Excitable and Exasperated


Review of the Fifth Doctor's era

1982 - 1984
Four to Doomsday
The Visitation
Black Orchid
Arc of Infinity
Mawdryn Undead
The King's Demons
The Five Doctors (Special)
Warriors of the Deep
The Awakening
Resurrection of the Daleks
Planet of Fire
The Caves of Androzani

There's a lot about Five that feels eminently Doctor-y to me. It could be that Ten is "my" Doctor, and Five was Tennant's, so a lot of mannerisms and such carried over. But the way Five gets so excited about possible solutions to the problems he faces - almost frenetic at times - is very much part of what I consider "the Doctor." He's quick-witted yet fallible, and has great love for his Companions even as he gets irritated with them on a regular basis.

Nowhere is that more obvious than in his relationship with Tegan, one of the longest-running Companions. They constantly snark at each other, yet in threatening circumstances each strives to protect the other. When his off-kilter regeneration threatens his well-being, Tegan takes charge, keeping control of the situation with an "excuse me - I'm responsible for the Doctor!" Conversely, he often tries to bolster her courage with a "brave heart, Tegan!"

As for that regeneration, it's the first one that seems to go a bit wrong (later Six, Eight and Ten all have problems settling into their new bodies). It makes not only for a good story hook for Castrovalva, but also for some fun impressions, as Five re-inhabits his former personae in turn (I particularly like that he gets to say "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and "when I say 'run,' run!"). Add a stalk of celery, though, and he's right as rain...

I don't know what it is about Five that I find so relatable yet simultaneously impossible to describe. Clearly, he's the Doctor, so he's fabulous in his own way. For example, when he's told he shouldn't get into a duel with someone because "he is said to be the best swordsman in France!" he merely responds with a cool, "well, fortunately, we are in England" (four years before The Princess Bride).


Nu-View #4: My Job Here's Not Done


Resurrection of the Daleks (Story #134, 1984)
Viewed 19 Jul 2011

Doctor/Companion:   Five, Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough
Stars:  Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson
Preceding StoryFrontios (Five, Tegan, Turlough)
Succeeding Story:  Planet of Fire (Five, Turlough, Peri)
Notable Aspects:

  • departure of Tegan

Having felt that I'd not yet given the Ladies a good feel for Five, I decided to trot out some Daleks (the vote was in favor of them over the Cybermen). I'm not sure I still managed to get across a good feel for his character, as evidenced by some of the general reactions (see below), but at the very least, a good time was had by all.

First impressions were that this one seemed more '70s than '80s (aside from costuming). It was also rather Star Trek, what with the crashing around and the doctor in battle, ready to "take the fight to them!" Someone also opined that Turlough looked like a Romulan with a red wig (also apropos because he claims to be on the side of the "good guys," but we (the Ladies, anyway) never quite trust him...). However, it was really the Doctor and the Daleks that brought the most comments.

Our first sighting of the Daleks brought the comment that they seemed to be more tolerant than they are these days. I'm not sure that that still held true by the end of the story, but they had a lot to do. I mean seriously - a plot to assassinate the High Council of Time Lords? They got so busy with everything else, they couldn't even remember to come back to that after its toss-off mention, so obviously they had a lot on their proverbial plates. I wonder if that's why they can't handle a little eyestalk impairment ("for being such badass warriors, they get so panicked," observes jA).


Malus Aforethought


Review of The Awakening (#132)

DVD Release Date:  12 Jul 11
Original Air Date:  19 - 20 Jan 1984
Doctor/Companion:  Five, Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough
Stars:  Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson
Preceding StoryWarriors of the Deep (Five, Tegan, Turlough)
Succeeding Story:  Frontios (Five, Tegan, Turlough)

For various reasons explained in the extras, it was deemed that the story that eventually became The Awakening needed to be reduced to two episodes. I suppose that's one reason that it didn't grab me as a particularly inspiring installment. It starts out feeling very Doctor-y, with something going wrong with the TARDIS yet landing in the right time and place. Some villagers are "in on" the odd happenings and others aren't, and we're left wondering why.

However, after that, it gets a tad jumbled. It's not that it's a bad story, by any means. I never really understood the motivation of the Malus, though. It was all just a bit... foggy. What finally defeated it in the end was unclear, too, but aside from the Malus itself looking a bit rubbish once it began to animate (sorry - I know the production team did a fabulous job given the times and the budget, but...), I actually did enjoy several bits, even if they were oh-so-stereotypical.


Nu-View #3: Foray Into Five


The Visitation (Story #120, 1982)
Viewed 19 Apr 2011, 21 Jun 2011

Doctor/Companion:   Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan
Stars:  Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
Preceding StoryKinda (Five, Adric, Tegan)
Succeeding Story:  Black Orchid (Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)
Notable Aspects:

  • demise of the sonic screwdriver, which would not be seen again until The Movie in 1996

I found it difficult to decide at what point in his tenure to trot out Five for the Ladies' viewing. Eventually, I decided I wanted one that involved the classic trio of Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, and settled on The Visitation because it gave a good sense of the three of their personalities. I'd have used Castrovalva, but I wanted to save that as the denouement of the whole regeneration arc for another time.

Due to various scheduling conflicts, the Ladies had to watch this one in shifts. Each time we had at least one n00b and one veteran (here I include myself). Among other things, it was entertaining to hear the first impressions of appearances. One initiate commented that she wasn't sure about Five's outfit (to which jE immediately responded, "wait'll you see the next one!"). The other thought he reminded her of Chevy Chase. Everybody commented on the '80s-ness of the episode, from make-up to hair to costuming (jO thought Nyssa "would have looked so amazingly cool in 198[2]") to the TARDIS herself. There was also some consternation - coming from those accustomed to the modern "just swap 'em out" era - that the poor sonic screwdriver would disappear from the Doctor's toolbox for nearly a decade and a half after its destruction at the hands of the Tereleptils.


Nothing New Under the Earth


Review of Frontios (#133)

DVD Release Date: 14 Jun 11
Original Air Date: 26 Jan - 03 Feb 1984
Doctor/Companion:   Five, Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough
Stars:  Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson
Preceding StoryThe Awakening (Five, Tegan, Turlough)
Succeeding StoryResurrection of the Daleks (Five, Tegan, Turlough)

Coming, as I always do, from the perspective of the post-Hiatus series, I often find elements I've seen in those more recent episodes when I watch ones from earlier eras. Such is the case with Frontios. I was so strongly reminded of The Hungry Earth I kept having to remind myself that that story was some 26 years away. (Coincidentally, two stories before Frontios, the Silurians made their last appearance before cropping up again in Hungry Earth.) On the surface, there's very little connection between the two, but the common element of danger from below - that "the earth was hungry" (in so many words, even) - kept cropping up.

It's also not the only story to involve the "last" colony of humanity trying to survive (see, for example, The Ark or Utopia for two examples from opposite ends of the new/old spectrum). Here they are, having been at war for decades (The Armageddon Factor), the TARDIS is apparently destroyed (Journey's End), and the Doctor is mistaken as the culprit responsible for all their woes (take your pick). To top it all off, despite knowing better (The Waters of Mars), the Doctor knowingly and willingly breaks the Time Lord policy of non-interference, and entreats the people of Frontios not to tell the Time Lords (as it's gotten him in hot water before; The War Games).



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