Doctor Who: The Comprehensive Guide to Things I Like, Fifth Doctor Edition

This is a short overview / series for Doctor Who episodes that are my favorite from each doctor after finishing all of the TV show Doctor Who (Old and New).

Just a couple thing before I jump in to it:

  • I broke these down in to Doctors because comparisons between the eras are nearly impossible
  • There’s a link to every other entry at the bottom if you missed any of them
  • These are not reviews or even summaries, they’re just some stray thoughts about what I liked about the episodes usually
  • These episodes are listed in order of airing, not in order of ranking
  • Also :

5th Doctor, played by Peter Davison 1981-1984

I’m sure trying to follow 4th was a hard act to follow but Davison does a great job anyway. Even though 8th generally gets the title “The Oncoming Pretty” I think it might be better reserved for 5th who spends a lot of his time being very smilely and preening more than any other Doctor before him. He’s very human and wears one of the more subdued outfits to match that trait, so much so that he looks like he belongs more than his companions in many of the locales they stop by.

For me, 5th wasn’t the best that there was but he made do. He was the first Doctor to take particularly badly to his original regeneration and seems to spend a lot of his time thinking about the past. 5th has some of the best companions though because they’re varied and interesting. He spends quite a lot of his time trying to get Tegan back to Heathrow Airport but somehow on the way accidentally picks up a man who wants to kill him. He’s also the first to lose a companion and while it seems to effect him greatly, even in that episode he just sort of moves on right away and attempts to bury it. For that reason I think 5th is a lot more repressed than other Doctors making him, at least to me, slightly less interesting than any of the others.

Despite the declining budget of the show, you almost don’t notice it. This Doctor has a particularly carefree attitude and doesn’t seem to get bothered about anything. He finds great comfort in his companions, especially Tegan, who he seems genuinely apologetic for. I think this was a strong era for Team TARDIS since for the most part everyone but Tegan is an alien and understand at least something of science and technology. Five’s era is decidedly marked with good minds and brave hearts.

Kinda


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
Thoughts: Kinda (pronounced /kɪndʌ/, not /kɪndə/) is a weird episode. There’s a science center that is run by an insane megalomaniac (I know that sounds pretty standard but keep at it). There’s a box that makes people see visions. There’s a snake spirit called The Mara and it takes over Tegan and they end up using mirrors to trick it out of her body. Also a soothsayer lady calls the Doctor an idiot. There really isn’t much not to like about this episode as it’s fast and fun and has long lasting consequences in future non-consecutive serials!

Earthshock


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
Thoughts: I’m not sure there is more to say about this episode that everyone else in the world hasn’t already said. This is a Cybermen episode which is usually a good sign (I like the Cybermen much more than Daleks, that’s for sure). The episode itself and the plan of the Cybermen is pretty standard, they come in and make some fuss about people having emotions. Everyone runs around for a while, eventually forming a plan and then Adric decides while everyone else is escaping that he can fix this. Adric dies fairly needlessly which makes this a pretty brutal blow to Team TARDIS but in theory Adric crashing wiped out the dinosaurs so…that’s a lose-lose.

Snakedance


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka
Thoughts: So sue me, I really liked the story line with the Mara. I like how this episode explores Tegan’s mind and feelings and how the Doctor has to learn how to comfort her better. This episode also tackles making objects out of nothing with a great crystal which makes it actually pretty silly to watch. There’s a puppet show for some reason and they show an entire planet of weird culture which is something I always love. This time though the Mara ends up becoming actual flesh and is killed unlike before where he was just a spirit. The episode ends with Tegan finally “free” of the Mara though it’s pretty sure to haunt her mind for all of eternity!

Terminus


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka, and Vislor Turlough
Thoughts: I just love this episode, and it’s a wonderful send off for Nyssa who stays to basically become a doctor herself which is adorable. This episode starts with some of the stupidest wacky hi jinx from resident Doctor-wannabe-maimer Turlough and long story short everyone ends up crawling through ducts on a space ship headed towards its doom which happens to be in the exact center of the universe. This episode bridges on the relationship between drugs, treatment methods, and corporate overlords who control basic needs (food, sleep, medicine). Also I guess the Doctor stops the world from completely ending for the nth time and suggests this ship might have started the universe.

Enlightenment


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Companions: Tegan Jovanka and Vislor Turlough
Thoughts: This is probably one of the more interesting executions of what could have been a stereotypical story. There’s old time-y costumes, pirates, questions about the nature of thought, and Turlough almost throws himself overboard in to space. I really like the idea of Eternals who can no longer think (a creature like this was sort of explored in an earlier episode but this is a more refined version of it). The Doctor also refuses “enlightenment” which sounds like a trap of a prize if I’ve ever heard it. Also in this episode  Turlough puts an end to the Black Guardian nonsense – good riddance.

The Cave of Androzani


Running Time: 4 episode, 25 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Peri Brown
Thoughts: Wow. This is one of the most brutal episodes. It starts off with a crazy guy in a pseudo gimp suit but surprise twist, he is actually really well acted! He is in charge of a mining operation and he plans to keep the Doctor and Peri with him forever. It’s all a bit Phantom of the Opera. Towards the end though things start to go right off the rails. I don’t like Peri as a companion and the weird part is that the Doctor seems to resent and dislike her also but he crawls on hands and knees through every horrific trap and problem to save her. It feels like he is trying to make up for what he has done for one of the first times in his life. I actually see this episode as a huge turning point for the Doctor in terms of self-awareness and he dies with his last word “Adric” right after he has sacrificed himself to save Peri, obviously guilt is fresh on his mind. A really powerful and well-done episode, probably my favorite regeneration scene (9th is a close runner up though).

Here’s an index for the other entries:
1st Doctor
2nd Doctor
3rd Doctor
4th Doctor
5th Doctor
6th Doctor
7th Doctor
8th Doctor
9th Doctor
10th Doctor
11th Doctor
12th Doctor

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