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.
For the longest time Tom Baker was the Doctor, and he really did make the role his own. It’s not hard to see why so many people fondly remember his portrayal. He was the first to feel like an alien who was visiting amongst us. He was great in the role… but sadly stayed too long in it. The more time wears on the more tired Baker gets in the role of the Doctor. It’s clear that his heart just isn’t in it any more. Had he left after four years he’d have gone out on a high, but on the whole the character clearly grows older with the actor. Good, but not as great as he was. 9/10.
Urban legend is that the production staff gave a lovely old woman some wool to knit a scarf… and she used all of it. Hence the incredibly long but fantastic scarf Tom Baker had. Add to that a rather decent coat and an interesting combination under it, and it became the visual look of The Doctor. Again this is a costume that just works well. On the one hand the scarf became immensely practical, since he used it in a variety of ways to save the day. In fact The Deadly Assassin has him shred clothes as he goes on, showing that even the bare basics of his costume was still pretty neat. Ultimately it’s a bohemian costume that suits the character perfectly. Although later on the costume became a lot more burgundy it still kept much the same, ergo no need to go on about it much more. 8/10.
The Story: Robot is, at its heart, a mystery story with no real mystery whatsoever. The audience knows that a stonking big robot is the baddie, so we have to wait for the main characters to catch up. It’s fairly standard Doctor Who with a lot of good and bad in it. The plot gets silly at times, but on the whole it fairs somewhat well. 5/10.
The Doctor’s Introduction: Compared to the Third Doctor the Fourth hits the ground running and stays that way for a long time. We’re introduced to a manic man who absent-mindedly seems to have no idea what is going on… and yet is still the smartest man in several rooms. His most iconic moment has to be going up in front of a group of power-hungry anarchists… and disarming them with nothing more than card tricks and slapstick. We get introduced to who the Fourth Doctor is right away, and boy is he fantastic. 8/10.
Overall: The story is a good one. It ties in the Doctor well with the rest of the action and showcases what’s great about Tom Baker’s Doctor. It sets the standard and has a lot of fun doing it. Easily one of the better introductions for the Doctor in the classic series. 7/10.
Final Verdict: 22/30 aka 7.3/10
Sarah Jane Smith: See what I said last week. Great character, great companion, Elisabeth Sladen will forever be missed. 10/10.
Harry Sullivan: He was meant to follow in the vein of Ian Chesterton and Steven Taylor, since the plan was to have an older Doctor. Instead they went with the energetic Tom Baker, making Harry kinda pointless. Oh he’s a great character, but he doesn’t have a reason to exist in story since Tom Baker has enough energy to fill the room. 5/10.
Leela: Lets be honest, she was around to keep the Dads watching. Everyone has admitted it. But as a character Leela is an interesting, if slightly upsetting, experiment. It’s about taking a savage and seeing if you can make them civilised. Now the undertones to that are quite collar tugging when you think hard about them, but on the surface Leela is a great companion. She can look after herself and often goes on the offensive. However her philosophy is so much different to the Doctor’s that you have to wonder why he brought her along. 7/10.
K-9: Technically they’ve been two models, but I’m gonna count them as the same character. He’s alright. He’s a plot device, a ‘get out of jail free’ card. He’s a gimmick, but nothing more than that. Good writers know how to use him, bad writers screw him up pretty badly. 4/10.
Romana: If there’s one thing to say about the companions in the Fourth Doctor’s era, it’s that they varied widely. Which is good, since it made for more interesting stories. Take Romana, a Time Lady to help the Doctor. She’s a great character, very much a female version of the earlier Doctors. She and Tom Baker had a lot of great banter in their quest for the Key of Time. 7/10.
Romana II: It’s often been said that Tom Baker and Lalla Ward were in love because the Doctor and Romana were in love. And when people wonder if a female Doctor could work, this is the first example I go to. Yes, it would work. It’d work fantastically if played by an actress like Lalla Ward. She’s a fantastic Time Lady and all round great companion. 9/10.
Adric: He’s not totally insufferable… yet. I’ll get into him a bit more next time, but there’s a reason why he’s one of the most hated companions in Doctor Who history. 2/10.
Tegan Jovanka: She appears in just one story, so I won’t go on more. But in the story she’s… Eh. Just Eh. Not very good, not terrible either. Mostly forgettable. 2/10.
Nyssa: Again, next time I’ll have more to say, but the little we see of her doesn’t give us much. But she ain’t as bad as the other two at least, not by a long shot. She actually has a character of sorts. 4/10.
Final Total: 41/90 aka 4.6/10
Honourable Mentions: Genesis of the Daleks is a really influential story, but not one I’d choose if I could only ever watch one Fourth Doctor story. The Talons of Weng-Chiang is technically amazing, but I watched it at the point where I was just getting out of Doctor Who (I know, right? Hard to imagine). Pyramids of Mars is another really good story, but not one I’d watch over and over again.
Story: City of Death is one of the two scripts that Douglas Adams wrote… and it’s exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. You have a monster spread across time, a plan to steal the Mona Lisa and sell off identical copies, the Doctor and Romana playing off each other beautifully and Paris. Simply Paris. 10/10.
Monster: Count Scarlioni is simply fantastic. Sure the make-up is a bit primitive, since it’s only a mask… but what a mask. Who can forget the brilliant first episode cliffhanger where he rips his face off, revealing the monster underneath. But aside from that he is such a proper gentleman, always cool, always calm, that he’s just a joy to watch. 10/10.
Nostalgia Factor: Like I said, I was just getting out Doctor Who, but this was the last story I can actively remember being screened on television. As such I remember it being a good way of sending the show out. I watch it now and I remember why I love Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor so much. 10/10.
Best Moment: Pretty much all four episodes. There’s not a bad moment among any of it. To me, one of the most curious things about this piece is its wonderful afunctionalism. Divorced from its function and seen purely as a piece of art, its structure of line and colour is curiously counterpointed by the redundant vestiges of its function. And since it has no call to be here, the art lies in the fact that it is here. 10/10
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 one, scoring 10/10.
Final Verdict: 50/50 aka 10/10. Yes, this is easily my favourite story of all time.
Dishonourable Mentions: Underworld is a pretty bad story, yes, but it’s saved from my wrath only because I like the concepts it was trying to explore… that and there was one story worse than that.
Story: Meglos, in which an evil cactus copies Tom Baker and tries to steal some powerful artefact from some city no one cares about. And somehow it’s even stupider than it sounds. And yet this being somehow manages to trap the TARDIS in a time loop, making it one of the greatest threats the Doctor ever faced. Who escape thanks to acting badly to throw it off… Yeah logic and common sense aren’t found in this story. 0/10.
Monster: I’m not joking when I said sentient cactus that makes himself out to look like the Fourth Doctor. They apparently thought this was an intimating villain… to this day I don’t know if they were being serious or not when they pitched this idea. 0/10.
Guilty Pleasure Factor: Okay this gets a lot of points for two important reasons. The first is that you have Tom Baker acting off against Tom Baker… how can that be bad? But the other one is that Jacqueline Hill, who played the First Doctor’s companion Barbara… is for some reason in this story. God knows why, but man she’s great in it. Such a shame she died so young. 5/10.
Worst Moment: Sentient cactus. Sentient, evil cactus. Sentient, evil cactus who thought it was a good idea to copy the Fourth Doctor. It’s stupid, but hilarious at the same time. 3/10.
Ranking: Ranking these twelve episodes from favourite to less favourite, this one comes in at number six, giving it a score of 5/10.
Final Verdict: 13/50 aka 2.6/10.
Best Speech/Moment(Television only)
Again a somewhat obvious choice when it comes to picking a good Fourth Doctor quote. Perhaps the one that gets most remembered, also the one from the best Fourth Doctor story according to recent polls. The Doctor gets tasked with stopping the Daleks, which he sets up to do. However…
- â€œSarah Jane: Well, what are you waiting for?!
- The Doctor: Just touch these two strands together, and the Daleks are finished… Have I that right?
- Sarah Jane: To destroy the Daleks? You can’t doubt it!
- The Doctor: Well, I do! You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies because of the fear of the Daleks!
- Sarah Jane: It isn’t like that!
- The Doctor: Well, the final responsibility is mine. And mine alone. You see, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives… could you then kill that child?
- Sarah Jane: [pause] We’re talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented. You must destroy them! You must complete your mission for the Time Lords!
- The Doctor: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other, and it’s it? The Daleks cease to exist? Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations, can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word “Dalek”?
- Sarah Jane: Then why wait? If it was a disease or some sort of bacteria you were destroying, you wouldn’t even hesitate!
- The Doctor: But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent life form, then I’d become like them. I’d be no better than the Daleks.
- Sarah Jane: Think of all the suffering there’ll be if you don’t do it!â€
It’s a great speech, done fantastically by the character… but at the end of the day while it’s his greatest speech I don’t know if I necessarily agree with it. On the one hand yes, it shows how he’s pro-life and optimistic… on the other it shows he’s a bit of an idiot for not doing the ‘right thing’. So while it’s this Doctor’s greatest speech, I don’t agree with it. 6/10.
Okay this Doctor is extremely hit and miss. As I mentioned above this Doctor changed a lot during the role, going from a somewhat happy fellow to a moody and grouchy one. And depending on the book you’re reading (or more accurate who is his companion) dictates how good the story is going to be. Tom Baker has a manic energy that just doesn’t translate to written form that well. As for his audio adventures… it’s very clear that Tom Baker is showing his age when he records them. Now of course actors age, that’s just a given, but even here we get a lack of something from his voice. The energy just isn’t quite there. So while the stories of his once again can be good… it just lacks the energy the show itself had. 5/10.
The Story: Logopolis is a story about maths and computers and hard science-fiction. It’s also a bit rubbish. It has to introduce a new companion Tegan, bring back Nyssa from the previous story, juggle the fact that Adric was in it and finally deal with the Master trying (and nearly succeeding) to destroy the universe. While an interesting concept, it lacks any real heart or soul to it. 4/10.
The Final Moments: The Doctor’s sacrifice to save the universe is actually really well-played. It makes sense that this is how Four dies: a fit of bravery in the face of adversary. As he dangles he sees the faces of both friends and enemies, before hitting the ground rather hard. His last lines â€œIt’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for…â€ fit well for the rather sombre mood. It’s an underplayed moment considering how big of an actor he is, but a good one nonetheless. 8/10.
Overall: It’s a shame the concept was never explored again, because The Watcher is an interesting one. The brief version is that The Watcher is the future Doctor, materialized due to all the damage happening to the universe. The Doctor starts this story knowing that death is at hand and reflects the melancholy of it. It’s an interesting concept and works well with Tom Baker’s current mood about the show. It’s a shame they never brought this back up. 8/10.
Final Verdict: 20/30 aka 6.7/10
You can see the series’ decrease in quality as time goes on. It starts off being amazingly strong, really one of the greatest seasons in Doctor Who history. As it goes on new ideas are explored, new script editors are brought in, but the quality does lag along the way. By the time it ends it’s a shadow of its former self. Again one of those ‘good, but not great’ recommendations. 7/10.
Final Verdict: 66.2/100
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.