Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clear and Present Damon: Doctor Who-a Celebration:Part 3- the 80's

Above; The Sixth Doctor and Per in "Revelation Of the Daleks"
At the start of the decade, Tom Baker was still the Doctor. But he was not the same Doctor as he was when he first regenerated. Bakers storylines grew increasingly darker and more melancholy, as the series was taken over by producer John Nathan-Turner who would govern the series throughout the 80's. After parting ways with Time Lady and companion Romana, The Fourth Doctor was joined by Adric, a genius mathematician, and an arguably unlikable companion. Baker was aging in the role, and in 1981 left the series. The Fourth Doctor gave his life to save a planet from the newly regenerated, (well actually he stole the body), Master played by Anthony Ainley. In a regeneration aided by the ghostlike Watcher, the Doctor became a younger man, the Fifth Doctor.

With a younger more polished look, a Cricket outfit, and a lucky stick of celery, The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison was joined by Adric and two other companions he had met before his regeneration. The princess from the planet Traken, Nyssa, and Australian air stewardess Tegan Jovanka. In the episode "Earthshock", the Doctor and his friends come face to face with old enemies the Cybermen. In order to stop them, Adric stays behind to pilot the Cybermens ship into a prehistoric earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and killing him in the process. It was the first time that a companion was ever killed off on the show and it was a controversial descision despite Adric ranked low on many lists of favorite companions.

The Fifth Doctor traveled with Nyssa and Tegan and met his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge- Stewart in "Mawdryn Undead". In the same storyline he was also joined by another male companion Vislor Turlough. Towards the end of Peter Davisons run as the Doctor, his core companions had all left and he was joined in his final two storylines with American student Peripugillium Brown (or Peri for short). The Fifth Doctors final story "The Caves of Androzani" is arguably the best episode ever boasting its best regeneration scene as the Fifth Doctor gave his life to save Peri from being poisoned by giving her the cure and sacrificing himself who had been poisoned as well.

The Sixth Doctor could not have been more polar opposites with his previous incarnations. The producers wanted to introduce a Doctor that would not be immediatley likable and it shows. Colin Bakers Doctor can be big headed, annoying, and showed a relative distaste for Peri in his debut season. He also wore a blinding multicolored coat. His premeire episode "The Twin Dillemma" is considered the worst episode in the shows history, with the newly regenerated Doctor fighting Giant Slugs. The series was nearly canceled after C. Bakers first season, but came back after a long hiatus with the 14 part series "Trial of a Time Lord".

The Doctor is put on Trial back on Gallifrey for interferance in outside worlds and genocide. The trial is overseen by the mysterious Valeyard, and Peri is seemingly killed in the process. At the end, it takes the Doctors arch-nemesis the Master to prove the Doctors innocence. The Valeyard is actually a dark side of the Doctor, somewhere between his 12th and final inacrnations. The Doctor is cleared of all charges and Peri is not dead after all, but married Warrior king Ycranos instead. The Sixth Doctor continues traveling with red haired companion Mel Bush.

Colin Baker was let go from the role and opted not to shoot a regeneration scene. This meant Sylvesyer McCoy, his successor would have to wear his costume and a blonde curly wig to shoot his regeneration for him. McCoy's first story "Time and the Rani" is a disapointment, and his whole first season has him rolling his R's and making metaphors ("Tide and time melt the snowman"). His companion Mel is also a bad match for McCoys Doctor, and she leaves the show by his first seasons end. McCoy's next companion, Ace, is more of a match for his Doctor and the show took a darker turn in the next two seasons.

The Seventh Doctor and Ace had some was one of the best partnerships of a companion and Doctor perhaps sinsce the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan. McCoys stories took a darker attitude as the question of who the Doctor was became more prevelant. These darker storylines made up for McCoy's campy first season. Unfortunately ratings were dismal as ever. The show was put up against popular soap opera's and McCoy's final season was one of the lowest viewing figure's in years. "Battlefield" where MCoy's Doctor met the Brigadier again is still the lowest watched Doctor Who story ever. BBC one decided to cancel the show in 1989. After the Seventh Doctor and Ace defeated their enemy the Master in the shows final episode "Survival", a final line of dialouge was added that wrapped up the calssice series.

"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke nad citie's made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere theres injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on Ace, we've got work to do." -The Seventh Doctor

And with that, the original run of Doctor Who was over. It would be a while before we ever saw him again.

In Memory of Nicholas Courtney, the actor best known for playing Brigadier Aleister Gordon Lethbridge Stewart. 1929-2011

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