Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Doctor Who, where I over-analyse each of the Doctors to find out which is best.
The way this is going to run is very simple: I take ten categories and give each Doctor points 1 to 10 along the way. Now some of this may seem familiar since I will be repeating myself, but I plan to have this be a be all and end all look at my favourite fictional character. So join me each week as work out which of the Doctors in my absolute favourite.
The Third Doctor is… I’m hesitant to say whether I like him or not. Jon Pertwee is great in the role, since this is the closest we get to the Doctor being James Bond. I enjoyed him as a kid, but as an adult I find him rather blasÃ©. He’s perhaps my least favourite Doctor, if only because he was the most straight-laced of all the Doctors. He didn’t have a quirk that made him stand out. Great action hero though. 5/10.
Velvet. A ton of velvet. And a lot of frills. Those are the two things you think of when you see the Third Doctor’s costume. Honestly this is the closest Doctor Who ever got to being like James Bond, with his costume not being something that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie (mostly the seventies one). It suits the character rather well, making him the elegant gentleman. It shows off his elegance and class rather well. 6/10.
The Story: The Doctor has recently been exiled to earth and has to help U.N.I.T stop a bunch of killer androids disguised as shop window dummies. Honestly any kid that has watched this can tell you the moment when the dummies smashed through those windows and stalked down the street… which never actually happens on screen. Oh sure we here the smash, but we never see the glass break. But that shows how good the monsters are. So while the story can be a bit rubbish at times, the monsters make this one a strong contender. 7/10.
The Doctor’s Introduction: Yeah truth be told, I hate how the Third Doctor is handled here. Note to script writers: Having your title character stay out of most of the action bores the main audience, especially when we want to meet him. So while Jon Pertwee is having fun as the Doctor when he tries to escape the prison… it takes far too long for him to actually be the Doctor. He does a good job near the end, but the beginning is a bit of a bore. 4/10.
Overall: With a complete changeover the writers thought it was best to bring back U.N.I.T as a way of cobbling the two decades together. It’s a refreshing take on it, as it gives the audience the reassurance that yes, this is the same show. Plus it shows that the Earth isn’t totally helpless without the Doctor, giving a nice twist on the concept. U.N.I.T being back is one of the other good things about this episode. 6/10.
Final Verdict: 17/30 aka 5.7/10
Liz Shaw: Ultimately the biggest problem with the character is that she was too smart. I know that sounds pretty horrible, but it did leave the writers with a problem on how to explain things to the audience. But that’s not to say she’s a bad character, far from it. She’s too good for her own good. She made a small appearance, but it was one worth watching nonetheless. 6/10.
Jo Grant: Jo is in many ways the complete opposite of Liz. She’s ditzy, a bit daft at times, but well-meaning and caring. Much more prone to be a damsel in distress. But that doesn’t mean she was totally incapable of looking after herself, far from it. She was often instrumental in saving the day. I always enjoyed Jo Grant, and was deeply saddened by her departure. 6/10.
Sarah Jane Smith: Often voted ‘Best Companion’, and for good reason. She is everything you want from a Doctor Who companion. Smart, resourceful, brave, but not faultless. She gets herself in and out of trouble and occasionally needs the Doctor. But she’s not a burden, far from it. She set the bar pretty high that very few companions managed to surpass. 10/10.
Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart: Since the Third Doctor’s tenure is also known as the U.N.I.T years, he’ll be represented here. To describe how awesome the Brigadier is would take far too much time. Suffice it to say that he is one of the few people that the Doctor truly admires in all his incarnations. 10/10.
Sergeant John Benton: A well-meaning fellow, often did the right thing, a great character really. He was the ‘man on the ground’, so to speak, the one actually fighting the evil aliens. Nothing too complex, nothing too simple either. 5/10.
Captain Mike Yates: What’s special about Yates is the fact that he betrays U.N.I.T for what he thinks is the greater good. Now it’s a great plot twist (which I’ve now spoiled, whoops), but it does add another layer onto a good character. However I’ve never been a fan of his to begin with. I often confused him with Benton. Again, not bad, just not memorable either. 5/10.
Final Tally: 42/60 aka 7/10
Honourable Mentions: The Three Doctors would be on the list, but I chose to exclude multi-Doctor stories due to the biases found in them (since more Doctor is always better). The Daemons is a good story, but didn’t grip me as a kid. I can appreciate it now, but it’s not a personal favourite. The Green Death is a good story with a great ending, but not quite my absolute favourite.
Story: The Claws of Axos is the best summation of the Third Doctor’s era as there ever was. It has an alien invasion, the Master, U.N.I.T at its finest and a great team between the Doctor and Jo Grant. A strange asteroid has hit the Earth, in it golden human-like creatures offering Axos in return for help. However not all is what it seems, as the Doctor has to convince the authorities of the danger. 6/10.
Monster: Why have the Axos not returned? They disguise themselves as golden humans but are actually evil spaghetti-like monsters. They absorb the energy and life force of others. They’re just so good in so many ways. It is a real shame a monster this brilliant has never returned. Hell even Ten name-checked it when the Master was dying. 8/10.
Nostalgia Factor: This one gave me nightmares as a kid. The idea that if this monster touched you you’d die was enough to keep me hiding behind the sofas, but on top of that it was that the world was doomed because of bureaucracy. That’s an idea that scares me even today. 8/10.
Best Moment: I still remember Part Two’s cliffhanger to this very day. The Doctor and Jo are surrounded by these monsters with no hope of escape. If memory serves me right this happened on the Friday evening, meaning I had to wait till Monday to see how they got out of it. And while rather disappointingly they were just taken captive, I still remember it being a great cliffhanger. 7/10.
Ranking: If I had only twelve episodes of Doctor Who to watch, and I had to rank those twelve from best to worse, this would be number eighth, giving it a score of 3/10.
Final Verdict: 32/50 aka 6.4/10
Dishonourable Mentions: Believe it or not, Pertwee never had more than one truly bad story. Oh sure I’m not the biggest fan of this era, but most of the time the stories were enjoyable enough to watch. All but one that is.
Story: The Ambassadors of Death is a great story for an adult to watch… but boring as all sin for a child. It’s a political thriller… that’s not very thrilling, nor very political. I won’t talk about it too much, since there are probably those out there that like it, but to me it’s just a snorefest. 1/10.
Monster: The Ambassadors are disguised as astronauts and look creepy… but that’s about it really. They don’t do much but sort of walk around gormless and kill a few people. 2/10.
Guilty Pleasure Factor: Yeah there isn’t much of a guilty pleasure factor here. Pertwee does a good job… but that’s about it really. Although the shoot-out scene is fun to watch. 2/10.
Worst Moment: Again, because it’s so forgettable, there’s nothing that really stands out in my mind as being so bad it’s good or so bad it’s bad. 0/10.
Ranking: Ranking these twelve episodes from favourite to less favourite, this one comes in at number nine, giving it a score of 2/10.
Final Verdict: 7/50 aka 1.4/10.
Best Speech/Moment(Television only)
Unlike some of the other choices on this list, this one is an easy sell. There’s only one Third Doctor speech that suits the character down to a T. It’s simple, but brilliant. And it goes:
â€œDOCTOR: I felt like that once when I was young. It was the blackest day of my life.
DOCTOR: Ah, well, that’s another story. I’ll tell you about it one day. The point is, that day was not only my blackest, it was also my best.
JO: Well, what do you mean?
DOCTOR: Well, when I was a little boy, we used to live in a house that was perched halfway up the top of a mountain. And behind our house, there sat under a tree an old man, a hermit, a monk. He’d lived under this tree for half his lifetime, so they said, and he’d learned the secret of life. So, when my black day came, I went and asked him to help me.
JO: And he told you the secret? Well, what was it?
DOCTOR: Well, I’m coming to that, Jo, in my own time. Ah, I’ll never forget what it was like up there. All bleak and cold, it was. A few bare rocks with some weeds sprouting from them and some pathetic little patches of sludgy snow. It was just grey. Grey, grey, grey. Well, the tree the old man sat under, that was ancient and twisted and the old man himself was, he was as brittle and as dry as a leaf in the autumn.
JO: But what did he say?
DOCTOR: Nothing, not a word. He just sat there, silently, expressionless, and he listened whilst I poured out my troubles to him. I was too unhappy even for tears, I remember. And when I’d finished, he lifted a skeletal hand and he pointed. Do you know what he pointed at?
DOCTOR: A flower. One of those little weeds. Just like a daisy, it was. Well, I looked at it for a moment and suddenly I saw it through his eyes. It was simply glowing with life, like a perfectly cut jewel. And the colours? Well, the colours were deeper and richer than you could possibly imagine. Yes, that was the daisiest daisy I’d ever seen.
JO: And that was the secret of life? A daisy? Honestly, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Yes, I laughed too when I first heard it. So, later, I got up and I ran down that mountain and I found that the rocks weren’t grey at all, but they were red, brown and purple and gold. And those pathetic little patches of sludgy snow, they were shining white. Shining white in the sunlight. You still frightened, Jo?
JO: No, not as much as I was.â€
Some might say it’s a bit corny, but I think it’s the best philosophy one can have on life. Doubly so given that this Doctor spent most of his life in exile, stranded on Earth in one primitive time period. But even then he can find the beauty of the world around him and appreciate it. It shows he can be the Doctor when all else seems bleak. 10/10.
â€¦ Okay to be blunt, I really don’t like this character’s expanded universe. Now in the TV series it was okay for him to be stuck on Earth because, well, the budget demanded it. That was fine. But when taken out of the limitations of budget, to have him do an Earth-based story is… dull. It often requires the author to jump through a few hoops to make it all work out. On top of that this Doctor in the books is… dull. Just kinda dull. He’s not portrayed with enough weaknesses or faults to make him interesting, rather more of a civilised gentleman in an uncivilised world. A proper Chap really. So his stories can be good… he just can’t really be that dynamic in them. 4/10.
The Story: It’s Jon Pertwee’s greatest hits. Not a word of a lie, this is essentially everything good about the Third Doctor’s run in a nutshell. Chase sequence, kung fu moments, the U.N.I.T team and hints of a greater underlying theme. Planet of the Spiders is a ‘best of’ highlight reel more than an actual story. Still the story we get is passable at best, touching at worse. 6/10.
The Final Moments: â€œA tear, Sarah Jane? No, don’t cry. Where there’s life there’s -â€ It’s only now we get a decent final line from the Doctor, tragically cut short in mid-speech. This story works because the Doctor knows that he’s likely to face death… but goes in anyway to do the right thing (a common thread among these stories). Likewise his regeneration is simple, but neat. Sure a crossfade is underwhelming, but Pertwee plays the scene really well. 7/10.
Overall: As the story goes on it becomes clear that the Doctor is facing a foe that is most likely to kill him. The inevitably starts to become clear as he is forced to face his fear and challenge the Queen. The writer made sure to include Buddhist themes in it, which work well in the story. It ties together somewhat well, but more at the beginning than the end. 7/10.
Final Verdict: 20/30 aka 6.7/10
The Third Doctor’s era is very much a mix bag. The Master is great, U.N.I.T is great, Jo Grant is great… but being stuck on Earth leads to many of the stories ending up being sorta similar to one another. And even when the Doctor is free to travel again the third incarnation never stuck out as being a particularly interesting Doctor. He’s an action hero in a story that seems to love the style of James Bond, but I’m ultimately not in love with it. 5/10.
Final Verdict: 57.2/100
So there you have it. My look at this Doctor. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Tune in next week for my take on the next Doctor on the list. Till next time.