This post consists of my recommendations for for Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, find recommendations for other Classic Doctors by following the links below.
- William Hartnell, The First Doctor Recommendations.
- Patrick Troughton, The Second Doctor Recs.
- Jon Pertwee, The Third Doctor Recs.
- Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor Recs.
- Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor Recs.
- Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor Recs.
- Complete list of stories on DVD in my Doctor Who Master Post.
The Doctor receives a distress call abroad the TARDIS from Lytton (the mercenary from the Peter Davison story Resurrection of the Daleks) who is stranded in 1985 Earth. He and Peri land in the TARDIS to investigate. When the TARDIS materialises, the Chameleon Circuit engages, however, instead of blending in to Totters Lane – it takes various extremely conspicuous shapes. The Doctor and Peri discover Lytton is in contact with the Cybermen on Telos. The Cybermen plan on changing time, destroying the Earth to spare their planet, Mondas. Meanwhile, Lytton turns out to be really working for the Cryons, the original inhabitants of Telos.
In Attack of the Cybermen, Colin is excellent – he’s outraged at the injustice of what the Cybermen are doing, yet when he discovers Lytton’s changed his ways, he also swears to help him help the Cyrons. It’s a good story, with an edge to it. The individual episodes for Colin’s first season are 45-minutes not 30; however the series still depended on multi-part stories that ended on cliffhangers.
Vengeance on Varos has long been my favorite Colin Baker story. Varos, once a prison planet, is now one of the few sources of Zyton-7, a priceless natural resource that is needed by all spaceship. However, Sil an envoy from Galatron, has convinced the governors of Varos that Zyton-7, their only export, is worthless and he’s doing them a favor by taking it off their hands at extremely low prices. Meanwhile, the normal residents of the planet turn to television as a distraction from their difficult existence of hard labor. Two citizens, sit in their tiny living quarters, eating merger meals, and watching the punishment dome live – as rebels are punished with physical and mental torture. The Doctor and Peri join the rebels. Meanwhile, the governor does not escape, as the television viewers can also approve or veto his televised commands – and when they vote “no”, he’s tortured with electric shocks. Of course, some vote “no”, simply to see the governor tortured.
Vengeance on Varos is a commentary on televised violence, especially that of sports and reality television, so, of course, it was severely criticised for it’s violence. But the story’s secondary plot, that of a corporate entity severely exploiting a single-resource economy is also worth noting. Colin, and a strong guest cast, make the story one not to be missed.
Timelash is a fun story, it’s light, but it doesn’t quite get into the silly territory. The Doctor and Peri, joined by a very young, Herbert (H.G. Wells), become involved in a plot involving a woman named Vena, a monster called a Morlox, an alien dictator named the Borad, his assistant Tekkar, and a time tunnel called the Timelash that’s used by the dictator as a torture device. The references to The Time Machine fly fast and furious. But at the heart, it’s a story about a young man experiencing adventure and love for the first time. Besides – it’s just plain fun to watch.
After a hiatus, Doctor Who returned with another umbrella season, The Trial of a Time Lord, which is four stories released as a box set. Additionally, the stories were meant to be in the Doctor’s past, present and future, as well as a wrap up. With Trial, Doctor Who returned to its 30-minute format.
In The Mysterious Planet, the Doctor lands on a mysterious space station, and discovers he is to face a tribunal of Time Lords, and their prosecutor, the Valeyard. Evidence from the Matrix will be shown on a large screen. On the screen, Peri and the Doctor land on the planet, Ravalox, which was nearly destroyed by a solar fireball. The planet is really Earth, far in the future and moved to a different location in space. Peri and the Doctor discover a underground civilization, ruled by a robot dictator. Peri also discovers the Tribe of the Free, eking out an merger existence on the surface, and Glitz, and intergalactic rake. The Free invade underground, and the robot is destroyed. The Doctor claims the Valeyard is manipulating and tampering with evidence.
In Mindwarp, The Doctor and Peri arrive on Thoros-Beta, home to reptilian farmers, like Sil. Their leader, Kiv, has expanded his brain, but it is growing so big he must transplant it into another being – naturally, he chooses Peri for this. The Doctor is subjected to one of Kiv’s scientists’ machines, which causes him to act selfishly, even betraying Peri. Peri escapes with the Warrior King, Yrcanos. They stage a rebellion of the human slaves, but are captured. The Doctor, meanwhile, manages to free Yrcanos, but is pulled out of the situation before he can rescue Peri, and her mind is destroyed when it’s replaced with Kiv. Or is it?
In Terror of the Vervoids, the Doctor presents his story as rebuttal to the Time Lords. In his future, he and a new companion, Mel, follow a distress call to the space liner, Hyperion III. The distress call was sent by an undercover agent, but he’s killed before he can say much, other than a dangerous criminal may be on the ship. Meanwhile, Prof. Vasky has developed a killer plant life-form which is taking over the ship and causing havoc. Vasky, however, is the criminal the agent was looking for, and he plans to sell his plant lifeforms as slave labor. However, they are far to dangerous – the Doctor destroys them and is accused of genocide by the Time Lords.
Terror of the Vervoids actually plays out like a class British mystery. I mean, yes, with mad scientists, and killer plants, but still a British mystery.
The Ultimate Foe – Glitz and Mel arrive at the Doctor’s Trial as witnesses, as does the Master. The last two episodes of the Trial storyline explain everything that is going on, and Colin gets to deliver one of his best speeches as the Doctor:
This is the speech where Colin, and his Doctor’s pursuit of justice as well as outrage at corruption really shine.
Colin was only the Doctor for two seasons on the television series. However, he also shines in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures. If you like what you see in his aired adventures, give those a try!