Friday, October 25, 2013

Legacy Character Study: The 6th Doctor

This is going to be a shorter one, because the Sixth Doctor's run was a shorter one. He has his fans now, if not at the time. Let's see how this attempt to "shake up" the status quo turned out.

Of course, that assumes you can still see after getting a glimpse of that coat.
Character Conception 
Hoo boy. Look, the debacle going in behind the scenes at the BBC was legendary. I cannot explain the situation enough to do it justice. Basically, the showrunner, Jonathan Nathan-Turner, wanted a darker, more manically unstable Doctor and wanted to dress him in an eye-catchingly hideous way, both decisions which helped add to the impending train wreck of a situation. There were many more factors to this clusterfudge, including (but not limited to): 
  • The guy who was in charge of giving Doctor Who funding hated the show because its lack of money showed.  
  • Half the people in charge wanted the show to be a comedy, the other half wanted drama.  
  • The creative team didn't want to be there, and the people who wanted to work on the show weren't hired.  
Don't worry, I'll probably go over the full story soon. But for now, that's a good-enough summary of the gist of a complex situation.

Jonathan Nathan-Turner wanted to shake up the status quo after all these years, and he did. He got the show temporarily canceled. But as for Colin Baker, the actor portraying the 6th Doctor, he had previously appeared as the Time Lord Captain Maxil. JNT, took note of how entertaining he was during a wedding reception they were both invited to, which apparently led to his getting the role of the 6th Doctor.

Secret Origin 
After the 5th Doctor saved Peri from spectrox toxemia, he succumbed to it himself. This led to a... "different" regeneration process. The Doctor that emerged was violent, prone to mood swings, and even tried to kill Peri. After the initial bouts of madness subsided, 6 was arrogant, brash, and rude. However, he slowly began to regain his compassion and empathy over time.

This Doctor showed the ability to close his respiratory passages to avoid breathing gas and being strangled.

Peri: "Then how did you breathe?" 
6th Doctor: "With difficulty."

The Doctor attempted to strangle Peri after his regeneration, after recalling the mythological "Peri," an evil fairy. Peri had a bit of a difficult time adjusting to this new Doctor, but they were still a good team, when the Doctor wasn't too kill-crazy. 

Peri unfortunately fell into a very generic "companion" role during this time. Doubly sad when you consider that "personality" isn't what she's often remembered for. 

That's not very nice, Google.
Peri would end up marrying the warrior king, Ycranos in a hasty retcon.

Melanie "Mel" Bush
This is going to be tricky to explain. The Doctor, on trial at the time, saw accounts of events that hadn't happened to him yet, where he had a new companion named Mel, who he hadn't met yet. At the end of the trial, they traveled together, despite not having met for the "first" time. (That story wold later be told in an audio play.)

Melanie was a firey red-headed companion. She was an intelligent computer expert, but the character is mostly remembered for having the most high pitched voice and loudest screams of any companion to date.

Notable Enemies 
Doing what they always did, but now also mutating dead humans into live Daleks. 

Doing what he always did, only now also mutating dead humans into live Daleks.

The Rani
The Rani (the Indian term for "queen") is a Time Lady who dabbles in evil science, sans those pesky ethics. Teamed up with the Master to experiment on humans by removing their need for sleep in her first appearance, killed the 6th Doctor in her second and last appearance. More on that next time.

The Valeyard 
The 12.5th Doctor. Like the Watcher, this form exists between incarnations. The Valeyard (an old Gallifreyan term for "man of law") was the prosecutor in the Doctor's trial. We'll get to him when we cover the Trial of a Time Lord.

Notable Traits 
There was nothing that the Doctor was trying to correct with this regeneration. 6 was a fluke. 5 got high off of caves fumes before he died, which led to his most unstable iteration ever.  

"Haters gonna hate."
6 was initially violent, angry, cowardly, arrogant, selfish, and more. However, he began to quickly regain his better traits. 6 was prone to cracking one-liners after killing his enemies, and was overall more hands-on when it came to dispatching the villains of the week. 
Overall, this Doctor was, in a way, the most human out of all of them. He embodied the best and worst of what he saw in humanity, and consciously fought the worst parts of his own nature. He was also (briefly) a vegetarian, and ostensibly persuaded Peri into the same choice.

Notable Character History 
After a few adventures in time and space, he teamed up with his 2nd incarnation (who was, for some reason, working for the Time Lords) to stop the Sontarans from gaining time travel technology. He and his past self were briefly transformed into violent, impulsive beings known as "Androgums." (Behind the scenes, the team up was done to increase viewing figures, and the vegetarian Aesop was added because the writer was vegetarian.) 

The character continued to travel through time and space, as per usual, but this was put to a halt when the Time Lords put the Doctor on trial for the crime of meddling with the course of history. As you may be able to tell, the Doctor is more than a little guilty. They also added genocide to the charges, which the Doctor is also guilty of, but only because he wiped out an evil race of plant men. 

The Valeyard and the Master, as it turns out, worked to steal Time Lord secrets and used the Doctor as a scapegoat to deflect blame. The Doctor ended up exonerated, and was offered the Tome Lord presidency, which he declined. 

Unfortunately, in the real world, the behind-the-scenes shenanigans led to the show's "indefinite hiatus" soon after that point. The adventures of the 6th Doctor would be touched upon many times in the Big Finish audio dramas, but the Expanded Universe is outside the realm of these Character Studies. 

No, we never see 6 regenerate during his own run, and his last chronological words are "Carrot juice." 

Aw, don't be sad, Colin. You'll get to drive on Top Gear someday.
Alternate Versions 
Not really an "alternate version," but the 6th Doctor often wears a blue outfit in books and audio dramas instead of his usual eyesore.

Although does it really matter what he wears in "audio dramas"?
Seriously, though, I actually love that coat. I think it would have been less hated if Colin Baker's request to have a darker, more "First Doctor-y" outfit under it.

A bit less hated, maybe.
Also not really an alternate version, but the regenerating 6th Doctor was played by Sylvester McCoy. Colin Baker refused to come back for the scene, hoping to pressure the BBC into giving him one more episode after being the only Doctor to be fired from the role.

Pictured: Not actually Colin Baker
The show was canceled, but not for long. When it came back, though... Well, you'll see.

6 was not given enough time to shine, and is often called the worst Doctor. A bit cruel; remember, the things that people dislike about 6 were not actually the fault of Colin Baker, and he gets a lot of undeserved flack for this run. It was pretty much everybody's fault but his.

But enough about that. Let us resume our look at the Doctors with the final Doctor of the Classic Series. See you then.


  1. Replies
    1. It was supposed to be "fractured," representing the Doctor's state of mind. I love the coat, personally, but not the rest of it.

  2. The episode "The Two Doctors" is one of my all time favourites, when combining former Doctor's with current ones. Doctor 2 Patrick Troughton was the co-star in this bizarre tale which included cannibalism! It's a terrific series of episodes, and I loved Colin Baker's Doctor!

    1. I've always thought it was the right kind of stupid; "The Two Doctors" was ridiculous and fun, and everybody involved seemed to be having a blast with the things the script was doing with their characters.

      Doesn't really make much sense, but it's still a fun ride.