The Fourth Doctor’s 5 Best Moments
Guest contributor Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull counts down the best of Baker.
When someone says ‘Tom Baker’, many images flash into your mind. Usually pensive thoughts but occasionally one surfaces to the front – the Fourth Doctor. An always ebullient and fun person, the fourth incarnation of the travelling Time Lord soon grew on the public and Tom Baker made the part very quickly his own. Elisabeth Sladen, a favourite companion of audiences at the time made the changeover from Jon Pertwee and she was equally well received. Another newcomer into the series was Ian Marter, playing naïve medical officer Harry Sullivan. The latter then travelled with Sarah and the Doctor for Season 12 before sadly departing in Terror of the Zygons.
In contemporary Doctor Who, Tom is still known as ‘the best Doctor’ as being voted this in multiple polls in magazines and online. He had some great moments, and seldom seen poor stories, but I’ll take the former and look over the brilliant Tom Baker!
5. Eluding the Black Guardian in The Armageddon Factor
Only a man such as the Doctor would notice the White Guardian’s total lack of compassion for the deceased Princess Astra, and he quickly saw through the disguise. The unmasked ‘White Guardian’ turned out to be none other than the villainous Black Guardian. This is a perfect example of the Doctor’s solicitude and benevolence , and as I said before, only he would be able to see through such dupery with only bare emotional evidence.
4. Bidding Sarah Jane goodbye, at the climax of The Hand of Fear
Throughout Baker’s tenure, the Doctor took on a more loving, and fatherly attitude towards his companion, Sarah Jane. The relationship between Baker and Sladen was different from the previous fellow feeling of Jon and Liz and I for one liked it more. Sarah Jane was incredibly space-smart (my own little parody of street-smart) and learned quite a lot whilst travelling onboard the TARDIS. The Hand of Fear marked Liz’s final trip, as the Doctor was called back to Gallifrey (ironically the Doctor discovered that the Time Lords did not actually send for him and it must have been awfully nettlesome for him as he parted with his beloved far too early) and so she bid him farewell. It must have taken the Doctor a lot of courage to say goodbye and if the theme had been carried into the succeeding story, The Deadly Assassin then the Doctor would be brimming with heartache.
3. Destroying the Daleks permanently in Genesis of the Daleks.
The Doctor’s humanity, ironic as it sounds, persists constantly as each era transforms into the next. This beautiful trait the alien carries is shown to its full extent in the famed Dalek epic, Genesis. I remember myself as a young child watching the latter alone and when the scene outside the Kaled mutant room came on, I really found myself adoring the Doctor: such a wondrous man for using such little violence and only using the power of syntax to settle things. Much to the protests of Sarah, he doesn’t commit the act of genocide as he fears he will become just like the wretched beings he seeks to destroy. What a chief specimen of the Doctor’s humaneness.
2. Tortured by Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars
The Fourth Doctor’s tenure was hit by serious flak for its allegedly nightmarish and macabre tone. The main gadfly was of course, Mary Whitehouse who complained about multiple stories and urged Philip Hinchcliffe and Graham Williams to make the show more family-friendly. Pyramids of Mars was one of Whitehouse’s targets alongside, The Deadly Assassin and The Seeds of Doom, largely down to the torture scene. Yes it was gripping and quite horrific but then again Doctor Who is sci-fi and science fiction entails horror at some point or another.
The Fourth Doctor is put under the most immense mental strain when Sutekh the Destroyer attempts to search his memories. As usual the Doctor doesn’t give in but merely lies to escape full-on pain. It’s an exemplar instance of the Fourth Doctor’s strength, determination and capability.
1. The regeneration scene in Logopolis
It was rather obvious from the beginning, what number one would be and if you guessed correctly, have a jelly baby. The dramatic regeneration sequence at the climax of Logopolis was one of the most noteworthy the show has produced and it still sticks with me. The first-rate script providing wonderful dialogue between the Doctor and the Master while Tom Baker gave a near faultless performance as the dying Doctor. Tom Baker remained in the role for seven years and that lengthy period makes the Fourth Doctor’s in extremis final scene ever the more shocking.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you agree with most of my points. This feature was designed just to highlight some of the greatness Tom brought to the show and how his rendition lives on even into the 21st century. As you may have noticed I didn’t include any runners-up so I think I’ll leave that to you to discuss in the comments. But before I go, I will lay this down for you:
Happy 79th Tom Baker!
What a fantastic man, and a fantastic Doctor. We are all hoping you return for the 50th Anniversary just to provide us with more flawless performances and witty dialogue.
Have a three-tiered jelly baby laced cake on us all!