Who Marathon: Patrick Troughton
Today I reached a second milestone in my Doctor Who project. I’ve completed the Patrick Troughton era. As I did with William Hartnell, I wanted to add some words about the Second Doctor.
There were a total of 119 episodes made with Patrick, covering most of Series 4, as well as all of 5 and 6 as well. His era suffers most from the 70’s wiping of episodes that the BBC undertook. Several of his have been animated, but several still remain lost, but can still be watched via tele snap reconstructions – if you’re brave enough (they can be hard to take). I think the missing episodes contribute a lot to people not recognizing him very high up on favorite Doctors lists. Not unless you were from that era and knew his work.
But I discovered a lot to like in his episodes. I always knew he was well regarded, and I’d seen these before, but as with Bill Hartnell, I think digesting them one episode at a time vs one STORY at a time made them easier to enjoy. I gained more from watching them that way I think. As I’ve now completed over 250 episodes, I definitely am confident this was the right way to tackle over 850+ episodes of Doctor Who.
Here’s a few thoughts back as I have just completed his era…
- Ben & Polly were really treated poorly as companions. Much was made about the lame departure of Dodo in Ben & Polly’s first story, but their last story was equally as bad. They disappeared after Episode 2, and only returned briefly at the end of Episode 6 in a pre-filmed segment. At least the actors got paid for all those episodes, but they just went away, only to be brought back for a “yeah, bye” at the end – which I suppose is more than Dodo got.
- Jamie I thought worked well with the Second Doctor. I’ve seen some blowback of late that he wasn’t that great of a companion, but I thought his mostly innocent look at the surroundings in their travels worked well, especially when paired with Zoe. But just between him and the Doctor, I thought it was a good pairing.
- The “middle” female companion – Victoria Waterfield was my least favorite. I have nothing against Deborah Watling, but the character was mostly the stereotypical female companion. Was there to be rescued. She was also one of the best screamers of all time. Her last story featured the eventual destruction of the story’s big bad by use of recorded screaming from her! Although she did get one of the better departures of a classic companion.
- Zoe Heriot is my favorite of the Troughton era companions. She pretty much had the whole package. She wasn’t a damsel, she didn’t need rescuing, she had a brain, and well, there was stuff there “for the dads”, too. From a story standpoint, her initial remit was that she was a brilliant scientist, and that remained with her through her run. Even going into the final story, she was showed to have an eidetic memory (if that term was not actually used).
- Speaking of Zoe’s “for the dads”… I think as time went on, the people making the show realized that. They had her in her catsuit which was quite nice to look at, but it seemed that camera angles in various stories accentuated her bum. The Mind Robber had the famous shot of her laying on the Tardis console, but I discovered in watching all these episodes the last couple of months that they did that a lot.
- What I never realized until recently is how well Patrick Troughton can disappear into other stuff besides his “standard Doctor”. There was of course “Enemy of the World” where he played a second character at the same time, but other than that there were many instances where he was in some sort of disguise, and his Doctor mostly disappeared when he did that. Much has been made over the decades about him being a strong character actor, and that shows here. Several actors who have played the Doctor later on credit Troughton as an influence on them, and I can see why.
- After this, Patrick came back three more times to the main program. 1973’s “The Three Doctors”, 1983’s “The Five Doctors”, and 1985’s “The Two Doctors”. The latter also paired him with Jamie.
I know I said a similar thing with Hartnell’s wrap up, but I really did enjoy this run of Patrick Troughton’s episodes. I mean I like Doctor Who, so I was pretty much going to like it anyway. However, there were several in here I had forgotten about, and enjoyed as if it was the first time, or several I REALLY enjoyed.
The last episode of his – “The War Games Episode 10” is what I consider to be an essential episode. The original first episode of William Hartnell’s is another. But War Games 10 is one where we get into Time Lords for the first time, it’s the first time we ever see Gallifrey (but that name wouldn’t come for another five years), and we get some set up for the Third Doctor’s era. But if you watch one single episode of the Troughton run, make it “War Games Episode 10” – it’s a hell of a great one.
Silly factoid: All of Patrick Troughton’s stories have the word “The” as the first word in the title, except for one – “Fury From the Deep”. I don’t know why that fascinates me, but it does.
I did meet Patrick Troughton once at a convention back in 1985 I think it was. Seemed like a nice time, although at the time I met him, I had barely seen any of his episodes (if my memory was right). I was living in the Philadelphia area at the time, and NJN was the first in the US to show his stuff.
To close out, here’s a few lines from the Second Doctor I really enjoyed.
- “I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they – they sleep in my mind, and I forget. And so will you. Oh yes, you will. You’ll find there’s so much else to think about, to remember. Our lives are different to anybody else’s. That’s the exciting thing! There’s nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.”
- “People spend all their time making nice things, and then other people come along and break them!”
- “Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority.”
- “You’ve had this place redecorated, haven’t you? Hmm, don’t like it!”