Revaluation – The Sixth Doctor

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  zarbisupremo 7 months ago.

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  • #184646

    craigt68
    Participant

    I’ve been a fan since ‘The Sea Devils’ back in ’72 and never missed an episode of our favourite programme up to ‘Arc of Infinity’. Let me be clear – it wasn’t Peter Davison’s fault (I’d loved his first season with the notable exception of ‘Time Flight’, although I guess I’m not alone there, am I?) and caught up with individual episodes but hardly ever a full story. The fault lay with my hormones and getting distracted by girls, booze, etc. Also (shamefully), Who just wasn’t trendy in the 80s for a teenager to admit watching and, well, my commitment fell by the wayside (yes, I know, I KNOW!). Also, dare I say it, another contributing factor was the poor quality of some of the scripts, effects and acting.

    Over the years I’ve built a modest collection of Doctors 1-4 and the ‘new’ (can we really call it that after 9 years?) series on DVD but have held off from the bulk of the 80s due to poor memories of episodes either half recalled or recalled all too well in the case of “The Twin Dilemma” which virtually put me off watching the Sixth Doctor again (as similarly did “Time and The Rani” for the Seventh).

    Anyway – this is the point of this post btw (at last!), having spent the last 3 months kicking my heels after my last job came to an end, I’ve watched a few Sixth Doctor episodes on (“Attack of the Cybermen”; “Vengence on Varos” and “The Two Doctors” on YouTube and……I’ve been quite favourably impressed. Could I have been wrong for all these years? Okay, I’m still not entirely comfortable with Colin Baker’s style (and certainly not his costume but then again neither was he) but…..I was glued to the screen by each of those stories, good scripts (ok with some continuity inconsistencies and plot holes), well acted, good design standard and ok effects.

    What I’m asking you fellow Kasterbourites is, has anyone else had a similar epiphany re the Sixth Doctor and what are your top 3 Sixth Doctor stories you would recommend I buy on DVD (once I’m working again that is!).

    #184647

    TonyS
    Participant

    I wasn’t put off by the Sixth Doctor and watched them at the time. I do think he was poorly served by his stories and treated abominably by the BBC. But I don’t think there are any real classics from Colin’s time. I think my top three would be: Attack of the Cybermen; The Two Doctors & Revelation of the Daleks.

    Colin Baker really shines in two arenas: 1) The Big Finish stories; 2) As a person. The man is an absolute delight.

    #184657

    Ardwen
    Participant

    I grew up with Tom Baker. My dad was a Huge #4 fan, and we would watch the Classic shows, on Public Broadcast here in the States. They would regularly show one serial and then we wouldn’t find Doctor Who for weeks, and they’d broadcast a different Doctor with a different story. My dad was convinced that Tom Baker was the only Doctor, and I was with him, until I finally found the “new” series only a couple of years back. As my fandom grew to love the show as a whole, I explored stories of each of the classic Doctors and found myself rooting for #6 to have a great story.

    As someone who pulls for the underdog, I found myself drawn to these stories that my dad and I would dismiss as “not Doctor Who” when I was a kid. I have watched (and own on DVD) most of Colin’s stories several times. Yes Twin Guillema is horrible, as is much of The Trial of a Time Lord, but like many fans say, Colin was not given a fair shake. He was handed scripts that were bad and put in a bad costume, but he still made the best of it.

    All in all, I feel that #6 is one of the darker Doctors, and had he been given a little more input in the story (more like the actors have now), I feel we would be talking about how Davison or McCoy weren’t given a fair shake more than C. Baker.

    To answer your question My top favorite 6th Doctor stories would have to be, “The Two Doctors” (which we cannot get here in the States without paying over $300), “Attack of the Cybermen”, and “Vengeance on Varos.”

    Now you say these are the one’s you’ve seen, but I would guess they are on Youtube because of their quality. I would suggest taking the time to see all of the adventures, if only to have a good laugh at some of the horrible stories, or worse effects.

    Best of Luck!

    Why is my avatar so blurry?
    #184670

    zarbisupremo
    Participant

    Colin was my Doctor when I was 7/8, so I get quite riled when people bash him and say he was the worst. More often than not, I just think they’re bandwagon-jumping, especially the younger ones.

    Rassilon's discovery ! Oh boy !
    #184704

    craigt68
    Participant

    I wasn’t put off by the Sixth Doctor and watched them at the time. I do think he was poorly served by his stories and treated abominably by the BBC. But I don’t think there are any real classics from Colin’s time. I think my top three would be: Attack of the Cybermen; The Two Doctors & Revelation of the Daleks.

    Colin Baker really shines in two arenas: 1) The Big Finish stories; 2) As a person. The man is an absolute delight.

    Completely agree that Colin Baker was treated badly by BBC (perhaps something to do with his ex-wife shagging Michael Grade ALLEGEDLY: note to lawyers). Disagree about the stories though which aren’t half as bad as Davison’s second season.

    #184940

    Will
    Participant

    I hated the 6th Doctor’s era…bad scripts, bad acting, bad production. The only thing worse was the entire period of the 7th Doctor.

    #184957

    craigt68
    Participant

    Felt like you too broadly but, honestly, I’d give ‘Vengence on Varos’ a go. Not half as bad as you may think you remember. As for McCoy….well…sorry and all that but I can’t help it – McCoy just irritates me.

    #184963

    TimeChaser
    Participant

    Why do I always see people dumping on McCoy? He’s a brilliant Doctor who has several excellent stories. It seems like people only remember his first season. Remembrance of the Daleks, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, Survival… These are some of the best stories in the history of Doctor Who.

    You people who just dismiss him out of hand and say he’s a bad Doctor or that his era was terrible really irritate me.

    #184994

    Will
    Participant

    Why do you think we dismiss him out of hand? I don’t…i watched every episode and can’t recall a single one that was good! The ones you mention included. I really, really tried to like them…watched the show out of loyalty…and when it got cancelled I shrugged and could understand why. It was poor TV, surviving off its history…a poor type of pantomime. There was nothing that came even close to such stories as Genesis of the Daleks, City of Death, or Caves of Androzani…it was a completely different show. JNT ruined it.

    #185001

    Rick714
    Participant

    I thought that Colin’s first full season, the 22nd season, was a terrific season all in all. Attack of the Cybermen, Vengeance, Revelation, Two Doctors, Mark of the Rani, all fantastic. I’d rate season 22 well above the entire Davison era and certainly the entire McCoy era. To be fair though, the 23rd season, “Trial of a Time Lord” was rubbish with the exception of Mindwarp, which was great.

    A shame that JNT didn’t let Colin have the freedom he wanted with the costume as the toning down and darkening of the whole thing would have been a nice element of growth for the character. On the whole, I always felt Colin, with his darker turn was a very welcome relief from Davison’s take on the character. It says a lot when the only real highlight of Peter’s era was Caves of Androzani and they saved the best for last. Davison himself even said that had the rest been nearly that good, he may have stayed longer! JNT hurt Peter’s era , Colin’s, Syl’s, you name it but each era did have some highlights where the actors themselves managed to overcome the deficiencies of the decade.

    #185083

    zarbisupremo
    Participant

    Why do I always see people dumping on McCoy? He’s a brilliant Doctor who has several excellent stories. It seems like people only remember his first season. Remembrance of the Daleks, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, Survival… These are some of the best stories in the history of Doctor Who.

    You people who just dismiss him out of hand and say he’s a bad Doctor or that his era was terrible really irritate me.

    Yep, what he said. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were my Doctors when I was between 6 and 12 (the ages, not Doctors ;-)), so they still have a special place in my heart. Writing off whole eras is a bit pathetic though. I wouldn’t say JNT was the sole reason for the drop in story quality during the 80s, I think at least some of the blame should be levelled at Eric Saward and his adolescent penchant for mindless violence and dodgy dialogue.

    Rassilon's discovery ! Oh boy !
    #185086

    zarbisupremo
    Participant

    Why do you think we dismiss him out of hand? I don’t…i watched every episode and can’t recall a single one that was good! The ones you mention included.

    Er… what about Dragonfire part 2 ; Remembrance Of The Daleks part 1, the second half of part 2, part 3 and part 4 ; The Happiness Patrol Parts 2 &3 ; bits of Silver Nemesis part 2 ; all of The Greatest Show In The Galaxy ; Parts 1,2 and a couple of bits in part 3 of Battlefield ; Parts 1 & 2 of Ghostlight, all of The Curse Of Fenric and Survival. The McCoy bits in the TV movie weren’t bad either.

    Rassilon's discovery ! Oh boy !
    #185099

    TheDoQtor
    Participant

    Colin Baker was my Doctor. I came into the show for the final Davison season and then saw all of Colin Baker. His Doctor was far more entertaining for me during my childhood even though I was sad to see Davison go. I grew quite attached to Peri as well and actually enjoyed their combative relationship, which I felt overall seemed to get better and better over time. Colin and Nicola often remark at how they would throw in a glance or a touch when appropriate to soften their relationship, and if it had been up to them I think we would have seen a lot more of the companionship before Trial came out.

    As for the scripts, I didn’t have a problem with much of season 22. Some of the scripts were meant more for an audience of today (if Baker could remake Vengeance and Revelation today they would be incredible and intense). Even Pip and Jane Baker’s Mark of the Rani felt like classic Who for me. Trial was a bit of a challenge due to the behind the scenes drama going on at the time, so it was difficult to get it perfect, however I have always enjoyed this season due to the more complex nature of the storylines. It was nice to see an overall story arc, despite some of the trial room scenes interfering.

    I generally celebrate all Who, and find that there are good and bad stories from every era (although the bad ones are still entertaining). I showed Attack of the Cybermen to my girlfriend recently and she loved it. She liked Colin, the humor, and the darkness of the story. Just goes to show you that there is a place for these stories in the hearts of newbies.

    What really does not make sense though are the people who claim they cannot stand to watch the Colin Baker seasons when they themselves have not seen those stories in the first place. I know quite a few people who have avoided the stories only because they heard other people complain about them. After giving Colin a try they tend to like him far better than they originally thought.

    Here’s to Colin, and the 80’s Who. BTW, I like every era, and so no Doctor needs to be put to shame. Maybe I was a Brigadier in a past life?!

    #185133

    craigt68
    Participant

    Why do I always see people dumping on McCoy? He’s a brilliant Doctor who has several excellent stories. It seems like people only remember his first season. Remembrance of the Daleks, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, Survival… These are some of the best stories in the history of Doctor Who.

    You people who just dismiss him out of hand and say he’s a bad Doctor or that his era was terrible really irritate me.

    Calm down dear, it’s only an opinion! As I may have said elsewhere, I’ve enjoyed some of McCoy’s stories (‘Remembrance’, ‘..Fenric’) but I really, really can’t help the fact that his performance grates (note: not a criticism of McCoy as a person which is impossible ‘cos we’ve never met).

    #185149

    CastellanSpandrel
    Participant

    Whenever the 6th Dr’s era is re-evaluated, the same things tend to crop up: if only the costume had been better, if only they’d made him more likeable sooner, if only the original S23 had been made instead of the Trial season, etc.

    The fact is, none of the above happened, so you can only really judge the era on what we saw (and I don’t care about Big Finish here; I know they’ve done some quality stuff, including 6th Dr stories, but what most of the public know about C Baker’s era is from the TV series). And what we saw wasn’t great, in my opinion.

    I quite like his style of playing the Dr; it was refreshing after the underplayed 5th Dr, who frequently seemed overshadowed by the guest cast. I thought it’d be interesting to see a campier, more theatrical-style actor playing the Dr, a la David ‘Mawdryn’ Collings, and Colin Baker is probably the closest to that style we’ve had.

    The problem lay in the scripts and the lack of a vision for the programme. Every other producer/script editor pairing (or ‘showrunner’ in the modern series) had a distinctive vision of the direction they wanted Who to go in; the scientific approach of Bidmead/JNT, the Buddhist/moral parables of Dicks/Letts, etc. Where was the vision in the JNT/Saward pairing? It just seemed to be a case of ‘Which old enemy/continuity reference/violent scene shall we chuck in this week?’

    One of the exceptions to this was Vengeance in Varos, which was about something and which introduced a fresh character in Sil, though it was also guilty of gloating nastiness, some of it in the Dr’s characterisation.

    There were other pluses of the era. Mark of the Rani is kinda fun, Revelation has a certain style (mostly cribbed from Androzani), the Borad is a creepily-designed and voiced monster sadly lumbered with a best-forgotten story, the Valeyard was impressive, Mindwarp had its moments too.

    But there’s a staleness throughout when it should have felt fresh, best summed up by the decision – after threat of cancellation – to make a story that demanded an uncaring audience’s attention for 14 weeks. And the concept of the trial by Time Lords itself had already been done 17 years earlier in about 10 minutes at the end of The War Games – not 14 weeks!

    For all the criticisms of the McCoy era, plenty of them justified, I can’t help wondering how much better the 6th Dr’s tenure would’ve panned out if Andrew Cartmel and younger, funkier writers such as Ian Briggs and Ben Aaronovitch had got their mitts on it.

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