Poor Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor. Over the years, it appears that Baker, a fine actor, and, as far as I'M concerned, a fine Doctor, has become the Rodney Dangerfield of Doctor Who's---he don't get no respect at all (or, at least, not very much). It seems that the Sixth Doctor is not looked back upon with too much fondness for several reasons: his aggressive behavior/bad temper, his very loud wardrobe, and the violent nature of some of his first-season episodes---"Vengeance On Varos" taking place on a planet where people watch "video nasties" on television, "Attack Of The Cybermen" with a main character's hands being crushed by a Cyberman until they bleed (though NOT graphically, unless the sight of fake blood makes you faint), and "Revelation Of The Daleks" with it's various deaths. Throw in an 18-month hiatus dealt to the "Doctor Who" series during Baker's tenure, as well as continuously sagging ratings, and you've got yourself the only actor to ever actually have been *fired* from the role of everyone's favorite Timelord (shame on you Michael Grade, the BBC controller at the time). The BBC then had the audacity to try to get Baker to come back for a final regeneration story so they could "properly" bump off his Doctor---Baker responded by telling the BBC to shove it, and rightfully so. Who could blame him? And now I've just read in Doctor Who Magazine that a recent poll the magazine took has named Colin's debut story, "The Twin Dilemma," the all-time worst Doctor Who story ever, ranking a bottom-of-the-barrel #200 out of 200 stories. With the imminent release of "The Twin Dilemma" on DVD, it's time for THIS Sixth Doctor fan to come to the defense. I'll try to be brief:
I've always liked Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor. In fact, I rank him just behind Jon Pertwee as my all-time favorite Doctor (though Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton and David Tennant are also in my personal Top Five). After Peter Davison's quaint, passive Fifth Doctor (though he was good, especially in his classic finale, "The Caves Of Androzani"), I greatly appreciated that the Sixth Doctor was a tough, take-no-prisoners Timelord. Despite his tetchyness, I still admire the Sixth Doctor for his intelligence, his bravery, and his wit. Had Baker been allowed to play the Doctor longer than a mere two seasons, I'm sure he would've grown in the part even more, and shown us sides to the Sixth Doctor that we hadn't seen yet. Alas, it was not to be, but you can't blame Colin for that. Yes, the Sixth Doctor had a temper---not too unlike William Hartnell's First Doctor, in fact---but he was still a GOOD guy, fighting on the side of GOOD. And don't tell me that the Sixth Doctor never showed Peri any kindness, because he most certainly did. Yes, his temper would briefly flare up every so often, but he would always calm down, and he showed time and time again that he cared about Peri. His friendship with her had certainly grown by the time the events of "The Trial Of A Timelord" happened, so he obviously liked her. So there.
His loud, colorful wardrobe....I liked it! The idea of producer John Nathan Turner was to give the Sixth Doctor a whirlpool costume to suit his whirlpool personality, and I think it worked quite well. I never liked the question marks on the Doctor's collar, but JNT started that with Tom Baker, so JNT has to take the blame for that.
Finally, the violent nature of some of the Sixth Doctor's adventures....I LIKED that the "Doctor Who" series had gotten tougher with Colin Baker at the helm. It showed that the makers of "Doctor Who" were not afraid to take some risks with the series. However, I still maintain that Colin Baker's era was not, I repeat, NOT as graphic as many have been led to believe. I've seen far worse things on TV then a bloodied pair of hands, believe me.
As for "The Twin Dilemma" itself, I don't believe for one single second that it's the turkey it's been made out to be. Okay, so it may not boast the greatest of scripts, and it may not be a terribly *exciting* story, but I still find the story very entertaining, the characters interesting, the look and feel of it quite handsome, and the performances of the cast excellent, with Colin Baker's fresh, colorful performance as the new Doctor at the center.
Peter Davison, as good as he was, was at times a bit too soft. Davison also wasn't served well by his writers, who usually had his Fifth Doctor respond with "I don't know" virtually every time a companion asked him what they should do (and you know a Doctor is in serious trouble, writing-wise, when a companion seems to be more intelligent than he is---in Peter Davison's case, the snotty-nosed Nyssa). Colin Baker's Doctor was unashamedly aggressive, but so is James Bond, and you wouldn't want to mess with him, either. James Bond is still a good guy, fighting on our side. So is Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor. With "The Twin Dilemma," Colin Baker showed that there was a totally new Doctor in town, and totally new in more ways than one. And I like him.