The Faces of the Doctor
4 May 2013 at 04:32 #76984 May 2013 at 06:46 #7699
WhoHar. His brother? It’s the King Peladon David isn’t it? His son?4 May 2013 at 12:22 #7710
@HTBDET – yes, the David Troughton in A Very Peculiar Practice is Pat Troughton’s son. @whohar, it’s David and Michael you’re probably thinking of when you think of Troughton brothers both acting – Pat Troughton did have a brother, but he wasn’t an actor.
There’s also Sam Troughton (David’s son), but to date he hasn’t yet appeared in Doctor Who.4 May 2013 at 12:52 #77144 May 2013 at 13:14 #77154 May 2013 at 13:41 #7717
@HTBDET – it would have been quite funny if Sam had got the job – apart from anything else, he has a real look of his grandfather.4 May 2013 at 14:11 #7720
I assure you, no one on these boards will hold it against you if the old series is not to your taste. I think when you grew up with it and had your imagination seized, it is much easier to forgive the production values of the time. My niece, who loved Sarah Jane in the new series, watched the showing of “The Hand of Fear” on BBC4 after Elizabeth Sladens death. She watched it all and had a bit of a moment at the end (it’s the story in which Sarah Jane left), but I wouldn’t suggest it ignited the desire to see much more (although she enjoyed Robots of Death and The Five Doctors).
If you want to dip in more and are interested in the stories there is another option. Virtually all the older series were novelised. They aren’t great literature, but even the worst is a cracking short retelling of the story. They are at their best when the script writer writes his own book and takes the opportunity to expand on the story, or play with the narrative possibilities. They are out of print, but second hand bookshops or stalls can be your friend. In Barnsley market, a stall sells them for 50p each, which is an absolute steal. If you see a Doctor Who story with the Target icon in the corner – it’s a televised story.
I’ve put this one up to give you an idea of the look, but also I think we are seeing a familiar hat in tonight’s episode.
As I’ve been talking about Peter Davison, this is an extract from “Castrovalva” by Christopher Bidmead.
There is an official time lord strategy you are taught even as a small child: in circumstances of near defeat you take stock of the forces acting on your behalf, your assets, and then separately assess the forces working against you, your liabilities. This leads directly to the next stage: devising a logical plan that will increase the former and diminish the latter. This dictum had often struck the Doctor as typically Gallifreyan – that is to say arid, abstract and artificial. The only really stimulating thing about defeat, death and disaster is that all the rule books go out of the window, and you are permitted to improvise under the purest inspiration of all – blind panic.
6 May 2013 at 02:54 #7956
It’s free and has various DW Target books available for download. The Daleks (Doc 1), The Abominable Snowman (Doc 2), The Green Death (3) etc. There are only ten or so books but I thonl Docs1-7 are all reptesented. There are some Doc 8 books but non-canon I think.
So that’s your weekend sorted. 🙂6 May 2013 at 02:56 #7957
With apologies for my appalling typing.6 May 2013 at 03:41 #7958Anonymous @
@whohar – what, you think that a technical project manager such as I am, is also an e-book afficianado? Pah! I am a Luddite, I tells ya. 🙂 If it ain’t written in 4GL or on an Informix database I am lost. And if it ain’t on dead trees, I don’t want to hold it.
@phaseshift – with respect to: “On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the 11th, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked.”
‘The Fields of Trenzalore’ is a mis-direction / mis-translation. In that, everyone expects it to be a physical place. I’m going out on a limb and positing that Trenzalore is not a place, it’s a time. There are places in the human brain which are called ‘fields’ and with a TimeLord brain, I would expect that ‘fields’ represents ‘times’.6 May 2013 at 04:22 #7961
I much prefer paper books to ebooks in the same way that I prefer vinyl to mp3.
Old things, like old people and landscapes are much more interesting – you can see the effect time has had on them.
Field. Interesting idea. Also, Field is a computer programming term. Hmmmm.6 May 2013 at 09:09 #79666 May 2013 at 09:11 #79676 May 2013 at 10:02 #7973
Can I just say a word in praise of ebooks before everyone gets onto the dead tree love?
The purpose of a book is to be read. What with adjustable font size, adjustable page background and (in desperation) text-to-speech capacity, I find it immeasurably easier to read an e-book. They’re a wonderful invention 🙂
Ebooks also help with the ‘get rid of books or buy a bigger flat’ conundrum. 😀6 May 2013 at 10:12 #7974
Anything that encourages reading is a good thing in my book / e-reader.
As I’m quite intrigued by other people, it’s always interesting to look at their books when I first go to their home / place of work.
I quite like having my own books out, though have had to have several culls to avoid moving to larger premises.6 May 2013 at 21:01 #8041
I am very late to this thread – so please forgive me.
My earliest memory in life is of my baby brother peering up out of his cot, having been brought home from the hospital aged 3 days. He was a troublesome baby, always mewling, always wanting to eat whatever I had in my hand, whatever it was.
My second earliest memory is of my Father saying in a very confused and outraged tone “What the bloody heck is this?” as Ian and Barbara pushed their way into the TARDIS for the first time. The ensuing row between my parents over language in front of little me drowned out the next few minutes ( thank God for that repeat a week later or I would have waited a while to know what TARDIS meant ) so my earliest memory of Hartnell’s era is this : confusion, a juxtaposition of the ordinary with the bizarre and a sense that I never had any idea what would happen next. How apt.
At first, I found Hartnell scary, authoritarian, a spooky mean teacher/scientist who favoured girls over boys. I did not think we would get along. But I wanted to grow up to be Ian and I wished Barbara was MY teacher…
Susan never really worked for me. I just knew no one like her and no one who liked her, even the girls in my school did not like her. None of us called our Gramps or Pa or Pop or Poppa or Grand-Dad, Grandfather – she seemed so…weird…
Both my Grandfathers were dead by then – I still had both Grandmothers, but no Grandfather. So the whole Susan/Grandfather experience was intensely foreign to me.
After that first episode, I would go and sit on the front steps and look at the stars at night and see if I could detect a flying Police Box. Often, my mother would find me there asleep and have to carry me in. I was obsessed with finding it – because, obviously, if it was on Telly it was real. That American President had been shot and that was “real life” as my Mother put it and something I needed “to get used to”. I got so angry with myself that I was too silly to find the TARDIS in the sky.
In that first year, every week’s episode was like a month of holidays. It utterly transported me to strange and wild places – I totally believed that Daleks were real, that I could meet Kublai Khan ( and therefore every historical figure I wanted to meet) and just have the most blazing bizarre adventures – because nothing like that happened in my street or to anyone I knew. And it was all safe – you might get into tight spaces, but no one who travelled in the TARDIS died. Exciting fun.
It is difficult to explain now, in this world full of Star Wars and Alien and Star Trek reboots and Battlestar Galactica reboots and Buffy and Fringe and Star Gate franchises and Grimm and Once Upon A Time and Games of Thrones and Firefly and Revolution – but Hartnell’s Who took the place of all of those then – because there was nothing else like it.
When I realised that Hartnell could simply not get Ian and Barbara home, that he was not as smart as he seemed, I was very upset. How could he be so mean to them? It is a testament to the skill of Ian Russell and Jacqueline Hill that they made me like, understand and admire the Doctor – they shaped him into someone I came to adore.
For me, it was never about the Daleks. I never got why everyone went mad over them. I just thought they were stupid looking aliens who were bad – what was the fuss? I never understood why they did not shoot enemies on sight always rather than just sometimes. No, for me it was the permanent sense of having no idea what would happen next, how they would escape the cliff-hanger or what would happen the following week or where or when they would be. The weeks flew by, but the only thing on my mind was – what is happening?
It thrilled me like nothing on Television has before or after. And I fell madly in love with the TARDIS…
When Susan went, I was a little sad but, honestly, I was glad – she was whiny! And Vicki was prettier, smarter and cooler – I liked her a lot and she seemed to make the Doctor more at ease. ( Decades later I came to realise that this was my reaction to the acting; Carole Anne Ford irritated me because she was not very good; Maureen O’Brien capitalised on every thing she did. Hartnell responded to her certainty of performance. But, as a child, I only knew what I felt…)
These days, everyone knows months in advance that a companion is coming or going – but then, the departures were actually shocking. Susan staying behind with David Campbell in Dalek Invasion of Earth broke me and I didn’t even like her! It broke me because Hartnell clearly conveyed his sense of loss. I just wanted to tell him it would be okay.
But, from the start, my connection with the show was first the adventures and second Ian and Barbara. I remember particularly loving Marco Polo, Sensorites, Aztecs and even Keys of Marinus.
When Ian and Barbara left, I thought I would die. I was SO upset. They were the heart and soul of the programme for me – and I went from ambivalence to the Daleks to actively hating them, because they had taken my Ian and my Barbara.
But Vicki made me see the good scientist hero that by then Ian and Barbara had made the Doctor – and her episodes in the TARDIS rank as some of my favourite Hartnell episodes because it was through her I came to “get” him. I loved Galaxy Four and the Romans and Space Museum ( really the first attempt at timey-wimey stuff) and Web Planet. ( I used to make my brothers play Zarbi games) The Time Meddler was just outstanding in that time and the excitement I felt when Vicki and Steven discovered the Monk had a TARDIS…well, that was my first squee I am sure!
I was very upset when Vicki left – I think she is often underestimated. She was the one who made the template of the independent girl who was not Susan work – the seeds of all the great female characters are sown by Vicki and the fact that we, the audience, accepted her created one of the enduring format points for the programme: young women, substitute figures for his grandchild, travel in the TARDIS and have adventures. Vicki was the first substitute companion – and I thought she rocked.
Steven was fine but bland. I liked the Daleks for the first time in Dalek Masterplan, probably because of Kevin Stoney’s wonderful performance and the re-appearance of the Monk. The Daleks were the first and, then anyway, only recurring villains; the Monk was the first and only member of the Doctor’s race we knew then. It was Peter Butterworth’s masterful turn which set the scene for the opening of Pandora’s Box in a few years in War Games.
The other thing about Dalek Masterplan was, for the first time, people who flew in the TARDIS died. This seriously changed the game. From now on, no one who flew in the TARDIS was automatically safe. This really frightened me.
I still can see Katarina being sucked into space…very clearly. It was harrowing.
It was Hartnell’s time, too, and this is often forgotten, which set the format point of doing adventures in wildly different styles and tone from story to story. This was unheard of and almost unfathomable back then – and it made the programme all the more exciting.
I never clicked with Dodo really, but I really liked The Ark, The Massacre, Celestial Toymaker and Savages – wildly different stories where Hartnell shone.
The arrival of Ben and Polly really enthused me- I liked them very much. They were cool, tough and nice – and their adventures seemed somehow scarier. Maybe that was because the Doctor seemed to be getting more erratic. ( Much is made now of how Hartnell fluffed lines and was unprofessional, but as a viewer I had no sense of that til I went to University. He seemed the same as a lot of television actors at that time- mistakes were things you coped with. Alone)
Then came the Cybermen in Tenth Planet and, literally, everything changed. They terrified me. And they killed the Doctor – or so it seemed. I never forgave them for that – and they have always had a special place in the terror chamber in my heart as a result.
I have never bought this revisionist notion that Hartnell was a “crotchety old man”; he was both never just that and vastly more than that. He was a scientist, a meddler, self important, slightly amoral, inquisitive, a liar, proud, secretive, manipulative, sometimes silly but always willing to take a stand for what he thought was right – if he could be bothered. He had a Universe view of the affairs of men and monsters, and he was unafraid to express it. And he knew how to get his own way.
He taught me self-confidence and a real sense of right and wrong. And – that knowledge is power – I will never forget him curing the common cold in order to save Steven’s life – he was smart and protected his friends. He worried that Ian and Barbara would not make it home in the Dalek time machine, he really worried.
My top five favourite Hartnell stories?Tenth Planet, Dalek Masterplan, Aztecs, Time Meddler and Galaxy Four. Top ten? Add Time Meddler, Web Planet, Marco Polo, The Ark and The Massacre.
It was a wild time those Hartnell years!6 May 2013 at 22:20 #8044Anonymous @
@HTPBDET – wow, thank you thank you. That was quite a love letter to the Hartnell Doc, but more than that, it was an amazing insight into the earliest years of the programme. I loved hearing how you experienced not just the Doctor and his companions, but also the baddies. And I saw it through your eyes as a child.6 May 2013 at 23:16 #8057
@Shazzbot. Thanks for your kind words. I am not sure if this is the kind of thing people had in mind for this thread – so won’t do any more until I get a better feel about that. I don’t want to go off on an unwanted tangent.
it was interesting though – I realised I felt very strongly and positively about the Hartnell era when I came to write it – sort of surprised myself.
I forgot to mention that I wrote to Hartnell after he left, thanking him. His daughter wrote me a lovely reply. I still have it somewhere…7 May 2013 at 02:54 #8094
Your thoughts and memories on Hartnell are well considered incisive and powerful. Looking at the stars for the Tardis is so emotive. You have a writer’s sensibility about you. This is a compliment and I hope will be taken as such.
It is interesting that you should post about this now, as I was going to ask you and @blenkinsopthebrave, for your thoughts on watching Hartnell turn into Troughton. How that felt, how much of a surprise it was, your initial impressions of Doc 2.
It is half a lifetime away from the modern era where secrets are difficult to keep and speculation abounds and I can only imagine how watching that first regeneration felt.7 May 2013 at 03:53 #8096
@whohar. Watching Hartnell turn into Troughton. I am not sure I can do it justice in a short post. Might have to give it more thought. But even with a long post, I certainly could not do it as eloquently as @htpbdet.
But briefly, I remember being surprised and disappointed, actually. “But…that’s not The Doctor” was a version of what I felt. Of course, I went on to watch the Troughton years, but they never left the indelible impression of the Hartnell years. As I have said before, here and elsewhere, for me it wasn’t just about Hartnell, it was the group dynamic of The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan that captured my imagination. That was why “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” has always been central for me, because with Susan’s departure, the dynamic changed. And then with Ian and Barbara’s deptarture at the end of “The Chase” it changed again. And with those changes, some of the magic (for me) was gone.
Thinking back, it was only with “The War Games” that I finally embraced the Troughton years. And it is interesting now that I think about it, that “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” and “The War Games” were both challenging and confronting. And the issues they dealt with were political (resistance against tryanny, self-sacrifice, responsibility to others, the use of power for good or evil, the pointlessness of war, yet the necessity of resistance to tryanny). That was heady stuff for a 12 or 13-year old. And it made a long-lasting impact on me.7 May 2013 at 06:04 #8098
Very interesting observations and I think you do yourself a disservice regarding your writing skills.
I think the ‘next’ Doctor to ‘your’ Doctor is always a difficult transition foe the viewer. Interesting that it took until Troughton’s last story for you to be engaged by his portrayal. And then you’d have had to do it all again the very next ep. with Pertwee.
Thanks for responding. 🙂7 May 2013 at 06:39 #8100
@whohar. It is fun reflecting back on your own teenage years. But I fear my writing skills did let me down. It was not that I finally engaged with Troughton as the Doctor until his final story. It was rather that it took until that story for me to engage with the Troughton era of the show. To be absolutely honest, I do not think I ever really engaged with Troughton as the Doctor then (although I find that I appreciate him much more now, when I re-watch the shows).
With the Troughton years I never really had a replacement for what the mix of The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan gave me when I was 12 years old. Rather, what left an impression were the stories, and for me the story (and the telling of the story) in “The War Games” was genuinely memorable. And also, it was partly my own age. When I started watching I was 11 or 12, by the time of “The War Games” I was 17, the Vietnam War was raging, and it was, well…1969 and all that entailed. “The War Games” was the right story at the right time…for me.
So, yes you are absolutely right that “the ‘next’ Doctor to ‘your’ Doctor is always a difficult transition”. And beyond that, there are all sorts of personal and social things going on that mean the experience is different for each of us. What I do find amazing is that there are so many of us out there for whom this one particular television show has been so memorable and so personal to us over such a long period of time.7 May 2013 at 10:30 #8104
@whohar That was a very nice thing to say, so thank you. Funny, I was thinking that before I said anything about Troughton it would be best to say something about regeneration – so I will take your request as a “Go” signal. 🙂
There are lots of key moments in the life of a Doctor Who watcher – and they have different responses on when and how those moments occur. At least, that is how I think about it.
First doctor, My doctor, First Regeneration, First favourite companion…its a series with a lot of “firsts” and special events.
@craig @phaseshift @jimthefish – I just want to be sure that these personal ramblings are the kind of thing you wanted here. As I say, dont want to go off on a tangent and shut down other conversations or disturb the polarity of the intended nuetron flow… 🙂
@blenkinsopthebrave Thanks for your insights. If I may say, your experience was the same experience of many of my friends. They mostly did not accept Troughton while he was the Doctor. I think, as always, I am an aberration…7 May 2013 at 15:43 #8120
Quite a lot happened in my life on 30 October 1966: my youngest sibling died in a tragic accident which saw my parents split up and me, temporarily, sent to live with my maternal Grandmother while the adults sorted things out.
The accident happened the day after Tenth Planet finished.
I was almost catatonic with grief – I had lost my brother and the Doctor had died. I remember crying a lot.
My Grandmother was a very wise woman – imagine Amelia Rumford from Stones of Blood fused with June Whitfield and you are somewhere near the mark. She was a former vaudeville dancer, then Matron at a hospital. Formidable but fun.; kind and understanding.
She had never seen Doctor Who but she had patiently endured me babbling on about Zarbi and Thals and Aztecs and Time Meddling Monks and Celestial Toymakers and Cybermen (she knew they really scared me).
And she knew how vulnerable I was, at 9 years old, given what happened to our family on 30 October.
She wanted to calm me, to comfort me, to help me through the loss of my brother. She had to – because my parents were not up to it. And she realised quickly that Doctor Who was the key.
She got me to stop being sad and crying by cajoling me to tell her the story of my favourite Doctor Who story.
So I told her about Dalek Masterplan. It took ages – she made scones and we had a little tea party while she came to grips with the various planets, the trickery of Mavic Chen and the deaths of Katarina, Bret Vyon and Sara Kingdom. She used those deaths to get me to talk about my brother and how I felt and she held my hand while she told me that he was playing with Katarina and Bret Vyon and Sara Kingdom now.
She sat on the roof of her terrace house with me at nightfall and we counted the stars and looked for the TARDIS. She spent hours making me feel okay, and opening an escape door into Doctor Who, a place where I felt entirely safe and where the Doctor would always be there.
Then, after about two days, she asked about the episode that would play on the next Saturday. I got immediately agitated and explained that “the Doctor has a new face; the Cybermen killed him and he has a new face”. She had no idea what I was talking about but when I asked her when I would see my brother’s new face, she knew she had work to do.
So, she got me to talk about Tenth Planet and she made a special journey to the shops to buy the Radio Times to see if she could find out anything. She quickly discovered, from the man at the shop, that Patrick Troughton had been cast in the role and would be starting as a new Doctor that week.
So she went to work. She reminded me that she had taken me and my siblings to see three theatre productions – two Peter Pans and one version of Cinderella. She asked me what I remembered and we discussed that. She made lunch and while I was distracted by her perfect toad-in-the-hole, she asked me which Peter Pan I liked the best.
I remember being struck silent by the question and some brown sauce dripped onto my shirt because I had stopped eating, the fork poised in mid-air.
“What do you mean Nanna?” I said.
“Well, we saw two versions of Peter Pan, remember, one with the puppet crocodile and one where we did not see the crocodile” she reminded me.
“The one with the crocodile we didn’t see. That one was scary”
“Yes, it was. But which Peter Pan did you like best?”
I was flummoxed. I did not know what she meant. So, she came and sat next to me and produced the programmes she had kept for the productions. She showed me that two different young women had played Peter Pan. I was more surprised that there were two of them than they were women!
“You see” my Nanna said very carefully “Peter Pan is a part that people play. He is not real. So anyone can play him really.”
“Can I?” I remember asking, thinking that I really wanted to be able to fly.
“Yes, one day. Sure. And that is what is happening with your Doctor. From this week, someone else is playing him.”
“So, he is a different doctor?”
“No, darling. The same doctor, different actor. Different face. When you are talking about a part in a play or on telly, lots of people can play the part, so the part can have many faces. But your brother, well, he was real and so he only ever has one face. His own face.”
She held me for a very long time then. But that was the point that I accepted my brother was gone and that I accepted that the Doctor was not real and that he could change his face.
Not that anything about what happened was, on any view, lucky, but I think my circumstances meant that I came to Power of the Daleks more ready than many others might have. Thanks to my grandmother.
David Whittaker helped too. His script was magnificent and he attacked the central conundrum head –on:
BEN: Now look, the Doctor always wore this. So if you’re him, it should fit now, shouldn’t it? BEN: There. That settles it. DOCTOR: I’d like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it’s spread its wings. POLLY: Then you did change! DOCTOR: Life depends on change and renewal. BEN: Oh, so that’s it. You’ve been renewed, have you? DOCTOR: I’ve been renewed, have I? That’s it. I’ve been renewed. It’s part of the Tardis. Without it, I couldn’t survive. Come here. DOCTOR: Come here. DOCTOR: The Doctor kept a diary, didn’t he? POLLY: Yes. DOCTOR: I thought so. I wonder where. I wonder where. POLLY: He’s a very different Doctor, Ben. BEN: Yeah, maybe. Just where do we stand, though? POLLY: Doctor? POLLY: Doctor, what’s going to happen to us? DOCTOR: I think. I think we must have landed for some time. I think it’s time we went for a stroll. POLLY: But you don’t know where we’ve landed! BEN: No, you haven’t checked the oxygen or the temperature or anything! DOCTOR: (reading his diary, not looking up or at Ben or Polly) Oxygen density 172, radiation nil, temperature 86. Strong suggestion of mercury deposits. Satisfied, Ben? Now, are you two coming or are you not? POLLY: He does know us. He said Ben. Didn’t you hear him? BEN: Yeah, I heard. But he might just have been copying you though, mightn’t he?
My Nanna held my hand the whole way through the episode. That helped.
I identified with Ben – he was handsome, brave, tough and Polly liked him. Since Smugglers, I had wanted to grow up to be him. I quite liked Polly too. So, it was interesting – and involving – that the two reacted differently to the new face of the Doctor. Because that’s how I thought of it – Hartnell’s doctor with a new face.
Ben was wary, thought the new face was possibly an imposter; although, even at 9, I did wonder why Ben was so stupid – he did see the Doctor change. Polly, obviously smarter, seemed willing to accept the new face. I can vividly remember not wanting to grow up to be Ben during that first episode.
But as the adventure on Vulcan began, I quickly realised that I was wrong. This was not just a new face, but a new Doctor. Entirely. And he did things the old Doctor would not do – he was gentle, eyes always on the move, a thinker more than a speaker and he made points in a quiet calm voice – and he was not afraid to be seen as silly. In fact, he rather liked it.
By the end of that episode, when the Doctor inches forward into the spaceship, brushing aside the cobwebs, and quietly but with a voice suffused with horror and intense fear, introduces Ben and Polly to the Daleks…I was totally convinced by the new face, the new Doctor. Totally.
Indeed, by the time I got to bed that night, I had started forgetting about Hartnell and that didn’t seem fair. But the new face…such excitement. All helped by it being Guy Fawkes night.
We had buried my brother that same day; the day Ben, Polly and the new face went to Vulcan. And my Nanna and I told a photo of him all about what had happened before I went to bed. I felt sure he would have liked the new face too.
Skip forward three years and War Games is approaching its climax. Jamie convinces the Doctor to make a final run for it while the Time Lords are distracted and I remember thinking “Yes! They are going to escape!”. But, of course, they didn’t.
I always found the fate of Jamie and Zoe especially cruel. To have the most exciting part of their lives wiped out – I cried and cried for them. But there was worse to come: the Time Lords effectively executed Troughton’s Doctor.
Just as I had hated the Cybermen for killing Hartnell, I loathed the Time Lords for killing Troughton.
As his final scene played out, and I could see Troughton pulling faces (just for me, I thought, just to make me feel better about this) as he was regenerated against his will, I was immeasurably sad. So many tears.
I always associate that moment, Troughton’s regeneration, with growing up. Innocent childhood ended there.
It was a masterstroke of the new production team not to show the new face at the end of War Games. I doubt I would have ever forgiven Pertwee if he had set foot on Troughton turf.
As it was, I resisted Pertwee for years. I did not care for him at all, so so different was he from Troughton. This was a new face I didn’t like. But I loved the Brigadier and Liz so I coped.
Then Three Doctors happened – and the reality of regeneration and the fact that the Doctor accepted and coped with the fact that his face would change with his personality made everything better. If Troughton could help Pertwee and accept that he was him, if you like, then who was I to hold a grudge?
Terrance Dicks’ greatest contribution to Doctor Who may well have been ensuring Hartnell said the immortal lines:
“So, you’re my replacements, eh? A Dandy and a Clown!”
Three Doctors was the watershed moment for the concept of regeneration in the programme. From that point on, it was as unremarkable as the fact the TARDIS looked like a Police box.
But personal reactions still mattered. I never adored Pertwee, but I cried when he regenerated. And that glimpse of Tom Baker at the end of Planet of the Spiders told you nothing, echoed Tenth Planet and gave you a real thrill for the promise of new things to come: all at once.
Seven years on and I could not wait for a regeneration. Tom Baker had stayed too long for me – I thought Pertwee’s five year stint was stretching it, but this was ridiculous!
But what was fresh about Logopolis was that the whole story was really about the regeneration, getting to that point. That had never really happened before. Pertwee’s swansong evoked his era just as Troughton’s had done, but none of the first three regeneration stories was about the regeneration in the way Logopolis was – in tone, sub-text and style. The end was nigh.
Davison’s doctor was a breath of fresh air and I accepted him immediately, just as I had accepted Tom Baker immediately in Robot.
Caves of Androzani was a sensational way for the Davison doctor to go out and I think that story is easily the best of the Davison era and I think he gives his finest performance in it. I cried when he regenerated too.
But my tears soon stopped as anger over took me, the lustre of Caves and the entire Davison era marred by the very final scene, when we are given a taste of the next face, Colin Baker:
DOCTOR: You’re expecting someone else?
PERI: I, I, I.
DOCTOR: That’s three I’s in one breath. Makes you sound a rather egotistical young lady.
PERI: What’s happened?
DOCTOR: Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.
I hated Colin Baker from that moment – his disgraceful denunciation of Davison’s doctor (followed up by his claim that Davison was “effete” in Twin Dilemma) was unforgiveable – and nothing he ever did during his time changed my view.
Davison’s regeneration was the second to anger me, Troughton’s being the first.
We never had a farewell scene for Colin Baker and I always thought it served him right for being such a dreadful “face” of the Doctor.
Poor Sylvester McCoy got a raw deal in so many ways – but he definitely got the worst regeneration sequence of any Doctor to date.
McGann never had one which was fair enough in the circumstances.
I liked the noble way Eccelston died – and I had grown to utterly love his take on the Doctor. So while I was sad to see him go, Tennant’s spectacular arrival boded so well – I could not wait to see what this new face would do. I had not felt so eager about a new Doctor since Tom Baker departed, but for very different reasons.
I hated the long drawn out goodbyes that came with Tennant’s regeneration – I truly wish he had regenerated after the Dalek shot him in Stolen Earth and that Doctor 11 had finished that story surrounded by all of his companions. That would have been something and we would have been spared those specials…
But, for all that, Tennant’s final moment was so desperately sad and he had been a great Doctor– once more tears flowed.
I would be happy for Smith to regenerate now; I know others aren’t but I am quite ready for a different face. Not as ready as I was when Tom Baker turned into Davison, but easily as ready as I was when Colin Baker became Sylvester McCoy.
So, @whohar, there you go. For what they are worth, my thoughts about regeneration – the single greatest and unique concept that Doctor Who has going for it.7 May 2013 at 16:45 #8127Anonymous @
@htpbdet — I love your regeneration post. Really well expressed and you definitely capture what the show means to you. I wish I could capture my own reactions and feelings to the show half as well. Really enjoyed reading this and your Hartnell post as well…7 May 2013 at 19:05 #8137
Thanks @jimthefish. I appreciate your kindness. I am sure you can capture your feelings and emotions as well as me – you have no trouble communicating your feelings in the posts on the pages above. 🙂7 May 2013 at 19:32 #8144Anonymous @
@htpbdet – Do you write for a living? Because if not, you should – you have obvious talent. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. The moment when you and your gran give DW updates to his picture is very moving.
You’ve obviously had a lot of adult time to come to terms with his death, but your gran sounds wonderfully intuitive in directing your child’s self to coming to terms with so much chaos for such a young boy.7 May 2013 at 21:50 #8155
Really great posts. I suggested this as a way we could explore what we thought of the various Doctors in whatever form you wanted, and they are exactly what I wanted to see.
In the beginning, I couldn’t really say that much about Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee beyond some relatively simple comments. I experienced those on Video when I was much older and they could never have the same impact for me, being seen out of order, with elements missing and above all, that agonising break between episodes being absent! I have really enjoyed reading some of your thoughts, as well as @blenkinsopthebrave and @scaryb on those earlier years. You’ll note I became more effusive when talking about Baker and Davison because I can write those from that perspective.
I intend to do some rewatching in the empty months between the finale and the 50th and perhaps those views you’ve all shared may give me an additional appreciation of the years I missed the first time round!7 May 2013 at 22:58 #8174
@Shazzbot My Nanna was an amazing woman – but she was a believer in a simple thing: always tell the truth to children. She always did and I was much the better for it and I have tried all my life to treat my children the same way.
One of the things I don’t like about later Doctor Who is that the Doctor keeps secrets – sometimes important ones.
I used to write a lot – but not lately. But thank you. 🙂
@phaseshift Cheers – I will keep rambling on then… 🙂8 May 2013 at 06:27 #8188
I wanted to give your post a little time to sink in before I responded, so apologies for the delay.
On two or three occasions now, I have had a strong emotional response to a post that was ostensibly about Doctor Who; twice on the Guardian blog and now to yours, a post which was, at once, both heart breaking and heart warming.
I always delight when I feel like this, although tinged with some guilt as I feel a bit like a voyeur, or an intruder into someone’s life. But then I remind myself that this information has been given freely and without any expectation save the need, perhaps, to share a personal experience, however painful that may have been.
Also, I delight because the poster feels comfortable enough in opening themselves up to what essentially is a group of strangers. It re-affirms my core belief in the inherent goodness of the vast majority of people, something that has been sorely tested on many occasions. Can I also give a general thanks, therefore, to this small internet space, which has cultivated an environment where such posts can flourish – it is a testament to each and everyone on this board. Well done. The trolls will never understand this. Never.
But more than that, your post showed how something as seemingly ordinary as a television show can help, heal and influence an individual and a generation. If Moffat and Co. ever decide to break the 4th wall and equate The Doctor with Doctor Who the television show, your post should be the place they start.
Apologies for the hyperbole but, as I can’t shake your hand in person, consider this the virtual equivalent.8 May 2013 at 06:30 #8189Whisht @whisht
@htpbdet please do keep rambling on.
Really enjoyed reading your memories and what the show means to you.
I love the fact that we have many voices here, from the tender to the silly, and so glad people know they can be both (and so much more in between).
Ah, @whohar has said it much much better than I8 May 2013 at 09:53 #8192ScaryB @scaryb
Don’t have much time to hang about here at the moment (deadlines again) but had to say thank you for @htpbdet for sharing great (happy and sad) memories, so eloquently. I squeeeed* at the stories you name-checked (I’m a few years behind you I reckon, but was there from the start) and Hartnell was mine. A pesky bit of grit my eye as well. I hope NuWho is doing the same for some youngsters now as the old ones did for you.
*@juniperfish – you have a lot to answer for!! 😉8 May 2013 at 10:29 #8195Anonymous @8 May 2013 at 12:34 #8212
Thanks all for your generous comments about my ramblings. I really do appreciate your kindness.
We should, really, demand that @craig changes to @DoCraig or @DrcCraig – because, like the Doctor, he has created a safe place for a group of disparate people to go on journeys, laugh together and grow to understand each other, based upon a simple trust in him. Its a rare and blessed thing – and, from my point of view, there can never be enough kudos for him.
There is no shared or gestalt response to Doctor Who – something the dozens of idiotic posters on the Guardian don’t comprehend. Rather uniquely, Doctor Who is capable of speaking individually to its audience and I am sure that one day there will be Phds given for social studies about what Doctor Who did to encourage a couple of generations of broadcasters, actors and other creatives, as well as contributing, significantly, to tolerance in society.
I have never understood the people who insist that one era or Doctor was THE best and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot. These are people who have never really paid attention to the programme they purport to be expert on – because, at its heart, always, Doctor Who is about acceptance and different points of view – the utter rejection of the tyranny of “I am Right”.
I admit to the fact that I was afraid to make the Hartnell and Regeneration posts – I was worried that there were not what you younger and cooler folk wanted – so especial thanks for making someone who feels 1000 also feel welcome.
When I watch Nightmare in Silver, my nephews will be with me. One of them carries my lost brother’s name (of course, he is my godson and favourite) and he is the age I was when I saw Moonbase. He is so excited. And so am I.
What I love most about Doctor Who is how it makes me feel 12 again – and like anything is possible.8 May 2013 at 13:02 #8215SatsumaJoe @satsumajoe
I’m not that eloquent but
@htpbdet I admit to the fact that I was afraid to make the Hartnell and Regeneration posts – I was worried that there were not what you younger and cooler folk wanted
No need because
I am not sure if this is the kind of thing people had in mind for this thread.
Yes it is. So thank you.8 May 2013 at 17:55 #8237
Going back to Davison – it appears someone else shared my desire for a couple of Doctor/Nyssa stories.
Patrick Ness has written the next of the Puffin stories, which are being released for the 50th anniversary. “Tip of the Tongue”:
In 1945, a strange new craze for Truth Tellers is sweeping the kids of small-town America. The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa soon arrive to investigate the phenomenon, only to discover that the actual truth behind the Truth Tellers is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined…
As usual, the Guardian has featured a short extract:8 May 2013 at 18:49 #8240Anonymous @
A pleasant, open face.
I mean, just what the hell is that supposed to mean anyway?
Yep, you’ve guessed it. A few ruminations on the Fifth Doctor — although, as usual, @phaseshift has pretty much covered it in eloquent detail already, so apologies for the repetition.
Rather like Doc 10 in ‘Time Crash’, the fifth Doctor was ‘my’ Doctor. Or, let me clarify, he was my TV Doctor at any rate.
I think I’ve said before that for me Doctor Who had initially been a literary phenomenon. From the ages of about seven onwards, I was pretty obsessed by the Target novelisations, going through on average three a week (as well as all the Sherlock Holmes I could get my hands on and, rather pleasingly, where the two met in Terrance Dicks’s The Baker Street Irregulars stories).
So for me the first four Doctors were largely literary characters and I looked upon the people playing them on TV as interpretations of a literary character — a bit like viewing Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. They’re both fine performances, but they’re not definitive by any means. I think I’ve said before that the performance that had the least ‘disconnect’ between how I imagined the character and how he was portrayed onscreen was Troughton’s, closely followed by Baker’s.
However, that all changed with Davison era.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first was that I had reached the point of very definitely being a Fan by now. Up to say Season 18, the show itself had been an adjunct to the novelisations for me. I watched it every week as every child of my age did but it was still the books that captured my imagination. However, by the end of Baker’s era, the two had largely coalesced in my affections and the division between the two seemed far less pronounced to me.
This is partially, I suppose, due to the advent of the video recorder. With Castrovalva onwards I could record the show and watch and rewatch it to my heart’s content. I could memorise and analyse the show. I would theorise and write alternate versions of upcoming episodes to offset the maddening wait for Saturday.
But sadly the flip side of this was that the Target novelisations were now on the slide in terms of quality. It was even apparent before you even opened them, with the wonderful Andrew Skilleter and Chris Achilleos covers giving way to banal publicity shots slapped on a plain background. (The story goes this was because of Peter Davison being unhappy about the standard of likeness being presented. I’m not sure if there’s any truth in that but the story goes that it was also the reason why the mighty Dave Gibbons was taken off art duties on Dr Who Monthly too.)
And when you got inside, the books were slighter and more carelessly written. With a couple of exceptions, you couldn’t help shake the feeling that the writers of the stories had cottoned on to the fact that they could make a few easy quid by essentially converting their scripts to prose and bashing it out in a couple of weeks. Even Uncle Terrance didn’t seem that interested anymore (i.e. pleasant open face). Compare that to the early novels of Dicks and Barry Letts which, while not being great literature, were still much more like proper books than their 80s equivalents.
And so I was finally an avid viewer of the show. And Davison was my Doctor. I think he’s still my favourite after Matt actually. He never gives any less than a compelling performance and his era is punctuated by second rate stories that he pretty much saved by his performance. Take Warriors of the Deep, for example. Uninspiring use of both Silurians and Sea Devils, terrible performance from Ingrid Pitt and that bloody Myrka but yet Davison saves the story. His ‘there should have been another way’ right at the end of the last episode leaves you with the haunting impression that you’ve watched a much better story than you actually have.
It’s been said that Davison was cursed with a lot of second-rate stories, but if you look at his brief run, there are a lot of stone-cold classics in there. I don’t share the general love for Earthshock, but Kinda is definitely one of my all-time favourite stories. The Visitation is a great old-school adventure and Castrovalva must surely be the best of all the regeneration stories. And even if his second and third years produced wobbles like Mawdryn Undead and Planet of Fire, it also produced classics like The Caves of Androzani and Terminus (my favourite of his stories, I think.)
I think the perception of the ropiness of some of Davison’s stories comes from the sheer amount of rubbish companions he had to put up with. Chief among those is Adric, of course. I can date my hatred of Adric from him acting like a hammy twat in State of Decay and he almost ruins Kinda with his faffing about in the TSS. When he got blown up in Earthshock I would have expected the TARDIS crew to be doing high fives rather than descending into shocked silence.
If that had been the end of the annoying companions, that would have been fine. But, no, bloody Turlough was on the way. I quite liked the idea of a traitorous companion but he was just bloody annoying. Mind you, maybe we’re about to see something similar again. I find it interesting that no one at any time has brought up the possibility that Clara might be unwittingly working for the Black Guardian.
As @phaseshift has already pointed out, Tegan wasn’t too bad after her initial abrasiveness and the fondness that Doctor Five seemed to have for her sometimes came close to being reminiscent of Doctor Four and Sarah-Jane. I think if the Doctor/companion dynamic hadn’t been overly fragmented with Adric (urgh) and Nyssa (forgettable) then they could have been a great pairing. Certainly, I think Tegan’s final departure was one of the more interesting and memorable ones. How many companions have actually left the TARDIS in something like disgust at the Doctor’s lifestyle? I suspect that if such a thing was done now, there would be howls of protest from fandom.
And aside from its other claims to greatness, Androzani also showed I think how well Davison would have worked with just one companion. There were also the glimmerings of a great dynamic with Peri in this story — which sadly, if predictably, didn’t carry on into the Colin Baker era.
So, for my money, Davison was a great Doctor who was badly served by an unwieldy TARDIS dynamic. If more attention had been paid to this at the start of his era, I think he would be remembered as fondly today as Tom Baker and Troughton are.
(Apologies for the length of this. Well done if you made it to the end.)8 May 2013 at 19:18 #8246
@htpbdet I too thought your posts were excellent and would like to thank you for your excellent writing, your passion and your bravery. And thank you for your kind words (and @jimthefish) but I really do feel that everyone here has helped shape this lovely space, all I’ve done is nudge it every now and again to keep it on course.
The new server hosts automatically provide you with a username based on your URL or a shortened version of it. So my username for the hosting is “thedoctor”, which tickles me every time I type it in. 😀
By the way, to post an image you need to view your post using the “Text” tab, then use the “img” button to enter the image’s URL. It also asks you for a description but that can be anything you like, it doesn’t show up on the page.
@jimthefish, I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave your post till later. Apologies for being a bit quiet but I have 12 websites going live at midnight tonight and there’s still work to be done! 😕
Hope to have my life back soon.8 May 2013 at 19:26 #8250
P.S. We may be about to get a few more members. Perhaps helped by a proper link from The Guardian, or perhaps because of the SEO I’ve been doing over the last few months, we are now on the first page of Google if you search for Doctor Who Forum. If you search for The Doctor Who Forum we now seem to vary between position 1 and 4 (although that’s a less likely search). That’s another reason I though a post on Etiquette was timely.8 May 2013 at 19:31 #8254Anonymous @
I don’t read much about DW other than this site but have followed a few links provided herein. I was sorely disappointed in my travels by the sheer inanity, lack of attention to detail, and bizarre recriminations that I encountered elsewhere.
A website is the composite of everyone’s contributions, and @craig, you have created a site which is unparalleled in its erudition, knowledgeableness, personal stories, enthusiasm, and incisiveness – which is a testament to the magnificence of all of your contributors who choose to post on your site (and I certainly don’t count myself in that magnificence! I only bow to it … repeatedly).
I hope all of your other 12 sites (what are they, btw?) are as successful as this one.8 May 2013 at 19:41 #8256
@Shazzbot Thanks. And thank you to everyone who contributes.
The sites are for my work. My company owns about 40 companies and this was a favour for one of them. It was supposed to be just one site, then they decided they wanted a seperate site for each of their 3 brands as well, and then they decided they wanted two of the sites translated into 4 other languages. It was supposed to be a quick job, but what can you do? Thank God it’s almost over.8 May 2013 at 20:42 #8262ardaraith @ardaraith8 May 2013 at 21:05 #8265Whisht @whisht
@craig – this is just because I’m not sure you get why we’re so grateful….
Yes, you do this (or similar) for a living and may even have done this before (for fun).
You bothered to do this – you spotted that some people wanted to carry on the craic from the closed Guardian blog and so you put the hours in to sort create a space that you had no idea if anyone would use.
Could’ve been completely fruitless effort.
But you thought about others and did something rather than go “ah well.. I’ll go to that other forum”.
That’s why we’re grateful and that’s possibly why this is a space for people that think more about the reader rather than themselves when posting.
I don’t want to over-do that (I mean, I mainly make flippant, silly puns; have no insights into Who and am just having fun with puzzles and now music thanks to @phaseshift and everyone here). BUT, where else does a forum agonise over “will this post spoil it for others?” as opposed to “hey hey I’m clever, look at me I found a spoiler!!”.
Both are fun and have their place, but here we’ve separated them because… we’re more concerned with the reader, not ourselves.
Oh, forgive me, I’m prattling on, but this is really just a fumbling attempt to explain our gratitude, and at the same time, explain why I like it here so much.
apologies for the digital ink but thanks @craig and thanks to everyone – cheers.9 May 2013 at 00:20 #8284
By the time Castrovalva came along, I was a father and my first son ( then 2) reacted very favourably to the Doctor Who theme tune and so my memories of the Davison era are indelibly linked to him sitting on my lap, pointing at the screen, burying his head in my chest or calling out “Doc-Doc Whooooo”.
I was ready for change, had been really since Armageddon Factor. Tom Baker stayed two long and people seemed to think he WAS the Doctor.
And Peter Davison, quietly but forcefully, showed precisely why.
To digress, when he was announced as the Fifth Doctor, my heart sank. At first when told it “was the vet from All Creatures Great And Small” I assumed they had cast Robert Hardy and was momentarily thrilled beyond measure. Hardy is an actor’s actor – and a force of nature. He would have given it a fantastic whirl.
But, no, it was Tristan. Too Young. Too pretty. Too bland. I confess to being appalled and worried. With Tom Baker overstaying his welcome and Davison as a wet passive type, what hope was there?
Boy, was I wrong.
Firstly, and this is often ignored, Davison reverted to type. His Doctor assumed a persona and stuck to it. Like Hartnell and Troughton, he chose an outfit and stuck to it. Unlike Pertwee and Baker, he did not change his sartorial style. Which was cleverer than it sounds – because it meant you focused on the performance rather than the trappings.
Secondly, he was blessed with Anthony Ainley. I hope you can understand my meaning: Ainley was appalling as the Master in every possible way, and his constant appearances during Davison’s time helped shore up Davison as the solid, reliable and mercurial actor that he is.
Ainley made Davison good just by showing up: in a kind of reverse-the-polarity-of-the-neutron-flow way, Ainley ensured Davison’s success by his incompetence as an actor, in much the same way Delgado had ensured Pertwe’s success because he was such a good actor.
Thirdly, he was blessed with terrible companions ( mostly ) and this, too, made him the focus.
But mostly – he was just a good guy. He was the Time Lord you would invite for tea and never be afraid of his behaviour; the one you would lend money to; the one you would call when the kids needed a sitter; and the one who was colder and meaner than his youthful good looks suggested.
And he was wry and witty. He did not revel in his alien qualities, but he did not try to be an Everyman either. He managed that rare feat – scientist, dabbler, fusspot, sex symbol and teacher.
He could also put up with Tegan – which, in his first season, was really quite a feat. She was, unique of the companions to date, a tiresome whinging busybody. Yet, Davison found the good in her, focused on it and made her better. He made an effort with her when the Fourth Doctor could not be bothered.
It made for a fascinating interaction – and despite the age of the programme, a quite unique one. You could not have had the glorious Kinda without the investment Davison’s Doctor gave to the development and calming of Tegan.
In that first season, Davison had three excellent stories ( Visitation, Kinda and Earthshock – that first episode of Earthshock is the best first episode of any Nathan-Turner produced story in my view), two odd ones ( Castrovalva and Four To Doomsday) and one of the all time turkeys: Time Flight.
As Tom Baker might have said: There were three types of stories in that first Davison season: the great, the good and the bad…and then there’s Black Orchid…
But, the one thread through it all, even in the dross that was Time Flight, was the exemplary talents of Davison. His Doctor was the perfect blend, really, of the first, second and third Doctors. In hindsight, what Davison did was incredibly brave and intelligent: he did his own thing, while fitting in with the past in a way that his immediate predecessor had entirely eschewed.
Adric: there is no way to escape discussing Adric when reflecting on Davison. After all, Davison killed him. No Doctor had overseen the death of a companion in quite the way Davison oversaw Adric’s death.
But, who could blame him? Adric was an interesting character, but played badly, impossibly badly, by Matthew Waterhouse who had no business being in Doctor Who. Nathan-Turner’s worst decision, however motivated, was casting Waterhouse – because denying the character of Adric a proper actor ensured two things- that Tom Baker’s Doctor would be unnecessarily diminished by him and that Davison’s Doctor would have to kill him.
Because, actually, the kindest, nicest and best thing the Doctor could ever do for Adric was to let him die a hero. Because unless the Doctor let that happen, Adric would have amounted to nothing.
People say that Davison is not as alien as Tom Baker, not as dark, not as dangerously unpredictable. Perhaps. But Tom Baker did not walk away and leave a companion – not much more than a child really – to die. Tom Baker would not have let Adric take that stand: Davison did.
And not from self-interest; but because it was the best thing for Adric – a tormented, lost, lonely and difficult child would just would not learn, grow or assimilate. Letting him become a hero was both the best and worst thing the Doctor could do.
But, dear God, it was dark…
In his second season, the Curate’s Egg pattern continued with the adventures Davison got: Snakedance, Terminus and Enlightenment ( all great ), Mawdryn Undead and Kings Demoms (okay, but slightly troubled) and Arc of Infinity (ghastly).
And then there was Five Doctors – where, compellingly and without effort, Davison walked away with the programme; not even Troughton could dim his light. He did not make Pertwee’s Three Doctors mistake – the programme was not skewed to him; he just let everyone have their moment, and that grace, that dignity, that style defined him more than pretty much anything else he did. He was THE Doctor; the others, including the magnificent Hurndall, were the past. Nothing could have been clearer.
To me, Davison’s best companion, and the one that Nathan-Turner had no idea what to do with, but who was the best actress and whose character had the best potential, was Sarah Suttom’s glorious Nyssa. She stuck me as a fusion of Susan to Hartnell, Victoria to Troughton, Jo to Pertwee and Romana 2 to Baker – she and Davison worked perfectly together and complemented each other magnificently.
Davison was the first Doctor since Pertwee not to have a single female companion – and it is both his strength and a lost opportunity. If he had one series where he was just with Nyssa, I think time would look differently, more approvingly, on him.
I had dinner with Davison just after Five Doctors was aired and before his final season started. He told me that night he was going to leave because he did not think that Nathan-Turner would ever let him be “free of the boys that he thinks brings viewers”. He was melancholy about it – because he loved the programme, but he did not feel like his opinion was taken seriously enough. He felt, probably rightly, that Nathan-Turner would not make the mistake that had been made with Tom Baker in the latter years – the concept was the star, not the actor.
He was unhesitating that Nyssa was his favourite companion. He liked Fielding and Strickson, but felt, again rightly in my view, that the chemistry was there with Sarah Sutton – but the writing let them both down. After some serious alcohol, I had thencourag to agree with him. He said ” You didn’t need to say it, your eyes told me I was right about two hours ago”. (And my career as a spy was abandoned there and then) ( And I felt like I had just met THE Doctor)
I tell that story for only one reason – you would never know that Davison was leaving if you look at his final season. In Every moment of every story – no matter how badly written or directed – he delivers. Not since Troughton had the programme been so well served by its star. Just as Troughton rose above Dominators, Davison rose above, well, everything except his final glorious tale. And there he more than met the challenge.
The 21st season is not good: Warriors of the Deep sets a new low ( You would have thought they would have learnt about Ingrid Pitt in Time Monster but no…) and the Myrka makes one long for the Drashigs; The Awakening is utterly pointless and possibly the most boring Doctor Who story ever; Frontios tries to capture the Kinda magic but fails spectacularly; Planet of Fire is notable only because never before have companions been so clearly and unambiguously reduced to sex objects ( and no one will ever convince me that Peri’s outfit was merely a cover for what Nathan-Turner made Turlough do there). Four repellant adventures with a damn decent Doctor.
Turlough – one of the great missed opportunities of Doctor Who. Mark Strickson was a good actor – he would have been a sensational Adric in my view – but the scripts gave him nothing. There was no defined arc for his character. He was in the TARDIS so that the Mary Whitehouses of this world would not complain about orgies in the TARDIS – I always found this odd. Why did people think that two attractive men and one/two attractive women might not have an orgy? Nathan-Turner’s logic was, well, illogical.
Especially as Davison went to great pains to be an entirely sexless Doctor.
Peri was a disaster from the start. I loathe her more than any other companion who has travelled with the Doctor. She made Tegan seem affable. Irksome, dumb, whiny and petulant – she may have been the perfect English conception of an American but she was wrong with a capital WRONG!
Resurrection of the Daleks was really the first story since Genesis to try to take either the Daleks or Davros seriously. It did not work entirely, but it gave it a good damn try. And, as @jimthefish rightly says, Tegan’s departure was both surprising and shattering – and a profound indictment on the Doctor. It was, and is, the only departure of its kind – and in that moment, Fielding gave her very best performance. It took me utterly by surprise, the way she went- and it was profoundly affecting. Tegan found her brave heart at the very end.
Then there is Caves of Androzani…a Robert Holmes masterpiece. No Doctor, apart perhaps from Troughton, has had a better swan song. And just as well, really, because Davison deserved to go out with a bang.
And, entirely fittingly, his Doctor sacrificed himself to save his companion. Just as the right thing for Davison to do was leave Adric to his heroic death, the right thing for Davison to do was to save Peri – he did not know then what a complete waste of space she was and so he gave her the benefit of the doubt and saved her, unsure whether he actually could regenerate. Those final scenes in Caves are as harrowing as anything ever in Doctor Who.
Indeed, Caves of Androzani is in the top five best ever Doctor Who adventures – entirely because of the sheer strength of Davison’s performance.
No wonder, then, that David Tennant thought of him as his Doctor.
Because he was an exceptional Doctor – and one who rarely got the chance to shine as he might have because of bad writing, ghastly production values and conceptualisation and the worst motley TARDIS crew in the history of the programme.
As I have said elsewhere, my anger about the final scene in Caves Of Androzani, the one that introduced Colin Baker to an unsuspecting public, was unbounded. It was so disrespectful, so rude, so bewilderingly inappropriate as to viscerally shock the audience coming to terms with the passing of the Fifth Doctor. It is the single most ill-judged moment in the entirety of Nathan-Turner’s era, an era not known for its wise decisions.
But all it did was make Davison’s light glow brighter – and amen to that.
In Twin Dilemma, Colin Baker would label Davison “effete”. In so misjudging his predecessor, Baker set the stake in the ground for the entire misjudgment of his incarnation.
Davison had done what many thought was impossible – he successfully replaced Tom Baker. In a way, he did the second hardest job in the history of the series, Troughton’s being the hardest in taking over after Hartnell.
In another way, Davison did something no one else had done – redefined the parameters of the role by drawing on the past and being his own self simultaneously – something that each of the Nu-Who Doctors would go on to do in varying degrees, both in aspiration and achievement.
But Davison did it first.
And as Caves of Androzani proved, wearing that celery was an inspired idea.9 May 2013 at 06:53 #8288
This is (another) nice post. I must say I struggled a bit with Davison as the Doc and, for various reasons, I tended to dip in and out of his stories which certainly doesn’t help. Probably time to do a bit of catch up with his portrayal though. From your post, it seems I was a bit unlucky with some of my viewings.
Oh and btw this…
I can date my hatred of Adric from him acting like a hammy twat in State of Decay
is genius.9 May 2013 at 06:58 #8289
I was a father and my first son
I had this rather frivolous notion that he was named after you and therefore called htpbdet 🙂9 May 2013 at 09:55 #82929 May 2013 at 10:00 #8293
I forgot to say – my top five Davison era programmes? Caves of Androzani, Kinda, Earthshock, Enlightenment, Five Doctors.
Top ten? Add – Terminus, Snakedance, Resurrection of the Daleks, Visitation, Mawdryn Undead.
For what that is worth….
🙂9 May 2013 at 10:06 #82949 May 2013 at 10:35 #8296Anonymous @
@HTPBDET – not sure I can thank you enough for bringing so much thoughtful detail and analysis into your ‘Faces of the Doctor’ posts. And they’ve helped me remember your moniker, by placing each Doctor firmly in sequence!
Which means, though, that I’m confused about why you go from D to E. After Davison was another B (Colin Baker) then a couple of Ms for McCoy and McGann? But I’m certain that your coming posts on the next 3 doctors will explain that absence quite eloquently. (and I love that you give the S to your son! You’ll come round on Matt Smith, I know you will … 😉 )
But what a bombshell you slyly dropped in there – having dinner with Peter Davison! You man of mystery you; you must have some historical connection with the show. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining, that’s fine, but that sounds like an awesome dinner (using ‘awe’ in its original intended meaning).
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