Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Shall Beat it into Submission... With My Charm.

Into every life, even that of an immortal alien vagabond, a little rain must fall.  Therefore, let a scowl, an arched eyebrow, or an overblown, pompous tantrum be your umbrella.

In all of 'Doctor Who' fandom, The Sixth Doctor is known far and wide as the Doctor with the thickest, meatiest, PURPLEST... prose.  Call him smug, glib, oratorical, officious, persnickety, confrontational, and above all, wordy.  

There will never be another like him and many wonder how in the holy hell there was one like him in the first place.

Colin Baker (born 1943) was the Doctor ('whether you like it or not') from 1984's 'The Twin Dilemma' (recently voted 200th out of 200 stories, the worst of all time) to 1986's 'The Trial of a Time Lord' (which is better than you remember and a was a heck of a good present from my wife and movie buddies in recent years! Squee!).  Mr. Baker began his studies as a solicitor, but switched to acting.  He had a significant role in the BBC's serial 'War and Peace', more importantly he was Bayban the Butcher on 'Blake's 7', and still yet more importantly, played Commander Maxil of Gallifrey in 1983's 'Arc of Infinity' where he blasted the 5th Doctor with a staser gun.  Some sources say that's how he got the job as Doctor Six, others say it's because he made John Nathan-Turner laugh at a party.  Both, no doubt.
Also, and I don't know how to say this any clearer: it's because he. is. a. good. actor.  
Despite this, during his tenure the programme went into 18 month hiatus, and he was dismissed after only 11 stories.  Thankfully, he has never gone away.  He reprises his role in 'Doctor Who' videogame, stage play, DVD commentaries, and audio adventures.  
Also, uniquely, the only Doctor actor with published 'Doctor Who' stories, including a comic.  Additionally, he has a blog (good show!) at He has a family, loves animals, and seems like a good egg.  Or, is starting to resemble an egg.

Six had neither an auspicious arrival or departure.  When 5 died by poisoning, 6's regeneration went badly, warping his mind so much that he soon attacked his innocent companion during a paranoid hallucination.  Talk about starting a guy off on the wrong foot!  (He got better.)  Once sacked, with animosity on both sides, Colin did not return to film 6's death scene.  It is implied to have occurred in an attack by the Rani, but all they did was put his replacement in a clown wig and clown clothes (sorry, 6's costume) and blur his face a bit. Unsatisfying, but more than they gave us for 8!

Most of the time between his coming and his going, the sixth Doctor is filibustering for his life, much as the TV show was doing. (There was an awful music video created at this time. Watch for as long as you can endure, but bear in mind somehow they thought this would HELP?!?) Undaunted, Six lives forever thanks to his non-canonical(?) off-screen adventures.  Still and always bombastic, affectionate toward animals and all helpless things, 900 years young, ingenious and flamboyant, full of boundless spirit and enthusiasm.  He is truly a Gallifreyan Buccaneer. (Unlike that other link, this one is WORTH hearing all of!)

In tabletop Role-Playing Game terms (and my personal philosophy of the nature of regeneration) the Doctor may always be the same man, but his form and character are randomly re-rolled by the whim of the dice.  Strengths, stamina, intelligence, charm, even height and hair color are acquired by chance alone.  For example, if the Fifth Doctor was the meekest, with the LEAST arrogance to date (like, he rolled snake eyes), then the Sixth probably rolled arrogance double sixes (for a boxcar full of himself)! 

The Doctor is still a man of conviction, with great capacity for kindness, and indulgent of his companions.  But 6 is a Doctor in love with arguments, perhaps taking the unpopular view just for the sake of the conflicts, the contrasts, the clash.

And we love him.  But we have seizures looking at his coat. (When you stare into the coat, the coat also stares into YOU.)

FAVORITE SIXTH DOCTOR STORY: The Two Doctors (Colin and Pat Troughton can be appreciated nicely there, methinks.)
LEAST FAVORITE SIXTH DOCTOR STORY: The Twin Dilemma (I hated it before the poll.  But if you prefer, I dislike 'Timelash' almost as much, but at least it had Paul Darrow chewing the be-tinseled scenery.)

FAVORITE SIXTH DOCTOR QUOTE: "A little gratitude wouldn't irretrievably damage my ego."

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