Brash, loud (both vocally and visually), with a heart full of gold, Colin Baker’s tenure as the Doctor was short lived but loved by many. A far darker character than most of his predecessors, the 6th Doctor began his reign by trying to kill his companion (the woman he’d just sacrificed his previous life to save) and imposing exile upon himself for his actions. Craziness aside (mostly), the Doctor went on to save the Earth from the Cybermen, avert an intergalactic war, came face to face with his second incarnation and be put on trial by his own people… again. These are my personal top 3 6th Doctor adventures.
“I shall beat it into submission... with my charm.”
Whilst performing maintenance on the TARDIS Chameleon Circuit, the Doctor and Peri follow a distress signal to 1985 Earth, stumbling across a whole Cybermen strike force in the London Sewers, not to mention Commander Lytton and his Dalek replica policemen from Resurrection of the Daleks. The TARDIS is captured by the Cybermen and taken to Telos, their adopted planet, where the Doctor realises the Cybermen plan to change the course of history by travelling back in time and diverting Halley’s comet towards Earth.
Ok, so the plot may be slightly convoluted, but the episode has some great highlights and makes a load of reference to the shows rich history. For a start the TARDIS lands in the same junkyard where it all began, bringing the Doctor back to the shows humble beginnings. Furthermore, the plot centres around the Cybermen trying to change their own history. In the first Cybermen story, The Tenth Planet, the rudimentary Cybermen turn their home planet, Mondas, into a ship in an attempt to move it closer to the sun after it drifts out of orbit. Mondas drifts too close to Earth and is destroyed in the process, with a little help from the Doctor. Attack of the Cybermen deals with the consequences of what happened to Mondas, showing the lengths the parasitic cyborgs go to to survive; taking over a planet and all but wiping out the indigenous species for their giant fridges for hibernation, as we later see in Tomb of the Cybermen.
Attack of the Cybermen was slated by the media of the day as being too violent, one of the factors leading to the shows hiatus, which I think is absolute bullshit. Attack shows a far more realistic interpretation of what life with the Doctor would be. It’s dangerous, violent and the threat is reflected in the characters. The Doctor stabs a Cyberman in the chest and shoots the Controller several times, not to mention Lytton’s torture and partial Cyber-conversion, which was terrifying to watch, and his final act of sacrifice, detaching himself from the machines and stabbing the Cyber-controller to save the Doctor is something that will stay with me for my whole life. Attack of the Cybermen gave me nightmares and cemented my fear and morbid adoration of the Cybermen!
The Doctor and Peri travel to Varos to find components for the TARDIS, but accidently find themselves caught in a colony run by an oppressive. Mistaken for rebels, they’re forced to take part in the colony’s sole form of entertainment; televised live, sadistic torture and executions.
Vengeance on Varos is dark and twisted, taking an already violent concept and magnifying it. Though not the best story of the era, Varos deserves a place on this list for being bold enough to actually do what it does. We see acid baths, psychological and physical torture, and more that anything else, we see citizens of the colony watching and enjoying it! Like with Attack if the Cybermen, this episode was a huge contributing factor to the shows cancelation and I agree that it does cross the line, however crossing the line is exactly what was needed.
In many ways, the story has influenced parts of NuWho, particularly Platform1/The Games Station. In Vengeance on Varos, public execution was a form of entertainment, much like the Games Station from Bad Wolf, however this story finishes with the people being freed and the games ending. They’re wondering what to do next, in a similar manner to humanity at the end of The Long Game, though they then descend into sadism. To be honest though, who can blame them. Reality TV is just a small step away from torture in real life. If The X-Factor was this sick, we’d probably enjoy it a lot more!
What’s not to love about Revelation of the Daleks? It continues the theme of darkness, violence and boundary pushing stories that were rife in Colin Bakers era, yet still manages to make you a giddy fanboy at the same time.
Necros, the planet of the dead, where, if you’re rich, you can have your body cryogenically frozen until science can extend your life. The Doctor and Perry visit so the Doctor can pay last respects to a friend, however he falls victim to a trap set by ‘The Great Healer’, revealed to be none other than Davros (as if the title didn’t give it away…) who is mutating the frozen bodies into a new species of Dalek, liquidating the remains and sending them across the galaxy as food to fund his schemes.
Davros isn’t as safe as he thinks however, with the remnants of his original army closing in to arrest him and a mercenary hired to assassinate him, Darvos must use his cunning to survive.
Ok, so we have mutated, dismembered heads, a galaxy unwittingly surviving on cannibalism and a new army of Daleks growing, ready to conquer the universe… sounds like the perfect recipe for a Doctor Who story to me. Still, it wasn’t all disgusting, the episode featured some genuinely comical and surreal moments, such as the DJ entertaining the almost deceased with his best Elvis impression, or the haplessly in love Tasambeker who we can’t help but feel sorry for, even if she is a little Fatal Attraction.