Geekbat Tunes

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Series 6: Overview


Series 6


So, series 6 has come to a close- and with it, Troughton and the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, Black and White, Time and Space- major upheaval is in the works as the show enters a chrysalis with Troughton, regenerating into a completely new incarnation. After a 6-month break (unprecedented at the time, and used to introduce the UK to the new program “Star Trek,” which got the time slot temporarily), the show would return in the greatest revamp that the series has ever seen- even 2005 and it’s Last Great Time War wasn’t as great a paradigm shift as Doctor Who was about to undergo as the 1960s ended and the 1970s began. So, how did this final series of the old paradigm fare?

This series is marketed by lower script quality overall (Partially explained- see the War Games review for more), with a few major exceptions- but also bigger setpieces, far more impressive effects- and almost all video. Yes, this is only a judgement of posterity and not the quality of the series produced- nonetheless, it remains that this is the only Troughton series almost entirely video, with only 2 episodes of the Invasion (reconstructed with animation) and one serial missing- if you count Series 5’s “Tomb of the Cybermen” as a surrogate to the missing Space Pirates, Troughton has EXACTLY one series in video format, and 90% comes from here. Sadly, that doesn’t automatically mean great stories- but I’d call it more good than bad.

Jamie and Zoe make a great pair for the Doctor, probably his best companion pairing. Good writing and performances for the three leads make even poorly written stories watchable. So sad, then, that their journey end here. Or does it…?

Popular fan theory centers around the untelevised Series 6B. The theory is this: That the Doctor’s regeneration- which we did not SEE onscreen, in fact did not occur at the finale of The War Games, but rather he was recruited into the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), a branch of the Time Lords that does interfere when it is deemed necessary; something the Doctor has a knack for, making him a natural to recruit as an agent. The Doctor once again travelled in the TARDIS, re-acquiring Jamie, and possibly escaped again, or possibly served out his sentence- until event or events unknown conspired to carry out the original sentence of forced regeneration and exile.

The reason for this theory? Future specials The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors all feature Troughton, looking older than he does in The War Games. No big deal, you say? True, before the New Series’ “Time Crash,” Doctors returning for crossovers were commonly shown older (as you can’t prevent the actors from aging) without any explanation, as if we’re simply supposed to imagine that the actors are the ages they once were when they played the roles, even though they don’t look it. So Troughton’s appearances are just more of the same, right?

Except… the Doctor references the events of the War Games and his forced regeneration. Think about it… a Troughton, free and traveling around, yet with knowledge of this story- implying it occurs AFTER The War Games, yet WITHOUT Troughton having regenerated yet. How could this be, except if he DIDN’T regenerate at the conclusion of this story? And the fact that we never SAW him change…

The theory is simple: First proposed in the 1995 book “The Discontinuity Guide” by Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping, the proposed series 6B takes place in-between the War Games and the forthcoming Spearhead From Space, suggesting that the later-established Celestial Intervention Agency, a Time Lord secret organization, spirit away the Doctor to become their agent, granting him increased ability to control the TARDIS at the price of freedom, as he now has to embark on missions for them. Thus, the Second Doctor of the Two Doctors (who has a TARDIS remote control, an ability even his Sixth self doesn’t have- a gadget given him by the CIA in the style of James Bond’s Q equipping their field agents? Plus, a far greater control of the vehicle than he ever demonstrated during his B&W era), The Three Doctors (Who claims to be on a mission from the Time Lords- impossible as per the War Games because he was only with them for 20 minutes, under guard, before his regeneration- the first they'd ever caught up with him since he became the Second Doctor), and The Five Doctors (Who is aware of Jamie and Zoe’s mindwipe because they’ve already happened)- are all from this mysterious in-between period of adventures. Plus, not only do we not see the change- only the Second Doctor tumbling into darkness, and the Third stumbling out of the TARDIS- he stumbles out with a ring, bracelet, and watch which homed in on the TARDIS some time later- none of which his Second self possessed at the end of the last serial. More Q-style gadgets from the CIA? And the reason that he did not reference this period is simple- when he finally rebelled and the Time Lords DID force his regeneration, they erased his memory of this time. Simplicity itself- the Third Doctor does claim significant memory loss, after all, the extent of which is never revealed! It even accounts for how the Second could have a TARDIS remote that the Sixth (his later self) didn’t know about- because his memory of it had been erased! (Note from Sarah: I totally buy it.)

We even see one of the Tribunal Time Lords again in ‘Colony In Space,’ a Pertwee serial, dispatching the Doctor to go and interfere in the events of a planet- the very thing he was condemned for here! Perhaps this man is an agent of the CIA, responsible for secreting the Doctor away to begin working for them following the end of the trial?

This is further expanded on in the novels- (though novels in the Doctor Who universe are as non-canonical as they are in the Star Trek universe)- 'World Game' suggests that the CIA needed an agent who could discreetly investigate temporal disturbances but also be disavowed- the Doctor’s known wanderings and interfering provided the perfect cover for this! Thus, his sentence is commuted in exchange for becoming their agent. Over the course of the novel, the Doctor gains knowledge of Gallifreyan politics sufficient to blackmail and leverage his way into negotiating his terms- demanding the return of his TARDIS, and of Jamie, his most loyal companion. They alter Jamie’s memories so that he believes he is still back in the Victoria era, and that she is simply away studying (accounting for references made in The Two Doctors), and giving the Doctor a TARDIS remote (with an override giving them ultimate control- thus allowing them to change the dematerialization codes, as per Spearhead). As per the TV Comics, eventually the Doctor did make his break from the CIA, escaping to modern-day (60s) Earth and living in the luxurious Carlton Grange Hotel. From there, he proceeds to have a series of adventure (Action in Exile, #916, up through The Night Walkers, #936)- at which point he investigates a series of scarecrows walking (tell me this wasn’t an inspiration to The Human Nature/Family of Blood’s original novel-writer…), which turn out to have been a Time Lord manifestation designed to use his own curiosity to trap him. They capture him, drag him into his TARDIS, and begin the forced regeneration that they started in the War Games- leading directly in to the start of Spearhead.

Of course, there is no actual evidence for this, and those truly determined that no such 6B ever happened could claim that in the events of the Two Doctors (or a similar untelevised occurrence), a future incarnation simply told him what was going to happen, and his reference was made with knowledge of his forced regeneration to-come, but without The War Games having happened; and that the aged appearance of Doctor and companions was simply due to the ‘just ignore it’ real world circumstances, or some untelevised adventure involving an aging ray whose perpetrator they were tracking when they were briefly interrupted by the crossover story, and later whom they caught and reversed the effects- the sum total being all of this happened at some point during Series 4-6, and Spearhead From Space follows (subjective) minutes directly after The War Games… though of course this denial would include willingly turning a blind eye to a LOT of corroborating evidence!
(Indeed, the ironic part is that the most tangible proof- the Second Doctor’s knowledge of the mind-wipes of Zoe and Jamie from the Five Doctors, was an accident of a hasty re-write; originally, wraiths of Zoe and Victoria were to deceive the Doctor, but give themselves away when Victoria addressed the accompanying Lethbridge-Stewart as “Brigadier,” a rank to which he wasn’t yet promoted when they last met. But, Deborah Watling wasn’t available, Friaser Hines was, and the last minute rewrite for Jamie and Zoe gave the game away by having knowledge that they would have had mind-wiped, putting the Second Doctor’s knowledge of their regeneration into canon and originating the 6B movement accidentally!) One can probably ret-con and smooth out the bumps in total denial if one wants to, and is truly determined to oppose 6B- and yet, for those of us conspiracy-minded and continuity-strict, the clues are out there, and the possibility of a Series 6B, of many more years for Troughton and Jamie that we simply haven’t seen, the possibility is tantalizing, and thanks to the unclear and stylized ending of the War Games in which you can’t really tell what’s happening, the potential is out there… for this reviewer, the conclusion is inescapable… the War Games was not the end of the Second Doctor’s adventures; just of the ones that he remembers. (Note from Sarah: My spine gets all tingly just thinking about it! :)

Meanwhile, the Doctor didn't have so much of a catchphrase this season- the most oft-remembered catchphrase, "Oh, my giddy aunt Nancy!" has yet to materialize, and is apparently primarily a product of the multiple-doctor specials in which he will eventually appear. If anything reselmbled a catchphrase this series it would be *Annoyed offhand dismissal of a dumb idea from Jamie.*

 Ah, Troughton, Jamie- and either Zoe or Victoria (all three combinations were winning teams), how I shall miss thee! Rounding out the third season, the third dominant catchphrase/bit nicely showcases the developing fondness, father/children bond that the TARDIS crew- nay, the TARDIS family, posessed, and a third aspect of the Second Doctor- each year's favorite phrase illuminates yet another facet of why I love this Doctor most of all. Far more than David Tennant's 10th Doctor's so-called 'Children of Time' and all of the dramatic weight that it tried to convey, far more than Hartnell's grandchild- his flesh and blood, so near as we could tell... THESE were the Doctor's children, his family, and watching them grow and bond and work together is the true joy that makes even these reconstruction-dominated, sometimes weak-storied, often slow-paced Second Doctor-era serials a joy to watch. (NFS: I definitely agree. I think that there was a bond and a chemistry that I really don't think I've seen again, even though now I am into the fifth Doctor and I've seen all of the new series, I think they really had something special!)

As we bring this era of companions to a close and start out with a clean slate, let’s end with a look at the companions of the past, eh?

Top 10 Companions
10. Ben – Solid, dependable, rough-and-tumble, Ben was reliable and always ready for action (unless he was being brainwashed by the Macra). Still, he was skeptical, dour, and pessimistic at times, which is probably why he’s last. He was also very moral and conscientious- deeply regretting having to take the life of a Cyberman, almost in tears- and the Doctor could always depend on him. He returned to (presumably) the Mercheant Marines after departing the Doctor… but couldn’t stay long away from the woman that he’d been bonded with through adventure and trial. (NFS: Ben is one of the most forgettable for me unfortunately...I remember...he had hair...and wore shirts.)

9. Polly – I wish I had more to say about Polly. She’s on the list because she was a good companion… but near the bottom of the list because I have so little measure on her personality. Still, a few things do stick out- she was friendly and kind, a real people person. She was open-minded, believing in the Second Doctor while Ben remained skeptical. She was the optimist to Ben’s pessimist. She embodied hope and possibility. One can hope that she and Ben had a very good life together, running their orphanage in India together. (NFS: I liked the possibilities of Polly, she had the makings of an interesting and different character back then, but I think they just didn't how or didn't want to write her.)





8. Susan – Let’s face it, Susan was a pretty weak character. A classical damsel in distress- even a redundant D-I-D with the early Barbara, her actress even left the show for this reason- the writers simply didn’t know what to do with her character, and didn’t develop her. This left her with little more to do than scream, hyperventilate, go weak at the knees, and get in trouble. (Aside from developing a little bit of conflict in the Sensorites as she began to assert herself… don’t bother to go watch it, just read my review and take my word for it.) I’m not against D-I-Ds myself (it's a valid literary archetype, so long as one does not think that it is representative of all women), in the mode that many feminists are, but really… this was pushing it. Still, for all of the abuse that it seems I’m heaping on Susan, it wasn’t her fault (the actress simply worked with what she was given), and she did have some redeeming qualities- enthusiastic, friendly, with a close relationship to the Doctor and a willingness to always play mediator between the quarrelsome Time Lord and his meddlesome human companions, always helping each to see the other’s side- a trait that perhaps future Doctors, from the Third-onwards, adopted from her. Her farewell was a tearjerker. Plus, she opened the TARDIS doors. It was her job. And besides all that… she was the first, and she’ll always have a special place in the pantheon of companions for that. This unearthly child has since settled down on 22nd century Earth, rebuilding a Dalek-ravaged world with David, her true love. It’s rumored that she and her son have had several adventures with the Doctor’s eighth incarnation, suggesting that her travels in the TARDIS may not be over yet… (NFS: I like Susan despite her inability to do much but scream. I think that Carol Ann Ford's genuine likability and charm shone through the character and that's why people like her even though she really didn't do much beyond scream and open doors. That said, I do feel like near the end before she left we did get more of her character, and there was a definite wonderful bond between her and the Doctor that was very palpable and sweet.)

7. Victoria – Despite her annoying behavior in the Abominable Snowmen, in which she went out of her way to intentionally be an irritant, I liked Victoria. Still a bit of a child, she was sweet and innocent, for the most part- a poor orphan with a sensitive soul who eventually found the dangers of traveling with the Doctor to be too much. Her scream was legendary, and her relationship with Jamie, after a few failed flirtations, was almost that of a little sister to his protective big brother… though deep down, some might say his crush never truly abated. In the end, fatigued by the constant danger and evil plaguing travels with the Doctor, Victoria decided to settle down with the Harrises, a friendly family on 20th century Earth. Despite being displaced from her own time, Victoria seems to have adapted well to modern life, and after tangling with the Great Intelligence one more time, years later (with the aid of future companion Sarah Jane Smith), led a quiet and happy life- in current times, getting to know her newly-born grandchildren. (NFS: Victoria didn't bother me, I liked her well enough but I still feel she's too close to being "Female Doctor Companion Model A" as so many of the Doctors female companions are. Written with an interesting and different back story but then nothing to show for it.)

6. Barbara – Taking a little longer than Ian to really come into her own (as of The Aztecs), Barbara started out as a damsel in distress but became a very strong and competent character- whether fending off advances from Caesar Nero or escaping from a Zarbi prison, Babara was one of the more competent and physically capable female companions of the BWW era, a teacher with a passion for history and a deep compassion for suffering peoples- practical but gentle, yet with a steely determination in the face of trouble. After returning several years post-disappearance, and claiming an impromptu multi-year long missionary trip to Africa as cover, she married Ian Chesterton… their first child bore the names of two of the Thals that they met early in their travels. (NFS: I do like Barbara, I didn't at first I thought she was kind of a jerk. But then she grew on me. I thought she was an interesting mix of strong and vulnerable. I agree that she really did come into her own in The Aztecs.) And some say she and her husband have never aged since...



5. Ian – Ian was the original robust companion, the active, gallant hero to the Doctor’s more measured, less physically-active mentor role. A science teacher with a thirst for knowledge and a love of discovery, Ian was chipper and optimistic, always trying to look on the bright side of things. Physically fit and a decent fighter (When Barbara wasn’t accidentally smashing a vase over his head), Ian was perhaps put through the ringer the most of the Doctor’s original companions- ending up in galdatorial fights, staked out in the desert, imprisoned, fighting- and though he was given to bold exclamations in these situations, he always came through. He ingeniously engineered a Dalek-casing-ride escape, and his dance to the Beatles was perhaps the most awesome thing ever done by a companion in life. He remained stalwart and straightforward, ready to make the best of any situation, even while pining for England and home. And the romance budding between himself and fellow teacher Barbara Wright only intensified during their time on the TARDIS… (NFS: I like Ian a lot! He's fun and sweet and he's someone you'd want so much to be friends with. He has that self-assured without being cocky swagger, and is capable without being boring.)

4. Vicki – Vicky was a sweet and spunky child who grew closer to the Doctor than perhaps any companion since (at least in his first regeneration)- I’m not sure if even Victoria was as close to the Doctor; in large part due to the many ways Vicki reminded him of his recently-departed granddaughter. She was spirited and determined, and very clever- tackling challenges head-on, be they locked armories or the problem of blending in to ancient Troy. She and Hartnell shared a special bond, and at times felt more like blood-kin than the Doctor and Susan did. Her time with the Doctor came to an unexpected end for the same reason, though- staying behind for true love. While the reason was noble, her time was far too short… if only we’d had more time. As it is, until very recent times, she remained my favorite female companion, and even now stays a very close second. And while her happy ending was both implied and ensured, her story was written by the Bard himself, and recorded in the annals of history- and her epilogue, the unwritten part of Shakespear’s tragedy, proves that the old adage “All stories have happy endings if you end them soon enough” is not always true, for surely the happily-ever-after that followed the tragedy of Troy would make a far better legend than the sorrows of the prematurely ended tale suggests. I am confident in being certain of a long and happy life for her with her beloved Troillus; Vicki…Cressida, of Troy… has a bright future ahead of her, far in the distant past. (NFS: I think that the Doctor and Vicki were closer because the Doctor, having left Susan realized finally how much she truly did mean to him. I think he kind of kept her at arms length, and realized how much he would miss her when she was gone. I think he viewed Vicki as a second chance and this is truly when he starts to grow more emotionally and realize that you regret not growing closer to people as much as you hurt when they're gone. I liked how Vicki seemed kind of impish in her actions at times, she seems young and playful and in my mind kind of the epitome of the perfect teenager of the 60's.)

3. Zoe – (WARNING: Contains spoilers for Big Finish's "Legend of the Cybermen") Zoe is a brilliant and yet na├»ve 22nd century prodigy, a genius, a walking computer of knowledge and calculations and intelligence and ability… and yet she has the maturity of a child. Impulse-driven and reckless, likely to act on a whim without considering the consequences, she is almost foolish at times- yet has more brains than all of the other companions put together. Her relationship with Jamie is like that of a bickering sibling, and her sometimes competitive, teasing, almost bickering relationship with the Doctor is not nearly so close as that of Vicki, Victoria, Susan, or perhaps even Barbara. And yet, the Doctor is willing to sacrifice himself for her without hesitation, cares for her like family, and indeed, treats her as a wayward child, a daughter in need of guidance and correction as she grows to maturity. Very attractive (much to the distraction of the many males about her) and a bit of a braggart, she is well aware of her various talents and not shy about pointing out where she has trumped the Doctor. This should be annoying, but due to her immaturity, it’s sort of cute- the little kid bragging about every accomplishment they get over their parents- even when the parents let them win. Sadly, much of her development was undone by the accursed Time Lords, who erased her memories of her adventures with the Doctor and returned her to her own place and time… leaving her with a lot of growing up to do once again. As per the expanded universe, Zoe’s above-average mind resisted the Time Lord mind-wipe, but only subconsciously, revealing her memories in strange dreams. Several years later, when a Cyber-ship attacked the Wheel, the conversion into a Cyberplanner (due to her high innate intelligence) unlocked all of her memories and allowed her to take control of the Cyber-vessel from within, diverting it to the only place she could think of where the Cybermen couldn’t harm anyone- the Land of Fiction (from The Mind Robber). After battling the Cybermen in that realm with fictional constructs, she eventually summoned the Doctor (as with Jamie, his sixth incarnation- when did HE get so popular?!) with a distress call and, aided by an illusory Jamie created to protect him, the Cybermen were defeated. Upon a return to the Wheel and un-conversion, her memories were lost for good. While her life resumed, as normal, she never again reached the full potential of growing and learning maturity that she had with the Doctor- her intelligence ever grew, but that missing part of her personality returned. Dang. Still better than Dodo, but... almost New-Series Donna-like in that living out her future at less than she could have been seems almost crueler than death. An unfair end for a fantastic character- though at least she wouldn’t have known enough to wish for anything else, and would have likely been perfectly content. Alas, poor Zoe.
(NFS: Zoe annoyed me in the beginning. She creeped me out because she was like a kid but they always had her in super short or super tight stuff. I thought the actress did a fantastic job. And while she is not a favorite I will say she is one of the more interesting characters and also was written in character more than most.)

2. Steven – A traumatized space-castaway with years companionless, Steven adapts to life with the Doctor by adopting a caustic, ironic, and very wry sense of humor. His jokes and comments and barbs are among the best on the series, consistently, and he is very strong-willed. He often clashes or butts heads with the Doctor, and has his own ideas about how to do things, and years of being abandoned on his own have accustomed him to sometimes thinking and acting with very little care for others (be they people or animate dolls). Regardless, for those that break through Steven’s callous-but-gradually-softening shell of condition self-preservation, he is fiercely loyal and protective. While his first instinct is seldom to get involved in the trouble of others, once roused to action he is tenacious and determined, coiled full of energy. Harsh and selfish as this description may make him sound, he is really more scarred and haunted by his years as a castaway and captive of a group of unfeeling robots as their zoo exhibit. His is the journey of learning to live with people again, to expand his isolated and protective little world to include others again- to reclaim his humanity. All of his tendencies towards apathy or lack of compassion, towards strong-willed anger, towards sarcastic humor, are defense and coping mechanisms that we see slowly defused over the course of his time with the Doctor. And when he finally leaves, quite abruptly and suddenly (not the dramatic best option in the slightest- see my blog on the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, and, like ‘The Sensorites’ for Susan, take my word for it and don’t try to watch it…), it is because he has grown and changed so much that the Doctor sees him ready for a role as mediator and wise leader to a pair of conflicting factions. The introvert who cares mainly for himself has become a man capable of looking out for others. (Though, like Zoe and unlike the first 7 on this list, I don’t see Steven finding anyone in the future; probably ending up a lifelong bachelor. Still, I suppose they can’t all be fairytale endings…) His hard, cynical exterior has softened into a cheerful and caring personality. His strong opinions, stubborn will, determined nature, and readiness to act make him the ideal leader and mediator, and help to showcase his growth. Steven departs his travels with the Doctor (too abruptly though, dang-it writers!!!) to go and rule a planet. All in all, not a bad fate, and I wish him well.
(NFS: I thought I was ambivalent about Steven, but I do remember he made this really funny face when he didn't understand things and that made me and my brother laugh. I don't think he's the most interesting of the characters but I think he had solid qualities and is definitely one of the best male companions.)

1. Jamie – Ah, Jamie, the longest-running companion, piper of the McCrimmon clan of Scottland, what can I say about ye? Loyal, brave, fierce, determined… yet sometimes hapless and resigned to the madman you follow dragging you into yet another insane adventure. He would protect the Doctor, Zoe, or Victoria with his life, and though he doesn’t always- or even often- understand the strange technology of the circumstances he’s in, he always gains an understanding of the world he’s part of through his own 18th century worldview and tries to do the right thing (though sometimes his lack of technological knowledge makes him more of a hindrance than a help). He is a trained warrior, a scrappy fighter that won’t hesitate to attack an enemy- headstrong and impatient at times, when a fight is involved; a leap-before-you-look tendency that sometimes makes things worse or ruins the Doctor’s plans- but always done with the best of intentions. Jamie isn’t always the brightest of bulbs, but he’s the moral compass- his heart is always unfailingly in the right place. Typically good-natured Jamie gives the impression that he enjoys traveling through time and space, but would be just as happy dropped off back home in his bonny Scottland- a change you imagine he’d accept with a shrug, and then get right back into life without a second’s glance behind… which is exactly what he does in the end, aided by the thrice-cursed Time Lords’ erasure of his memories with the Doctor. He will undoubtedly fight- and survive- the war on behalf of his bonnie prince Charlie, and perhaps, just perhaps, find that special someone. Whatever the future holds for him, it seems likely he’ll be content. (Whoops! An addendum! Further research indicates that Jamie married Kirtsy McLaren (Polly’s companion fugitive in The Highlanders), and went on to have “more children than there are days in the week” and grandchildren as well. Many years later, as a white-bearded old man, he dies helping his friend the Doctor one last time. In this case, the Sixth incarnation, dying on the planet Marinus (as in ‘The Keys of’) defeating the Cybermen and their weapon to re-shape the galaxy. I suppose, as endings go, it’s one of the better possibilities- but I may just prefer the ‘surrounded by kids and grandkids option, peacefully’ a bit better. Still- a blaze of glory seems fitting for rash, headstrong Jamie- and he still has it way better than the novels gave Dodo.)
(NFS: Jamie is hands down the best ever male companion. He has so many wonderful things about him. He has this charm and easiness about him that makes you smile. You'd feel comfortable with him and probably feel as though you'd known him forever. I love how protective he always is, and how sweet and caring. I like how funny he is and how he and Troughton interacted together! They almost seemed like brothers to me, or best friends or both, and I think the 2nd Doctor and Jamie are the best duo ever.)

Not listed: Dodo (by choice! Oh, and her fate is apparently to have mental problems for the rest of her short life, find and lose a murdered husband, and get assassinated by an agent of the Master a few years later, so… worst companion AND worst ending!) Katarina, and Sara Kingdom (both by lack of visible material- and both sadly deceased in the line of duty, aiding the Doctor).

(As an epilogue, the Supplemental between-series idea proved so popular, novelist Steve Lyons in The Witch-Hunters, created a story in which Time Lord founder Rassilon gave the First Doctor a little extra time to tie up loose ends in his life, during/after the events of the Five Doctors, thus giving Hartnell a sort of Season 4B. The establishment and management of this blog does not support such wild speculations- but endorses Series 6B wholeheartedly!)

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