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Television PopWrapped | Television

The Sixth Doctor: A Technicolor and Controversial Dream

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


11/06/2013 6:04 pm
PopWrapped | Television
The Sixth Doctor: A Technicolor and Controversial Dream
Media Courtesy of Google Images

Heather Maloney

Staff Writer

In 1983, who would have guessed that the actor to portray Commander Maxil in Arc of Infinity would become the Sixth Doctor?  Colin Baker was given the seemingly impossible task of making the role of The Doctor in Doctor Who his own.  Not only is this challenging in itself, however even more so when following two fan favorite actors in Tom Baker and Peter Davison.  How do you differentiate yourself from the longest running Doctor and the handsome and mild mannered Doctor?  Baker did it successfully with a whole array of colors and a snarky attitude that harked back to William Hartnell’s First Doctor.  In a multi-colored jacket adorned with a cat pin on his lapel, Baker pulled off a horrendously loud outfit with style.  With Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) by his side, Colin Baker faced an uphill battle with grace, poise and a bit of flair. After regenerating in The Caves of Androzani, Colin Baker sat up “and not a moment too soon”.  His first story The Twin Dilemma truly highlighted how unstable the latest regeneration had left our time travelling hero.  With crazy mood swings and even violent episodes, The Doctor’s companion Peri was not sure what to do.  The Doctor even at one point almost strangled Peri before he realized what was happening.  The first season of The Sixth Doctor was widely criticized for being too violent. In Vengeance on Vargos the concept of torture for entertainment was approached which was a controversial theme.  Also, season 22 was the first to attempt 45-minute long episodes as opposed to the normal 25-minute format.  While this only lasted for a season, this format was utilized when the show was brought back in 2005. The Sixth Doctor was different from his predecessors in the simple fact that he seemed slightly grumpy on the surface, however underneath was a caring man.  His personality was volatile and many saw his relationship with Peri as strained.  In fact, he often seemed to merely tolerate her presence rather than appreciate it.  Even with this change in attitude The Doctor maintained his moral sense and still fought to protect those who needed his help.  Sadly, Colin Baker was only given two television seasons to develop his Doctor and therefore only fans who have listened to his Big Finish audio dramas have truly been able to see how beautifully the character has grown. In February 1985 it as announced that Doctor Who would be taking a break.  Michael Grade, The Controller of BBC One, repeatedly criticized the television show for becoming too violent and the story lines too nonsensical.  Whovians clamored for information about when the show would be returning to their living rooms.  To their delight, Doctor Who returned in the fall of 1986 after an 18-month hiatus. When season 23 finally made its way to broadcast fans were in for a real treat.  The season, The Trial of a Time Lord, was not only a trial for the main character, but seemed to be a trail for the show itself.  Switching back to the 25-minute episode format, fans were treated to a highly produced opening shot that was repeated throughout the season.  The Trial of a Time Lord was truly heartbreaking and brilliant and honestly some of the best Doctor Who.  From the end of Peri to the grand reveal of The Valeyard (Michael Jayston), each episode brought drama and suspense that is fun to watch even 27 years later.  The final story of the season, The Ultimate Foe, is the definitive climax of the story arc.  This is not only The Doctor’s final duel with The Valeyard, the true villain is revealed and The Doctor must finally prove his innocence to The Time Lords.  With beautify shot dream-like sequences, this is a great finale to a must watch season. Sadly, The Trial of a Time Lord was Colin Baker’s last Doctor Who story arc as the decision was made to change the main actor for the following season.  Luckily, Big Finish Productions and Colin Baker have teamed up to bring to life the continuing stories that were denied from fans of the show.  Colin Baker’s Doctor was one of the most layered incarnations; unfortunately we were only able to peel back the first few on television.   Even with just eleven stories, Baker stands out not just for his multicolored coat but his controversial yet brilliant portrayal of The Doctor.


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