A Conversation for Doctor Who - The Television Phenomenon

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 1


I'm over here in the states and the whole Dr. Who thing pretty much petered out after the fifth doctor. I've heard that the series was actually quite good afterward, but I've never seen much of it from about halfway through the fifth on. I saw the first Sylvester McCoy storyline and "The curse of the Bannermen" and thought that it seemed sort of silly... So, for the benefit of those of us that didn't get to watch the series, how does the Colin Baker/Sylvester McCoy years stack up?

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 2

Smij - Formerly Jimster

Hi petesbarman,

The show was in some difficulties topwards the end: the producer and script editor had a major falling out and the script editor resigned; the producer was desperately trying to get off the show to work on new projects but slowly discovered that he was being kept on the show because no-one else wanted to work on it; and the budget for the show was kept the same for four years running - meaning that with inflation it actually got smaller. It's fair to say that all of these things put a strain on the production team, and often it showed.

At the time, Colin Baker was not liked - his character was designed to be brash and spikey, but it just came across as smug and unlikeable, which didn't help the show at all. Colin's had another chance at the part recently with the Doctor Who audio dramas produced by Big Finish, and has proven to be immensely popular with the fans (a recent poll placed him as the most popular Doctor - beating Tom Baker and Paul McGann for the first time - solely on the strength of his audios from 1999 onwards).

Looking back, there are a few decent ones - The Mark of the Rani, The Two Doctors and Revelation of the Daleks - but at that point, the show was too introspective, too obsessed with its past, which alienated casual viewers.

With Sylvester McCoy, you have a run of 12 stories that really polarise fans - they either love it or hate it. His first four stories (including Delta and the Bannermen) are largely played as comedy romps. It's only when the companion Ace comes in that the stories become darker and deeper. His last season includes the stories Ghostlight, The Curse of Fenric and Survival, which many fans believe were the best stories in years for the series, and gave a tantalising idea of what might have been just around the corner had the show lasted another year.

In terms of stories, the McCoy era was much more challenging and thought-provoking than much of the fifth Doctor stories (while some of Davison's stories are genuine classics, there are so many that are just plain dull). But the problem was that Sylvester McCoy himself was not perceived to be all that good, which meant that the writers started writing around his companion instead - who was played by an actress enjoying her first stint on TV (and was remarkably good, considering her inexperience).

Hope this helps,

(unashamed Dr Who geek)

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 3


Sylvester is sorely under-rated-

don't fall for the fan-speak, watch the stories and form your own opinion-on-in my opinion it doesn't get much better than Battlefield, Survival, Ghostlight and The Curse of Fenric.

Primord-unashamed total Who freak.

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 4

Kerr_Avon - hunting stray apostrophes and gutting poorly parsed sentences

*Sulks*- Colin's my favourite Doctor....

Children in Need tonight chaps smiley - ok

smiley - ale

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 5


Sylvester McCoy has to be my favourite Doctor.

But then Colin Baker had some good episodes too (well as he is Kerr's favourite Doctor, Kerr would probably say he had a lot of good episodes smiley - winkeye). I think the sixth Doctor was an interesting concept, unfortunately I think it took so long to endear him to the fans, that it had a negative impact on the series. That was not Colin Baker's fault though, and as the Doctor on the whole he didn't let the side down.

I think they we're all excellent to be honest. The one I probably have most respect for is Pat Troughton. He really had a tough job trying to convince an audience who had previously been used to William Hartnell's crotchety old grandfather character that he was a Doctor. I think a lot of the future Doctor's took a lot off Troughton's Doctor (particularly McCoy), and it would probably be fair to say that without him the series would not have lasted in to the Seventies and then the Eighties - and as it now looks : in to the twenty hundreds smiley - smiley

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 6

Smij - Formerly Jimster

Anyone who didn't like Colin on TV should give the Big Finish audios a try. Written by people who know his strengths, they're almost all better than anything he was in on TV.

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 7


After watching the Who weekend on Uk Gold I have come to see Colin in a whole new light. He was very roughly treated by the BBC as was Sly. Michael Grade the then controller of BBC is widely known to be a hater of Doctor Who and wanted the whole thing buried forever.

Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens when it comes back in '05.

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 8


I spent some of the UKGold weekend repeatedly pointing out that Colin's biggest drawback is the coat! As soon as he sheds it in The Two Doctors he becomes more likeable, despite still being brash and arrogant. The coat makes it seem like the pantomime it so nearly degenrated into in the mid-80s.

I echo Jim's comments - if you get a chance to, try late stories like Curse of Fenric (vampires in WW2), Ghostlight (murder in a Victorian house, with a discourse in evolution thrown in) or Survival (best use of the Master since Castrovalva in 1981). Remembrance of the Daleks (fear and loathing in Shoreditch, London) is also worth looking out for - as a fan from 1980 onwards, I found it was the first time I was actually enthralled by the Daleks. This is the story the subsequent 14 years of novels, audios, webcasts etc all owe a debt to as most of the new writers saw new directions for the series.

If you like Pat Troughton, you could also try The Two Doctors which is one of the better Colin stories.

(UKGold's weeknight repeats have just reached Warrior's Gate - the first story I ever saw and one I suspect is responsible for how I see the series).

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 9


The Two doctors was colins only good epasode

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 10


I read in DWM that the Michael Grade axed Doctor Who originally because he had a history with Colin Baker and did not want the actor working for the BBC. Allegedly Colin Baker was married to Liza Goddard (a friend of Grade) The divorce was acrimonius and Grade took it out on Baker. It seems to me that he uses a proposed hatred of the programme to hide the fact that his personal life was allowed to affect his business decisions.

Question on the later Doctor's

Post 11


I don't think it matters what the acting of any of the Doctor's was like. Also, I think it's a bit unfair to judge the individual Doctor of a certain series or stage. You really have the watch the whole series to see how the Doctor has developed, from the first lovable Doc to the one we got now.
Bu that's just my opinion. You really should watch it yourself to decide, but it's best to watch the series from the beginning in order to get a feel for it.

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