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The Three-Fold Man: The Fouth Doctor, Part III

General note for this entire series: this will, obviously, be a terribly subjective analysis. Firstly, because I'm me, and my ideas of good and bad will certainly vary differently from those of others. Secondly, because I will be basing my musings on an incomplete assemblage of sources. This includes all of the classic serials on DVD, but no others--I know, I know, but I'm fairly new to Who fandom, and I am not buying VHS tapes that won't even fit anywhere in a year or so. It also includes selected Big Finish audios, which are delightful on the whole. A parting note before I dive in to Doctor number 4: I love the new series, I love the old series, I love all the Doctors, and I love pretty much every companion, so, any criticism or picking which follows, comes from a place of love.

(go here for the first part of my Tom Baker scribblings--here for the second part)

Good Lord, is series 18 of Doctor Who a departure. New theme music, new title sequence, new costume for the Doctor, the departure of two very popular companions and the addition of three (3!) new ones. Most importantly for us, though, a new Doctor. Well, a new version of the same Doctor that we had last season, but really, a new Doctor. The jokes are gone, the goofiness is all but decimated, and the tone of the Doctor himself is somber--positively funereal.

These alterations are completely down to a major change behind the scenes in the form of two newcomers: script editor Christopher H. (Hamilton) Bidmead, perhaps the most pretentious man ever to work on Doctor Who; and John Nathan Turner, he of the never-ending tenure. Just as Graham Williams in his time had tried to make the show more light-hearted, so did this duo seek to make the show more adult. Again. So, the Doctor's personality changed. Again.

Really, the defining feeling and tone of this last version of the Fourth Doctor is intense melancholy, tiredness, and impending doom. He just looks exhausted and about ready to collapse. The manic energy and off-the wall antics is simply gone. Some of the stories are positively cracking, but this is barely the Fourth Doctor that became so famous.

Now, some fans love this series and love this Doctor, but, to me, Tom Baker and the Fourth Doctor both just seem tired and unhappy. After seven years in the role and an amazing range of personality, the time has come for the Fourth Doctor to end his run--but the end has been prepared for, and the haggard face of the Fourth Doctor will be supplanted by a much younger one.


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