Saturday, 31 December 2016


At last, we're in the Top Three. Not only have I been greatly impressed by the number of views this series has received (700 hits in 30 days!) but I'm even more amazed by the exceedingly low number of death threats I've received by placing David Tennant, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker so low on the list! Let's see, now, what I have to say about the somewhat unusual choices that made it to the top...


As a younger lad, I cared more about Popular Fan Consensus and almost tried to fight how much I enjoyed two of three incarnations that I've ranked, here. Really, I did. I, literally, gave extra repeated viewings to Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in hopes that it would get me to like them better. These were the Doctors that everyone was saying were the best and I wanted to fit in with what Fandom was saying. But, in the end, I just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. These other less-appreciated Doctors just seemed so much more interesting to me.

The other fellow that's made it into the Top Three is a New Series Doctor that does not fit the mold at all of the two Classic Series Doctors that I love most. But there's just something about the performance he gave that made me fall madly in love with his Doctor. And the fact that he just seemed so unlikely for the role but still ended up being truly magnificent.

All right, let's get on with it....


Yup, he fluffed a tonne of lines, He was also very difficult to get along with. He was even, by some accounts, a bit of a racist. But there is just something about William Hartnell's performance that I completely love.

Many of us already know his background: an actor who had become horrifically tired of the way he was being typecast, he saw the role of the Doctor as a way to finally break free of that. He seized the proverbial Bull by the Horns and gave that part everything he had. And that does translate into the performance he gives on the screen. His failing health and the grueling shooting schedule are the reasons why we see flaws in what he's doing. But the truth of the matter is, he is making every line he delivers count. Every mannerism and inflection is done with the most deliberate of care and precision. Truly, there is no one who throws himself into the role more.

I think what I love the most about this Doctor is the fact that we are watching the character being constructed before our very eyes. Neither Hartnell nor the various writers know exactly what they're doing with the character. There's all kinds of experimentation going on as we, slowly but surely, find out what the Doctor is truly about. No, we won't learn his proper origins til a few years later - but we learn far more important things in this era. We learn what the character stands for and what he believes in and I find all that very exciting to watch.

It's equally interesting watching the actual stories go through much the same process. Just as with Hartnell's performance, there's lots of stumbling going on as the writers are attempting to figure out what constitutes a proper Doctor Who story. Again, we witness all kinds of interesting experimentation. The show even attempts to be a legitimate comedy for a handful of stories. I find the whole evolutionary process fascinating. So much so, that I will often watch what remains of this era in sequential order from beginning to end.

There are so many beautiful firsts that happen during this period. During Episode Two of Dalek Invasion of Earth, for instance, we watch the Doctor get up in the face of a Dalek after it emerges from the Thames. For some reason, the scene feels so much more poignant than it should. And we suddenly realize: "This is the first time we are watching the Doctor confront a recurring foe." It happens so many more times in future stories, of course. And such scenes are handled in all kinds of interesting ways. But we are watching it for the first time, here. Every time I watch that moment, it gives me just a little bit of a shiver. The fact that we would see the first companion leave only a few episodes later makes things even more brilliant. Pivotal cornerstones to the show's foundation appear on a regular basis throughout this period. In my opinion, it makes for fantastic viewing.

As we near the end of the era, a very definite formula seems to be coming together. We know how a basic adventure is going to work. Even more beautiful, though, is the fact that the show remembers on a regular basis to go outside its own mold. And that happens because the production teams during the earliest years loved to take chances. Audiences remembered that and responded well to it. So future producers often kept that tradition in place.

Finally, there are also just so many beautiful nuances that Hartnell brought to the part. His expressiveness with his hands. That sudden ferocity that he could unleash when he got his back up. That air of authority that he always commanded whether speaking dialogue or just standing in the background. I especially love that some of his stumbling was actually intentional. When he portrays the Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve, all those little dialogue improvisations that seemed like he was grasping for lines actually disappear.

For a sci-fi series that, during its infancy, sometimes resembled Plan 9 From Outer Space, Hartnell brought all kinds of care and attention to the part he played. Which set a precedent for all future casting in the role. William Hartnell's shoes were not easy ones to fill. And that's a huge contribution to what makes the show so great, these days.

It all began with the First Doctor. And it started beautifully....


Oh, the angry protests that resonated through Fandom when it was announced that Matt Smith would be the next Doctor! Pretty Boy David Tennant had been a big hit but we definitely did not want the Doctor to keep being this young, dashing hero who was nice on the eyes. It was okay for one incarnation - but let's bring back an older Doctor, now. Moff was even promising that this was exactly what he wanted to do. But what did we get, instead? Someone who was actually younger than Tennant!

I have to admit, even I was a bit disappointed in the casting choice when I first head about it. But I thought: "Let's give this Matt Smith fellow a chance, at least." And I was so glad I did.

It's as Moff said: he may look young but there is an old soul in those eyes. Which gave us such an interestingly nuanced performance. Yes, Doctor Eleven runs around like some ridiculous man-boy, but we can always sense that ancient being that he really is lurking behind all the shenanigans. We see that dynamic going on right in his first story. For most of Eleventh Hour, he's a pretty big prattling fool. But then we get to that "Basically, run!" moment and we see that he's got all the gravitas than any other actor who has played the role possesses. Age will have no real bearing when the Doctor truly needs to be the Doctor.

Some have remarked that Ten and Eleven are very similar in personality . Both are very over-eager fanboys. Getting excited about all sorts of people and things that most folks don't really give two craps about. Look at how Tennant responds when he snogs Madame De Pompadour. Or how Smith is reacting to the 80s hotel at the beginning of God Complex. They're like young male nerds at a comic con.

But if you've been following this whole series, you'll see that Doctor Ten ranked very low on my list. So why is it that a Doctor who is so similar in character is doing so well?

The answer is quite simple. Where Tenant zigged Smith chose to zag. Both of these Doctors are, quintessentially, young. But where Ten seems to focus on the melodrama or "angstyness" of youth, Eleven delves, instead, into its exuberance. He is naive - but in all the right ways. He has a zest for life and tries to believe in the best in everyone. Like Ten, he must still deal with disappointments. Because he is young, he only deals so well with them. But he doesn't have to go so over-the-top with it. He is petulant for a moment and then moves on. Much of his angst is, in fact, purposely comical. To me, that is such a better approach if you're going to make the Doctor young again.

There is a clear example of this right in his second story. The Doctor has reached that point with Amy where he feels the need to share with her what happened in the Time Wars. There's a bit of a sad speech where he gets a bit down and then he's done and resumes working on some equipment immediately in front of him. His tone actually sounds quite a bit like Troughton when he tells Victoria that his family "mostly sleeps in his mind". Which is a great way to deliver this sort of dialogue. It shows that the Doctor is hurt by what's happened but he's getting on with his life. He's dealing with the present but still letting his past affect him a bit.

Compare that to all the drama that takes place in a similar situation between the Doctor and Martha in Gridlock. It's made into a much bigger deal. So much so, that I find the whole survivor guilt stuff is now becoming counter-productive to the effectiveness of telling a good story. I am so glad that Doctor Eleven, pretty well, jettisons this sort of stuff. He brings the Doctor back to being an adventurer who's recently gone through something very difficult. Rather than someone who seems to need to wallow, forever, in his past. Again and again, we see choices like this being made in the structuring of the character. To me, Smith takes what Tennant was trying to do but gets it right.

In terms of the quality of his stories: much of it is second-to-none. Yeah, we had a Curse of the Black Spot or two - but every era does. In some of my other rantings in this blog, I actually like to compare Moff's period to Hinchcliffe/Holmes era. I know others may not agree with this. But I do think Doctors Eleven and Twelve have gotten some top-notch stories with only the occasional minor dud. Even the weaker episodes still have much to admire.

I think Eleven was the perfect Doctor to have around as the 50th anniversary approached. In so many ways, he nailed exactly what the character was meant to be. A hint of modern sensibilities but also old-fashioned in all the right ways. I love that he's back to being socially-awkward around women, for instance. It just works so much better for the character. The Doctor is the type of person who should get horrifically upset when accused of having a "snog booth". It's great to see him pulling that hissy fit. Most other men, these days, would be agreeing that it was one and would try to get a girl like Clara to try it out with them. But Doctor Eleven, instead, is outraged by the implication. It's nice to see him just a bit traditional in his values, like that. Not too much, but a bit. This is the sort of Doctor we needed to have around when such a huge benchmark was being celebrated. One of my favorite aspects of Day of the Doctor is the way he mocks Ten so much for being the womanizer he was. Or the way he becomes almost apologetic to the War Doctor during Ten's nuptials with Queen Elizabeth the First. The Classic Series Doctor has definitely returned in Smith's interpretation. And that's wonderful to see.

And then, finally, Eleven must depart. I've seen about eight regenerations "in real-time", now. Some of the earliest Doctors I had to watch retrospectively. But, for the most part, I've watched the Doctor pass at the time the actor was actually leaving the show. Which means that I've taken a full journey with that incarnation and am now seeing them off. I find this a far more emotional experience. But watching a Doctor leave, for the most part, hasn't been too brutal for me. A new one is on his way and there will be all kinds of fun with discovering what he'll be like.

But I really felt myself going through some serious grieving when Smith undid that bow tie for the final time. I had gotten so much more attached to this incarnation than I have others. I think this is where I truly felt just how strong my Eleven-Love had become. It really hurt to see him go. As brilliant as Capaldi has been in the role, losing Smith was a truly unsettling experience that took a while for me to overcome. So much so, that I really adore the cameo he does in Deep Breath. We got just a little bit more of Eleven before we had to truly say goodbye.


Ironically, the man who hates lists like these makes it to the top of mine.

I still remember the first time I watched Twin Dilemma. I was a teenager living in Canada (for a better idea of my background, read my First anniversary post New episodes that were being shown in Britain often took, at least, a few months before they made their way to any of the TV stations in my area. I was also plugged in to several fan clubs that printed up and sent out fanzines on a regular basis. Many of those fanzines discussed episodes I had not seen yet - the authors lived in parts of the world that got their Who faster than I did.

The reviews of Twin Dilemma were all the same: worst Doctor Who story in the history of bad Doctor Who stories. To this day, it sits at the bottom of the regular fan polls that Doctor Who Magazine takes. We just haven't stopped maligning it since the day it was broadcast.

When the story finally reached my eyes, I could see a lot of what the critics were saying. It definitely looked horrifically cheap. Even worse, it seemed a bit too light on plot to sustain the four episodes. But, beyond that, I really didn't have much trouble with it. In fact, I rather enjoyed it.

A lot of what makes Twin Dilemma so fun is Colin's performance. All the manic turns he takes throughout the four episodes are portrayed with great relish and gusto. For me, it was an utter delight to watch. He really makes up for some of the problems the tale is having.  I also greatly enjoy the way his character is initially crafted. I know it upset a lot of fans - but I love that we're really not sure about this Doctor when we first meet him. Is this a legitimate regeneration that's gone wrong? Will the Doctor always be this absolutely horrible person? Is he really going to keep wearing that coat?!

I even love that we're not entirely sure by the end of the story that he is actually improving. He is still incredibly tetchy and a bit unstable. After five regenerations, we had gotten pretty used to the whole process. I think it was great that this story really shakes things up again and shows us just how radical the whole change can be.

Of course, if we studied things a bit, we know that this was the beginning of what was meant to be a three-season arch of character progression. The Doctor was meant to be a bit like Thomas Covenant. Very unlikeable at the beginning. But, as things progress, we slowly fall in love with him. This is the reason why I tend to favor "arrogant Doctors" - the character is given somewhere to go. Twelfth, First and even, to some extent, Ninth all start as old cranks who end up having hearts of gold hidden underneath. But it only tends to come out after a while. It adds a very nice extra layer to the story-telling. And there was no greater attention paid to that layer than in the Sixth Doctor's era. I deeply loved that.  I thought it was great that he started as more of an anti-hero than a hero. That we would slowly see him develop his softer side. This is probably the trait I enjoy most about this incarnation.

There seems to be a sort of Bandwagon that Fandom jumped on with poor 'Ole Sixie. It started with a few outspoken fans proclaiming Twin Dilemma to be awful and everyone else just going along with it rather than giving the story a fair try. The yule and cry continued with Season 22. It was all too violent and the Doctor wasn't Doctorish enough. Again, everyone just started regurgitating this ad nauseam. No one seemed to really be looking at the genuine content and forming opinions for themselves. By the time Trial of a Time Lord made it to the screens, Fandom seemed impossible to satisfy, anymore. The Sixth Doctor had been swept up in a tide of a negative opinion that he didn't deserve. It bothers me, to this day, that this period of the show is often discussed as being the show at its all-time lowest point.

There are certain negative points that get made about the Sixth Doctor over and over. Just as I did when I reviewed Vengeance on Varos(, I'm going to address some of those points head-on:

1. The Stories Are Weak: Well, as we already know, there's one Sixth Doctor story that definitely disagrees with this idea (in my opinion, at least). But is Vengeance on Varos the only masterpiece among a pile of rubbish? Certainly not! Revelation of the Daleks is also quite brilliant and I think Ultimate Foe is legitimately epic. Attack of the Cybermen, Mark of the Rani, The Two Doctors and the other three stories of Trial of a Time Lord are all very solid. They may have a "tree won't hurt you" moment here and there but, overall, they're quite good. You know, like most Doctor Who stories from any era.

Yes, we do end up with stories like Twin Dilemma and Timelash being a bit more problematic. But, again, every era of the show has stories like these. I'm not sure why these common flaws that happened previously suddenly get so over-scrutinized when Colin takes the helm. It's all quite silly. Story-wise, this is as strong  a period as any other in the show. I would even say that I appreciate it better than a lot of other eras. Mainly because it took a lot of chances that Who had seldom or never taken before.

I even hate that back-handed compliments that some fans give: "Colin was a good Doctor - he just had to work with bad stories". Personally, I think these stories were just fine. It's actually great to hear so many new fans who weren't even alive in the 80s going back to watch the Sixth Doctor stories and asking: "What was the problem?!".

2. The Outfit Made it Impossible to Appreciate Him: The costume was meant to represent the Doctor's personality: loud and garish. In that sense, it accomplished the task perfectly. I suppose, in some ways, this is purely a matter of opinion and I can only refute it so much. But other incarnations have made some pretty outrageous fashion choices (I actually know new fans who have a similar sentiment towards Four's scarf - believe it or not!).

Yes, no one made as bold a fashion choice as Six did. But it was the 80s! I felt he got away with it. Hell, who am I kidding? I actually really love the outfit. Particularly the coat. Of all the Doctor's apparel, the Sixth Doctor's coat is the one item of clothing that I would actually love to own, myself. Considering I have actually no desire to ever by a cosplayer of any sorts - that says something!

Those are two of the biggest objections to Doctor Six that I feel hold no real water. There's some minor stuff that I won't bother with.

I will admit, my love for the underdog is part of my motivation, here. It's almost like all this unfounded objection towards Six got me to love him that bit more. But, beyond that, this is an excellently-crafted character who had a very fascinating run of stories. I will even be pretentious enough to say that a lot of people just didn't get this era of the show. It was trying something bold and different. But, perhaps, viewing audiences just weren't quite ready for it at the time.

The ultimate tragedy, of course, is that all the plans that were being made with the Sixth Doctor's character arch never saw their full fruition. He was cut off after only two seasons and all we're left with is: "Carrot juice! Carrot juice! Carrot juice!"

Personally, I would have loved to have seen him beat Tom Baker's record. But, alas, this was not to be...

The other installments: 

The Bottom:

Blink and You'll Miss Them:

Lower Mid-Rangers:

Upper Mid-Rangers:

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Moving into the Upper Mid-Rangers. Again, we'll only tackle two more....


Once more, I'll stress that there is very little difference in my levels of appreciation, here. I do think the mid-rangers - upper or lower - are all excellent Doctors. Their eras were all very solid and I don't have a whole lot of problems with them. They don't quite appeal to me as much as they do my Final Top Three but I'm still very impressed with them.


In my last post, I spoke of how difficult it must have been for Peter Davison to take over from Tom Baker. Well, Davison had nothin' on poor Patrick Troughton. Even McGann and Eccleston - who had the weight of the show's revival resting on their shoulders - didn't feel the sort of pressure Troughton must've been under.

The Second Doctor had to introduce the concept of regeneration to the audience for the first time. Up until that fateful moment at the end of Tenth Planet, no one knew that the Doctor could suddenly be played by a new lead. It was an idea the production team had only come up with themselves' in the few months before it was introduced on the show. So, suddenly, a new performer had to be accepted by the fans. If he wasn't, the show would die out by the end of the season.

Just as with Davison, the more marketable move would've been to make the transition as smooth as possible. Have the Second Doctor perform in a similar manner to the First. Perhaps even have him imitate him. So that the audience sees him as the same man with just a different face.

Once more, the production team decides to be artists. The Second Doctor is nothing like his predecessor. He's his own unique character who even goes so far as to play on the doubts of his two companions who are wondering if he's the same person as the man they just saw collapse before them on the TARDIS floor. Truthfully, the show could not have taken a bolder route in the change of its core format. And, once more, I fall in love with Doctor Who all the more for doing this.

Much like the other Upper Mid-Ranger that I will be listing after him, Troughton is off to a rough start. He pushes the comedy a little too hard and has to reign it in a bit before really settling into the role properly. But we are still so glad that he's allowed to play the role in his own way. The interpretation that he gives to the character is wonderful. Hartnell made sure to give layers to his Doctor, but Doctor Two goes even further. Every moment that he's on camera, we can see our new Doctor giving his One-Hundred-and-Ten Percent. Trying to make every line count as a contribution to the overall character he's brought to life. It's quite amazing to watch, really. Not just in those moments where he must appear larger-than-life. But also in those more subtle moments.

The scene where he speaks to Victoria about his family in Tomb of the Cybermen is often cited as an excellent insight into the character's "softer side". And I have to agree with Fandom on this point (a rare occasion, I'll admit). We've seen the Second Doctor running around like a mad lark. We've also seen him command authority, be mysterious and even show a hint of danger now and again. But, suddenly, he becomes delicate. But he does it in a way that is unique to his own character. It's done quite masterfully. And, by the end of the scene, we really do see that the portrayal is as three-dimensional as his predecessor or any other performer who will follow him. Fandom does love to go on about the sheer brilliance of Tom Baker - but they should really be talking about Troughton more (not to say that they don't talk about him at all - just that he should get more attention than he does).

Perhaps my favorite trait of Doctor Two is the way he loves to wrong-foot his enemy. His Cosmic Hobo image causes him to appear very unassuming or even a bit incompetent. In several stories, his foes brush him aside - thinking him completely harmless. Only to be defeated by him a short while later because he was purposely appearing meek so that they would underestimate him. We see, perhaps, one of the best examples of this when he makes his return appearance in The Three Doctors. The whole time the Second Doctor is confronting Omega, he plays the mad Time Lord like a fiddle. Pushing his buttons by babbling on about pipes and other such nonsense. Even his own third incarnation isn't entirely sure what he's up to, sometimes. Only in a brief aside between Two and Three do we see that he's completely in control of the entire situation. He's toying with the stellar engineer to see if there's a weakness to exploit. I love the approach that he uses when combating evil. It's a great image for the character: an impish bumbler who suddenly turns dangerous when you least expect it.

The Second Doctor not only passed the greatest challenge a new Doctor has ever faced. But he brought a radical change to the direction of the character. And he did it amazingly!


Another actor who faced a lot of challenges as he first stepped into the role. The Sixth Doctor's final season ended in a behind-the-scenes nightmare which had a tremendous effect on how Doctor Seven entered the world. So much so, that many site Sylvester McCoy's first season as being the worst in the show's history (aside from the abysmal Dragonfire, I don't think it's actually that bad. In fact, I'd take it over Season 17 any day!). This created a very shaky start for what would be the last Doctor of the Classic Series.

But then we hit Season 25. Andrew Cartmel, the new script editor, is through with whatever teething problems he had during his first season and is now firing on all cylinders. He's bringing in great writers who are creating stories so sophisticated that TV still hasn't quite caught up with some of the conventions they used. This continues into Season 26 - causing the show to finish off on such a high note of creative brilliance that it's shameful we never got to see Season 27 (the story notes that have been shared indicated that it would've probably been a pretty awesome season. Still not sure how Ace was going to become a Time Lord but I'm confident it would've been handled well). As sad as it is that Doctor Who is over - it definitely went out with style. And we owe a lot of that to the awesomeness that is Doctor Seven.

His most predominant trait, of course, is his deviousness. In this body, the Doctor seems to be staring into the abyss - and the abyss, of course, is staring back into him. He's using a similar ruse to his second incarnation: a clownish exterior that can become formidable when it needs to. But he's taking the strategy so much further. And becoming so much darker because of it.

We actually see the first hints of this in Season 24. The Doctor seems to almost enjoy being deceptive. We see this, to some extent, in every story. He tricks the Rani into blowing up her own Brainiac. He uses a false rule from the Manual to escape from the guards of Paradise Towers. Gavrok and the Bannermen follow a whole series of false clues that lead them into a bee attack. He even lies to Mel about his real intentions for visiting Svartos. It's all there if you look for it.

But in his second season, all that becomes amplified. Doctor Seven becomes the Cosmic Chess Player and starts luring his greatest foes into massive acts of self-destruction. He is now pro-active. Rarely does he just stumble into misadventures like he used to. Now he's going to places where he knows there are problems and, already, has a plan in place to fix things. But the plan always involves deceit and manipulation. He's turning just a little bit into some of the villains he's berated over the years. He feels his ends are starting to justify his means. It's a great new "edge" to bring to the character that refreshes the whole way we look at our favorite hero.

There's also a lot to be said for some of the beautiful arcs that run through the Seventh Doctor's era. There's the Tutelage of Ace and Fenric's Sinister Plot. And the mysterious Cartmel Masterplan that, sadly, never sees its completion. All great little storylines that weave through the plots of Seasons 25 and 26. Adding extra dimension to some already well-layered adventures. This really is Doctor Who in one of its finest hours. Scenes like Fenric revealing that he's been interfering in the Doctor's journeys since Ace first dropped into his life just make things all the more magnificent. The sort of stuff fans just eat up.

In earlier drafts of the script for the 96 Telemovie, the Seventh Doctor was meant to make only the briefest of appearances. But as the polishing process progressed, the role was expanded. RTD was right in the opinion he expressed when Rose premiered. He had said starting the 96 Telemovie with a different lead in place may have created confusion for people approaching the show for the first time. Nonetheless, it was still nice to see Sylvester McCoy get a good amount of screentime before handing the baton over to McGann.

Doctor Seven, in his last appearance, seems to be a man more at peace with himself. Maybe, during those wilderness years, he has mended his ways and lost his desire to manipulate people and situations to achieve a greater good. He's just a straightforward adventurer, again. We can't say for sure, of course. But we do get that vaguest of impressions that this could be the case. The fact that he plays completely into the Master's plans rather than come up with some complex counterplot that indicates he knew, all along, what his enemy was up to tends to indicate that his scheming days are behind him.

I'd like to think that an arc was completed regarding the Seventh Doctor, himself. And we see but a glimpse of it just before he bows out to his successor.

Okay, if you've done the basic math, you know which three incarnations are still left. But what positions did they rank in? Tune in to find out....

Previous Installments: 

The Bottom:

Blink And You'll Miss Them:

Lower Mid-Rangers:

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


All righty, then. We've plowed through 7 incarnations, so far. Time to slow things down a bit. Only two more incarnations will get covered, today. But which ones? 


Here is where we will be splitting hairs. The Doctors that sit in the middle of my range of appreciation are sooo close to each other in their rankings. I would even say that they can bump up or down this list depending on my mood for the day. But I committed to a specific placement of them when I decided to do these posts and I'm going to stick to it. But, in all honesty, these guys can easily fluctuate.


While these two sit a bit lower than the other two that I will discuss in my next post, I really don't respect them less. The mid-rangers are all exceptional Doctors and Lower should definitely not be looked down upon in any sort of way.


It's almost not fair to be ranking him, yet. His era isn't complete. For all we know, his next season (or more) might have such incredible things happen to him that it bumps him up to first place. But, at this moment, this is where he stands.

The announcement that Peter Capaldi would be playing the next Doctor brought me immediate joy. Two young, handsome Doctors in a row was just a bit distressing. It wasn't upsetting me as much as it was some other fans, but I was starting to think that the Doctor would always be a pretty boy from hereon in. I could live with that and understood that this might be the formula the show would need to stick to in order for it to remain "accessible".

But then, lo and behold, Peter Capaldi gets cast. He's the same age as Hartnell was when he got the role. Immediately, my hopes begin to soar. Doctor Who is going to feel a lot more like it did in the Old Days. Capaldi is even saying he wants to adapt JNT's "no hanky panky on the TARDIS" ideals.

Things are looking up...

I become even happier as I start seeing how the role was going to be played (I'm one of those evil fans that found the five scripts and the raw footage from Deep Breath that leaked on the internet - it gave me a wonderful sneak preview!). The Doctor is definitely tetchy in this new incarnation. Like 'Ole Sixie - he's still a champion for justice and always wants to do the right thing. But he doesn't care whether or not he makes friends along the way. In fact, he's downright rude to just-about everyone that crosses his path.

Now, I know Nine had a bit of a mean streak, too. Even Eleven could get a bit sulky and bad-tempered (but Matt Smith often chose for a more comedic interpretation of those moments), but Twelve is the first incarnation in the New Series that is full-on arrogant. And I adore him for that. To me, it's beautiful to see the show not worrying about "ticking boxes", anymore. We're going to have a fun anti-hero for a bit.

The strength of Twelve's stories has really helped. In the Forest of the Night is about the only one that comes close to being any sort of dud (in my opinion, at least). Everything else has, for the most part, been firing on all cylinders. Twelve's era has been New Who at its peak. The stories have been magnificent and Capaldi and Coleman have turned in amazing performances. I'm looking forward to seeing how the next companion fares. I have a feeling that, in Moffat's skillful hands, she'll do just fine.

In the grand tradition of all "arrogant" Doctors - the character gradually softens. This particular process has happened in a very beautiful and organic way with Twelve. Capaldi created a gentler and more comic portrayal in his second season that has genuinely endeared us to his incarnation. The sonic shades and electric guitar have quickly become iconic. He's shifted very nicely from being a "House" Doctor (referring to the popular American series about the extremely obnoxious-but-brilliant medical doctor) that we saw in the first series to the Rock'n'Roll Doctor that we see in the second. It's great fun the way he's hung on a bit to that Matt Smith interpretation of the part. He still can't quite master being cool. He comes a bit closer than Matt's Doctor does - but he's only so good at it.

Who knows for sure what the future will hold for Twelve. I hope he has more than just one more season left in him. Because I am greatly enjoying the adventure he has taken us on.

I hope we see the cue cards a few more times, too. What's written on some of the cards he hasn't actually read aloud are absolutely hilarious!


What a challenge poor 'ole Peter Davison had to face when he accepted that fateful offer from John Nathan-Turner. To have to follow up the seven year reign of Tom Baker is a task no one would want. Regardless of how low he is ranked on my list, Tom Baker's Doctor is a legend. A status he achieved even before he decided to leave the series. As he prepares to bow out, Doctor Five must follow an act the audience doesn't want to see end. How do you even take on the role of the Doctor when your predecessor is so dearly loved?

You take it on with boldness and courage. Not just in terms of how Davison plays the role - but the way the production team earns so much of my respect for the changes of direction the show takes as Doctor Five kicks in . The more sensible choice as we transition from Fourth to Fifth would be to keep things as similar as possible so that the audience accepts the new lead. But, instead, everyone chooses to be an artist rather than a marketeer. And the three-years that Davison inhabits the role are all the more beautiful because of it.

After nearly twelve years of Pertwee and Tom Baker dominating every scene they're in, it is so amazing to see a Doctor who is, once more, vulnerable. Or, as fandom prefers to describe him, fallible. Doctor Five (aka "Tristan with guts") cares about peoples' feelings again. So much so, that he frequently walks on eggshells to protect the sensibilities of others. He also gets bullied. Mostly by Tegan - but other supporting characters or even his enemies can sometimes push him around. Our Doctors from the 70s would have never exhibited such behavior. And, if you've read the beefs I had with the Doctors of that decade, you can see why I'm so happy with the changes that are implemented with Davison's arrival.

This, of course, is just a few of the deeply radical changes we see made to the character. And I, for one, loved these changes. It was great to see the Doctor suddenly being so sensitive. Particularly since I was such an overemotional artsy-fartsy youth when I was first introduced to him. But the actual change of emphasis in the story-telling is equally impressive. While Christopher Bidmead made some pretty radical alterations in Season 18, the sheer intellectualism that we see in the writing goes to even greater heights when Davison takes over the role. Particularly with the Mara stories in Seasons 19 and 20. The show is still being very cerebral like it was during the Tales of Bidmead, but Doctor Five's stories also remember to engage in some emotional stakes, too. Look at the way Hindle is sympathetic in Kinda as compared to the way insane characters are usually handled in any other period of the Classic Series (they're usually just very unpredictable antagonists). We don't just see a more delicate Doctor in Five - but the actual content is composed in a more sensitive manner, too. I really love the direction the show takes during this stage. There is some very beautiful television that is made with Davison at the helm. Even if some of it still looks a bit cheap in places (refer to giant snake at the end of Kinda!).

While all this high-browed lovey-dovey sensitive stuff is nice - I like that the production team still remembers to give us some straight action, too. We get stories like Earthshock and Resurrection of the Daleks where we actually see the Doctor toting a gun here and there. It's also nice that they make sure the Doctor really does show some serious backbone now and again. It's best exemplified in the way he stands up to his enemies. Not just the famous confrontation with the Cyberleader - but how about the way he tells off Striker in Ep 2 of Enligthenment? Poignant moments like that get us to remember that the Doctor is still down there, somewhere. Ready to rise to the surface whenever he's truly needed. But for the most part, we can enjoy the mild-mannered antics of a slightly awkward British gentleman who likes to tuck his panama hat into his coat pocket.

As it odd is may sound, Doctor Five is not my all-time favorite, but Peter Davison is my favorite actor to have played the part. After four greatly varied interpretations of the role, it seemed there was nowhere else you could take the character. But Davison made all kinds of fascinating choices that brought out such a beautifully-nuanced performance and made us see the Doctor in a whole new light. After his Doctor, actors did tend to base their performances on previous incarnations but with their own twist on them. Five still feels like his very own man. With a fresh new spin on him when it seemed there was nowhere else for the character to go.

Davison, himself, borrows a bit from the Second Doctor - but he takes the Doctor's humanitarian beliefs to their ultimate height. His desire to never harm anyone drives his interpretation in all kinds of new and interesting directions. Particularly when he fails. There is a sincere underlying pain as he proclaims: "There should have been another way." at the end of Warriors of the Deep. Other actors to have played the role would've nailed the line very nicely, don't get me wrong. But Davison says it like he's genuinely hurt. There are similar moments that are even more subtle. Watch his reaction as the Master gets burnt to a crisp in Planet of Fire. It genuinely pains him that his greatest foe has met such an untimely end. It's done quite beautifully.

As beautiful as a stick of celery on a red-piping lapel. Which you'd think would look odd. But, somehow, Davison gets it to work. Just like all the other odd quirks of Doctor Five.

And thus concludes the Lower Mid-Rangers. Upper will be along shortly. Sit tight...

Missed Part One? Here you go:

And here's Part Two: