We have now finished reviewing all of Peter Davison’s – Fifth Doctor episodes, in the episodes section.
Davison’s time in Doctor Who can be summed up as the “almost impossible challenge”. He was brought in to fill the massive shoes of outgoing Doctor – Tom Baker and present a new fresh portrayal of the Doctor. He was also the then youngest actor cast – at only 30 years old.
Episodes like Castrovalva – 1982 and Four To Doomsday – 1982 did little in establishing the new Doctor’s character. Black Orchid – 1982 was a fun romp but didn’t help reaffirm the Fifth Doctor’s “thing” – either.
It was the excellent career definer – Earthshock – 1982, featuring the Cybermen – that finally nailed Davison’s much more accessibly human take on the Fifth Doctor. A world away from Tom Baker’s “olympian” alien detachment.
His companions where a weird bunch at the best of times and not very relatable. Adric was precocious and unlikeable. Tegan was for the most part, a miserable hostage of the Doctor and didn’t want to travel in the Tardis.
Turlough was character assassinated by his turn in The Black Guardian Trilogy and after that, no one fully trusted him again. Only Nyssa, came across as really thoughtful and likeable.
Davison’s time saw a number of big transitional changes in the show. It was finally fully brought into the 80’s – kicking and screaming. The theme music and orchestral incidental music was replaced with electronica. Out went the time tunnel opening credits, for a Davison shaped star-field blend.
The sonic screwdriver was destroyed and companion Tegan was given a character spotlight and the deepest characterisation to date, in The Mara Tales and The Awakening – 1984.
Davison also had the privilege of being the Doctor in charge for the 20th anniversary special; Five Doctor’s – 20th Anniversary Special. A one time only, enjoyable feature length romp through the entire back catalogue of Who.
If his fight against the Cybermen was career defining, then his showing against the Daleks was flat, in Resurrection of the Daleks – 1984. It was contrived and offered no new continuation to either the Doctor or the Dalek’s story, since their previous outing in Tom Baker’s Destiny Of The Daleks – 1979.
The continual re-introduction of The Master, was at times annoying. His overuse was compounded by the productions team insistence on dressing him up as other characters; for a third-act shock reveal!
Which wasn’t shocking, as we could tell it was him all along. He did partially redeem in Planet of Fire – 1984 with an intended swansong, that finally seemed to be written for Ainley’s strengths.
Davison was in retrospect, an excellent choice for the Doctor and he was part of the show, when was still highly regarded.
He left long before the BBC’s axe began to loom over proceedings. His era, (although not as strong as Tom Baker’s era); was a respectable followup, for the Fifth Doctor.