Abrasive and Melodramatic


Review of the Sixth Doctor's era

1984 - 1986
The Twin Dilemma*
Attack of the Cybermen
Vengeance on Varos
The Mark of the Rani
The Two Doctors
Revelation of the Daleks
The Mysterious Planet
Terror of the Vervoids
The Ultimate Foe**
  *This was the last story of Season 21. Nearly 10 months elapsed before his next appearance in Season 22.
**Collectively, Season 23 is known as Trial of a Timelord, and is sometimes counted as a single story.

As devotees (are there any?) of the blog will know, Six is ~ahem~ not my favorite Doctor. However, he has his own peculiar charms, as I've come to appreciate over time, and I have to give Colin Baker props for doing as good a job as he did whilst getting shafted simultaneously by writers and by higher-ups at the Beeb.

Among the more objectionable characteristics of the Regeneration in my mind are his brash tone - he tends to repeat comments made to him incredulously to show his disagreement (reminiscent of Four, actually) - and his tendency to talk down to his Companions, particularly Peri. The poor thing gets told things like, "Do use your brain, my girl. Small though it is, the human brain can be quite effective when used properly" on a fairly regular basis. Pompous much?

Granted, much of what I don't like about this era can be put down to Peri rather than Six. I'm sorry, but there are some really bad performances (particularly at the beginning) and she doesn't seem to be written to be too bright. Then there's the clearly fake "American" accent (she particularly likes to say "ideaR" instead of "idea," and put the emphasis on DJ instead of on DJ in Revelation of the Daleks). I know I probably shouldn't let these things bother me, but they do, and they make it harder for me to appreciate Six in the process.


Nu-View #5: Color Me Surprised


The Mark of the Rani  (Story #140, 1985)
Viewed 09 Aug 2011

Doctor/Companion:   Six, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown
Stars:  Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant
Preceding StoryVengeance on Varos (Six, Peri)
Succeeding Story:  The Two Doctors (Two, Six, Jaime, Peri)
Notable Aspects:

OK - I'll admit it: I was really surprised by the reactions to Six. While jE was already familiar with him (in fact, he was the reason she stopped watching, back in the day - and despite not feeling well, I'm pretty sure that's her real excuse for missing this time), neither of the other two had ever seen him before.  I carefully picked my favorite of his stories in order to cast him in the best possible light.  Who knew - it worked!

First impressions were mixed. The credits were declared more '70s than '80s (and Six's smile garnered such adjectives as "creepy" and "psychedelic"), but the music was "totally '80s!" Then came the requisite disgust with Six's coat-of-many-colors, which for this story was closely followed by "what is she wearing?!" in reference to Peri. Finally, there was the general snarking about the supposedly American Companion ("gotta work on that accent, lady"), which actually continued through the whole show ("you're so incapable!" "I don't like her at all..."). So far, I was in familiar territory.

Then things turned weird.


Confession #7: I've Learned to Like Six


As I was first learning about the pre-RTD Doctors, I heard a lot of love for Three, Four and Five, and a lot of hate for Six and Seven.  Although I've never understood why Seven was so reviled (perhaps because my first experience with him was Remembrance of the Daleks, which included Ace, who was to become one of my all-time favorite Companions), I must admit that I took an instant dislike to Six, as I'd come to expect I would.

I suppose it was partly a self-fulfilling prophecy, but when you consider my first exposure to Six (not counting the regeneration scene) was in Vengeance on Varos - in which he is exceptionally snotty to Peri (who, granted, kind of deserves it, but not that much...) - perhaps it's not surprising I didn't take to him right away. All I got from him was egomania and disregard for his Companion - not a Doctorly attitude at all. It wasn't till much later that I discerned any sort of affection for Peri underlying the banter.

Since those first few months, though, I've come to appreciate him as a great character in his own right. Mostly, this is due to the brilliance of Rich Morris, artist and web comic writer extraordinaire, who penned the epic fan comic The Ten Doctors (also available in PDF format here). It was through Rich's work that I was finally able to see the beautiful potential of Six, who really had been done a disservice by his writers, in my opinion. (Not to mention the costume designer - what is up with that nasty outfit? Why couldn't they have gone monochrome?) The Six of TTD was extremely clever, yet never out of acerbic character from the televised episodes.  He was somehow simultaneously grumpy and charming. I had a lot of respect for that version of Six, and was able to superimpose the positive qualities exhibited there onto the on-screen Doctor afterward.  (In fact, I learned a lot about Doctor Who as a whole from both TTD and the associated forums, which are populated by some really knowledgeable folks in what is probably the friendliest community on Teh Intarwebs.)



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