Monday, August 16, 2010

An apple a day keeps the... ah. Never Mind.


It's 1980's 'Doctor Who' week of 'Doctor Who' month, in the year of the noted Doctor of whom I have spoken. 

The eighties started off with a thud by ending the fourth (then-current audience favorite) life of the Doctor.  I mean a literal thud: it was a fall that killed him, or more specifically the thud at the end of said fall.  

Four's posse gathered round him like a gaggle of human-ish geese and heard him declare 'It's the end. But the moment has been prepared for.'

True to his word, up jumped Five, young and lively, but muddled at first, and in need of a rest again quite soon.  Having unravelled his scarf and knit back up his ganglion, the Fifth Doctor was, as usual, rather unexpected.

Peter Davison (Peter Moffett) was 29 when he got the role of the Doctor, and his TV adventures ran from 1982-1984.  
He was also famous for his role as Tristan on that vet show, and infamous (perhaps only to me) as the Meal in the eighties version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series.
  He played that scene with his future ex-wife Sandra Dickinson playing Trillian (one of those he hoped would devour him).  Irony question mark?  
He has had many roles on stage
 and television, surely at least partly because he followed Pat Troughton's advice to move on after three years of playing the Doctor to avoid permanent typecasting.  
He's a talented singer/songwriter.  He's got a second, more functional marriage these days. Also, he's a father, which is cool, and he played King Arthur in Spamalot, which is awesome.  

The Fifth Doctor was nigh on to 800 years old in a young man's frame, handsome, quiet, polite and deferential.  A poetical chap, he seemingly thought of himself as 'passing like a summer cloud' everywhere he went.  He selected a summery 1920's get-up appropriate for his beloved Earth sport, cricket, and wore it everywhere.  He sported half-moon spectacles a time or two, but only for effect.  Instead of a boutonniere, he sported a celery stalk on his coat throughout his journeying, finally confiding its purpose to his baffled companion shortly before meeting his own grisly end.   

The kindest, tenderest-hearted Doctor incarnation, 5 also faced some of the most violent adventures to date.  There was a notably high death rate in his stories, including the tragic and painful loss of his sonic screwdriver.  I'm kidding.  He's got loads of them! 

And the talented actor in the tan coat also faced some of the most so-so writing of the period. By which I mean during most of his tenure.  By which I mean I liked only 8 of his 20 TV stories well enough to own if I was made of cash, and only 3 of those 8 well enough to have ACTUALLY bought them already.  (Compare and contrast the bulk of my collection: he's just never gonna be top of my list.)  

I once termed the Fifth incarnation 'The Blandest of the Doctors', but I had major re-evaluation when I heard his audio adventures: he's a perfectly excellent Doctor blessed with two years of bland (and/or piss-poor) writing. This would not always be the case.

One of his best traits is how many people he lets into his life and how he values their input.  This is ALSO one of his worst traits.  He's 'The Giving Tree' of Doctors, generous to a fault until his (ungrateful?) companions overshadow him completely.  Traveling with just ONE at a time he might have had more opportunities to shine as a character.  Still, you can't have everything.  And, like young Scott Pilgrim, sometimes a tender-hearted guy just can't bring himself to dump the extra girl (or guy) holding him back. 


FAVORITE FIFTH DOCTOR STORY: The Caves of Androzani (It's his finest solo hour, although to be totally honest I actually prefer the more ensemble-y, less dire tale "The Five Doctors".)

LEAST FAVORITE  FIFTH DOCTOR STORY: The Awakening (I've vomited things livelier than the Malus.  It makes the Mara (a pink papier-mach√® snake from the previous season) look like the CGI basilisk in 'Harry Potter 2'.  Which I'd find a way to choke down if I liked the story at all.)

FAVORITE FIFTH DOCTOR QUOTE: "You know how it is.  You put things off for a day and next thing you know, it's a hundred years later." 

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