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gaffa
04-24-2011, 03:16 PM
I saw every episode starring Tom Baker back in the day on PBS, as well as Peter Davison, but my local station stopped carrying it when Colin Baker became the Doctor. Since the series reboot, I have been a faithful viewer.

So, what episodes with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy do I need to see? What ones are likely to be referenced in the new series?

Andy L
04-24-2011, 03:26 PM
I don't know which ones are likely to be referenced (probably none of them - it's fairly rare for Doctor Who to reference pre-Eccleston episodes), but the one that leaps to mind as very good is "Battlefield" with McCoy.

gaffa
04-24-2011, 04:39 PM
I don't know which ones are likely to be referenced (probably none of them - it's fairly rare for Doctor Who to reference pre-Eccleston episodes), but the one that leaps to mind as very good is "Battlefield" with McCoy.
In some discussions about the direction of the new season, someone mentioned "The Valeyard" as a possible character, so I had to search that name.

Jennmonkye
04-24-2011, 05:06 PM
In some discussions about the direction of the new season, someone mentioned "The Valeyard" as a possible character, so I had to search that name.

I'd have to look back, but I think The Valeyard was from a Colin Baker episode arc...and anything with Sil (the little green goo-eating guy) was great. My favorite McCoy episode was "Delta and the Bannermen"...which for some reason, I just loved. Looking back, it probably wasn't all that great, but at the time it first broadcast in the US, I raved about that one.

Andy L
04-24-2011, 05:10 PM
In some discussions about the direction of the new season, someone mentioned "The Valeyard" as a possible character, so I had to search that name.

The Valeyard was in the Colin Baker last season "Trial of A Time Lord" - it turned out that he was an evil late incarnation of the Doctor himself, who hoped to kill the Doctor and take his lives (with the secret support of the Time Lords). It's possible that that will be factor this season, but they'd have to lay some major groundwork to remind people of a plotline from the 80s.

gaffa
04-24-2011, 05:27 PM
The Valeyard was in the Colin Baker last season "Trial of A Time Lord" - it turned out that he was an evil late incarnation of the Doctor himself, who hoped to kill the Doctor and take his lives (with the secret support of the Time Lords). It's possible that that will be factor this season, but they'd have to lay some major groundwork to remind people of a plotline from the 80s.
It can pay dividends, as with the return of Sarah Jane Smith.

Andy L
04-24-2011, 05:36 PM
It can pay dividends, as with the return of Sarah Jane Smith.

Yes, that worked very well indeed.

Two Many Cats
04-24-2011, 07:30 PM
The Two Doctors is a sixth (Colin Baker) Doctor adventure which benefits from a co-starring appearance of the second (Patrick Troughton) Doctor. It's not bad.

As for the seventh (Sylvester McCoy) Doctor, I've always liked The Happiness Patrol, but many people found it annoying. GhostLight is nice and spooky.

Actually, the real problem with the sixth and seventh and some of the fifth Doctor episodes can be summed up in three words: John Nathan Turner. He was so determined to erase any impression that Tom Baker had made on the show, that he more or less destroyed the show in doing it. "Let's make the Doctor a complete wuss!" "Now, let's make the Doctor a complete asshole!" "Now, let's make up shit that makes no sense, and is ugly to look at!"

I hate to speak ill of the dead, but I am convinced of the truth of my words.

RealityChuck
04-24-2011, 07:34 PM
There were several good episodes in the Sylvester McCoy years, and one or two with Colin Baker (usually considered the weakest of the Doctors).

For Baker, you had the first three episodes of Trial of a Time Lord -- "They Mysterious Planet," "Mindwarp" (his best) and "Terror of the Vervoids." The final episode of Trial is only so-so. Other than that "Mark of the Rani" is the only one that's any better than mediocre.

BTW, Trial of a Time Lord was a least partially an attempt to prove they could write good scripts for the show; the BBC put it on hiatus and Trial was understood at the time to be make or break for continuation. They worked hard to make it a good one (the producer previously had wanted to quite, but the BBC didn't let him) and it was the best in several seasons.

McCoy was interesting in that he took the Doctor into new directions, giving him a bit more mystery and encompassing a lot of weird elements (that we see in the current Doctor). "Paradise Towers" has its critics, but I'd put it among the top episodes of all times, with the creation of a bizarre future society within a derelict apartment building. So you had the Kangs (with names like Bin Liner and Fire Escape -- brilliant use of language), the Rezzies, and the Great Architect (now that I think of it, it's very anti-Ayn-Rand -- The Fountainhead with Howard Roark shown to be as mad as a hatter). It also had Richard Briers as the bad guy.

He hit this level again with "The Happiness Patrol" (another episode many people hated) with what was probably the best Doctor Who villain ever: Helen A. What made her so great was that she was not really trying to be evil; she just wanted people to be happy. (She was supposed to be a parody of Margaret Thatcher, but you don't need to know that).

There was also "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy," which also had the high weirdness of the other two, though it lagged in the final episode.

Alan Smithee
04-24-2011, 10:49 PM
I'd have to look back, but I think The Valeyard was from a Colin Baker episode arc...and anything with Sil (the little green goo-eating guy) was great. My favorite McCoy episode was "Delta and the Bannermen"...which for some reason, I just loved. Looking back, it probably wasn't all that great, but at the time it first broadcast in the US, I raved about that one.The protagonists of The Sarah Jane Adventures all live on Bannerman Road, clearly a reference to "Delta and the Bannermen."

As for which ones are worth watching, let's see.... Well it partly depends what you like, obviously. "The Twin Dilemma," the first story after Davidson regenerates into Baker, is probably the worst Doctor Who story ever. I think it's worth watching for that reason alone! Watching Nicola Bryant (the Doctor's new companion) try to act is hilarious, and if you're a straight man, as I am, watching her is always fun for other reasons, too! (She wasn't chosen for her acting ability, but I can tell you the two reasons she was chosen!) Besides that, it's important in that it establishes the Sixth Doctor's character and his interaction with Peri. Skipping it might be confusing.

"Attack of the Cybermen." Not very memorable, at least for me. Makes lots of references to past stories. Worth it if you especially like that or Cybermen.

"Vengeance on Varos" is the first story with Sil, who as Jennmonkye mentioned, is one of the all-time great Doctor Who villains.

"The Mark of the Rani." Ok. I'm not crazy about the Rani, but I do like the Master, and he's in this too.

"The Two Doctors" has a couple of rough spots, but it's one of the best stories from the era, and it's great seeing the Second Doctor, even if you aren't previously familiar with him. Lots of humor, too. Plus it was vaguely referenced in the new Who episode "Amy's Choice" when the Dream Lord mentions the Doctor's attempt to become a vegetarian.

"Timelash." Not recommended.

"Revelation of the Daleks." It has Daleks. Everyone loves Daleks. Otherwise, it's a confusing story about a Dalek civil war, though, so if you don't love Daleks, you can skip it.

The rest of the Colin Baker episodes are all part of "Trial of a Timelord." You should watch them all.

Moving on to the Seventh Doctor, I love Sylvester McCoy, but some of the stories are real stinkers! "Mark of the Rani" sets the tone. It's weak storywise, but it's McCoy at his goofiest. (His Doctor becomes quite serious later on, but he's very funny at first. McCoy handles both sides of the Doctor very well, IMO.)

"Paradise Towers" is the first to highlight the weird, context-less and disjointed style of the Seventh Doctor's adventures. It has some great scenes, but it's a confusing mess overall. Love it or hate it.

"Delta and the Bannermen." Very good episode, and very influential, I think, on the reboot. The Doctor and Mel land on a spaceport and join an old-fashioned alien tour group taking an old-fashioned British holiday tour bus across space (and time?) to visit Disneyland on Earth in 1959.

"Dragonfire." Introduces Ace, one of the best companions of the post-Tom Baker, pre-Eccleson era. Also features the single worst scene in Doctor Who history: the Doctor, apparently realizing that twenty-three minutes have passed since his last encounter with death, deliberately climbs onto a ledge and dangles from the end of his umbrella for no apparent reason other than to provide the episode with a literal cliff-hanger. At the beginning of the next episode, he climbs back up. Supposedly, it was a case of bad editing, but I think it was somebody's idea of satire. Otherwise, it's a pretty good story, and some of Ace's background introduced here proves somewhat important later on.

"Remembrance of the Daleks" is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever. Watch even if you hate Daleks. Might want to watch the very first Doctor Who episode ("An Unearthly Child") first, especially if you haven't seen it. This is a direct sequel to it!

"The Happiness Patrol" is another weird, love-it-or-hate it episode. The Doctor fights the Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts Man (http://www.candywrappermuseum.com/bassetsallsorts.html)!

"Silver Nemesis" tries to do for the Cybermen what "Remembrance of the Daleks" did for the Daleks. It fails. Still not too bad, though: if you sat through "Attack of the Cybermen" you should enjoy this, plus it has some good medieval fantasy adventure. Arguably explains why the original Cybermen aren't in new Who.

"The Greatest Show in the Galaxy." I'd say if you want to skip anything, skip this. It makes no sense at all and is just plain weird. The worst McCoy story, IMO.

"Battlefield" is skippable, I think (don't remember much about it), except for having the Brigadier and the Third Doctor's car in it.

"Ghostlight" and "The Curse of Fenrick" are two of the most popular and ambitious stories from this era. I think both of them fail to achieve what they set out to do, especially "Ghostlight," but they're both worth seeing, especially "The Curse of Fenrick," which manages to be very good, but should have been great.

"Survival" is a bit disappointing, since they never really manage to explain what is going on. Still, it has some excellent scenes between Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy. If only they'd been able to do a sequel that really tied this one together (not that I expect that was ever intended), it might have been one of my favorite episodes. Still, not a bad send off.

Then, well, I suppose I should talk about the Fox TV movie. But I'd rather not. If you can somehow manage to watch only Sylvester McCoy's scenes and absolutely nothing else...no, you can't be sure, the "stop" button on your DVD-player might break, or the person putting the scenes on YouTube might not stop the scene in time, exposing you to the rest of the movie. It's not worth the risk.

I wasn't planning on going through each episode, just mentioning the ones I thought you should see, but there you go. I hope it's helpful!

Alan Smithee
04-24-2011, 11:05 PM
One more thing: Although it's horrible, the movie is canon. The Eighth Doctor has appeared in images from flashbacks in the new show (for example, the projection of images of past Doctors that the Eleventh walks through when he introduces himself to the bad guys in his first episode). Some people hope they'll eventually address some of the more egregious things from the movie in the new series, but I think they'll just keep ignoring it as they should. I wouldn't necessarily mind, or be shocked, if the Eighth Doctor eventually appears in a multi-Doctor episode, though, should they ever do one.

gaffa
04-24-2011, 11:47 PM
One more thing: Although it's horrible, the movie is canon. The Eighth Doctor has appeared in images from flashbacks in the new show (for example, the projection of images of past Doctors that the Eleventh walks through when he introduces himself to the bad guys in his first episode). Some people hope they'll eventually address some of the more egregious things from the movie in the new series, but I think they'll just keep ignoring it as they should. I wouldn't necessarily mind, or be shocked, if the Eighth Doctor eventually appears in a multi-Doctor episode, though, should they ever do one.
No, there was no movie and I didn't see it.

Alan Smithee
04-25-2011, 12:59 AM
No, there was no movie and I didn't see it.If you have a TARDIS in your world, please come and get me! I know this runs the danger of destroying the barrier between worlds and sending both universes into the Void, but I'm willing to risk it!

BigT
04-25-2011, 04:28 AM
One more thing: Although it's horrible, the movie is canon. The Eighth Doctor has appeared in images from flashbacks in the new show (for example, the projection of images of past Doctors that the Eleventh walks through when he introduces himself to the bad guys in his first episode). Some people hope they'll eventually address some of the more egregious things from the movie in the new series, but I think they'll just keep ignoring it as they should. I wouldn't necessarily mind, or be shocked, if the Eighth Doctor eventually appears in a multi-Doctor episode, though, should they ever do one.

I was under the impression they were incorporating the
semi-retcons of the audio series. I haven't gotten a hold of them yet, but I hear that they explain away the Eighth Doctor's inconsistencies with some timey wimey alternate dimension stuff, maybe even tying it into the Time War.

Also, Trial of the Timelord, even if you think it good, was Baker's last season for reason. One of the requirements from the BBC to continue the show was the Baker be replaced. The ratings did agree with your interpretation. I've often heard it said that the framing story felt tacked on: like we were watching the Doctor watch Doctor Who. (I personally haven't seen it yet, only a chopped version of the Vervoids episode without the story arc bits.)

So take that into account. I'd love to hear someone defend it properly, BTW.

Harmonious Discord
04-25-2011, 05:50 AM
No, there was no movie and I didn't see it.

You wish. That crime has left it's scars on everyone.

Lilacs
04-25-2011, 06:48 AM
I'd like to say I really enjoyed "The Curse of Fenric" and "Ghost Light" from the McCoy era. I know that Ghost Light isn't nearly what they wanted it to be, but I like how strange it is. I've never seen any of the Melanie episodes and I'm not sure I want to change that from everything I've heard. However, I do like Ace quite a bit and her relationship with the Doctor.

As for Colin Baker, I think he was doomed with a multitude of problems from poor wardrobe, bad casting and terrible production along with some horrible dialog. There are a few occasional moments of brilliance but you have to hunt hard to find them. I can't stand Peri. I don't see how her physical attributes in any way off set her terrible American accent and her freaking whiny voice. UGH.

I found most of the "Trial of a Time Lord" a bit boring. My favorite episode was "The Two Doctors" simply because of Patrick Troughton and Frazier Hines.

Alan Smithee
04-25-2011, 11:23 AM
I was under the impression they were incorporating the
semi-retcons of the audio series. I haven't gotten a hold of them yet, but I hear that they explain away the Eighth Doctor's inconsistencies with some timey wimey alternate dimension stuff, maybe even tying it into the Time War.

Also, Trial of the Timelord, even if you think it good, was Baker's last season for reason. One of the requirements from the BBC to continue the show was the Baker be replaced. The ratings did agree with your interpretation. I've often heard it said that the framing story felt tacked on: like we were watching the Doctor watch Doctor Who. (I personally haven't seen it yet, only a chopped version of the Vervoids episode without the story arc bits.)

So take that into account. I'd love to hear someone defend it properly, BTW.
What gave you the impression they were incorporating the audio series? The only reference to the Eighth Doctor is seeing his image a couple of times. I've never gone beyond the TV show, but it seems to me that they're happy to mine the other media for ideas and plotlines (e.g., "Human Nature," Sally Sparrow), but also to change and contradict them (e.g., "Human Nature," Sally Sparrow).

From a writer's perspective, "canon" basically means "stuff we expect the audience to be familiar with." They don't have to explain who the Second Doctor and Jamie are in "The Two Doctors" or treat every appearance of the Daleks like it's their first. It would be silly to treat the audio series like that, since only a tiny fraction of the TV audience even knows they exist.

From a producer's perspective, canon is a way of controlling what other writers do in a shared universe. Paramount has strict rules about what officially licensed Star Trek novels and comics are allowed to do. They can't change or conflict with what's been on screen (the "canon"), but the shows and movies don't have to worry about conflicting with the other media. In Star Wars, it's more complicated. Lucas does whatever he wants in the movies, new novels can't contradict the movies or previous novels, new comics can't contradict the existing movies or novels or previous comics, new video games can't contradict the existing movies or novels or comic books, etc. As far as I know, no one at the BBC or on the production team for Doctor Who has ever established clear rules for what is or isn't canon, though they presumably have some rules for what get licensed. The TV show is clearly the primary property, though; no one cares that there was a different ninth Doctor in some on-line cartoon, even if the BBC made it and claimed at the time that it was "official."

As for "Trial," the arc story was indeed egregiously tacked on, but the individual stories are still pretty decent, and the OP was specifically interested in things that could be referenced in the new show. The Valeyard probably won't make an appearance IMO, but he's sure to come up in on-line discussions, and I think the concept of the Valeyard (and of the Sixth Doctor generally, at least what they wanted to do with him)
has been influential. Very few classic Who episodes live up to the new series, IMO, but even the worst have a charm that makes them fun for me to watch.

Peri, it's true, couldn't be fully redeemed if the 22-year-old actress travelled through time to appear on my doorstep and let me sonic her eye of harmony with my rod of Rassilon. Still, her acting is (unintentionally) hilarious.

BigT
04-25-2011, 01:20 PM
What gave you the impression they were incorporating the audio series?

I'm not sure. Maybe because of this wiki (http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Eighth_Doctor) file. I also have a distinct memory of being told something about it on a forum by someone who really loves the eighth Doctor. Maybe he just includes it in his personal canon.

The only reference to the Eighth Doctor is seeing his image a couple of times.

Well, and the fact that we started with Nine, and not Eight.

The TV show is clearly the primary property, though; no one cares that there was a different ninth Doctor in some on-line cartoon, even if the BBC made it and claimed at the time that it was "official."


Okay, that just seems odd. I've always taken the creators' word when they say something is canon. I hope this sort of thing isn't a regular occurrence.

Checking it out on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scream_of_the_Shalka), it seems it is only not canon due to odd circumstances. It and the TV show were started withing six months of each other.

Alan Smithee
04-25-2011, 02:25 PM
But who are "the creators" and what are you taking their word about?

The people who came up with the idea for "Doctor Who" are dead, and had no idea of Time Lords or Gallifrey or regeneration. The people who wrote the novels and the audio series didn't think of their stories differently than the people writing tv episodes.

Sure, when RTD or whoever wrote Doctor Who at the Proms he maybe didn't think of it as writing a "real" Doctor Who story, but beyond that, who cares? And the little kids who were in the audience at the Proms will probably remember it as the most "real" Doctor Who story of their lives. Are you going to tell them it wasn't "canon"? Should Moffat? On the contrary, if an actual episode were to feature the Doctor travelling to the Proms, I'd expect a subtle reference letting those kids know it "really" happened.

ryobserver
04-25-2011, 07:37 PM
"Remembrance of the Daleks" is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever. Watch even if you hate Daleks.


O yes. Because if you hate Daleks, you'll enjoy watching Ace fight one.
You'll also see a Dalek climb some stairs, with nowhere near the drama that was made of the same phenomenon in "Dalek" years later. Odd, that.

I want to add some more votes for "The Happiness Patrol", "Dragonfire" (blah episode, but not only do you meet Ace, you see the last of Mel) and "Vengeance on Varos", which has two memorable (for me) minor characters--the ordinary couple watching all the action on television, commenting and quarreling over it and periodically voting for someone's elimination.
Which here means literal elimination.

Snooooopy
04-26-2011, 02:07 AM
My favorite McCoy episode was "Delta and the Bannermen"...which for some reason, I just loved. Looking back, it probably wasn't all that great, but at the time it first broadcast in the US, I raved about that one.

I've never seen it, but I remember finding the premise kind of silly. What's so great about winning a trip to somewhere when you have a big blue box that goes anywhere?

Damfino
04-27-2011, 04:01 PM
But who are "the creators" and what are you taking their word about?

The people who came up with the idea for "Doctor Who" are dead, and had no idea of Time Lords or Gallifrey or regeneration. The people who wrote the novels and the audio series didn't think of their stories differently than the people writing tv episodes.

Sure, when RTD or whoever wrote Doctor Who at the Proms he maybe didn't think of it as writing a "real" Doctor Who story, but beyond that, who cares? And the little kids who were in the audience at the Proms will probably remember it as the most "real" Doctor Who story of their lives. Are you going to tell them it wasn't "canon"? Should Moffat? On the contrary, if an actual episode were to feature the Doctor travelling to the Proms, I'd expect a subtle reference letting those kids know it "really" happened.

Can you give me a cite that Time Lords and Gallifrey weren't in the original concept? I'll accept that regeneration may have been a later idea to bring in Patrick Troughton after William Hartnell, but I thought that the Doctor was a Time Lord from the first.

vdgg81
04-27-2011, 05:30 PM
I like Colin Baker and think he was a great Doctor. Unfortunately, he was sabotaged by poor stories and the single most awful costume of the history of the show. From his seasons I'd only really recommend Vengeance on Varos. The Two Doctors was also cool because it had Patrick Troughton and Jamie, but had some serious issues. It's also the last Doctor Who story written entirely by Robert Holmes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Holmes_%28scriptwriter%29#Doctor_Who_scripts). (Holmes was one of the best Doctor Who writers and one of my favorite TV writers, but TTD wasn't his best effort.) I wouldn't watch any other story featuring Colin Baker. If you're really curious reading plot summaries on wikipedia would probably be a better idea.

To me Colin Baker's best efforts on Doctor Who are all Big Finish audio plays. If you're interested in those I'd recommend starting with The Marian Conspiracy, which introduced Evelyn, the best companion ever. I'd also recommend The Holy Terror (featuring Frobisher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frobisher_%28Doctor_Who%29), the other best companion ever), The One Doctor (simply hilarious), ...ish, Jubilee (kinda, sorta the inspiration for Dalek, the Ecclestone episode) and Doctor Who and The Pirates (it just maybe the best DW story ever because it features pirates, Evelyn and a Gilbert and Sullivan inspired musical episode in which the Doctor sings "I Am The Very Model Of A Gallifreyan Buccaneer" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5d-cteMguQ).)

Sylvester McCoy was also a very good Doctor IMO and I really liked the direction that the producers chose for his character, but the production values for some of his episodes were low enough to bother me and that's saying a lot. To me the stand-outs were The Hapiness Patrol (as has already been stated in this thread many people hate this), Remembrance of The Daleks (the best Dalek story after Genesis of the Daleks), The Curse of Fenric (as much a classic as Remembrance) and Survival (the weakest of this bunch, but worth it as it was the show's last story for years). Ghost Light is my favorite story by McCoy, but so many people hate it that I'm not comfortable making a recommendation. The Greatest Show on Earth and Battlefield could have been very good but they're just too cheap looking and Silver Nemesis has the same plot as Remembrance, only it's bad everywhere Remembrance was good.

Can you give me a cite that Time Lords and Gallifrey weren't in the original concept? I'll accept that regeneration may have been a later idea to bring in Patrick Troughton after William Hartnell, but I thought that the Doctor was a Time Lord from the first.

I'm sorry that I can't give you a cite, but I too remember reading in more than one place that Gallifrey and the Time Lords were late additions to the show. Doctor Who unlike a show like Star Trek didn't have a show bible and never was very much concerned with canon and continuity. Canon only became a concern in the 80s, much to the show's detriment, IMO.

Kim o the Concrete Jungle
04-27-2011, 08:14 PM
The last few McCoy serials are worth watching, and Ace was one of the better companions. To my mind, the McCoy era was just starting to come good when they canceled the show, which was a bit unfortunate.

But most of the Colin Baker and early Sylvester McCoy Dr Who's were pretty wretched. Mel was one of the worst companions, and most of the sets looked like they were made from extruded plastic. Most of the Colin Baker era involved this overriding plot arc where the Doctor was on trial for genocide, and I lost interest in that long before the end.

Andy L
04-27-2011, 08:21 PM
Can you give me a cite that Time Lords and Gallifrey weren't in the original concept? I'll accept that regeneration may have been a later idea to bring in Patrick Troughton after William Hartnell, but I thought that the Doctor was a Time Lord from the first.

The term "Time Lord" is first used in "The War Games" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Games (A Troughton episode) - six years after the series started.

The word "Gallifrey" is first used in "The Time Warrior" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Warrior (A Pertiwee episode), five years after that.

It therefore seems very unlikely that the concept of Time Lords or Gallifrey was in anyone's mind at the beginning.

Kamino Neko
04-27-2011, 09:15 PM
The Doctor and Susan were established as aliens while she was still travelling with him, however. I believe The Sensorites was the first story that mentioned it - Susan apparently described Gallifrey (then unnamed) very similarly to how Ten described it in the revived series.

Andy L
04-28-2011, 05:25 PM
The Doctor and Susan were established as aliens while she was still travelling with him, however. I believe The Sensorites was the first story that mentioned it - Susan apparently described Gallifrey (then unnamed) very similarly to how Ten described it in the revived series.

I didn't know that. Interesting.

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