Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colin Baker Who? The Under Appreciated Doctor.

Over the past week, I've found myself aching for more Doctor Who. The shortened season for this year's run (well, broken season anyway) has left me with a loning for more, better produced British television. Given that Torchwood (now American made but with British roots) isn't starting til the second week of July, I have this gap of time to fill. I haven't been able to re-watch seasons 5 and 6.1 again, as I've done so2 times already. I sat down, and said to myself:

"Self, there's 26 or so years of old Doctor Who to watch, giver a go."

David Tennant
Christopher Eccleston
Matt Smith
Now I've tried a dozen times to pick up the old Doctor Who materials and watch them, but truthfully, most of it is awful. The special effects and costumes are about the same as what you'd see in fan fiction. The acting is sadly overdone and unbelievable. The show, even right up to the 7th Doctor which ended in '89 is incredibly dated. Most of all, the three most recent incarnations of the Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, all really put the older incarnations to shame in entertainment value. Each of these men brings a very believable and far more likable touch to their portrayals.

My first real "jump" at the older materials was in the Peter Davidson era, circa '83ish. The reason being his neatly played short with David Tennant, called "Time Crash", a few years back. Davidson, from what little I'd seen, had carried some of the lustre of the more modern  doctors, with a more younger appeal. It wasn't a stuffy old man making pranks, it was a late 20-early 30 something looking gent off saving the universe. I first checked out the four part series called "Castrovalva". In a word: AWFUL. Ridiculous set pieces, poorly acted, and stupid plot. I slogged through it, and went to the next set that interested me: The Five Doctors", the 20th Anniversary special that brings all 5 incarnations of the Doctor at the time and their companions into one neat series.
Original: AWFUL.

Even though this was a little fun to watch, nostaligia being what it is, it was also really REALLY bad. Having seen the Cybermen go from what I first saw (in season 2 of David Tennant's run) to what we see in this, it's amazing that this show managed to stay on television. The Cybermen were Doctor Who's version of the Borg for god's sake. The originals for some reason bring Strawberry Shortcake to mind. You could see the silver painted chins moving underneath thw plastic mouth guards! There is some acceptance of things because of standards back in the day. But these were ridiculously bad. The acting and special effects were bad. The filming was all BAD. I never understood why old Who episodes looked like they were filmed like Coronation Street. The inside set shots looking like they were filmed by camcorders and the outside gravel pit scenes looking like they were filmed with a pinhole camera!

Anyway, after this I took a quick glance at the regeneration scene for Davidson to leave and Colin Baker to begin. After that, the next time I looked at classic stuff was when we first got Netflix (selection as awful as old Who episodes) and I checked out the "Three Doctors" episodes from the early 70's. This was terrible as well, with the villains wearing fat people moo moos on a curtain rod draped over their heads.

So that brings us to this past weekend, almost a full year since the Netcraps experience. I must have been desperate to go back into this stuff, but given I had no real options besides these, I was checking out the regenerations of all the Doctors, and I found myself strangely compelled to the 6th Doctor, Colin Baker. His costume? Retina burning. His hair? Can be taken off his head and bounced like a basketball. Sonic Screwdriver? Nowhere to be seen. I watched a little tribute to him on youtube, and for some reason, it convinced me to check it out a little further. His first episode was very shaky. "The Twin Dilemma" was filled with terrible acting and set pieces were worse than old Star Trek sets. But his portrayal of the Doctor was wild enough to be interesting. I felt that flair from his similar to what I felt from watching Eccleston play the character. Fun filled and a joy to be around, but with menace and malevolence if you crossed him. The costume really is AWFUL, but his decent acting and complete 180 portrayal as compared to other actors impressions makes it a worthwhile viewing.

If you watch this, pleeeease mute out the horribly out of place music.

So far I've gotten through The Twin Dilemma and a second series, "The Two Doctors", where Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, run amuck on galactic villains with style and flair. Troughton looked remarkably well given it was nearly 20 years since he was last seen on the show, only showing grey hair as the only difference. Baker was in fine form, with randomness like fishing, then berating Peri his companion, then off to save the universe, then passing out, then looking stupid himself. All very entertaining.

If you are longing for more Who, check out Colin Baker. Of what I've seen so far, aside from the sadly dated feel that is still prevalent in his run, he is the most "modern" of the bunch. Even with Sylvester McCoy taking the role after him, his acting chops just did not hold up well. He was a comedian in a dramatic role and just didn't look right. Baker made people believe in his Doctor, even though studio execs may not have.

Carrot juice anyone?


No comments:

Post a Comment