Ah, here’s another one I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Yes, DRPinney already writes about DOCTOR WHO on this site, but having recently gone through the franchise, I thought it was time to take a stab at this.
As others before me have pointed out, the Classic Series is very difficult to review or even get acquainted with. With most any other show, you simply start on Episode 1 and continue from there. But here there are 26 years’ worth, with the show being slightly different in each Doctor’s era, the early years feeling nothing like the later ones, plus a lot of missing episodes to complicate things. Finally, a friend of mine suggested that a better way to get a feel for the show was the to watch just a few serials from each Doctor. So that’s what I did, and these are the ones I watched:
William Hartnell – An Unearthly Child, The Daleks
Patrick Troughton – The War Games
Jon Pertwee – Inferno, Terror of the Autons
Tom Baker – Genesis of the Daleks, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Sun Makers
Peter Davison – Mawdryn Undead, The Caves of Androzani
Colin Baker – The Trial of a Time Lord (full season)
Sylvester McCoy – The Curse of Fenric, Survival
DOCTOR WHO’s longevity is often attributed to the simplicity of its premise: eccentric man and his companion travel through time and space in a TARDIS. And that basic premise, fine-tuned to fit various different genres or tropes of the season, is the whole thing in a nutshell. The strength of the series is the writing, because when your effects are poor and your locations limited, all you have is your writing. Every Doctor is equipped with witty repartee and snark one-liners that endear us to his B-movie adventures filmed on sets that belong in an Ed Wood movie. Yet I can’t fault the show for its campiness as that’s exactly what made many fall in love with it.
I also don’t dislike Colin Baker as much as others do. I actually find he was doing what Johnny Depp would do the in PIRATES movies years later: play the whole role with a certain self-awareness of it being shlock, and as a result, the material actually worked better because of it.
Yet I get back to what I said earlier: the Classic Series is hard to review in the way we review TV shows today, mostly because it’s all over the place, and few of the serials really work as stand-alone stories. Often times I would get invested in a serial, and when it finally ended find myself saying “That’s it?”
My ultimate review of the Classic Series is that I find it works best for those who grew up with it. For the rest, it’s often more interesting for its historical context. And on that note, just like the Doctor himself, we must now end on a cliffhanger…
THE DOCTOR AND GROD BUZZ WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK IN “THE LET US NERD TERROR!“