Sunday, 17 June 2012

DW50 Countdown: The Fifth Doctor (Part One)

Brave heart, reader! My countdown through the Doctors this month brings us to Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor. So please read this small article about the man. After all, for many people, small events are what life is all about...
                      'There's always something to look at if you open your eyes!'
                                                                     The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison)

The Fifth Doctor was like no other Doctor before him. Not just because he was the youngest actor to play the role by far at the time (Matt Smith only beats him by three years), his character was significantly different. Whereas previous Doctors had been largely-carefree eccentrics cavorting around the universe, life for the Fifth Doctor was a lot tougher. His more vulnerable side meant he felt the weight of his self-appointed task to right wrongs where ever he found them more than ever. Despite his youthful appearance, the Fifth Doctor wisely realised nothing was save. Not even the lives of his closest friends...

On the surface, the Fifth Doctor looked like he was up for fun and games. His regular outfit was basically cricket gear with a stick of celery attached to his lapel (apparently it notifies him when there's noxious gases in the air). However, emotionally he is perhaps the most vulnerable of all the Doctors. Completely without the pretentiousness or selfishness of his predecessors, his defining characteristic was his compassion. The Fifth Doctor strongly abhorred violence and would stop at nothing to prevent enemies such as the callous Cybermen, the insane the Master and the awesome force of the Daleks from spilling innocent blood. For example, when the Battle of Sea Base Four, between Silurian and Human forces, in the 22nd century ended with both sides completely wiped out, the Doctor lamented; 'there should have been another way.' Overall, caring a great deal for those he was trying to save, the Fifth Doctor was a cast-iron hero.

With the Fifth Doctor's young face and trio of youthful companions, the TARDIS became like a flat share between friends. Inherited from the Fourth Doctor, for most of his tenure this Doctor was accompanied by mouthy Australian Tegan Jovanka - who shared all but two of his adventures, intelligent Nyssa of the planet Traken  who was the last of her kind (later Doctors would be able to relate) and, most complex of all, Adric, a maths whizz kid from another universe. Although he got on well with the two girls, the Doctor and Adric's relationship was very fractured; the pair repeatedly argued and the boy repeatedly warned that he would leave the TARDIS. Unfortunately, their friendship was cut short - whilst saving the world from the Cybermen, Adric became the first companion (since one-time ally Sara Kingdom in the 60s) to die. The event had a huge impression on the Doctor and his friends. The Fifth Doctor was also friends with shifty alien Turlough who actually boarded the TARDIS to kill the Doctor (!) but whose loyalty changed and the two became friends. Also, American girl Peri also joined him briefly and it was her who the Doctor made the ultimate sacrifice for; giving his friend the last of the antidote to a poison they were both infected with. However, of all of these companions, to see the one who affected him most we need look no further than his last word before his death: 'Adric...'

On the whole, Peter Davison had an extremely hard job following on from the giant of Tom Baker but managed to pull off a very different version of the character off with aplomb. His work has not been unappreciated by fans. Such Doctor Who luminaries such as David Tennant and Steven  Moffat have vocally praised his performance (both were involved in Davison's return to the series in Time Crash - the only appearance of a classic Doctor in the revived series).

Note: My article entitled The Fifth Doctor (Part Two) has been lost in the vortex, possibly for the rest of eternity. Until it floats back to its rightful time and place, let's respectively continue our countdown with the Sixth Doctor!
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