that comes through in his writing of this era. Perhaps he himself is correcting slightly some of Pertwee’s interpretations of what Dicks perhaps viewed as ‘his’ character and that is what I was picking up on as a young reader.

    So, the Third is definitely my Doctor. I loved his sense of action, and his love of life. I loved his championing of science and reason. I loved his human failings. And I loved his unquenchable sense of right and wrong. He is, largely, the template for all my conceptions of what I consider the Doctor to be today.

    But I’m just not crazy about the bloke they had playing him, that’s all…

    *just for the record, here’s the Doctor down the pub league as it stands today:

    11th Doctor — just the most fun to be around, I think.

    6th Doctor — strangely the most annoying onscreen but the one who I think would be entertaining in your local.

    4th Doctor — pretty much impossible to distinguish from the guy who played him but if you could put up with him talking about himself all the time then he would be interesting company. (Especially if he brought Romana 2 with him).

    7th Doctor — Probably would play the spoons if there was a lull…

    10th Doctor — probably good fun but there’d be a strong risk that he’d try to get off with your girlfriend.

    9th Doctor — good fun and interesting but would probably want to start a fight after he’d had a few.

    5th Doctor — Quiet but probably interesting. But probably only this high up because he’s one of my favourite Docs.

    2nd Doctor — Ditto.

    8th Doctor — to much of an unknown commodity really. Probably personable enough. Again a bit of a snog monster, I suspect.

    1st Doctor — interesting and a bit bitchy, I think. Would be probably only stay for a couple of sherries, but would be quite amusing as he started to fluff his speech after he’d had a few…

    3rd Doctor — too neck-rubby and patronising by half. I reckon Doc 9 would try and bottle him halfway through the evening….

     

    #3137
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Okay, so a few additional comments for the Doctors’ Pub League:

    Seventh – could also be persuaded to do a bit of juggling. Will spot any under-18’s and glare at them until they order lemonade.

    10th Doctor. Likely to start sobbing into his beer once he’s had a few.

    5th and 8th Doctors: likely to find a corner somewhere and start up their own conversation. By some little-understood means, their table would end up incredibly crowded…

    #3141
    janetteB @janetteb

    Nothing to add but I would like to be at the Pub listening in to the conversation over a glass of good English Cider and crisps.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #3143
    Whisht @whisht

    hmm… a nice test @jimthefish… and agree with your points, but I can’t imagine any of the Doctors actually hanging around!
    There’d be running off somewhere, saving the world when we all know that the we only put the world to rights at the end of the evening…

    However, been wondering if the same test can be taken to the companions… they’d hang around I’d imagine, though would we all gravitate to the one(s) we fancied?

    And though I think any of the male companions would be flattered being chatted up (eg Harry), I think most of the female companions would give the lads short shrift…

    #4189
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I got distracted by the Shiny Thing of new episodes, but as it’s April, it’s Tom Baker month for any appraisals or thoughts.

    Fourth Doctor

    I have many that will have to wait for the weekend, but just to post this link to an extract of the latest mini-book release for the Fourth Doctor.

    Written by Philip Reeve, “The Roots of Evil” is previewed here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/interactive/2013/apr/02/doctor-who-roots-evil-philip-reeve-extract

    #4265
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    If you’re looking for time to kill (30mins) and fancy enjoying some thoughts on Jon Pertwee, this Q&A was released this week from the BFI event screening of “Mind of Evil”.

    It features director Timothy Combe, script editor Terrance Dicks, and actors Richard Franklin, John Levene, and Katy Manning. It’s very nice.

    #5211
    WhoHar @whohar

    The Doctor, Sarah-Jane & Harry were a great Tardis crew and the first eps with them in esp. The Ark in Space to Revenge of the Cybermen really stick in my mind as some of the best of classic Who. Would be interesting to watch some of those again and see how they stand up.

    After Pertwee’s flamboyant Doc (probably where my penchant for velvet jackets comes from, although I do have a tweed too – I’m terribly sorry this posting is turning into What Not to Wear). Anyway, I remember being a bit concerned about Baker’s Doc while watching Robot but after that run from Ark to Revenge and then into Zygons, I was hooked.

    #5219
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Thanks @whohar for reminding me!

    Nimon: “Later you will be questioned, tortured and killed.”
    The Doctor: “Well I hope you get it in the right order.”

    As I’ve explained in the memories thread, Tom Baker was a curly haired god in my small world when growing up.

    This affection has remained with me through to adulthood. His remains one of only two “celeb” autobiographies I’ve ever read (“Who on Earth is Tom Baker”, the other being “Prince of Darkness” by Christopher Lee).

    The AI report into “Robot” came up with this summary of reaction:

    4. Naturally, the main talking-point was the new Doctor (Tom Baker). At this early stage, many did not know whether they were going to like him or not; viewers often said he would ‘take some getting used to’. First impressions among those who volunteered an opinion were seldom entirely favourable. Some considered the new personality too clownish and eccentric (occasionally, ‘too stupid for words’) or too unlike the previous Doctor. Also, Jon Pertwee had been a favourite with some viewers, and they missed him. On the other hand, a small group seem to have been instantly attracted, or won over by the end of the episode. The new Doctor had ‘more life and humour’, it was said, and seemed likely to ‘buck the series up’.

    I think it was safe to say I was in that small group. My memories of Petwee were not that tight. I really hadn’t had time to grow to be that attached to him. The transformation intrigued me and within the first episode he had me. The scene where he is trying on different outfits (Viking, etc) was so ingrained in my memory that when I got to see it years later it played out in extraordinary detail. I laughed again.

    There was some very heady material in those stories as well. As a kid during those years I always had the feeling that I was watching something that I shouldn’t be watching. A marvellous feeling.

    “You’re a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain” – Robots of Death

    It really helped that he was aided and abetted by some great characters as assistants. Sarah Jane was always lovely, but goofy Harry was really endearing when he leapt in. I adored Leela and I still think the run of stories in Robots of Death/Talons of Weng Chiang/Horror of Fang Rock and Image of the Fendahl are some of the best of the classic run. I was really disappointed in the way she was written out. If any companion was going to die magnificently in the heat of battle surely it would be Leela? Nope – she got the hots for a Timelord personality black hole called Andred. Bizarre.

    To follow those up with the double act of Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward as Romana aced it. While I’m aware that Mary left because she was disappointed about how her character had turned out, I think Lalla did a magnificent job in presenting a female Doctor. Eccentric, funny and intelligent.

    I’ve read some comments from people that Tom appeared to give up after this in performance terms, but I think that misses the mark. There was a lot of crap going on in the background of the series (an entry in a book I read recently penned by Christopher H Bidmead is painfully joyous about how he and Nathan-Turner engineered his exit) and there is a peculiar melancholy that permeates his performance. A different fourth Doctor than earlier, but possibly suited to stories like Warriors Gate and Logopolis with their themes of entropy and decay.

    “They say the atmosphere there was so full of goodness that evil just shrivelled up and died. Maybe that’s why I never went there” – Keeper of Traken

    Tom Baker was the personification of Moffat’s “Mad Man in a Box”. Brilliant, exasperating, eminently quotable, and undoubtedly a massive pain in the arse. My childhood would not have been nearly as pleasurable if he hadn’t been in that Blue Box.

    #5221
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift — a glorious summing up. Heartily agree with every word…

    #5225
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    she got the hots for a Timelord personality black hole called Andred. Bizarre.

    I believe Louise Jameson is on record as saying both she and the actor playing Andred found it equally bizarre, and were searching through the scripts for any hint that they might be falling that deeply in love.

    There weren’t any. So they resorted to lingering glances and longing looks in a desperate attempt to make it less of an ‘oh, by the way, Leela’s leaving and we need some kind of excuse, so…’

    #5229
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Thanks @jimthefish. I look forward to your own thoughts as you’ve provided some great comments on previous incarnations here.

    @bluesqueakpip, yes I’d heard that before. Louise was great in the role and seemed to grasp the character in a way the writers never did. I saw her at a meeting once and she was blunt in that she would have preferred Leela to go out guns blazing to protect her “god” in the Doctor. She suggested her final words should have been “You see Doctor – I’ve become civilised” to emphasise her transition from “kill or be killed” savage to someone capable of self sacrifice.

    If they had done that I think she would have been one of the most memorable characters in Who history.

    #5231
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift — composing my Baker thoughts now and hope to post them over the weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed your take though….

    #5255
    Whisht @whisht

    Ah @phaseshift that was brilliant! Tom Baker was ‘my’ Who too and I couldn’t agree more with what you said.

    I can’t really remember Pertwee (I’m not sure if my memories of him are of the time or from repeats). I have to admit that I don’t really have a memory of Baker’s stories, but what I do have is a feeling of him – he just seemed to have an enormous appetite! (not that I’d have known how to describe it at the time!).

    The grin, the petulant look – basically a grownup who’s really a big kid!
    Amazingly, sitting here typing this, I realise for the first time that I think that that’s me at my best – when I’m being a big kid, making those around me see things through that lens, having fun.

    That’s the impact he had!

    Also I agree when you say:

    “As a kid during those years I always had the feeling that I was watching something that I shouldn’t be watching. A marvellous feeling.”

    Absolutely! – though maybe for me looking back, I think I sensed his appetite extended to more than fun and food, to feelings that hit you in the gut, but no idea to what!

    But thanks for putting it all better than I!

    #5285
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    It’s the eve of broadcast of Cold War.

    I have high hopes for this.

    I am late to this Faces discussion – so will think about what you have all said and pen a few thoughts next week.

    But, I guess there are some things I can say now.

    In truth, the first real “Doctor” as we came to know him did not arrive until after Ian and Barbara left. Post The Chase Hartnell is very different to pre The Chase Hartnell. Indeed, in many ways, Ian is the template for the Doctor that we know – intelligent, questioning, brave, smart, witty – he’s just not idiosyncratic or temperamental  as that was early Hartnell’s job.

    If you discover Doctor Who as a youngster, your view of the programme will always be shaped by the first Doctor you liked. If you discover Doctor Who any other way ( books, comics, wives, husbands, children ) your experience will be different.

    Critically, how much attention you paid as a child will affect everything. If you were a casual viewer, then you are lucky, most things will please you. But if you were a devoted follower, then your investment means you can be seared with disappointment.

    I am lucky ( or old enough, take your pick ) to have seen Ian and Barbara force their way into the TARDIS that first time and I have been along for the ride, even during the darkest Colin Baker days, for every episode.

    Although I liked very much the Hartnell years, it was not until Troughton arrived and took the programme by the throat and shook life and humour and heart into every corner of it that I became locked to it. I still grieve for his Doctor and, for me, no one has come close to him, apart from Tennant.

    Pertwee was the usurper for me, and it was Roger Delgado and Nicholas Courtney who kept me watching until Three Doctors – somehow, after that Pertwee seemed absolutely fine and I think his final year is his best work, largely because Elisabeth Sladen brought the best out of him.

    I adored Tom Baker from his very first moments – fresh, vibrant, zany, brilliant, unexpected – and he was blessed with marvellous stories – only Sontaran Experiment and Android Invasion are duds in his first two years, every Leela story is a gem except Underworld and the last two episodes of Invasion of Time, the Mary Tamm Romana season is unqualified fun until Power of Kroll but then it goes downhill, apart from City of Death until the E-Space trilogy and the wonderful Keeper of Traken.

    I never cared for Logopolis and thought Tom Baker got an incredibly rough deal for a final story, but not as bad a deal as Davison got for his first. Compare Castrovalva to Power of the Daleks, Spearhead from Space or Robot and you will understand.

    Davison was crippled by bad companions ( not Nyssa ), an atrocious Master and bad stories, but when the stars aligned he was a great Doctor, the only one to confine his eccentricity to his clothing – a brave choice actually. He holds his own in Five Doctors and that is quite something. Caves of Androzani is one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time.

    Colin Baker was a disaster for me, and everything about his tenure horrifies me, even Two Doctors, because there Troughton was not playing his Doctor really. Terror of the Vervoids is the only CB story I can bear to watch, because I think by then the actor knew the writing was on the wall and he decided to play the role his way. I don’t blame Baker – I blame the idiots who ran the programme.

    McCoy was a breath of fresh air, but he too was hampered with the production team’s views – the Doctor as omniscient force of terror starts here. The stories were too misconceived or poorly executed. There were exceptions – Curse of Fenric the main one. But Ace was good with McCoy and Remembrance of the Daleks as whizz bang as anything done til then.

    The movie was atrocious, although McGann himself was very interesting.

    Ecclestone is the other unsung hero in the history of Doctor Who. Like Troughton after that first regeneration, everything rested on his shoulders. And from the very get-go, he was masterful. He found a new and compelling take and worked beautifully with Rose and then Jack. His rousing speech to the Daleks set the template for all those to come, especially the Smith ones.

    No need to say anything about Tennant and Smith…:-)

    Just this: if Troughton had not been so effective as the Doctor, we would not all be anticipating the return of the Ice Warriors in Cold War. He fought them and the way he fought them made them seem powerful,terrifying and addictive. That’s why they came back. And why I, at least, have high hopes for this next Smith episode.

    #5523
    overunder @jamesunderscore

    Although I’m only 30, and so rather young in DW terms, some of my earliest who memories are Tom Baker ones – I think in fact that my first encounter with The Doctor was borrowing the audio cassette of Genesis of the Daleks from Flitwick library in about 1986. Side 2 was scrambled in some bizarre way – it still sounded like Tom Baker talking, but speaking some incomprehensible underwater language.

    Later I remember watching Revenge of the Cybermen on VHS with my dad (fun fact – according to my dad, the Cyber Leader is named Kevin…..) and being terrified by the symptoms of the cybermat “plague” but also amused by the idea that anyone would have an electric death floor in their bedroom (this was the inspiration for many childhood games with my siblings)

    I think Tom Baker is so great as The Doctor. He embodies everything that’s essential about the character – frenetic, witty, sharp, sometimes deceitful, sometimes bruisingly honest but also, fundamentally, a bit of a toothy plonker. Definitely one of my favorites.

    #5865
    Anonymous @

    The Fourth Doctor is an odd one for me because he’s where the Target books and the TV series begin to overlap. He starts off as a literary character for me but as I became more and more aware of Tom Baker and the show itself as a young fan, the two became increasingly merged in my mind. There was none of the disconnect between the two in the same way as there seemed to be between The Third Doctor and Pertwee in my mind.

    The downside to his was of course that I would see things portrayed on screen that I’d imagined quite differently on the written page. (And I was always rather snootily convinced that my version was better.)

    But it was to Tom Baker’s credit that he completely inhabited the role of the Doctor. He was your anarchic older brother, your disreputable Uncle, your favourite art teacher all rolled into one. It was his singular gift that he could carry you along with the adventure, no matter how scary it was (or latterly, how ridiculous).

    He was also blessed with more than his fair share of above-average companions. Initially, Doctor 4 and Sarah Jane became one of the all-time great pairings. For the first time, it was a partnership of absolute equals. Compare this to one of my favourite Doctor/Companions pairings of all time – Doc 4 and Romana 2, which was a wonderful role reversal of the normal dynamic, not a pairing of equals but one where the Companion considers herself (possibly rightly) to be the superior member of the partnership. And there was also Harry Sullivan, Leela and Romana 1 too, of course. All great companions too. This was the last era of really classic, able TARDIS crew until the advent of Nu-Who in my opinion.

    But for all that, I suspect Baker stayed too long. The early fun of the Graham Williams era gave way too quickly to flippant jokery and a tendency to indulge Baker’s ego that bit too much. The show would veer wildly from the sublime (The City of Death) to the ridiculous (The Horns of Nimon). But even at this point, Baker — and arguably increasingly Lalla Ward too — could still even rescue the direst of scripts.

    And as for Baker’s curiously joyless final season. I have to admit that I don’t hate it as much as some. It’s got a high proportion of pretty damn good stories in it. The Leisure Hive, Warriors’ Gate, Keeper of Traken and Logopolis at any rate. But Baker just didn’t fit anymore. He was the wrong Doctor.

    I suspect JNT should have started his era with a new Doctor. Davison’s Doctor in fact would have been a perfect fit for most of the stories of Baker’s final run. And I think Romana 2 would have been a great companion for him. I’d love to have seen her disparagingly remarking on what a meal he was making of his regeneration, treating it as the Time Lord equivalent of ManFlu.

    But at the end of the day, it’s pretty much impossible to overrate Baker’s contribution to the programme. He’s by and large one of the main reasons many of us are on this blog today. And I’d say it’s highly unlikely that the show would even be around and enjoying the success that it is now if it hadn’t been for his contribution to its history.

    #5887
    vizier @vizier

    Personally, I find Season 15 the worst of the Tom Baker era. The Hinchcliffe era seasons 12-14 were solid with very few poor stories. The Android Invasion sticks out as being one of those and maybe the Hand of Fear wasn’t that great (notable for Sarah leaving), but I can’t think of many other stories that I don’t like.

    I’m a big fan of Tom Baker’s first season for nostalgic reasons, as it was my first season that I clearly remember watching all of (when I was 4-5), so I’m biased but to me even the Revenge of the Cybermen was pretty good. The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks are probably my all time favourite stories.

    Once Hinchcliffe left it went downhill, but there were some good stories under Graham Williams (Fang Rock and City of Death obviously), but most of the Key to Time season wasn’t that bad and the Ribos Operation was excellent. I even enjoy the Horns of Nimon a bit, but mainly for Graham Crowdon. But yes, it had got a bit stale.

    As a kid, I remember thinking that with Season 18, this was more like the Tom Baker that I remembered of old and preferred the darker approach to the more humourous methods of the Williams era. However, at that time I was probably ready for a change of Doctor and most of the audience were.

     

    #6653
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Thanks to everyone for adding their thoughts on Tom to the thread. I’ve been distracted by new episodes, but I have some nice long posts to read through now.

    There is an article here about the recent showing of “Robots of Death” at the BFI. It sounds as if Tom was on typical form. The footage from the Q&A should be available in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll try to post it as soon as available.


    http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-04-22/doctor-who-legends-tom-baker-and-louise-jameson-at-the-bfi

    #7301
    Timeloop @timeloop

    I think this is a very kinda dark view of the doctor. It says on the video: Matt Smith on the Doctor: “That’s what interests me about The Doctor because, actually, look at the blood on the man’s hands… Which is why I think he has to make silly jokes and wear a fez. Because if he didn’t, he’d hang himself.”

    (not sure if it works, never did it before. Keeps showing up in the edit…..) Link

    #7410
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @timeloop – Hi, I’ve edited your post embed the link. With this format, if you are linking to YouTube simply cut and paste the address into your post (ie. “htt……..” etc) and the post will do the rest. No other formatting required.

    #7411
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    As it’s May – it really has to be Peter Davison month. So, any thoughts on this chap?
    Fifth Doctor

    An Audience Survey report on his first year can be found here. It was a period of change, with The Doctor consigned to the doldrums of weekday showings rather than the magical realm of Saturday.

    The report shows that:

    “Peter Davison appears to have been accepted as the new Doctor. Although there were a number of unfavourable comparisons with certain predecessors (notably Jon Pertwee) and a couple of suggestions that he should stick to being a vet, the majority of those reporting clearly feel that he has got to grips with the part and now fits in rather well.”

    #7413
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Oh, and just a note for any newcomers – If you want to give your thoughts on any of the earlier Doctors on this thread, don’t be afraid to post them. The reason we are putting up one Face a month is to stretch out the conversation for the months until the anniversary.

    #7414
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    “It’s times like this I wish I still had my scarf” – Time Flight

    As I think you can guess from my post on Tom, he was most definitely my Doctor. So along came his regeneration and we had a vet to fill his shoes. An impossible task!? Well, he managed it for me.

    The era wasn’t without its problems. With three companions to share the TARDIS things seemed a little crowded. For me, Adric was a walking disaster. Tegan just whined throughout her first series. Nyssa was a really interesting character and well performed, but dreadfully underwritten. The script for “Kinda” had been based on the idea of two companions, and so she was given a touch of exhaustion by having her faint in the previous story, and consigned to the TARDIS for the duration of it. Unbelievable.

    The reason for this over-abundance of companions must make Davison laugh his head of these days. At 29, the Producers were worried about what the viewers may make of such a young looking Doctor travelling around with a young lady. When we have Ten and Rose holding hands and Amy throwing herself at a startled Eleven, he must wonder at how times have changed since those “repressed” eighties.

    Adric: So what is a railway station?
    The Doctor: Well, a place where one embarks and disembarks from compartments on wheels drawn along these tracks by a steam engine; rarely on time.
    Nyssa: What a very silly activity.
    The Doctor: D’You think so? As a boy, I always wanted to drive one.
    -Black Orchid

    After two pretty lacklustre episodes Castrovala and Four to Doomsday, the rest of the series picked up. Kinda had a great possession scene and the metaphysical aspects were well realised. Let down by “THE SNAKE”. I thought The Visitation was good, but Black Orchid and Earthshock were both excellent. Time Flight was a bit meh to finish on.

    With Adric dead and Tegan gone I thought we may have had a good series with just Nyssa. As a technologically advanced aristocrat she did have the potential to be a similar character to Romana Mark I – with the Doctor trying to impress her with his own obsession with different societies, but no – Tegan came back.

    His other two series have their hits and misses. I really enjoyed the Black Guardian trilogy of Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment, and The Awakening is great Who. His best was saved till last though. With his new singular entourage in the shape of Peri he went into The Caves of Androzani. Seeing the mechanics of a classic Who double act for the first time in his tenure gives you an idea of how hamstrung having a lot of regulars can be. It’s a cracking story with strong ideas, some real cynicism about corporate power and politics in the B scenes and a great central performance from Davison. Just marvellous.

    “You are a Time Lord, a lord of time. Are there lords in such a small domain?” – Striker, Enlightenment

    Even in the stories I haven’t listed, Davison is always the best thing in the production. Not as brash or immediately commanding as Baker, he could sometimes appear indecisive. He is no wet fish though, as this is the Doctor quite willing to gun Davros down at one point, informing him “I’ve come not as your prisoner, but as your executioner”.

    As he regenerated, I did feel a tinge of sadness. I think that says it all when you look back at whether or not a particular Doctor has been a success for you. I’ll also admire Davison for his links to the show, being both passionate about it, but edging it with a self-mocking sense of humour. As the Brig would say – Splendid Chap.

    #7681
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Just to add – Peter Davison has a CV well worth a look if you are into weirdness. Both @jimthefish and I will defend “A Very Peculiar Practice” to the Death. As we have touched on Hitchhikers on these blogs, here he is as the “Dish of the Day” in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    #7682
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @phaseshift.   Are there people who don’t like A Very Peculiar Practice?

    #7683
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @htpbdet – On the internet, you can meet people who have a low opinion of EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. It’s a remarkable gift to the world. 🙂

    #7685
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – I have an interesting story to tell about H2G2.  I was on-set on the ill-fated Billy Jack movie (early 80’s, long story, it’s most likely chronicled on t’interwebs), as an accountant.  Because the star of the movie was out of action, I and the location techies had loads of time to fill.  They showed me this new ‘video game’ they had (although I’m very sure we didn’t call it by that name).

    It was fully text-based, and had questions (similar to the ‘video game’ at the start of that magnificent Tom Hanks movie ‘Big’), somewhat like:

    ‘You are in your house when bulldozers arrive.  What do you do?’

    One then had options, sort of multiple-choice, most of which led to frustrating blind alleys and after several tries I got the right answer: ‘Run out of the house in your dressing gown.’

    The game went on and on like this, but after a week or so the movie got cancelled, and I never finished the entire game.  Lo and behold, many years on, I read H2G2 and shouted OH MY GOSH, *this* is what that game was all about!

    I must have had access to one of the first computer game versions of H2G2 available in the US!  I can never enjoy any video versions of the book(s) – not least the recent movie – because my mental images from the books, superimposed with those early text questions in the game, can never match any actual filmed sequences.  But that one you posted above is pretty good (other than that this Trillian is FAR too dumb-blonde to match my expectations).

     

    #7688
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    I have been thinking about people like @shazzbot, who have no experience of watching classic Who, or who (hi @shazzbot again!) are hesitant to watch classic Who because of the wonky sets, slow pace, lack of special effects, etc).

    There are at least two reasons why I would love those who are enthusiasts of nu Who to embrace classic Who. First, the sheer wonder of classic Who, and second, it will provide an added dimension to the experience of watching the 50th, when it is probable that there will allusions, references, etc to classic Who.

    So, if we old (sometimes painfully old) lovers of classic Who were to suggest places for those who have only seen nu Who to begin–in a way that showed them there is nothing to fear from the experience of watching classic Who–what shows would we suggest? I would probably suggest those stories set in the past, as those set in the future do raise the thorny issue of wonky sets of spaceships for those young’uns who have been raised on sophisticated digital special effects.

    Where to start? For Hartnell, I would suggest “The Aztecs”. It captures a lot of the best of the early years, and the sets can be appreciated in the same way as a minimalist stage production of Shakespeare. For a wonderfully complex plot that lies at the heart of Who lore (and to begin to dip one’s toes into the future) I would suggest “The War Games”.

    Others might have different choices.

     

    #7689
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    I have been thinking about people like @shazzbot, who have no experience of watching classic Who, or who (hi @shazzbot again!) are hesitant to watch classic Who because of the wonky sets, slow pace, lack of special effects, etc).

    There are at least two reasons why I would love those who are enthusiasts of nu Who to embrace classic Who. First, the sheer wonder of classic Who, and second, it will provide an added dimension to the experience of watching the 50th, when it is probable that there will allusions, references, etc to classic Who.

    So, if we old (sometimes painfully old) lovers of classic Who were to suggest places for those who have only seen nu Who to begin–in a way that showed them there is nothing to fear from the experience of watching classic Who–what shows would we suggest? I would probably suggest those stories set in the past, as those set in the future do raise the thorny issue of wonky sets of spaceships for those young’uns who have been raised on sophisticated digital special effects.

    Where to start? For Hartnell, I would suggest “The Aztecs”. It captures a lot of the best of the early years, and the sets can be appreciated in the same way as a minimalist stage production of Shakespeare. For a wonderfully complex plot that lies at the heart of Who lore (and to begin to dip one’s toes into the future) I would suggest “The War Games”.

    Others might have different choices.

     

    #7690
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Whoops. Double post. Sorry about that.

    #7693
    Anonymous @

    @blenkinsopthebrave –  “for those young’uns who have been raised on sophisticated digital special effects”

    Ha ha ha!  Can I please, to the detriment of those really young’uns on this site, remind you Mr Blenkinsop of my many grey hairs!   All well-earnt, might I say.  (and don’t be afraid, my young co-posters, of the scary old person with the two-dog avatar.)

    I did indeed make a comment far back about a hesitation around Doctor Who’s  ‘wonkey sets’.  Perhaps @lula can attest, or another US commenter, about the perception in America (my birthplace) about 1960’s/1970’s Classic Who.  I dare say it’s not only me – but perhaps it indeed is – that Americans’ perception of Classic Doctor Who was a wobbly-set, rubber-suited-alien, badly acted British TV show.  And I say this as someone raised on (albeit half-hour per week) TV viewing which included Star Trek people picking up demonstrably styrofoam rocks on alien planets.

    It’s the stories that will always get me.  The BBC website has some really good synopses of Classic Who episodes which are slowly, slowly getting me up-to-date with Who-lore.  Of course, nothing is anything like watching the actual episodes, not to mention watching them at the appropriate age (if the original episodes were, indeed, meant for children).

    I think it’s important that I and others like me have input into the whole 50th anniversary era, though, as Classic Who novices;  because S Moffat is trying to tie old loose ends up, cause fangasms in the people who have been privileged to be part of the show since the beginning, but also ensure that new-bies feel a part of the celebrations – and that all of us can carry the show into its new horizons.

    #7694
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    (if the original episodes were, indeed, meant for children).

    Oh, yes. You have to start the ‘stiff upper lip’ thing early, you know. The British firmly believe that being scared out of your tiny little wits is good for children. 😀

    #7695
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @shazzbot. Ah, but spare a thought for those of us with hardly any hair left!

    Yes, indeed, the stories are what it is all about. But, to use my Shakespeare analogy above, the Cliff Notes of each play can only go so far. The real experience of Shakespeare is watching it.

    So…”The Aztecs”. Trust me. You won’t regret it.

    #7696
    Anonymous @

    @Bluesqueakpip  – “The British firmly believe that being scared out of your tiny little wits is good for children.”

    Yes, and we we had (I had, as a late 60’s / early 70’s TV watcher in the US) was ‘The Brady Bunch’, ‘Speed Racer’, and ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’.  I envy every one of you who had Doctor Who in your TV-watching repertoir because what we had was so anodyne as to be soporific!

    #7697
    Anonymous @

    @blenkinsopthebrave – there was a comment somewhere on here about the ‘must-watch’ Classic Who episodes, and I can’t remember if The Aztecs or The War Games was on it.   Actually, I think it was about speculation on what BBC2 might air immediately in advance of the 50th extravaganza, and Talons of Weng-Chiang (sp?) appears to be a must-see, and Caves of Androzani.  Also The Unearthly Child, obviously, which I saw a brief clip of.  And the Macra (?).

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