The Colin Baker Years

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The Colin Baker Years
Another year over and what have we done? We watched Doctor Who, that’s what.
 

The Scores

Here are Sue’s scores for Colin’s stories in reverse order (transmission order if tied):

The Twin Dilemma: “What were they thinking?” – 1/10

Timelash: “Horrendous.” – 2/10

The Mark of the Rani: “A boring mess.” – 3/10

Revelation of the Daleks: “The Doctor did bugger all.” – 4/10

Trial 4: The Ultimate Foe: “I don’t get it.” – 5/10

Attack of the Cybermen: “All over the place.” – 6/10

Trial 1: The Mysterious Planet: “Seen it all before.” – 6/10

The Two Doctors: “Very funny.” – 7/10

Trial 3: Terror of the Vervoids: “Mel was great.” – 7/10

Vengeance on Varos: “A nice change of pace.” – 8/10

Trial 2: Mindwarp: “Shocking.” – 8/10

top

Ask Sue!

Thanks to everyone who sent in a question. We received over 100 submissions in the end, and I had to whittle them down for the sake of Sue’s sanity. I’m sorry if I didn’t include your question this time.

Trials and TribulationsMe: OK Sue, you’ve seen Trials and Tribulations

Sue: Good documentary. Bit sad, though.

Me: Anyway, you are now well versed in what happened to Colin Baker, which brings us nicely to the first question (asked by many, including Sarah Hadley and Dave Sanders):

Jonathan Morris: Five minutes after the last episode of The Trial Of A Time Lord, you have been made the new producer of Doctor Who. What do you do?

Sue: Can I keep Colin? I’d give him one more season but I’d change his costume. The first episode would see him burning it on a bonfire. He wouldn’t meet Bonnie Langford until the last episode, at which point the Doctor would suddenly realise that he’s been in the Matrix all this time and he’s still on trial. I’d do it all on location and I’d get Led Zeppelin to do a version of the theme tune. I’d keep the episodes at 25 minutes and I’d get a really fit companion for the dads. One that gets on with the Doctor and is happy to be there. I’d put Graeme Harper on a retainer and I’d ask Gangster Man (Philip Martin) to be my script editor. How’s that for starters?

Jonathan Baldwin: What do you see as the lost potential with Colin’s Doctor (if any) and who, or what, is to blame?

jntSue: He wasn’t given a chance to be a proper Doctor. I blame JNT and Eric Saward. They were as bad as each other. They should have left before Colin started. The scripts weren’t good enough and the directors were too safe. He didn’t stand a chance.

Me: We received a few variations on the next question, including submissions from Hector Roddan and James P Quick (the P stands for Patrick, apparently)…

Sue: A likely story.

Me: Here’s the short version:

John Callaghan: How would you kill off the sixth Doctor?

Sue: I’d bring the Valeyard back and I’d start the Time War. Colin would regenerate when he blows up Gallifrey. It’s the sort of thing he’d do. Maybe he would regenerate to stop the Valeyard taking over his body. That would work, too.

Me: Paul Shields and Scott Willison both want to know: did seeing Colin on I’m a Celebrity… colour your opinion of his Doctor?

Sue: No.

Me: OK, you brought the next question on yourself. Quite a few asked this one, including Peter Nolan and Jessica Howard:

Genesis of the DaleksJJ Chambers: Which stories would you have chosen for the prosecution and the defence in The Trial of a Time Lord?

Sue: Genesis of the Daleks for the defence, obviously. For the prosecution, I’d probably choose the one where Adric died. The Doctor ****ed that right up.

Matt Bartley: Colin Baker’s interpretation of the Doctor was smug, arrogant, cruel, cowardly, insensitive and dickish, and this makes him intrinsically more interesting than Peter Davison’s wet lettuce leaf approach. True or false?

Sue: False. No, true. No, wait… False. Oh, I don’t know. Peter Davison isn’t a wet lettuce. Will that do?

Paul McElvaney: Who would be the perfect companion for the Sixth Doctor?

Sue: Glitz. He was the perfect companion for the Sixth Doctor. We saw it.

Me: Lots of variations on the next question (far too many to mention) but they all boil down to this:

TuxedoAndy Stacey: If Sue had been the costume designer during this era, what kind of outfit would she have created for the Sixth Doctor?

Sue: A James Bond tuxedo. He would have looked great in a tux.

Me: This one really made me laugh:

BloodyMarquis: What is it like to know that the BBC was airing Edge of Darkness around the same time as The Trial of a Time Lord?

Sue: It makes me want to watch Edge of Darkness again.

Nick Myles: If you had to trade Neil in for one of the various sex pests who lusted after Peri, which one would you choose?

Sue: Brian Blessed. He’d be good with his hands. I’d have to stock up on aspirin, though.

Paul YoungJarad Higgins: If you had been in charge of Doctor in Distress, who would have sung the song?

Sue: I liked Paul Young, but that wasn’t really his sort of thing.

Me: It’s no one’s sort of thing!

Sue: OK, him, then. Plus Boy George, Marilyn and Cheryl from Buck’s Fizz.

Mike Zeidler: Should Colin have kept the beard he grew during the show’s rest period?

Sue: Yes.

Ian Ferguson: What was your worst crime against fashion in the eighties?

Sue: How long have you got? Probably my flat canvas yellow boots, blue leg warmers and blue and white stripped dungarees. I was seriously into braces during the eighties. That was bad.

Doctor WhoAdam S Leslie: Apart from the obvious signifiers (theme tune, TARDIS, Daleks, etc.) do you think Doctor Who is recognisably the same show it was when you started watching it?

Sue: Yes, of course it is. It goes out of its way to remind me, sometimes.

Paul Roche: Would you be willing to listen to Colin’s work with Big Finish to get a broader prospective of the Sixth Doctor?

Sue: No.

Jane Wilson: If you could break the Trial into four segments, what would you call the stories?

I have to act out the stories in front of her before she finally offers the following:

Sue: Ravalox, Mind Swap, Genocide of the Killer Plants, and The Matrix.

ColinMe: I’ve got a rude question from Steve O’Brien which I can’t include…

Sue: Between Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton. Somewhere near the top.

Me: Moving swiftly on…

Mark Faulkner: As there are 12 days of Christmas and 12 Doctors (including Peter Cushing), which gifts would your true love bring to each Doctor?

Sue: If I could get one present between all of them, I’d get one of those fire escape doors, the sort you find in hotels. You know, the ones that close and lock automatically. I’d get him one for his TARDIS.

Me: That’s nice, but what if you had to give him 12 different gifts? One for each incarnation.

Sue: OK… 1st: a sonic screwdriver; 2nd: a jacket that fit him; 3rd: a luncheon voucher; 4th: a nice hand-turned pen; 5th: a big kiss; 6th: a new perm; 7th: **** knows; 8th: no idea; 9th: a framed picture of Rose; 10th: a weekend in Barcelona. With me; 11th: a big jar of jelly beans. You know, one of those jars from TK Maxx. The really big one.

Me: OK, whatever you say. Push the boat out. What about Peter Cushing?

Sue: Nothing. He doesn’t count.

I sigh.

Craig PolaskoSue: Don’t look at me like that. This is really difficult. It’s like me asking you: “What would you buy Michael Buble’s bass player for Christmas?”

Me: Music lessons?

Sue: I could get my CDs out if you like. Would you like that? No, I didn’t think so.

When she’s finished sulking, I ask Sue to choose her favourite question… And the winner is Mark Faulkner. Congratulations, Mark, you have won a slice of Nicol’s forthcoming ‘end of experiment’ cake and a mug or T-shirt of your choice. I’ll be in touch with you after Christmas.

Me: Before we go, can you sum up Colin Baker’s Doctor in three words?

Sue: Unpredictable, loud and unfortunate.

Me: Are you looking forward to Sylvester McCoy?

Sue: YES! Actually, I’m looking forward to Ace more; I like her jacket.

 

Blog News

The blog is taking a short break so I can work on the book. Think of it as a Moffat-esque mid-season hiatus. We will return with Time and the Rani on February 14th. Until then, have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over the last two years. We love you all. Yes, even you.

The experiment continues…
 

Coming Soon

 

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Discussion

  1. Rob Shearman  December 23, 2012

    Good for you, Neil and Sue! You deserve a good rest. Thanks so much for all the laughs you’ve given me this year, and have a fantastic Christmas! xxx

  2. San Tar-Clorz  December 23, 2012

    Have a wonderful Christmas. And thank you for asking my question.

  3. John G  December 23, 2012

    Some interesting responses there from Sue, and I couldn’t agree more that Colin got a very raw deal. Also amusing to see Revelation not far off the bottom along with The Twin Dilemma and Timelash, which just goes to show once again that Sue’s responses are never predictable! Given the high ratings for Vengeance and Mindwarp, it’s no surprise Philip Martin is her choice as the next Script Editor – God knows how the McCoy era would have turned out if he had taken the job…

    Anyway, I hope you both have a great Christmas and a happy New Year, and I will look forward to the blog returning in February. It seems a long way away at the moment, but an extended break may build up Sue’s tolerance levels for the next season…

    • Dave Sanders  December 23, 2012

      Sue is doing it Gangsters style. Has that joke been done?

      • Noodles  December 29, 2012

        Op, Op Op Op Op, Oppa Gansters style.

        No?

        I’ll get my coat.

    • Noodles  December 29, 2012

      “Time And The Rani” aside, I love series 24. It’s a definite change of tone from what precedes it, and it may not be as serious as some people would like, but I think that it’s a 2000AD comic brought to life.

      And even “Time And The Rani” is pretty.

  4. Ben Herman  December 23, 2012

    Paul Roche: Would you be willing to listen to Colin’s work with Big Finish to get a broader prospective of the Sixth Doctor?

    Sue: No.

    Bugger all!!! Oh, well, I guess Sue’s patience has already been stretched to the absolute limit with this experiment, so I shouldn’t complain. After all, it she did sit through the re-con of The Space Pirates without filing for divorce. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.

    Anyway, happy holidays to you two! See you in 2013!

    • Paul Roche  December 23, 2012

      I know!!! I didn’t think much of colin’s Doctor until i listened to his Big Finish audios, the same might be the same for Sue!

    • Damon Capehart  December 24, 2012

      I know! He should have asked MY question … basically the same question, but luring Sue in by reminding her what she said during Stones of Blood: ” Please let her be a companion. I’d love to see the Doctor travelling the universe with a dotty, old academic.” I mean, Evelyn is PRECISELY something that Sue would most likely enjoy.

      Neil, you missed your chance. Obviously, you can still ask her “offline”. :-)

      • katie  December 24, 2012

        Neil IS a dotty old academic.

  5. Rad  December 23, 2012

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have loved the Colin Baker era, looking forward to the two Mcs in February and March – enjoy the “break” which isn’t really a break, looking forward to the book.

  6. Nick Mays  December 23, 2012

    As ever, a brilliant summary of a Doctor’s era. One can’t help but feel though, with decent stories, script editing, producing and directing… and costume design… oh hell, all of it really, Colin’s era would have been remembered far more fondly than it is.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to Sue, Neil and Nicol, and thank you for enlivening 2012 with your excellent blog. January’s a long and gloomy month, but the thought of ‘Wife In Space’ returning on February 1st gives me something to look forward to!

    Final thought: After you’ve watched the TV movie, please DO consider continuing the experiment later in 2013 with the 9th Doctor’s tenure. After all, it’ll have been 8 years since Who returned to our screens then!

  7. Dave Sanders  December 23, 2012

    Spod bless us, every one.

  8. Merast  December 23, 2012

    I would like to have seen Colin with that beard too, it would have been a nice touch.

    Have a good one you lot! Looking forward to Sly Mccoy.

    • Cracked Polystyrene Man  December 23, 2012

      A beard just looks odd on Colin. Looks good on Matt Smith though – shame he hasn’t sported one onscreen more often.

  9. DPC  December 23, 2012

    Happy holidays to you both (and to all who respond on this blog as well)!

    Definitely looking forward to Sue’s takes on Sylvester’s era…

    • Alisaunder  December 25, 2012

      Im not. Im gonna miss this blog.

  10. John Callaghan  December 23, 2012

    Many thanks to you both (and Gary and Nicol) for providing such entertainment. Have a cool Yule, a swingin’ solstice and a, er, a very nice January.

  11. Lewis Christian  December 23, 2012

    I was upset you’re not going straight on to McCoy (out of interest Neil – did you end up showing her Six’s actual regeneration scene or not?) but February will do me – hopefully I’ll get one on my birthday :D

    Merry Christmas, and happy new year to the Perrymans :)

  12. Gavin Noble  December 23, 2012

    Not another Doctor Who hiatus…has Sue been dining with Michael Grade recently?

    Merry Christmas to the Perryman’s and incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home!

  13. Frankymole  December 23, 2012

    Have a wonderful Christmas – especially Neil and Sue, and also Glen, Nicol, Gary, everybody who has contributed to the blog and podcasts (even those who “had a Benton”), and not least to all the entertaining commentators / repliers. It’s been a blast. Here’s looking forward to 2013 (Happy New Year), to the last episodes of The (Neil and) Sueperryman Experiment, and the last two 20th-century Doctors! Now what a century that was.

  14. Simon Harries  December 23, 2012

    Thanks so much for the many hours of viewing and even more hours of writing that have gone into honing this delightful, witty and insightful blog. I’ll miss you in the New Year but will be looking forward to the first McCoy review xxx

  15. Paul Mc Elvaney  December 23, 2012

    Thanks so much for answering my question! God, I’ve been mentioned on the Wife in Space blog, I can die happy now! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all members of this wonderful community. I cannot wait for Sue’s take on the Real McCoy!

  16. Colin McDonough  December 23, 2012

    Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to Neil,Sue and everyone else involved in the blog.Enjoy your break , you’ve earned it!

  17. encyclops  December 23, 2012

    I’ve had limited internet access for the past few days but I’ve been enjoying the last few updates of the blog immensely, though I haven’t had a chance to chime in with my usual nonsense. I’m glad Sue enjoyed Vervoids, since I’ve always found it a lot more agreeable than most fans allow (and it’s my favorite P&J script, though that’s not saying much), and I always thought the ending of the Trial was nonsense, but knowing its background has mellowed me toward it.

    I’m dismayed that I’ll have to wait till February for my WIS fix and to see the thrilling conclusion to the experiment, but it’s for a good cause. Please enjoy your holidays and thanks for all the laughs!

  18. Polarity Reversed  December 24, 2012

    Seasons best to all at Perryperson Heights & Animal Sanctuary. Dreamies all round, but first shout to Captain Jack (rough year).
    I’ve also enjoyed the company of very many people under the line – so fond wishes to all.

    Only seen a scant handful of this era, and long after the event. But I think the Lloyd Webber mashup is rather apt. Largely tacky and derivative, but with the odd moment that struck home. Vervoids could have been a Jon or Tom story. As for searching for closure with your id (or is it? or is it a future thing, or oh, hang on, I’ve lost the will to care) accompanied by Violet Elizabeth Bott, for some unexplained reason, (but then I suppose she was bound to grow up to be a personal trainer) in a stock Victorian dream environment – meh…

    Incidentally, just finished Tom’s autobiog, and it’s an absolute hoot.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  19. Philippa Sidle  December 24, 2012

    I don’t have much to say on the blog these days, as this era is still almost a total blank to me. But have a lovely Christmas and New Year Neil and Sue!

  20. John G. Wood  December 24, 2012

    Happy Christmas! Enjoy the break, and don’t spend all the time working on the book!

  21. Oz Baxter  December 24, 2012

    Merry Christmas! Thanks for the entertainment!

    P.S. Sue is right, Cushing doesn’t count.

  22. Noodles  December 24, 2012

    I’m sorry, Neil, but you have to change the text on the front page. “A ‘not-we’ wife” indeed. I think the answers to at least two of those questions make it very clear that Sue is no longer a not-we.

    • Matt Sharp  December 30, 2012

      Well, we’d need to do the ritual to make her One Of Us… the Master* passes round the loving cup while we do the chanting. All together now:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C4uTEEOJlM

      *All right, he’s not THE the Master, but he’s still A the Master…

  23. Jason Miller  December 24, 2012

    February 1st? February 1st?? FEBRUARY 1ST?? How am I supposed to wait that long for Sue’s response to “Time and the Rani”?? This expected Christmas gift is going to be too-long delayed…

  24. Ollie  December 25, 2012

    Merry Christmas one and all!

  25. Desert Kris  December 25, 2012

    A whole month seems like quite a long “short break!” And there isn’t much left to the old show, this would seem like the time to just push through to the end (are you still planning to end with the McGann movie, or are you going to follow through with the new series?)

    Happy Christmas, anyway.

    But seriously, a month is a very long “short” break. :o

    • Nick Mays  December 27, 2012

      For flip’s sake! I do hope you’re “only joking”. The guys deserve a break after turning out the blog every week almost for the past couple of years. It’ll be sad enough when/if it finishes, so delaying that inevitable end for a month seems fair enough to me.

      Although I really, really DO hope they’ll re-start on the new series, especially as 2013 is the show’s 50th anniversary year! ;)

      • Neil Perryman  December 27, 2012

        I have no choice in this matter. It’s as simple as that. Sue’s not happy about it, either.

        • Nick Mays  December 27, 2012

          If you’re concentrating on the book Neil, that’s perfectly understandable. What was it Douglas Adams said about deadlines? “I love deadlines. I really like that whooshing sound they make as they go past.”

          Good luck with your scribing good sir and see you and Sue in February! :)

  26. charles yoakum  December 26, 2012

    best of the holidays and the new year to you both. looking forward to the end of the experiment (as i work on turning my wife into a “sometimes-we”, even she liked yesterday’s special) and will enjoy the book when its ready to be read. all the best and thanks for the hours of fun reading! see you in 2013

  27. Longtime Listener  December 26, 2012

    On Christmas Day, a bit before 6pm, one cry can be heard echoing in unison from households across the land: “Shut the ****ing door!”

    • Ian  December 27, 2012

      I actually laughed out loud thinking of Sue throwing a cushion at the telly!

      Happy new year to Neil, Sue, Nicol and the readers, and the best of luck with the book.

      • Nick Mays  December 27, 2012

        And I hope that Doctors and companions alike now realise the danger of leaving the ****ing doors open!

    • Longtime Listener  December 29, 2012

      Oh, and having seen it again, I noticed something right at the end that I missed first time around…

      Dock his ****ing pay!

      I’m starting to think the Moff has been reading the blog again.

  28. DamonD  December 27, 2012

    Hope you had a great Christmas & Boxing Day, best wishes for the New Year. Roll on Feb! :)

  29. Jennie  December 27, 2012

    Have a good break, Neil and Sue and a Happy New Year. Will miss you. Looking forward to Sylvester.

  30. Steve W  December 30, 2012

    “A James Bond tuxedo. He would have looked great in a tux.”

    Something not unlike this custom figure of mine? http://fourth-heir.deviantart.com/art/6th-Doctor-Wreck-of-the-Titan-211160257 You should treat Sue to a copy of “Wreck of the Titan” if only so she can enjoy the cover art ;) Hope you all enjoyed christmas and have an excellent new year!

    • Tommy  December 31, 2012

      I’d say if Sue were to listen to just one Colin audio, it should be The Curse of Davros. That for me was one of the real missed opportunities of the era.

  31. Ollie  January 1, 2013

    Happy New Year one and all!

    • John Miller  January 1, 2013

      Yes, Happy New Year to everyone. Best wishes.

  32. Aaron  January 1, 2013

    Finally caught up to real time for the final doctor. I needed the Christmas break to read these faster than you were pumping them out.

  33. chris-too-old-to-watch  January 3, 2013

    Kate O’Mara, playing the Rani, playing Bonnie Langford, playing Mel…..possibly the most camp thing of the 1980′s….can’t wait……..

  34. Nick Mays  January 3, 2013

    My toes are curling back into their 1987 position already!

    Thankfully, it DID get better… then the plug was pulled.

    • John Miller  January 3, 2013

      ”Thankfully, it DID get better… then the plug was pulled.”

      Did it?

  35. Nick Mays  January 3, 2013

    Like all things John, it’s subjective. IMO, there were SOME (not all) stories in McCoy’s later seasons that were far better than his first season, and I think that had a lot to do with Andrew Cartmell’s influence.

    But if you thought they were all crap, that’s fine, it’s your opinion, mine is different. Same with all TV programmes, films, books etc.

    • DPC  January 4, 2013

      Seasons 25 and 26, as televised, are hit or miss, but – dang – the novelizations had the real power and were the real proof of how the show found a new, strong direction, that was not being backed by the amount of time, money, and per-story episodes needed.

      McCoy’s era easily needed 4 episodes per story, bare minimum. “Silver Nemesis” could have benefited from 5 episodes, and “Ghost Light” needed 6. Most 3-parters easily would have been just as good with 4, and the extended version of “The Curse of Fenric” also shows how much extra footage helped.

      Cartmel did bring in a freshness, and I think that scared the BBC. The same BBC that applauded violent stories before saying the violence was too extreme as a big reason for axing it. The same BBC that said nobody wanted to produce the show, despite DVD documentaries telling of people who did want to produce it! And, best of all, using “sci-fi isn’t popular” as means to nix a show while a far less popular and non-sci-fi show (e.g. “Roland Rat”) was renewed – as I recall reading, maybe the Roland Rat comparison was during the first axing (1985)…

      Cartmel’s vision had a couple issues I wasn’t fond of, but he could be retconning things a tad since season 27 never got produced and he’s saying all that some 20 years alter…

      • Errol the Hamster  January 5, 2013

        Sorry, but I think you are way overestimating the extent to which the BBC would have either noticed or cared about Cartmel. All the BBC people from the era who’ve been interviewed about the series have indicated that it was considered obsolete old rubbish that nobody there really cared about. It was getting fairly poor ratings against a much higher profile TV series at the time, and was thought to have become a disposable cult thing which was considered to have had its day. For the BBC to have have felt threatened by it they’d have had to have taken it seriously in the first place. I’m not saying they were right to dismiss it out of hand in that way. I don’t have that many issues with the McCoy era personally, but I do know that the BBC had held in it in fairly low regard for a while by then. I don’t think Cartmel made any difference at all to that, and there is no evidence that the BBC attached any significance to the content of his episodes. They were willing, in theory, to do a deal and allow other independent producers to make it, which was what happened in the event, it just took several years for terms to be agreed, for various reasons.

        The BBC had not, as far as I know, “applauded violent stories” prior to people from the same organisation criticising those. A charge of hypocrisy on that score could only really apply if you could prove that the exact same individuals had ever made contradictory statements to that effect.

        “And, best of all, using “sci-fi isn’t popular” as means to nix a show while a far less popular and non-sci-fi show (e.g. “Roland Rat”) was renewed – as I recall reading, maybe the Roland Rat comparison was during the first axing (1985)…”

        ‘Roland Rat – The Series’ was not renewed. They only did one series. The character had originally been part of TV-AM on ITV in 1983 – 4, who left to join the BBC in, I think, 1985. The single series which he got in Autumn 1986 was an attempt at making him part of a Saturday evening light entertainment line-up. Thereafter he mainly appeared in early afternoon children’s programmes or in guest slots. I’ve no idea what the ‘Roland Rat comparison’ refers to, and don’t recall anyone comparing them at the time.

        In any case, Doctor Who was renewed in 1985. It was never cancelled at any stage that year, except insofar as the original plans for S23 were dropped. But the TV series remained ongoing on a production basis.