Saturday, March 7, 2015

Nilbog Watches the Third Doctor

Third times a...umm....charm? Well, we're in color at least.

The serials I watched for the Third Doctor:
1. Spearhead from Space
2. Terror of the Autons
3. The Daemons
4. The Three Doctors
5. Time Warrior
6. Carnival of Monsters
7. Planet of the Spiders

When I finished watching the Second Doctor and posted my thoughts here, I mentioned in the comments that I was more or less blasting through Three in order to keep this momentum up. So what took me so long? I COULDN'T FIND PLANET OF THE SPIDERS ANYWHERE UNTIL TWO NIGHTS AGO!!!!!!!!

Ahem...sorry for that outburst. But yes, after being stalled at the finish line for four months, I can finally tell you all what I thought.

The best way I can think of to describe the Third Doctor is if Liberace decided one day he was going to be James Bond. Now that I'm typing that, it actually sounds like one of the most awesome things ever, but in Three's case it was very underwhelming. I just couldn't get into him very much, especially after Two. The smugness was played up tremendously, and that's just not as interesting for me. More than that, there's a major chauvinistic streak that's way worse than Eleven ever was. Nothing against Pertwee, he actually plays the part well. I just didn't like the part. Three is definitely my least favorite so far.

I also didn't really like how grounded he was during the first half of my views. Going from the majesty of the TARDIS to...well..."Bessie" was jarring to say the least. Though by the time I finally saw the infamous "Whomobile" in Planet I had pretty much accepted that this was the world we were living in.

While the UNIT characters added varying degrees of color, it really isn't the Doctor's style to be bogged down like that. He's an explorer, a vagabond. UNIT is fun once in a while, but I'm ready to see him move on.

Reading what I wrote so far, you'd think I hated this era. Well, you'd be wrong. While it's not my favorite, it's still Doctor Who and, jarringness aside, there were plenty of moments I'm very fond of. These highlights include:
1. FINALLY, THE MASTER! While I like the utter insanity that John Simm and Michelle Gomez brought to the role, it was a blast seeing Roger Delgado's original smooth chessmaster. Even if his schemes were over-the-top at times, he still pretty much owned every scene.
2. A long time ago, I read an online article about "bad" scenes from beloved shows, and saw a clip of a man being "eaten" by an inflatable chair. Now that I finally see the scene in its proper context - it's still one of the silliest freaking things I've ever seen try to be taken seriously, but I absolutely adore it for that.
3. For the time, Azal was actually a pretty well-executed bit of makeup and effects. If only the same could be said for Bok...
4. The Three Doctors was just flat out awesomeness from beginning to end and made me miss Two even more than I already was.
5. It is so delightful to see that the Sontarans haven't changed a single iota from their introduction in Time Warrior.
6. Carnival of Monsters. Just...Carnival of Monsters.
7. The spiders reminded me of the beetle from Ten's "Turn Left." This was probably intentional on the part of NuWho.
8. Meeting another Time Lord AND seeing him regenerate was fantastic, and I hope we'll see more in the future.
9. Much as I didn't like Three, he performed his "death" scene with aplomb. 

Alright. It's just you and me, Four. BRING IT ON!


  1. I have a lot of personal fondness for Pertwee 'cause he was one of my earliest Doctors (and the first classic Doctor I saw the entire run for), but yeah, he's not one of my favorites, and his era is definitely the odd one out of the classic run.

    Phil Sandifer (who've I've mentioned before and is also not enamored with Pertwee) once made a really great point where he said that in trying to improve a television show, there's two things you can do--you can either try to improve the number of fantastic stories you do, or decrease the amount of bad ones that get by. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks during this era definitely took the latter route, which means that the overall *quality* of episodes got boosted way up--the direction, editing, effects-work, etc. has gotten way better since Troughton, and the behind-the-scenes work is much less frantic than it used to be (Letts got it to the point where instead of each episode being shot basically the week before it aired, entire serials were completed before the previous one had finished airing).

    The downside of this is, though, as much as there's less *bad* stories, there's also less truly fantastic episodes. Letts and Dicks raised the overall barline of the show, but didn't often try to shoot past that. When they did, though, holy crap--I'm glad you loved "Three Doctors", as that's just one of my absolute favorites (how great is Omega?), as well as "Carnival of Monsters" (really curious to hear your reaction to the first episode cliffhanger there).

    What are you watching for Four again? I'm also curious if you'll be splitting up your posts for him by his three distinct eras--they're so vastly different from each other they almost deserve their own discussions, but it's obviously up to what you plan to do.

    1. I don't remember the cliffhanger since I watched them all at once until I was stalled looking for Planet. This was months ago.

      And yeah, your description of raising the bar without going past is really perfect.

      As for Four, I've watched Robot and I'm in the middle of Brain of Morbius. After that the plan is The Sun Makers, City of Death, and Logopolis. Any other important arcs I'm missing?

      Lastly, it's one post per Doctor.

    2. Hand reaching down to pick up the miniaturized TARDIS. I remember watching the episode with people and the whole time they were wondering how the two completely different plots related to each other, and then the penny dropped once that cliffhanger hit. It's an absolutely brilliant use of the technique where the cliffhanger isn't just some generic "oh no the Doctor is in danger" pitfall but instead something that dramatically changes the nature of the story ("City of Death" is a really great example of this as well).

      For Four, If you want more Time Lords, "Deadly Assassin" is a must. Basically the story that codified Time Lord mythology for the entire rest of the show. You should probably also do "Keeper of Traken", which continues some elements from "Assassin" and directly sets up "Logopolis", though that one's mostly up to you (and that way you're two per era, not including "Robot" which is really just a Pertwee story with Baker thrown in).

      And yeah, one per Doctor definitely makes sense. Fourth is just that odd exception where it's really three very unique eras--the more horror-based Hinchcliffe/Holmes era, the comedic Williams era, and the fantasy-science Bidmead/JNT era. I'll definitely be curious as to which one strikes your interest the most, though I think I can wager a guess.

    3. Do I have the origin of K9 in there somewhere (if I do, don't tell me where)? That character warrants an explanation.

    4. P.S. on the cliffhanger, I think I may have called it, so it didn't stick out as a surprise.

    5. You don't have K9's intro, but honestly it's not worth watching even for him--it's just not a very good or engaging episode. Basically he's the product of this inventor dude who gives him to the Doctor at the end of the story--there's not much more of an explanation to him than that.

      K9 ran from S15 to about the end of Baker's last season, so in your watch, "Sun Makers" includes him, and if you want a good episode that uses K9 I'd recommend "The Ribos Operation", which also introduces Romana and is just a fantastic story to boot.

    6. I'll add your reccommendations, just please let me be the judge. I'm prepared for good or bad as long as I can see where important things came from.