The Sixth Doctor: Five Favourites
K-Ci Williams picks out five favourites from Colin Baker’s era.
It appears that this series has been on hiatus, doesn’t it? It certainly seems that way to me! Writing this little pocket-universe of articles next to the more regular, normal universes of articles has been a great privilege so far to the point where it’s essentially helped me to survive my first ‘huge’ wilderness era since becoming a contributor on Doctor Who TV (Series 6 was more bearable with the aid of a split so it wasn’t a ‘huge’ wilderness gap). Now we turn to an era of Doctor Who that I truly enjoyed; comparatively shorter than that of previous and succeeding Doctors, the amazing and sometimes cranky Sixth Doctor celebrates his birthday today. In celebration of the great Colin Baker, here are my Five Favourites of my era.
Please note that I have not seen the whole of The Trial of a Time Lord, and so I would not want to include it half-watched. I understand that some regard it as individual stories, but it is still one cohesive story really. Share in the comments any of those stories that you think deserved a place in the Five Favourites. Anyway, remember, despite maybe not fitting that whizzing, technicolor dreamcoat, he’ll always be the Doctor!
Vengeance on Varos
The opening scene had me engaged in the whole story: particularly the idea of torture for entertainment. Doctor Who certainly was a dark show back then. It sets the scene successfully, even exciting the analytical parts of my brain. The stage was well and truly set for what would become one of the most enjoyable stories for me from the Sixth Doctor era. Sil, as a villain was awfully creepy. His tongue flapping laugh suited him, and his villainous plans were admirable. The intercutting between Varos: the pair in their ‘house’, the governor’s domain, and then the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS made the structure a well-crafted aspect of the story, gluing together the segments with ease. We also are given a wide scope of insight into the inner workings of the society on Varos, which was intriguing and needed for the advancement of plot. This is how Doctor Who should be; an exploration of different societies (something that we are unlikely to receive in one forty-five minute episode). The individual plot strands were woven together masterfully well, such as the TARDIS’ need for an element only available on Varos, and the current mining negotiations of this element. Everything just, works!
Revelation of the Daleks
This is yet another great story from Colin Baker. Upon first viewing, I was a little puzzled with the idea of a monument of the Doctor falling on him. And from there it confused me more. Note that I only saw this once and it was about two years ago (when I started really getting into the classic stories). Apart from that, what I can remember is a very sinister plot involving the Daleks and Davros himself. Colin is wonderful here: he shows different sides to the Doctor, both caring and sophisticated, but also willing to hold a gun. As Antti Björklund put it in his recent article, the Doctor’s behaviour may be a result of his delirious regeneration. Peri also seems very different from previous stories with Peter Davison. More grown up in a way, more able to hold her own. Again, both Baker and Bryant are wonderful throughout the story. The appearance of an internal Dalek war as a group turns on Davros is another turn for their development. Not only is Davros seemingly more comedic in this story, but his creepiness factor shoots up when the extent of his work is revealed: more Daleks means more deaths of humans to make the transition. Overall, it’s a good story, with interesting segments all glued together by Colin Baker himself.
Attack of the Cybermen
The mere structure of this story is something I would opt for in the current run of Doctor Who. With the opening similar to Vengeance on Varos, in terms of captivating my interest it was a great few minutes. Out of the whole fifty year history of Doctor Who, this type of story is what I would idealise as a great episode. Everything’s there: there’s a very odd Doctor who is, let’s face it, disrespectful to Peri; a cleverly performed, and caring companion shown in Peri as she worries about the Doctor, very interesting supporting characters and a main plot line that intersects with the Doctor’s story after a few minutes of establishment. I’ve seen this story only once (in part; the disc was scratched partly so skipped the ending), and while I have yet to conclude the story, I am confident in placing it in the list for Five Favourites because of the admirable and very engaging structure, characters and wicked acting from Baker and Bryant. Like most of the era of Colin Baker (which upon re-watching some has become one of my favourites of the show), the episode works, in my opinion, to a high degree. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to near-end, and recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it!
The Mark of the Rani
The Rani has always intrigued me as a character; only making a couple of appearances throughout Who’s history, but having a profound impact both times. Transforming into the battered old woman for part of the story interested me, keeping me engaged, and more importantly, curious about her intentions. Skipping to the end when she is with the Master and there’s currently a small dinosaur attending the party too, it’s just too good (some might say bad writing, I say over the top, Doctor Who goodness). The Master is deliciously good in this story, although when isn’t he? When the two baddies join forces full of half truths and deception, the character development is suitable, with the Rani showing just who’s in charge. The Master deals with the Doctor, getting his hands dirty, while the Rani experiments. The plot premise is also interesting: a new Time Lord; a female Time Lady. Her science has brought her to Earth to analyse samples and use miners in her cause for her unearthly experiments. And, stepping aside from the birthday boy for a moment, a majority of the reason why I enjoyed the story so much was because Kate O’Mara was a wonder of an actress; the perfect Rani, full of aspiration yet dark hollows of evil, even bringing to light a more deeper concept to the show as well: is human experimentation and harm morally correct if it means the research and findings could be synthesised to help others? Truly, a great story in my opinion.
The Two Doctors
A great, celebratory story that I loved from start to finish. Purely for the interactions between Doctors, I enjoy all Multi Doctor events (The Two, Three, and Five Doctors – with headline event The Day of the Doctor being the most recent). Patrick Troughton was as equally charming as he was zany, complemented by Colin Baker’s eccentric portrayal of the Doctor throughout. Again, for someone who only significantly watched Classic Who two years ago, this is one of my favourites. Plot and structure may not be as strong as others, but we are presented with an epic tale of two Doctors, who truly owned their era with crazy authority.
So that’s it! Another birthday down, a handful to go. Colin Baker truly was another type of Doctor. Still appreciated by many and will be for years to come. I still get chills when I see certain pieces of his era. It’s so unfortunate that there was an imposter in his regeneration scene, but we can only be happy that the show still carried on and that he still remains faithful to the show and its fans, as do we him. He also started the trend of Doctors sharing similar names: Colin and Tom Baker; Peter Davison and Peter Capaldi. It is a tremendous day for one of our Time Lords. Happy Birthday Colin Baker!
Make sure you share your own ideas on the Five Favourites below in the comments.