What the Doctor Ordered

As I’ve been getting ready to return to regular observing shifts at Kitt Peak National Observatory, I’ve been continuing my look at the season-long box sets from the classic era of Doctor Who. The most recent I’ve watched is the second season of Colin Baker’s tenure as the Doctor. Baker only played the Doctor for two seasons. After his first season, the series went on a year-and-a-half hiatus. When it came back, the show was effectively on trial by the BBC to see if they would allow it to keep running. With that in mind, show runner John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward decided to make the entire season a trial of Doctor. Even though there are four separate stories, they all aired under the title “The Trial of a Time Lord.”

The Sixth Doctor and the cookbook created during his era.

“The Trial of a Time Lord” is something of a mixed bag. On one hand, it was a story that almost needed to be done. The Doctor is an alien from the planet Galifrey and his people are an ancient race called the Time Lords who observe what goes on throughout time and space but never interfere. At the end of the second Doctor’s tenure, he was captured and put on trial for meddling in the affairs of other worlds. As a result, he’s forced to regenerate and becomes the third Doctor. Since then, the Doctor has done nothing but continue to meddle. So, it’s not surprising the Time Lords should want to have more words with him. Despite all that, the episodes as a whole aren’t especially memorable.

The best element of the season is that Colin Baker was allowed to play the Doctor more as he wanted. In his first season, he’s presented as something of an overbearing, unpredictable character. In the second season, he’s brash, yet charming. His relationship with his first companion, Peri, improves. When his new companion, Melanie, arrives, they clearly have a good rapport. Baker still wears his almost clown-like bright outfit, but there is something very 1980s about that suit. In fact, it reminds me of the costume worn by another eccentric scientist—Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part 2!

The special features on this Blu-ray set are almost better than the episodes themselves. Colin Baker himself discusses his role in many of the featurettes. It’s clear he’s a fan of the series and is sorry he didn’t get the opportunity to play the role on screen as he’d hoped. This did remind me that he’s done some wonderful audio work as the Doctor for Big Finnish Productions. Those stories are very well written and feature many cast members from the original series. If you really want the best of Colin Baker as the Doctor, listen to his audio stories. I can highly recommend “The Holy Terror” and “Davros.” I’ve heard others of his stories are even better.

Another fun special feature discusses The Doctor Who Cookbook, published during that 18-month hiatus. I purchased the book back in the day and still have my copy. Compiled by Gary Downie, partner of John Nathan-Turner, it features recipes by many people who played parts in the show or worked behind the scenes. In the special feature, some of those cast members recreate their dishes. I’ve made some of the dishes from the book before, but was inspired to try a few more. One very nice recipe was “Davros’s Extermination Pudding” by Terry Molloy, who played Davros, one of the Doctor’s arch enemies. It’s less a “pudding” and more baked bananas topped with meringue and raspberry jam. Still, it’s a nice treat for a weekend afternoon!

A long-time favorite recipe in the book is “Doctor’s Temptation,” a Swedish recipe presented by Colin Baker himself. It’s basically a casserole with potatoes, tuna, onions, and cream all topped with bread crumbs. It’s a rich, satisfying dish that goes nice with a good salad. One could say it’s just what the Doctor ordered.

14 comments on “What the Doctor Ordered

  1. I’ve never publicly revealed who my favorite and least favorite versions of the Doctor are, and don’t intend to do so now (not that anybody cares anyway). But I will say that the more Colin Baker was allowed to portray the Doctor the way he wanted, the better I liked his portrayal.

    • Thanks, Alden. I absolutely agree. One thing Big Finish also did on their album covers was give Colin’s Doctor a more muted version of his on-screen costume. On some covers, it’s even done all in shades of blue. I also learned from the video that Colin is a longtime fan of the show — maybe one of the biggest fans to get the part — and is just as vocal about his favorite and least favorite episodes as any fan. And he doesn’t spare his episodes or himself from criticism.

  2. You work at Kitt Peak ? Please view the pages on the 180 degree align of the Tohono o Oodham Tribe’s ” mountain at the center of the universe” to the exact south tip of. the old Jerusalem wall , Kitt Peak is about or is, 90 degrees north of this strange shaped peak. You can see it from Kitt. See pages on newspaper rock decode, it depicts an armada of spaceships landing in a desert landscape, and it depicts a mountain outline that is Panther Peak north of Signal Hill in Tuscon

    • Yes, I know the mountain south of Kitt Peak that you’re referring to. Very interesting.

      • It sure is ! Please take the time to read these pages of evidence that show the precise, simple/ elementary math-based alignments of holy mountains, sites, landmarks, and even the histories of these places, and how these alignments and story continues into the stars and galaxies. Please look close, and see that these lines hit their spot exactly,( so many things on the internet say there is alignments, but when you really look close at what they propose, the hits they show are not aligns at all, close, but no align.)…….be sure to view the pages on the ” mountain at the center of the universe” , and see the map that shows that name to be true. I will post it, too……….Also see the mathematical aligns that include Mauna Kea and it’s observatories, and also Mount Grahams 180 align to Holy Mount Tabor and the Holy Site of Saint Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary she will carry God’s Son, in Nazareth. . ….Hundreds of pages of the most awesome proofs and story. For this is all a message of God, it’s not just a bunch of math aligns. Looking for publisher, 0 for 20 so far. Thank you for responding !

      • also, I have two sites, the site of ” mathematical-signs-of-god.com ” has the case in an order, somewhat. The other site puts my post at the top, so you see the recent findings, but not the story from the beginning, which starts at Easter / Rapa Nui Island, of coarse ! Discovered by the ‘new’ world on Easter Sunday in 1722, and mapped in a Mercator Projection.

  3. I know that many people enjoy Dr. Who, but I’ve always found the series really too noisy. I can always tell when my husband has it on. 🙂

    • Interesting take. Stepping back, my wife and I canceled our cable subscription in 2001 because a lot of what was on TV simply didn’t engage us and it felt like we were paying a lot for a service we didn’t really use. It makes me wonder if it’s because Doctor Who is somewhat “noisy” that it actually does grab and hold me and my wife.

      • It could have to do with my office being right above the TV and Daron liking to feel the bass rumble…

      • I never really thought about the “noise” of the program. But I have heard the bass boom from various music played by a neighbor or someone in a vehicle going by. That can be irritating.

        Doctor Who actually used to be my alarm clock on Saturday mornings. My roommate was almost always up first, and would turn up the volume as the Doctor Who theme music began. Before it concluded and the programme itself began, I would be out of bed and in front of the television set.

      • That’s a good point. Doctor Who does have a famous, heavy bass line in the theme. Start the dum-duh-dum with just about any Doctor Who fan and you’re bound to get someone carrying on with the Ooo-wee-ooo that goes over that! What’s more certain eras are pretty rife with everything from explosions to gunfire to people shouting. So yeah, I can see where “noisy” might be an apt description, especially if you’re sensitive to it.

  4. Remember watching Dr. Who in the 80s on pbs at late night ? How special it was to be watching such a great show and how neat it felt that there was no commercials ?

    • Different PBS Stations ran it at different times. I discovered it in Florida in the early morning. California ran it late at night. When I went to New Mexico, it was on in the afternoon. No matter when it ran, though, the lack of commercials was blessed relief. Doctor Who taught me that PBS could entertain as well as educate!

      • I do have concern, though, about our lifetimes of viewing science fiction and it’s effect on our ability to identify solid scientific evidence that proves something that is beyond the normal, evidence and conclusions that seem the stuff of sci-fi . Have we trained our minds, accidently, with an almost daily viewing of fantasy worlds, to become prejudiced to any scientific finding that is exiting or that questions the status quo ? Have we conditioned our thought process to the point where we can not even recognize simple math proofs, the physical location of objects , and repeated patterns ? Yes, many have……We also see another problem with society’s “mind_meld” with fantasy shows and entertainments, that is the acceptance of fantastical theories that have No real proofs. We see this manifestation in the “flat earth” movement and the ancient alien crowd. All of these evidence-free and proof-less theories dominate the search engine results, and they help make the denial of real discoveries and conclusions, based on real proofs, easy to do, as is the case with my findings. They can not be debunked, the world we live in is far far more amazing than any dr. Who sci fi show or book, and it has been proven in repetition, in basic math, and with physical, measurable objects. I challenge you to debunk this in a written scientific paper.

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