Waaaay back in November, as part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebration, the BBC released retrospectives of each of the seven original Doctors. One by one, commentaries were given of every Doctor’s time period, the actor in the role, the companions, villains, tone, and any interesting or unusual highlights of that particular regeneration. While it is obvious to the die hard fans they steered away from any controversies or politics inherent in each one, it was still fascinating. They followed these talks with a serial featuring whichever version of the Time Lord being discussed.
After several months, I have finally managed to watch all seven of these serials, and here is my SPOILER FILLED look at all of them.
William Hartnell stars in this 1964 adventure in which the Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian end up in the Aztec empire, cut off from the Tardis. The Doctor has to figure out how to get back to the Tardis, maybe have a little romance, keep Barbara from changing time because the Aztecs thinks she is a Goddess, and survive the politics of the bad guys. While I found this one very boring and scattered, this was also the first mention of time being unchangeable in some cases. The words “fixed points” are not uttered, but close enough, and that part does feel like part of the larger universe opening to us.
The Tomb of the Cybermen
Patrick Troughton is in this 1967 tale with Jamie and Victoria as they land on a deserted planet and bump into an exhibition trying to find the Cybermen’s tomb. And they have the typical scary disastrous results which the Doctor must save them, and the universe, from. I have seen a few Troughton stories in the past and was never thrilled with them, but this one I actually quite liked. Suspenseful, thrilling, with touches of humour, Tomb provides a very entertaining viewing. So yes, Troughton has grown on me.
Spearhead from Space
Jon Pertwee takes over in this 1970 story. The Doctor begins his Time Lord imposed exile on Earth and spends most of this adventure getting used to, and set up, with this generation. The menace almost seems second hand to introducing the new status quo, where after defeating the invaders, the Doctor goes to work with Liz and the Brigadier for UNIT. In many ways this feels like the template for future regenerations, with much effort to showcase the who and what of this version of who. And say that seven times fast.
Pyramids of Mars
Tom Baker in the Doctor in this 1975 serial where he and Sarah Jane investigate strange going ons in 1911 Britain. Turns out, an archeologist has accidently found a gateway to freeing Sutekh, a powerful evil alien who wants to rule all. While I love Tom Baker and he was my first Doctor, this tale just meandered for me. From the Doctor being all mopey in the beginning to the silliness of the prison maze, I was just waiting for this one to end. One interesting point, the Doctor telling Sarah Jane of how time can be changed, making alternative futures from what she knows. Also, Sarah Jane finds a dress in the Tardis wardrobe and puts it on. It was Victoria’s.
Peter Davidson is our Doctor with Adric, Tegan, and Nyssa travelling with him in this 1982 storyline. After a nasty argument with Adric, the Doctor bumps into some villains who are working for the Cybermen, leading to a space freighter heading to Earth, some time travel, and a really bad day for the dinosaurs. And as an added bonus, Adric the companion everyone hated at the time, dies. A true rarity for Doctor Who. I vividly recall when this first aired and how my mind was blown. Even now, millions of years later, Adric’s death still feels awful and heartwrenching. RIP Adric.
Vengeance on Varos
Colin Baker, the worst Doctor ever, has this boring so called adventure with Peri in 1985. Tardis needs some mineral, the Doctor goes to the only planet that has it, and ends up running afoul of the corrupt authorities. And the Doctor is a jerk at the beginning. The only redeeming quality of this one is the social commentary of showing the torture of people on television as entertainment.
Remembrance of the Daleks
Sylvester McCoy leads a renaissance with this 1988 story. The Doctor returns to 1963 with Ace, about a month after he left in The Unearthly Child, all to finally take care of something powerful he left behind. Unfortunately, not one but two factions of Daleks are also in attendance, vying for the object. You can now count me as a member of the legion of Ace lovers, whose spunkiness, baseball bat, nitro 9, and calling the good old Doctor Professor, has made her a cult heroine for all Whovians. Also, the wonderful inferences to the Doctor from just a month before continuity wise is a complete blast. And we get flying Daleks!
After all this massive viewing, I feel even more like a Whovian. My tastes still lie with Tom Baker and Peter Davidson, but I now have a new appreciation of Patrick Troughton and Sylvester McCoy. Maybe between now and the 75th I shall watch them all?
…is currently reading Schultz and Peanuts by David Michaelis