In Too Deep Into Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor
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.
He starts off as a buffoon like the Second Doctor, before evolving into a chessmaster. It’s the latter of the character’s development that’s the most interesting. We’ve never had a Doctor who deliberately goes somewhere and sets everything up before the story starts, so that he can rush in to save the day. True more often than not this backfires terribly, but it’s the thought that counts. It’s an interesting take of the character that we hadn’t seen before or really since. 7/10.
Oh the question mark jumper. Who thought that was a good idea? While before the question marks had been subtle, this jumper… Yeah it just doesn’t work. While fortunately he hides it later on with a nice brown coat, on the whole… See the biggest problem with this costume is that it completely contradicts the character. It’s a nice throwback to the first two Doctors, yes, but the Seventh is often seen as the ‘Dark Doctor’. This costume goes completely against this view. It makes him look like a buffoon. I’m sorry Seven fans, this costume fails for me. Though he does get points for the umbrella, but more because it’s a clever prop than for how tacky it looks. 3/10.
The Story: If you thought The Twin Dilemma was bad, you’ve seen nothing yet. Time and the Rani features the titular villain dressing up as the Doctor’s companion… you know what, no. I’m not gonna even attempt to justify any of this nonsense. Honestly it’s pretty bad, the story makes no sense… The only saving grace is Kate O’Mara doing a fantastic stint as the villain of the piece. 1/10.
The Doctor’s Introduction: He’s a buffoon who is nothing like what his character is like in later episodes. Sylvester McCoy has fun in the role and does the best he can with a weak script but, like Colin Baker before him, he sadly falls victim to just terrible writing. He gets a point solely for the fact that he pulls of dressing like the past Doctors somewhat well. 1/10.
Overall: See this for its historical value and nothing else. Part of the Rani’s plan is to steal all the great minds… and that’s about it really. It’s a very silly episode that justifies all the problems people have with Doctor Who at the time. 0/10.
Final Verdict: 2/30 aka 0.6/10
Melanie â€œMelâ€ Bush: She screams. A lot. That’s sadly all the character is remembered for, not her photographic memory or computer programming skills. There’s a good character buried somewhere in there, it just can’t quite make it to the surface. 4/10.
Ace: Ace beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat. Let me clarify that: Ace. Beat up a Dalek. With a baseball bat. For calling her small. Thus the ‘Ace Test’ was born to judge all companions. If the companions could be the type to beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat they’re good companions. 10/10.
Final Tally: 14/20 aka 7/10.
Honourable Mentions: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy struggled through even though the show was kicked out of the studio and has good character development for Ace. Likewise The Curse of Fernic also has good sets and good character development for Ace. Both are good… but there can only be one winner.
Story: Remembrance of the Daleks is the unofficial Silver Anniversary of Doctor Who. It’s so good they almost copied the story for the actual 25th anniversary Silver Nemesis. It’s set in 1963, features a return to Coal Hill School and gives us a reason why the Doctor was visiting the Earth all those seasons ago. Add to that some kick-ass actions sequences and a darker side to the Doctor and you have a good story. 8/10
Monster: It’s the Daleks. ‘Nuff said. 10/10.
Nostalgia Factor: I remember getting a book about Doctor Who and seeing in it the Special Weapons Dalek. Man did that thing look awesome. So when I finally watched the story… it was as awesome as I imagined. Used all too briefly, but still a badass idea that really needs to be brought back into the modern series. 9/10.
Best Moment: â€œWho are you calling small,â€ shouted Ace, before she beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat. And from that moment on became the benchmark upon which all future companions would be measured. Still one of the most badass moments of Doctor Who. 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 ten, a final score of 1/10.
Final Verdict: 38/50 aka 7.6/10
Dishonourable Mentions: Delta and the Bannermen is just confusing, and The Happiness Patrol would be on here for its political themes and candy-man monster (as in a monster literally made of candy). However since I saw the latter as a kid I’m gonna give it a pass.
Story: Time and the Rani has already been talked about here, so I’m not gonna say much more than this story just suck. Just really, really, really sucks. 0/10.
Monster: Okay I’ve gotta give Kate O’Mara props, she is doing a fantastic job with a simple awful script. But that is all I’m gonna give this story, since the rest of it is just rubbish. 1/10.
Guilty Pleasure Factor: Even as a guilty pleasure I can’t recommend it. It’s just infuriatingly bad rather than hilarious bad. Since this was suppose to introduce the Doctor they committed a heinous sin. The only good part is the Doctor trying on different costumes, since it references the past rather nicely. 1/10.
Worst Moment: The Rani thinks it’s a good idea to disguise herself as Mel, the Doctor’s companion… I have no idea why. Like seriously, no idea why at all. It’s just stupid. 0/10.
Ranking: Ranking these twelve episodes from favourite to less favourite, this one comes in at number five, giving it a score of 6/10.
Final Verdict: 8/50, aka 1.6/10.
Best Speech/Moment (Television only)
There’s three big moments that this Doctor has, all of which come form his last season. The first is the most well-known, coming at the end of the classic series: â€œThere are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace. We’ve got work to do.â€ And they’re not bad, they’re words to build an expanded universe off. However there are two more speeches that tend to get overlooked.
First is the Doctor’s attack on the villain Morgan le Fay about her want to start nuclear war: â€œAll over the world fools are poised, ready to let death fly. Machines of death, Morgaine, screaming from above. Light brighter than the sun. Not a war between armies, nor a war between nations, but just death. Death gone mad! A child looks up into the sky, his eyes turn to cinders. No more tears, only ashes. Is this honour? Is this war? Are these the weapons you would use?â€ It’s an overlooked moment, but a good one nonetheless. It really does show how anti-war the Doctor is, going into far more graphic detail than he had before. But it’s not my favourite speech, not quite.
The second comes from the Doctor brings his companion Ace back to a house she burnt down in the future. He wanted to try to help her. What we have next is a fascinating insight to both characters:
â€œAce: It’s true isn’t it. This is the house I told you about.
- Doctor: You were thirteen. You climbed over the wall for a dare.
- Ace: That’s your surprise isn’t it? Bringing me back here.
- Doctor: Remind me what it was that you sensed when you entered this deserted house. An aura of intense evil?
- Ace: Don’t you have things you hate?
- Doctor: I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations. Terrible places. Full of lost luggage and lost souls.
- Ace: I told you I never wanted to come back here again.
- Doctor: And then there’s unrequited love. And tyranny. And cruelty.
- Ace: Too right!
- Doctor: We all have a universe of our own terrors to face.
- Ace: I face mine on my own terms.â€
- It’s a small speech, but tells us a lot about this Doctor. He’s both melancholic and optimistic. He has plans and he has doubts. My favourite part is the bus stations line. It sums up his character quite nicely. Irrelevant, yet strangely fitting and wise. It’s a good speech that hints at a darker side to this Doctor. 7/10.
What to make of a character like the Seventh Doctor? Now some of the stories deal with his first year in the role, the comedic buffoon blundering around the place. And that’s fine, they’re often fun. But a big part of the series was the Cartmel Master Plan which, in part, dealt with the idea that perhaps the Doctor didn’t land somewhere randomly but instead planned out his encounters before they got there. An interesting idea that was gliding underneath the surface of the series… until the writers brought it very much to the surface and made it the new outline. As such we get a series of books where the Doctor is a much darker character, one that pulls strings in the background and plays chess with people. The Virgin New Adventures started this trend and the audio range picked up on it. We have a Doctor who is canonized into the books as being the Other, a reincarnation of what is essentially a Time Lord God. And… It’s awful. It is simply awful. They committed the cardinal sin: They gave the Doctor a definitive backstory. Nobody wanted that. Furthermore they pushed the limits as far as they could get, introducing sex and violence into the story. And it’s crap. That’s not Doctor Who, that’s a gritty rebooted version of it. Now some people may like it, in which case more power to you… but to me it violated the very soul the show was about. 2/10.
The Story: Oddly this story has the Doctor regenerate halfway through which, in hindsight, was a huge mistake (that thankfully the ‘new series’ carefully avoided). So judging just on the first half… Yeah the Doctor only regenerates to a)persevere continuity with the series and b)give the writers a way of explaining concepts to new audiences by having the Doctor forget. While the TV Movie is passable, it’s still not that great. 5/10.
The Final Moments: Okay let me get this out of the way: The Seventh Doctor, the chessmaster that planned everything out from the start, shouldn’t be killed cos he didn’t check the scanner before stepping out his door. He just shouldn’t. My head canon is that he met Death and knew that the end was coming (yes Death was a character, the New Adventures were weird). That works better. As for his final moments… yeah lets not dwell on bad times. 4/10.
Overall: Honestly this is an Eighth Doctor story, not a Seventh. It’s nice that he came back, but there was very little to have him in it. Good, but nowhere near great for a regeneration story. 4/10.
Final Verdict: 13/30 aka 4.3/10
If you ignore how bad the budget is, there is a lot of really interesting stuff here. The tail end of the 80s is where the stories start to get really good again, and the character development that Ace gets is a welcome breath of fresh air. While visually it’s a bit weak, overall there’s a lot of great stuff found within it. 8/10.
Final Verdict: 48.1/100
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.