Doctor Who: Second & Seventh Is...

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Christopher Morley does the math...



As we say happy birthday to Sylvester McCoy, time to take a fresh look at his era as the Seventh Doctor by going back over one of the men he had been & his lingering influence - which the man who would be Radagast acknowledged while discussing the Troughton years for a UK Gold documentary:
"Patrick Troughton was my inspiration. He was the first one I saw & watched, & became addicted to."


And indeed both men brought a number of similar traits to their individual Doctors. The one which surely comes to mind first is their balance of clowning & cunning, often playing the fool as a mask behind which to hide a fierce intelligence. Surely Pat would have been proud of what his predecessor got up to in The Greatest Show In The Galaxy?



For as well as the party tricks, there was the defeat of the Gods of Ragnarok to plot.
DOCTOR: I have fed you enough, Gods of Ragnarok, and you found what I have to offer indigestible. So I have taken myself off the menu. La comedia e finita.
DAD: We command you.
MUM: You cannot stop.
DOCTOR: I already have.
DAD: Then you will die.
DOCTOR: Probably not. It's all a matter of timing, don't you know.


And where timing is concerned, both dramatic & comedic, the student (in this case Sylvester) had clearly learned from the often said to be Chaplinesque little fellow, who demonstrated both - often in the same breath.



Consider his meddling in the plans of the Dominators as just one example!



After seeing to it that any plans they might have had for, well, domination are put to bed, a bit of slapstick to seal the deal & the scene is set for The Mind Robber.
DOCTOR: Hang on, Jamie. This is ready. Now if this works you should have a good chance of distracting the Quarks, and maybe even destroying one or two of them. Right, come on, Zoe, let's try it.
ZOE: What, in here?
DOCTOR: Yes, in here. There you are. Just a bit.
ZOE: All right.
DOCTOR: Whoa, whoa, that'll do. Now then, Jamie, all you've got to do is to add one of these little number nine pills to each bottle just before you throw it, like that.But whatever you do, and this is important, you must throw it before ten seconds have elapsed, otherwise you're liable to blow up with...
ZOE: Seven, eight, Doctor!
DOCTOR: What? It works!
JAMIE: You could have blown us all to kingdom come!
DOCTOR: No, no, Jamie, that was just a small quantity. But with ten times that amount you should have quite a handy little bomb.


So on one hand we have the strategist. Once he's got all that out the way comes the lighter moment.
JAMIE: Doctor, come on, will ye? The whole place is going to blow up.
DOCTOR: Oh, it's quite all right, Jamie. The planet is quite safe. There's just going to be a localised volcanic eruption. It'll only affect the island.
JAMIE: Maybe so, but we happen to be on the island.
DOCTOR: Oh, my word!
And indeed his era does swing between the two extremes on a number of occasions, the line between them often blurred. It seems the intent was there for the McCoy years to follow a similar if slightly darker template, the rrolled 'rrs'' & malapropisms eventually giving way to a harder, more manipulative edge which would culminate in the revelation that Ace could be seen to have been a pawn in his much larger game against Fenric - a Great Old One of similar vintage to the Gods of Ragnarok.



Speaking of playing, each also had his instrument of choice! The younger man of course never kept his recorder far from his lips, while the senior incarnation preferred the spoons.



Mention of the three stone tyrants allows a nice interlude for closer examination of a link between the Gods & the Land of Fiction, pertinent to both incarnations. A look at Steve Lyons' Conundrum & its sequel Head Games, from the New Adventures novel range, reveals a little of the history of the place where fiction becomes reality - created by the Gods as a mere mental plaything, they soon abandoned it.

But it seems little has changed since that first visit save for the man in charge -the Second Doctor of course meeting the original Master of the Land & the Seventh facing Jason, the man who has it seems inherited his power over the dividing line between fiction & reality since that last trip into the White Void.
ZOE: Doctor, we're not actually in flight, are we?
DOCTOR: No. Why?
ZOE: Well, then presumably we've landed. So why isn't the scanner showing anything?
DOCTOR: Well, because, well, we're nowhere. It's as simple as that. I'll be in the power room, Jamie.
JAMIE: Aye, right. Hey! What does he mean, we're nowhere?
ZOE: I don't know. I suppose he means that outside the TARDIS now is nothing. Just nothing.
Moving things slightly further into the present, Sylvester may have been drawing on his memories of Pat in his appraisal of a certain rather Troughtonish successor. Or perhaps it was the shared taste in headgear that sealed the deal?


"Matt Smith is wonderfully strange. He’s got a great, strange look to him, a great face, and his timing is terrific, his concentration and everything. And he’s very young! I wasn’t mad about the idea of him doing it, but now he’s done it I think he’s done a really good job.

I watch it. I’ve been working all over the world so I don’t see it always, but I do dip in now and again. Partly out of duty, but I enjoy the duty, especially because of Matt Smith, I like what I’ve seen of him."
Either way, he loved Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor - and Matt has previously gone on record as stating his admiration for the Doctor he learned most from as a newbie to Who - in honour of whom he also donned a rather fetching bow tie. A shared lineage? Time will tell- it always does...

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