As I said last week, I’m slowly working my way through a bunch of the most acclaimed episodes from the classic era of “Doctor Who.” Since I’m still somewhere in the middle of the Fourth Doctor’s (aka Tom Baker) tenure, I figured I’d share my general thoughts on the first three Doctors and their runs. Without any further ado, let’s get started.
The First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) took me some time to warm up to. Considering he’s the most grandpa-like of the Doctors, he starts off gruff and very rough around the edges. But as he learns to dial down his violent tendencies and occasional cowardice, he becomes much friendlier and more keen to save the day. Even though more of his stories technically exist compared to Troughton’s, I found them the hardest to get through. As I’ve mentioned before, the slower pacing isn’t something I’m used to and since many of the First Doctor’s stories could be both historical and educational, it took a while for me to click with them. He also had plenty of companions during his tenure, though I felt Ian and Barbara were easily the best followed by Vicki (the others were…alright). Even though “Doctor Who” had some growing pains, there’s no denying the influence Hartnell and co. had. I can’t help but appreciate what they accomplished even with limited resources.
The Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) was a lot more carefree with the occasional bouts of seriousness. I can definitely see how Matt Smith’s Doctor was influenced by Troughton’s performance. While his recorder hijinks were impressive if sometimes annoying, he had this lightheartedness to him that easily set him apart from Hartnell’s Doctor. Of course, the writing helped too, even if it took a little time to mold this Doctor into the clown he is. The unfortunate part of his run is the lack of episode footage. A lot of the great stuff in his run was hampered for me by the necessary use of reconstructions. I would’ve loved to see his missing episodes in live action. As far as my favorite companion of his, I’d say that honor goes to mainly Jamie with Zoe not far behind. And even though I said I’d keep this general, I just have to name drop “The Mind Robber” as one of the best things I’ve seen from Classic “Doctor Who” period. It’s so imaginative and bizarre that words can’t do it justice.
Finally, the Third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee) was sometimes uptight and arrogant, but also often warm and kind. He felt grandpa-like to me as well, at least with Jo Grant, and one thing that sets him far apart from the other Doctors is his fighting prowess. Seriously, this guy was like an action hero compared to his predecessors. He also mostly trades up the Tardis for a car he calls Bessie thanks to being exiled to Earth (long story). This is where UNIT and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart come into play, and the stories are mainly Earth-centric as a result. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I did find myself yearning for an actual Tardis adventure after a while of seeing nothing but Earth locales. I also discovered how much I friggin’ love Roger Delgado’s role as the Master, and he’s easily my favorite version now. It’s like watching Moriarty duke it out with Sherlock with his Master and Pertwee’s Doctor. As for companions, I’d easily say the Brigadier will forever be my favorite. However, excluding UNIT, that honor goes to Jo Grant. I enjoyed her fun-loving chemistry with Pertwee, and even though I do really like Sarah Jane Smith, I feel she’s better suited with the Fourth Doctor (more on that next week, perhaps?).
So, I’d say of the first three Doctors, my favorite tenure goes to Troughton. While I liked the groundwork laid by Hartnell’s and the Master shenanigans in Pertwee’s, Troughton’s just came across as the most entertaining to me even with the lack of actual episodes. Of course, I’ll stress here and now that I love EVERY incarnation of the Doctor (yes, even Six), so I personally don’t consider one better than another. Even though Matt Smith’s was my first and the one I’m most attached to, the Doctor as a character always interests and fascinates me. And despite them being no longer with us, Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee have my respect now more than ever before.