26 September 2015 | WakenPayne
A Timeless gem of sci-fi TV
I think it's hard to even glance at the science fiction television scene without knowing about Doctor Who. There are many people I've come across who are fans and almost all of them have a different answer to the question (the question I always ask when I find this out) "Who's your favourite Doctor?" Everyone has a different opinion and the reason for that is something I'll get into later, either way each has it's own era which I'll get into. Either way, the plot is simple, an alien takes his granddaughter and 2 schoolteachers inside a telephone box that's bigger on the inside and is convinced to use the ability to travel anywhere in the universe at any time to save lives, the people he travels with changes and every time he dies he gets a new body.
The First Doctor is one that I'm sorry to say does not age well. His granddaughter is easily one of the most useless companions the show's ever had. I'd say his stories are slow and sometimes due to William Hartnell's decaying health that he seemed like a background character in his own show. I don't blame anyone for that, really. That and the show doesn't have it's comedic charm that it'll later have. With that said there are some endearing moments from these years and some of them hold up better then others.
The Second Doctor is where the show hit it's stride with bar none the one with the most influence on how future incarnations are to be played. Usually the most distinctive thing he's done that will sometimes get used by other incarnations is that he would usually fool his enemies into thinking he's an idiot or not as smart.
The Third Doctor's era is probably the most distinctive out of all of them because it changes it's premise and easily has the biggest change in the history of the show since the jump between this show and the newer one. I'd say some of his later ones are worth watching first just to get a gist of him actually doing what the show is about but I'd also say that if you want a kind of pre-cursor to shows like The X Files (except with the tone of Doctor Who) then I'd suggest stories like The Silurians. With all that said I do like Pertwee as The Doctor, kind of reminds me of what I thought when I thought of Sherlock Holmes before I saw any adaptation as a kid.
The Fourth Doctor is my favourite with my second favourite being... The second. His time on the show was so long that if you see a story from 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1981 then you'll see how different his era can be. I discovered the show through arguably one of the best stories of the entire 52 year run and Tom Baker can do effective build-up and also is by far the strangest and most unpredictable incarnation of the character.
The Fifth Doctor is where things got a little shaky... I mean, the most iconic incarnation of the character just left, how can they top that? Well, they went the route of making him the most human incarnation of the character. I do really like his performance and there are some things that still hold up, so even though it's after Baker, it's not an act of just "Go up until this point - then stop".
The Sixth... despite his reputation is not that bad. The writing here is where the show becomes the shadow of what it once was and never goes back on track. I'm not apt to blame Colin Baker for this, he seriously is trying but the problem is that despite some okay story-lines, those "Okay" ones were the best of them, like the BBC was just making more of the show out of obligation.
Finally the seventh... His just seems like they wanted one thing and after a year just threw up their arms and just asked for something else instead. His era started out like a bad remake of Troughton's era without using his being goofy to make his enemies underestimate him. This is where I think the show just gave up... Until his second and third year. He was changed from the goofy one nobody takes seriously because he's the goofy one nobody takes seriously to by far the most meticulous planner out of all the incarnations. Revelation Of The Daleks is a story where all he had to do was (using a chess metaphor) move the pieces around so he can do his final move which he made before the episode even started. Unfortunately though, instead of opening a new era, the BBC decided to cancel the show because... Well, nothing competes with 4... Except 2.
In conclusion, I know this isn't a linear review but I don't think I can talk about the show without splitting it up into these eras. I can't list all my pros and cons because this is the show that what one era does right, another era does wrong or vise versa. I could have gone into a lot more detail about things like why Colin Baker is not to blame for his era even going as far to say that he had very little control in anything, asking to dress in all black so The Doctor can blend into the night and instead greeted with... Well if you've seen his costume, you'll know why he hates it. There are so many different retrospectives and opinions if you want to start with something I'd suggest watching them. This show is something that lasts a lifetime.