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We pour one out for the Fifth Doctor and reminisce about some of the highs and lows of his marvellous era

It has come to yet another Doctor Retrospective. We may have been doing this show for nine years at the time of recording this bonus episode, but it feels like we’ve been blasting through these retros lately.

It’s Peter Davison’s turn this time around. Having recently wrapped up our reviews of all of The Fifth Doctor’s television serials, we took a break from the temporal road and instead ventured down memory lane. Join us for a relaxed evening of reminiscing, during which we chat about, and often can’t quite remember the details of, among other things:

  • Some of the best and worst serials
  • Terrific and/or appalling storylines
  • Lumbering aliens
  • And of course the plethora of companions

Farewell, Fifth Doctor!

Here's what you think 5 Responses to “B079 The Fifth Doctor Retrospective”
  1. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanzsixfingers

    Hello Leon and Jim!

    Peter Davison was and always will be “My Doctor”, as I started watching at the very beginning of his run. (actually, I saw a marathon of Logopolis and Castrovalva the first night I got to see a complete story, and I was hooked.) I liked how he was more soft-spoken and laid back, and not as confrontational as Pertwee or Tom Baker. His personality is a lot like my own.

    There are some things all the Doctors seem to do in their run, and this is the tick sheet (checklist) for the Fifth Doctor:
    dressed in disguise (Black Orchid)
    met pirates
    played a second role (Omega in Arc of Infinity)
    had a sword fight
    used a gun (twice)
    Also, he faced Cybermen, the Master, Daleks, Silurians and Sea Devils, but not the Sontarens.

    He is known for letting Adric die, destroying the Sonic Screwdriver, and for having too many companions. At more times than any of his predecessors, he invited people into the TARDIS, even for just a short hop. (If Two had done that, none of them would ever have gotten back home!)

    His catch phrases were “Brave heart, Tegan”, “I wonder…”, and “Now that shouldn’t have happened.” There is an ongoing joke with him placing a coin in his hand and using it to make a decision, but either there are two coins, or he goes against the coin’s choice. This started with Adric in Kinda, went through several permutations, and actually ended with Turlough doing it in Fronitios.

    My favorite serials were: Mawdryn Undead, Earthshock, The Visitation, and Time Flight.

  2. GP Haynes

    Hello again.

    Just a quick few notes on Peter Davison and how I felt about his run.

    I have to admit, he’s at the bottom of my list of favourites ( sorry, someone had to be there )
    But I feel this is largely due to the writing and production of his 3 seasons, and not so much his acting

    At least half of his episodes were sub-par in my opinion.

    I enjoy Davison as an actor, he was terrific in “All Creatures Great & Small”, and I loved his cameo in “Hitch-Hikers”

    However, I don’t feel his stories were as fleshed out as say Tom Bakers, or Pertwees were.
    Some of the productions were downright cheap ( I’m looking at you “ Timeflight” )

    He certainly hit his stride in his second half of the run, but it was all too late.

    The companions also left a lot to be desired, with a couple of the worst companions ever in Adric and Turlough there also for many of the

    My favourite companion was Nyssa

    Villian wise, the Dalek and Cybermen stories were actually above average and some of the best episodes, but the Master also fell short of being as good as he usually is.

    The saddest part was Kamelion, who would have been fantastic as a companion, but alas, we missed out here as well.

    All in all, disappointing is the word which springs to mind when I think of this Doctors run.

    5th Doctor Rating: 2.7


    GP Haynes

  3. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks
    So, I like the fifth doctor quite a lot. I suspect I would prefer to travel with him than the Fourth Doctor.
    Best Story: Erm, it feels bad to say Caves of Androzani but it is. In second place is probably Earthshock
    Worst Story: Black Orchid is boring but Warriors of the Deep is just bad and not enjoyable for me. The fact that the man that cancelled the story references the Myrka says it all.
    Most Underrated Story: The Awakening, I know for you two it was shit but it’s probably top 5 Davison for me.

    Best Companion: Nyssa! We should have had more 5/Nyssa only stories. Oh well, Big Finish have us covered.
    Worst Companion: Erm, it’s Adric but let’s be fair, Tulough takes so long to be decent.

    Best Villain: The Mara, very effective in both stories.
    Worst Villain: I’m tempted to say the Daleks for their stupid plans in Resurrection. Or maybe Monarch from Four to Doomsday.

    Best Alien: The Terileptils or The Tractators
    Worst Alien: The Ergon from Arc of Infinity


  4. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    I really like Doc Five. A big part of this has to be his demeanor. This Doctor comes off quite gentle and vulnerable. For some, I think, this is a negative. A Doctor like Eleven will bluster and bluff you into submission. Four will confuse you into submission. But Five will actually nice you into submission. He vibes like Mr Rogers or Jim Henson. There’s a weird sort of power in being unrelentingly polite. Recall the moment in Terminus when raiders have them at gunpoint and Doc simply says, “Put the guns away. Please?” and they do.

    There are some very interesting storylines and scifi plot elements during Davison’s run; the sort of stuff that has you still thinking about it after the episode is over. My faves are: Kinda, Mawdryn Undead, and Castrovalva. All of these have twists of time, realms of space, and unique visual world elements presented via sets and costumes.

    Best Companion: Tegan

    Best Returning Regular: The Brig!

    Best Quote: I’ll explain later.

  5. Peter Zunitch

    Ages ago I mentioned that half of Tom and all of Davison is “my doctor”. This era got me hooked on Who and kept me coming back for more. This sentiment still holds true today.
    WBW exposed many criticisms of his character and his run. Many of these I had never noticed before and at first I was opposed to them even being presented. In truth though I think most of them were actually valid points. He was written a little weak at the beginning and often reacted when he should have been proactive. He could be something of a jerk at times to his companions. I now agree these are valid concerns and interpretations.
    However after multiple rewatched, I now interpret some of these differently. The 25th anniversary retrospective of Doctor Who says Davison’s doctor is “flawed, there was always the possibility that he could be defeated”. This actually brings a risk that has for a long time been missing from the show. He cared very deeply for his companions, but is awful at showing it, especially with Tegan. At first he doesn’t express feelings well, but learns along the way. His tells are very subtle and honestly there are layers that the first time viewer might interpret one way, but the return viewer will see in a whole new light. Are nuances that are only recognized in retrospect a flaw, or are they genius? Maybe both. All I know is for me there wasn’t enough of Davison’s doctor.

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