Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Seventh Doctor: An Introduction

The Seventh Doctor:
Sylvester McCoy (Born 1943)

**Author's Note: I had planned to review the Doctor Who catalog on this site, but given the sheer number of stories I opted to spin-off those reviews to a separate site: Gallifrey Exile. As such, readers will find reviews may hop from one site to another. Reviews are collected at a link at the end of this essay. Also, this essay was updated on January 2021.

Sylvester McCoy once beat out perennial winner Tom Baker as the favorite Doctor. I can see why. Like the first Baker and Troughton, he has the eccentricity and whimsy of their versions. Like Hartnell and Pertwee, he can bring a darkness and mystery to the part. He also is the first Doctor to have a faint hint of an accent (Scottish), all which combined to make his tenure a good one. His was the last of the original series, and he made it an elegant swan song.

McCoy has been the Doctor who, to my mind, has been both the angriest and the biggest pacifist. He abhors violence and avoids it at almost all costs. However, he is bent on striking out against those who would do violence. He may appear foolish, but he wasn't. I always got the sense that while he still like humans he had grown tired of our inability to resolve things with dialogue. The "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later" mindset was one he constantly goes against, and he is genuinely angry at injustice of any kind.
When it came to his companions, he still had Mel whom I abhor, but then found Ace whom I love. Ace, a troubled girl with deep family issues, found in the Doctor (or Professor to her) if not a father figure at the least a good uncle. On occasion, he could put her through a lot, but it was always with her best interests in mind. Perhaps this was his way of seeing that there was still some stubborn hope in these Tellurians. That perhaps, was the best message McCoy's Doctor could give us.


Alas, it was here when the show was put on "hiatus", one that lasted twelve years give or take. Doctor Who was never officially cancelled, but for all intents and purposes it had run its twenty-six year run. McCoy, unlike Colin Baker, was never blamed for the show's end, another credit to how well he did in the role. 

It was unfortunate that the de facto cancellation came at that time since the show was finally finding its way back. The costume was at least rational, and the stories were improving. Remembrance of the Daleks brings the series almost full circle, returning to Coal Hill, the school where the show had begun. I especially love The Curse of Fenric, which to my mind is not just among the best the series made but the last great story of the original era. It's one of the few to elicit in me a reaction of fear and suspense. 

Of the ones available now as of this writing, Ghost Light was one I did not understand at all. Not one bit. I'd put that one as the worst.

Stories available: Remembrance of the Daleks, Battlefield, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, and the ironically titled final story of the original series, Survival. Delta and the Bannermen was released in September.

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