My leisurely rewatch of Doctor Who continues. I’ve enjoyed almost all of it so far; yes, each era has its lower points, but mostly they’re not too low. I’ve come to Series 12, and it’s basically fun, even if it has the (until then) worst Cybermen the series had seen. It has the advantage of a return to something very close to the formula of the original premise, of the wanderer in time and space, something very welcome after the heavily Earth-centric Pertwee years (for all that they were very enjoyable).
In fact, I remember liking that aspect of it at the time of first broadcast, liking it very much. I also remember, odd as it seems now, being very unsure of this new Doctor. It’s easy to forget just how popular Pertwee had been, and how tightly identified with the role. This new chap, “all teeth and curls,” was very different and his first episode presented him as very… eccentric. After that, though, he settled down a bit and it’s striking how quickly and smoothly Baker slipped into the role. By his second story, he’s inhabiting the part as though no one else has ever played it.
It hadn’t really struck me before, but Series 12 feels a lot like an encapsulation of the series’ history so far. It opens with a fairly standard (well, slightly sub-standard) UNIT story that could have featured Pertwee. The next two stories, featuring survivors of humanity in the far future facing threats, are reminscent of Hartnell’s days; the setup of the two Nerva-based stories calls to mind the “base under threat” stories Troughton faced so frequently; and, of course, there are three returning enemies, especially the Daleks. I can see now just why I enjoyed the series so much back then, despite the relatively poor opening and closing stories and some breaks in continuity. I still smile at the memory of ending the series slightly unsure about this new guy.
I’ve seen some people complain about recent Doctors when they say something rude or unkind; that made me laugh out loud at the scene where Baker’s Doctor, lying on his back in the caverns of Voga, yells at the top of his voice, “Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!” (Not the only time he was dismissive of or acerbic to Sullivan.) The interplay between the Doctor and his companions is very well handled all round, especially between him and Sarah Jane (who looks so young!).
I’m looking forward to rewatching Series 13 now.