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Steven Brake
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Posted: 03 January 2020 at 3:58pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Jon Pertwee's debut as the Third Doctor (and Doctor Who being broadcast in colour).

With no travelling through time and space (initially, at least), this was very much a new direction for the programme, but what was arguably even bigger a departure was the characterization of The Doctor himself, now played as a much more typical sci-fi action hero. Verity Lambert herself remarked on this in the documentary ‘The Story Of Doctor Who’, noting how William Hartnell would never have been able to work in a military base, and probably would have been locked up instead.

Despite this, while I’ve only seen a few of the Third Doctor’s serials, I’ve largely enjoyed them and I can see why it’s generally seen as a well-regarded era. Pertwee makes a convincing Doctor – and while he’s played a bit more straight, there’s still a slight oddness to him. The Third Doctor also had some decent companions in Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, and, of course, Sarah Jane Smith – and I find myself wishing we’d seen a few more stories with him paired with the former and the latter – and gave us a brilliant recurring villain in The Master.

Is Pertwee a favourite of anyone here?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 03 January 2020 at 4:26pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I definitely have a fondness for the era. They were all broadcast before I was born (just!), but I first saw Carnival of Monsters when I was six (as part of 'The Five Faces of Doctor Who' repeats) and the BBC also used to repeat his stories on Friday evenings in the early 90s on BBC2, which used to engender some feelings of faux nostalgia for me.

There were some strong/notable stories in his era*, including the Frontier in Space, Inferno, Spearhead from Space, The Green Death and the Silurians. And of course he was the Doctor for a significant stretch of time.

*(And Day of the Daleks even played some small part in influencing Days of Future Past)


Edited by Peter Martin on 03 January 2020 at 4:26pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 January 2020 at 7:15am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I was surprised to find DOCTOR WHO playing on a local university access channel when I was living in London (Ontario) in the mid Seventies, and even more surprised to see Jon Pertwee in the title role. Hardly a good physical match for William Hartnell!

Luckily, the episode included a reference to the Doctor having changed his appearance before, so I was quickly brought up to speed.

Pertwee became my favorite Doctor until Matt Smith came along.

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Steven Brake
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Posted: 04 January 2020 at 8:00am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I also ought to have added the importance of Barry Letts as producer and Terrance Dicks as script editor! :)

Spearhead From Space is an odd introduction to the Third Doctor, with Pertwee giving a comic rather than an heroic performance, but the serial itself is a good story, well produced; and Inferno, which ended his first series, was excellent – and gave Doctor Who another first with its use of parallel universes. I still think that it’s a pity that Liz Shaw was rather perfunctorily gotten rid of.

I’ve still to see Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, which I know has unfortunately dated badly due to the poor effects for the dinosaurs – might the serial benefit from an upgrade like that applied to Star Trek:TOS? – and also The Green Death, which I understand is very well regarded.

In their ‘Doctor Who: The Television Companion’, David Howe and Stephen Walker are a bit dismissive of the Third Doctor’s send-off, Planet Of The Spiders, but I rather enjoyed it – and the Doctor’s death is well handled, even if his regeneration isn’t.


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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 04 January 2020 at 3:19pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Episode Two of COLONY IN SPACE aired in the U.K. the day before I was born.

Jon Pertwee was either the second or third Doctor I watched, after Tom Baker and possibly William Hartnell, via PBS when I was a kid. But Peter Davison was the current Doctor at the time.

I'm a fan of Pertwee as the Doctor, but he's not my favorite. That would still be Tom Baker. He was, however, my second favorite, until David Tennant came along. 
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 05 January 2020 at 12:50pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

@Brian:

Out of curiosity, is your running order now Tennant, Baker, Pertwee, or Baker, Tennant, Pertwee?
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 05 January 2020 at 3:04pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Baker, Tennant, Pertwee.

I do not see anyone ever replacing Tom Baker as my favorite.



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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 05 January 2020 at 11:26pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Pertwee would be my second favorite I think overall. It was with him the franchise got colour, and I think a greater budget per episode. Spearhead From Space, the first story of the Pertwee era was almost like a proper film.

We got just the right amount of Jon Pertwee where you could argue we got less than enough of Eccleston, certainly too little of Paul McGann, and in a way too little McCoy (as there seemed to be more potential in he and Sophie Aldred when the final credits rolled on his third very short season). Tom Baker you could argue had a season or so too many (especially if you look at Horns Of Nimon and some of the jokey ones later on). Pertwee got it just right! I never saw him at the time though, I saw Hartnell repeats before I saw a single Pertwee era story (I'm sure Australians would find this very hard to believe). We were awash in Tom Baker repeats in North America for a decade or more, and from the fan magazines I had the impression of the Pertwee doctor as just a secret agent downgrade, didn't think I would like his version at all, but I loved it! Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks had a lot to do with it. What was the worst of it was better than the worst Tom Baker stories, a very high average you could say. There were some letdowns in effects like the aforementioned Nimons... Invasion Of The Dinosaurs had some pitiful puppets, but the Drashigs were passable (and in a very genuinely funny story), and I still like to say "just don't let those Drashigs get out!" as much as "what if you reverse the polarity?" The Ogrons never cut it for me though, nor the Sea Devils, but the stories were still solid. The Pertwee era did produce the Draconians who I rank up there with the Zygons.

Maybe it wasn't the heights of Who but the Jon Pertwee Doctor was the all-arounder for me. Of course he did have a great co-star for many stories in Roger Delgado. At the time people may have even tired of him but now who wouldn't have wished for just one more story with the original Master? I also feel the Doctor you'd most want to travel with would be Jon's. Ton B. seemed almost as liable to watch you get snuffed and make a campy quip as Colin B., Peter Davison was the biggest ineffectual wimp until his finale, McCoy would be scheming something big involving you... but dandy Jon Pertwee and his Vensuian Kung-Fu would rise to an innocent Earthling's defense at the least provocation as a matter of principle, he didn't need a stick of celery on his lapel to signify his civility!

We'll not see his like again I fear.
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