Thursday, 15 March 2012

A Defence of The Fifth Doctor

Let me take you back in time, hop in the TARDIS with me. Okay it's 1981, Tom Baker, the longest serving Doctor, and for some the most popular has announced his intention to resign. It was no secret that Tom didn't exactly see eye to eye with John Nathan-Turner and whilst still brilliant on screen, had become a challenge to work with. Nonetheless for seven years Baker's enigmatic and commanding performance as the Doctor had delighted fans everywhere. So what to do now? Well regeneration of course, but who would the programme's Producers get to fill the huge void (pun intended) left by Tom's departure.

Answer: No, not Daniel Radcliffe. Richard Griffiths.

Yes it's true, the Producers approached Richard Griffiths first but fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your opinion) he wasn't available.

John Nathan-Turner then suggested Peter Davison, a young actor he had worked with previously on the popular veterinary series, All Creatures Great and Small.

John wanted a radical departure from Tom's Doctor as he felt that providing the audience with someone too similar would provide unfavourable comparisons. He had a point, I mean think about it, no one does swishy long scarf and toothy grins better than Tom Baker.

Peter Davison was certainly different. Significantly younger, taller and thinner. He had a youthful enthusiasm about him that Nathan-Turner hoped would win the Whovian audiences over. He also felt the show needed a revamp as audience figures had been dropping off and a regeneration gave him a perfect opportunity to put his plan into action.

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Okay so did it work? Well as you may have guessed from the article title I believe the answer is a resounding yes. You could accuse me of being biased as Davison is my childhood Doctor but I genuinely believe he was outstanding.

Our great Whovian leader Steven Moffat has recently stated he believes it takes a very special actor to play the Doctor. The Doctor is over 900 years old with, to date, ten persona's under his Timelordy belt. Whilst each new regeneration has to bring something new he (or she- shudder!) has to also reflect elements of the characters of the previous incarnations. That's a hard sell even for the most seasoned actor.

Davison does an excellent job on all counts. He is perhaps the most vulnerable Doctor, showing emotion regularly and also has a great rapport with his companions. He also portrayed the Doctor as someone that can make mistakes - sometimes fatal ones. In Earthshock it is the Doctors failure to realise and alert Adric in time that the spaceship about to crash into the Earth is actually the event that caused the Dinosaurs to die out. This event leads to Adric's untimely (again timely depending on your view) death.

So what seems to be peoples problem with our beloved Fifth Doctor? I suggest that for some, he just wasn't Tom. In the same way that Matt Smith just isn't David Tennant. For others it may have been the outfit. Now this I take exception to. Since when has the Doctor shied away from outlandish outfits. Pertwee with his Dandy image, Tom with his scarfs and broad hat, Colin Baker with his colourful outlandish outfits! You get my point!

The other issue seems to be that Davison's stories weren't up to much. Again I take issue with this. Yes okay there are some less favourable stories. Black Orchid (all Adric does is stuff his face with food!!) and Time-Flight (just no!) are two examples. But come on, every Doctor has some less favourable stories. Matt Smith - Lets Kill Hitler (erm) Tennant with Fear Her (I mean really who cares) Eccleston with Fathers Day (over emotional perhaps)

My point is you can go back through every regeneration and find some stories that aren't top notch!
Davison also had some fantastic stories, personally I like Resurrection of the Daleks and The Caves of Androzani but there are more.

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To conclude I think that the problem with Davison was that he was the one who took over after Tom, plain and simple. Take some time to enmesh yourself by watching his stories - he's absolutely awesome, he really is.

1 comment:

  1. I was just a teenager when I first saw the Doctor… it was my brother who had introduced me to him and for that I will be forever grateful. It was the very early Tom Baker years and I fell for Tom Baker hock, line and sinker! It wasn’t till a few years later when Maryland Public Television had started playing the Doctor from the very beginning that I was finally introduced to his first, second and third incarnations. Since then, I have never stopped watching the Doctor, and during those years while the Doctor was living in the land of cancellation, I just watch my recorded episodes over and over again. Tom Baker was my Most favorite of the first four; that is until I started meeting and talking to other fans of the show and realized that he was Everyone’s favorite Doctor (I was never much good at wanting a favorite when everyone else like the same thing I did). So, my second favorite, Peter Davison, was moved to the top and while at first I was devastated that Baker was gone, Peter most certainly had impressed me as an amazing Doctor. David Tenant is without a doubt the best Doctor of the New series run… although, just like with Peter, Matt is definitely growing on me as well.