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As promised, now that I've watched every single one of his stories, I want to draw together my thoughts on the Tom Baker era, and why the Fourth Doctor is, and always will be, 'my' Doctor.


History

I would always have said he was, if asked, I think. Weeellll - there was possibly a period a year or so ago, when David Tennant beat him in a Doctor Who Magazine poll, and I thought, "Yeah, actually - maybe that's fair. Maybe it's just nostalgia-value that makes me think I like Tom Baker so much". But now that I've gone back to the source material? No. No, it really isn't fair, and it really isn't just nostalgia. I mean, Tennant is great, certainly. He puts on a good show, and he comes a very close second. But next to the sheer power and charisma of Baker, even he is eclipsed.

What's odd is that although I was obviously watching his episodes as a child (hence vague half-memories of the Nimons and The Keeper of Traken), I seem to have seen remarkably little of the Tom Baker era since then. This is the totality of what I actually recognised and could consciously remember having seen before as I went through them all this year:
  • Genesis of the Daleks (via a TV repeat)
  • The Deadly Assassin (via a TV repeat and previously at OUWho)
  • First couple of episodes of The Face of Evil (at either Bristol DocSoc or OUWho)
  • Last episode of Underworld (via a TV repeat)
  • First episode of Horns of Nimon (at OUWho, I think).
So, not that much, really - though it does include two of arguably the greatest stories ever filmed for television. But all the same, apart from that brief Tennant-blip there, I would unhesitatingly have named him as my favourite anyway, at any time in the last thirty years. Which is quite a testament to how strongly he must have imprinted himself on my childhood psyche, really.

So, now that I have seen his full oeuvre, what is it that makes me think he is such a bloody great Doctor? Well, in a way it hardly needs examining, because he is so widely recognised as brilliant in the role, and so many people have analysed why that is extremely effectively. (The Wikipedia article has a decent stab, for a start). But what the hell - I'll have a go anyway, because it's fun to do.


Characterisation

His energy, his exuberance and his enthusiasm have to be some of the biggest draws. Going round space with the Fourth Doctor is fun. Tom Baker loved it, the Doctor loves it, his companions love it, and we all love it, too. He's charming, and funny, and unconventional; much like a slightly over-excited little boy.


But his appeal isn't just about silly jokes and clownish capering, enjoyable though that may be. Those are part of a character which conveys above all a sense of joy and wonder at the Universe, and a love for the incredible things in it - established in particular in his early Ark in Space speech about humanity being 'indomitable'. And they're also about building a sense of trust. One of the most fundamental tenets of the relationship between the Doctor and his viewers (so beautifully inverted and explored in both The Invasion of Time and Midnight) is that we must trust him completely: to do the right thing, to save the day and to come out smiling, ready for another adventure. Between Four's blustery self-confidence and his obvious love for humanity, this is never in doubt (except when the script wants it to be, of course): we know that we can place ourselves safely in his hands, and no matter how bad things seem to get, he will always, always have just one more trick up his sleeve.

The bright and accessible side of Four's character, though, is really effective because it is played off against an underlying sense of darkness and distance. Otherwise, it would get tiring very quickly. Even when he's playing the fool, he often actually turns out to be doing it to throw people off their guard (much as Ten does, too, of course). And meanwhile, there are moments of real darkness (like in Genesis of the Daleks, at the beginning of Pyramids of Mars or a lot of season 18) or anger (facing off against the Deciders in Full Circle comes to mind) that very clearly convey both his awareness of what is at stake in the situations he is encountering, and his sense that he must take responsibility for sorting it out. Again, this is about the viewer's trust. For all that he presents as a happy-go-lucky bohemian, the Fourth Doctor also leaves us in no doubt about the strength of his moral compass, and his commitment to righting wrongs and making the Universe a better place.

Linked with that is his alienness. Of course, his crazy eccentricities are part of the fun, too, and clearly Tom Baker was immensely capable of bringing out that side of the Doctor's character, and having a great old time with it in the process. But the Doctor's alienness is not just about him being a bit weird and funny. Again, it's about establishing his burden of responsibility. For it to be so obvious that he is the hero who can save the day, he needs to be different from us, and from the characters around him. He needs to be cleverer, and more perceptive, and more knowledgeable, and more powerful. He needs to be unpredictable, and at times completely unfathomable. Baker's Doctor gives us all those things in spades: but at the same time, he doesn't overdo it to the extent that we are, literally, alienated. His alienness is tempered by his warmth and charisma; and I think the balance between the two comes out best in his relationship with his only ordinary, human companion - Sarah Jane. One moment in season 12 that really made me fall for his Doctor came in Revenge of the Cybermen, when he is reunited with Sarah Jane after they've both spent most of the last two episodes apart and facing extreme peril. Her reaction is very human: "Doctor! It's good to see you!" But even though he's explicitly gone back to the Nerva space station in order to rescue her, his is more confused: "Is it?" Once she's reminded him of the value of emotional interaction, though, he immediately catches on with an "Oh - well...", one of his best dazzling grins and a matey, if slightly awkward, punch on the arm. That kind of moment shows us his alienness, but it also keeps it within reach of the audience. And it means that when we do see him engaging with his burden of Time Lord responsibility in a way that the humans around him cannot share, our knowledge of his potentiality for warmth and good humour helps us feel his loneliness and pathos in a way that would otherwise be lost.

Another plus with Four is his capacity for physical suffering: getting into fights, getting tortured and getting knocked out.


This drops away as his era progresses, I presume mainly as a result of Mary Whitehouse's campaigns against the darker and more horrific aspects of the series at the time. But early on it seems to happen practically every five minutes. In the first episode of The Masque of Mandragora alone, he gets knocked out twice, held at sword-point, pushed off a horse, threatened with the rack and taken to be executed. This is great stuff - and not just because it is incredibly sexy to watch him getting dirty and sweaty as he wrestles with his opponents, wincing orgasmically as he is tortured or groaning post-coitally as he regains consciousness (though that is certainly part of it for me!). On a more strictly character-driven level, it also demonstrates very vividly the extent of the Fourth Doctor's love for the universe, and his commitment to righting the wrongs that he sees in it. He doesn't just save the day - he's ready to undergo real personal torment in order to do so. And if he's prepared to do all that in a white, puffy-sleeved Mr. Darcy shirt, so much the better! :-)

Fundamentally, the character of the Doctor is always attractive. Even when he's a crotchety old man or a self-aggrandising boor, he's still the hero-figure, and can ultimately be trusted to do what is right. But for me, the specifics of the Fourth Doctor's character make his incarnation the most appealing of all. He's exciting and unpredictable, but not dangerous; charming, but not superficial; and immensely clever and powerful, but not invulnerable. It's a heady cocktail.


Fannish drooling

And yes it helps, too, that he is HOT! I'd not really thought of him that way before my recent Baker-fest. In fact, if you'd asked me a year ago which of the Classic Doctors I fancied the most, I'd probably (without having thought too much about it) have said Peter Davison: because he is the most conventionally-attractive, and because I did kinda have a crush on him as a child. (Add the more recent Doctors to the mix, and David Tennant is the obvious winner: although I have time for Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor, too). Tom Baker, meanwhile, is not conventionally attractive by any measure. The Greek masters did not tend to include bulging eyes, ginger sideburns and prominent hooked noses when they were sculpting images of the gods. But almost any face would become attractive with the Fourth Doctor's charm and energy behind it. And he does happen to push some of my personal buttons pretty hard.

He's off to a good start simply by being From The Seventies. That's the decade I was born in, and, perhaps for that reason, I've long fetishised it: particularly for its music, its clothes and its slightly bedraggled innocence. While other kids my age were into Madchester and Acid Trance, I used to sit up in my bedroom painting my finger-nails orange, and listening to The Sweet, T-Rex, David Bowie, KISS, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I would buy old Seventies pop annuals, and spend hours poring over their music and fashion pages. I wore strings of beads and my mother's old smock-tops; and at the age of fifteen I actually made my own pair of pink denim flares, because at that time you could not buy them in the shops for love nor money. Tom Baker fits very nicely into that aesthetic, as I've already noted in my icon (in case you're unaware, the text comes from T-Rex's Telegram Sam). With his bouncing curls, his slightly retro-looking clothes and his general bohemian demeanour, his Doctor wouldn't look at all out of place at a Led Zeppelin gig.

There's also a rather Wildean aspect to him, for double teenage-fixation win! I'm sure the Wikipedia article is right to say that his costume was modelled after Toulouse Lautrec's pictures of Aristide Bruant - but the hat he wore for his first couple of seasons also bears a distinct resemblence to Wilde's hat in this famous series of studio portraits:


Since Tom Baker had been playing Wilde on stage shortly before he took over the Fourth Doctor role, that may well be a conscious reference: and of course Wilde was only drawing on the same Bohemian aesthetic that Bruant after him, and Byron before, had done in any case. It's all good. There's also some degree of physical resemblence, especially in profile:


All told, then, he taps very effectively into a number of my heady teenage crushes: and indeed, it's worth wondering whether bohemian-looking men with long curly hair appealed to me so much as a teenager because I had already spent my formative childhood years bonding with the Fourth Doctor. What fun, then, to come full circle, re-visit him as an adult, and let that childish admiration spill over into full-blown womanly lust!


Companions

For all his great characterisation, his charming grins and his unruly locks, though, even Baker couldn't have carried the show on his own. The Fourth Doctor is also my favourite because he had some of the best companions ever to feature on Doctor Who, and some of the best stories, too. Sarah Jane combines pluckiness, inquisitiveness and real independence of character with a sweet innocence that really brings out the warm and caring side of the Doctor. Romana (both of them, but especially II) is bright and independent too, though in a rather more alien way - and, for exactly that reason, can cut the Doctor down to size when she needs to. In fact, he can play his exuberant little-boy-on-a-big-adventure role all the better while she is around, precisely because she is there to rein him in when he gets too big for his boots. K-9, of course, plays much the same role: but I've covered him elsewhere.


The stories: top five

As for the stories - they're not all perfect, but Tom Baker is lucky enough to have served in one of the most consistently-strong eras of Who script-writing there has ever been. Almost all of them are immensely worth seeing, but among them my five personal favourites would be:

1. The Deadly Assassin - a slight odd-ball of a story, but that's probably what makes it stand out. It takes the Doctor's character to some fascinating places, writes new rules for the programme, and just happens to be fantastically sexy, too. :-)
2. Genesis of the Daleks - rightly acknowledged as a classic. Like Assassin, it treads innovative ground, really establishes the range and depth of the Fourth Doctor's character, and benefits from a remarkably tight and engaging script. One of the few Who six-parters I've seen that really does deserve those two extra episodes.
3. The Masque of Mandragora - very intelligent and witty script, lots of dashing heroics, sumptuous production values.
4. The City of Death - a romp in Paris, with Four and Romana II at their very best. Great supporting characters, fascinating concepts and a winner of a script.
5. The Hand of Fear - a nice, clear, uncluttered story-line; beautiful dynamic between Four and Sarah Jane; interesting ambiguity around the character of Eldrad; excellent secondary characters.

Very, very close also-rans, which I feel mean for excluding, are Logopolis and The Stones of Blood. But you can't have everything. The presence of three stories from season 14 in there probably does make that my favourite: but then again the absence of any from season 13 shouldn't be seen as a slight against that. In fact, it's quite possibly the single most solid season of the period: but just doesn't quite have any of the stand-out stories that might make it into a top five.


Bottom five

Naming a bottom five is rather harder, since there simply aren't very many weak Fourth Doctor stories. The first two are pretty obvious contenders, but after that it is really a question of 'least good' rather than 'worst':

1. The Invisible Enemy - starts well, but loses direction badly; poor script; disappointing scenes inside the Doctor's body; giant prawn. Not saved by introduction of K-9.
2. Underworld - again, early promise gives way to a lacklustre story. Drab back-projected caves do not help.
3. The Sontaran Experiment - just padding, really.
4. The Power of Kroll - has its moments, but doesn't make the most of the supporting cast; Swampies and Kroll both a bit lame.
5. Full Circle - nice ideas and some good moments, but the script overall is somewhat pedestrian.

The first three there are by my least favourite Who writing team of this era (Bob Baker and Dave Martin), while the fact that the top two are both from season 15 is a fairly accurate reflection of my feelings about that season as a whole (with the honourable exception of Invasion of Time). But actually even Bob 'n' Dave make it into the top five, too, with Hand of Fear. In fact, although I said after watching Genesis that that is the story I'd first recommend to someone who'd never seen any Classic Who before, on further reflection, I've actually changed my mind about that, and would now make it Hand. Genesis is great, but it does to some extent rely on a previous knowledge of the nature of the Doctor's relationship with both the Time Lords and the Daleks, as well as a willingness to engage with a lot of quarries, corridors and model shots. Hand of Fear, on the other - um - hand, stands alone extremely effectively, and also does quite a number of new-viewer-friendly things: e.g. focusing on a really lovely Doctor-companion relationship, striking a neat compromise between a largely Earth-based setting and still showing that the TARDIS can travel in time and space, and offering plenty of really good-quality special effects and costumes. So, for all their faults, on the basis of Hand of Fear I'm prepared to cut Bob Baker and Dave Martin some slack after all.


And now?

Well, one thing's for sure: this is not the end of my Who Odyssey. When I started out in January, my stated intentions were thus:
"I don't think I'll ever try to be a completist, because I know that would involve sitting through an awful lot of dross. But Operation Classic Who is go! ...at least until New Who begins again in the spring."
But d'you know, I think that may have changed. Certainly, New Who season 4 has been and gone, and by the time it arrived Classic Who was no longer something to 'tide me over' until it came back, but rather a fearsomely strong contender which many weeks was better than its 21st-century cousin. And in any case, it's now nearly two years until we have New Who back on our screens as a regular series. If the best the BBC can offer us in the meantime is Bonekickers, then it would be crazy not to continue taking advantage of the massive back-catalogue of quality television (yes, with some dross, I know) that is Classic Doctor Who.

So I'll certainly carry on, and I may well be moving towards just aiming to see every surviving episode and have done with it. On the basis that it's taken me about six months to work through the entirety of the Baker era, and that that constitutes roughly a quarter of surviving Classic Who, that should mean I have at least 18 months' worth of good television to enjoy: possibly longer if, as I suspect, my interest starts to drop off a little as I come up against stories, companions and indeed Doctors who don't appeal to me on quite the same scale.

What's the game-plan, then? Well, one thing I've definitely discovered during the past few months is the joy of sequential viewing. Classic Who might not have placed quite the same emphasis on season arcs as New Who does; but if you watch stories in isolation, you miss character development (especially for the companions), technical development (i.e. the introduction of new story devices and special effects), a sense of balance within seasons (i.e. variety in story settings and styles) and of course in some cases actual season arcs (e.g. seasons 16 and 18). I was particularly struck in the case of the Tom Baker era by just how clearly his seven years do break down into three distinct sub-eras (driven by changes in producers and chief script editors), each with their own dominant style and story priorities - and this would be much harder to pick up on from isolated, random story-viewings. So I do want to keep seeing stories in sequence as much as I can. But then again, that's not always practically possible - and in any case, all Classic Who stories do stand perfectly well on their own.

In practice, then, I'm going to save sequentialism for selected periods in the programme's history, but sacrifice it to convenience elsewhere. My first priority is going to be Sarah Jane Smith: a) because she is pretty much the only person in the entire Whoniverse who is guaranteed to cheer me up in the absence of the Fourth Doctor, b) because there is of course a new series of The Sarah Jane Adventures starting in the autumn, which looks incredibly exciting and c) because if I watch through her stories with Jon Pertwee sequentially, that means that I'll finish off by seeing Jon Pertwee regenerate back into Tom Baker - which is a very comforting prospect. I've already started on that little project, and reviews will follow shortly.

My second priority will be to go back to the William Hartnell era, and watch that as sequentially as it is now possible to do. I may well save that treatment for Patrick Troughton as well. But, in the meantime, I shall also be joining Lovefilm, and simply placing all DVDs of the Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors that have been released to date on my 'want list'. Whether I'll then trouble to fill in the gaps once I've worked my way through all of those is a decision I'll make - ooh, in about a year's time, I should think.

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
vectorious
Jul. 19th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Can I recommend the Romance of Crime and the English Way of Death from the past doctor adventures (virgin books) - They are available on Amazon - and are very much worthwhile based on the type of adventures you like from the 4th Doctor - especially City of Death.

strange_complex
Jul. 19th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip. The titles of both certainly sound very appealing. I didn't initially intend to get into either books or audio dramas, and indeed will still be concentrating on the TV stories first. But then again I've already started listening to some of the Big Finish dramas, and am also reading Lungbarrow in my lunch-breaks. So I guess I might as well just go for it, really!
lefaym
Jul. 19th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
This is a great review; so much fun to read. :) Tom Baker hasn't taken over David Tennant for me-- perhaps because I can't remember any Old Who serials from when I was a kid (I remember watching it, and according to my dad, we watch Tom Baker repeats more than anything else, in spite of me being born in the early 80s). But having started to seriously watch Old Who this year (though not in any kind of order), I can definitely see how much of David Tennant's performance is influenced by Tom Baker. Before seeing much Old Who, I just had a sense that Tennant was more "Doctorish" than Eccleston was (although I loved him too), and I suspect that was because he so often plays on things that my subconscious recalls from watching old Tom Baker episodes, even if I can't remember the episodes themselves.

I agree with what you said regarding Hand of Fear being a better introductory episode than Genesis of the Daleks. My boyfriend got me to watch Genesis before School Reunion aired, so that I could "meet" Sarah Jane, but although I enjoyed it, it didn't really grab me and make me want to watch more Old Who. Although it's not in your top five, I'd also actually recommend Robot as a first-time Old Who ep-- it's great fun, you get to see Pertwee regenerate into Baker, and in spite of the fact that the robot itself appears to be broken, it's a very good story. And Sarah Jane is full of awesome in it.

Speaking of the Hartnell and Troughton eras-- my favourites from those are The Aztecs and The Invasion respectively-- although I've only seen a handful of serials from each.
strange_complex
Jul. 19th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks - I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

I definitely agree about Tennant's performance being strongly influenced by Baker's. It's not the same, obviously - not least because New Who is just doing different things from Classic Who. But both the exuberance and the darkness are there in Tennant, and in a similar balance to Baker.

Interesting to hear your reaction to Genesis. I've quite often heard old-school fans talking about it as a great introductory episode, and of course it is brilliant if you're familiar with the way Classic Who works already. But I did suspect it wouldn't play so well for people who weren't. And I can see your point about Robot, too. Bar a couple of random sallies into the Peter Davison era, it was where I started this whole thing back in January - and it certainly got me hooked!

Will hopefully be seeing The Aztecs before long, so you'll hear what I think of it then!
lefaym
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
I think there's a tendency among both New and Old Who fans to simply show what they believe is the "best" episode, without considering how that episode will look to someone unfamiliar with the mythos. I know that with New Who, a lot of people suggest Blink as the episode to convert people, but so much of that episode relies on knowing the background information about the Doctor and Martha. Likewise with my personal favourite from the Tennant era Human Nature/Family of Blood-- brilliant stuff, but you need to know the characters before you can fully appreciate the episodes.

I think this is particularly important with Genesis because it's tone is far darker than most Fourth Doctor stories, and I think that if you don't already have a sense of Tom Baker's performance, and the way he interacts with Sarah Jane and Harry, you miss a lot of the subtlety in his acting, and in the way the story is written generally. Part of what makes it effective is the way that it contrasts with the few Tom-Baker serials that precede it.
strange_complex
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, yes - Blink and Human Nature/Family of Blood just wouldn't work at all as intro episodes, would they? I wonder what would... I suppose it pretty much has to be a season-opener, really, because of the way the arcs work - so it may as well be Rose. It was designed to convert people to New Who, after all!
lefaym
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
I think Rose works well for people who already have a positive attitude towards the show, but for people who are a bit more undecided, I think the recent addition of The Fires of Pompeii works really well-- while it contains some references to the bigger S4 story arcs, it works very well on its own too. From the Eccleston series, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances could work too, because we need to go through the whole "introductory" phase again when we meet Jack, but I think the problem there is that those episodes are so damn good that a new viewer might be disappointed by anything else. The Christmas Invasion and School Reunion would also be good ones if you wanted to start someone on David Tennant instead of Eccleston-- I find that people tend to fall in love with Eccleston's Doctor very easily (I know I did!) and then it takes a while for them to accept Tennant-- so in some ways it's best to start them on Tennant, then go back to Eccleston-- they'll still fall in love with him, but they won't be as wary of accepting the Tenth Doctor.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2008 08:38 am (UTC)
Oh, I approve of your suggestion of The Fires of Pompeii, there! Not so sure about School Reunion, though, unless they were already familiar with Classic Who - otherwise they might just wonder what all the fuss was about over Sarah Jane and K-9.
swisstone
Jul. 20th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Perhaps your Wrongness is not so great. ;-) I mean, I'd certainly rate 'Pyramids of Mars', 'Robots of Death' (perhaps the most science fiction the show ever gets) and 'Talons of Weng-Chiang' above some of your top five, but at least most of them are from the right end of the Baker era. (And I am aware that my opinion on 'City of Death' - good, a lot better than what surrounds it, but still nothing like as good as it's cracked up to be - is a minority viewpoint.

I have mixed feelings about 'Genesis'. It's a great Dalek story, but I'm not sure it's that great for the Fourth Doctor - there are certainly sequences, including most of the famous moral issue ones, when Nation seems to be writing for Pertwee, rather than the more morally complex Baker Doctor we later see in the likes of 'Brain of Morbius'.

I'll be very interested to see what you think of some of the SJS/Pertwee stories, especially 'Monster of Peladon'.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
I can see your point about Genesis, there. Still, although I understand what you mean about it being written with a more Pertweeish Doctor in mind, I think it's a better story all the same for having Baker in it instead. But then I'm not a big Pertwee fan.

I am, however, working my way through the SJS / Pertwee stories with an open mind, and in fact Monster of Peladon would be next. But would I be right in suspecting it would be a bit silly to see that without having watched Curse of Peladon first? In any case, I have equipped myself with Curse..., so that will be my default approach - unless you think that would actually detract from Monster...?
swisstone
Jul. 20th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Actually, it might be interesting if you did watch 'Monster' without having seen 'Curse'. Hardly anyone who writes about the latter story does so without having seen the first one. I'll say no more for fear of prejudicing the witness.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Well, hell then - I'll do it! Monster first it is.
captainlucy
Jul. 20th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
That's quite a wonderful article there! I think you managed to get into words most of the reasons I love Tom Baker's Doctor, plus a few others that frankly never crossed my mind! ;)

I fully agree with you that viewing stories sequentially gives a far greater appreciation for what the writers and production team were doing with the series than watching the stories randomly. I think the build-up at the end of Season 18 was superb - Full Circle (which I actually remember as being quite excellent, but then I haven't actually seen it since some time in the mid-late 1980s!), State of Decay, Warrior's Gate and Keeper of Traken 4 stories over 16 episodes which subtly built in the ideas of change, decay and rebirth, which eventually culminated with Logopolis. That's a build-up to a season end that RTD could only dream of, and a finale that delivered on every level.

While I still think that David Tennant's Doctor has the potential to overtake Tom Baker, he hasn't been quite as well served by scripts and storylines as Tom was. And certainly I do not remember Tom's reign ever being lumbered with such a clunking disaster of an episode as "Love and Monsters". I think the last season was the most consistently strong of the new run, and the first full season to give the best Classic Who seasons a run for their money, but there is still some way to go.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

Yes, Tennant remains a close contender - but you're right that he has suffered occasionally from bad scripts. Tom Baker may have had to engage in a futile argument with a giant prawn inside a badly-realised rendition of his own brain... but he was never reduced to unrealistic Mary-Sue fantasy fodder in the way Tennant was at the end of Journey's End.

Still, I'm all for the scales tipping in Tennant's favour eventually - because that would mean more excellent Who yet to come.
huskyteer
Jul. 21st, 2008 09:23 am (UTC)
That was well-informed, informative, interesting, and written with love. Bravo!
strange_complex
Jul. 21st, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! But really, it's simply no less than the subject deserves. :-)
gair
Jul. 22nd, 2008 10:19 am (UTC)
Oh, how I would love to get you in a room with altariel and mraltariel and listen to you talk about Who (while I sulk inarticulately about how Eccleston was the best direction Who ever took but was prematurely nipped in the bud for a craven return to the Bakeresque).
strange_complex
Jul. 22nd, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
Ah, thanks for the heads-up - I have taken a step towards making your wish a virtual reality at least by friending altariel. :-)
weepingcross
Jul. 22nd, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Well done with this, Dr G. It's strange to reflect that I've never actually seen ANY Baker stories since they were first broadcast; so in actual fact my opinions are worth very, very little indeed. Swirling fragments of broken memory. Oh well.

I will look forward to more!
strange_complex
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
In a way, that makes the memories you do have all the more interesting. Whatever's stuck in your mind from that time is the remnants of a genuine '70s viewing experience, untainted by the spectre of post-modern cultural criticism! You should write it up... :-)
weepingcross
Jul. 22nd, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Why have I now the image of a pair of white mice piping at me,

'The remnants of an original 1970s Dr Who viewing experience are encoded in the pattern of your brain. But we've got to get it out first.'
'It's got to be prepared ...'
'... treated ...'
'... diced.'
strange_complex
Jul. 22nd, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
Hee - I think you've short-circuited onto a genuine '80s viewing experience, there!
rosaguestlist
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say The Sontaran Experiment is a favourite of mine but I never really understood it apparently being so widely disliked. My bottom episodes would probably be:

The Pirate Planet
The Sun Makers
The Invisible Enemy
The Horns of Nimon
The Armageddon Factor

In which case, the top episodes:

Logopolis
City of Death
The Robots of Death
The Deadly Assassin
The Keeper of Traken
The Stones of Blood

Although I do also have a soft spot for some of the 'pulp horror' (for want of a better term) stories - Pyramids of Mars, Horror of Fang Rock, Talons of Weng Chiang etc. Incidentally, the Holmes style outfit in the latter story tends to agree with your argument given the parallels often drawn between Wilde and Holmes.

- K
strange_complex
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oh yes - Pyramids, Horror and Talons are all just bubbling under the top five for me as well.

I'm intrigued that The Pirate Planet is your outright worst Baker story, though (assuming you have listed worst first). I can very much see your point with the others, but would rate PP far higher myself. What put you off it?
rosaguestlist
Jul. 22nd, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
A combination of poor realisation (the Polyphase Avatron), poor acting (the captain), space opera plot and things erring too much on the side of being played for laughs.
strange_complex
Jul. 22nd, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, fair enough. I'm good with the laughs, though - and was also impressed by the central concept of enveloping and crushing planets, as well as several early instances of awesomeosity on the part of Romana.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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