Doctor Who – towards the Anniversary – the Fourth Doctor

Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock
Doctor Who – Horror of Fang Rock

On November 23, 2013 there will be the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who”. To celebrate this important moment let’s go over the Doctor’s history again. This article remembers the Fourth Doctor.

Played by Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor continues in many ways the Third Doctor ora then evolves over time. He’s been the Doctor that lasted the longest in the classic “Doctor Who” series, so much that he’s the most beloved by many fans and for many people, especially non- fans, he’s still the most recognizable as the Doctor.

The Fourth Doctor has a personality that’s pecualiar even for this character and for this reason he’s the easiest to consider an alien. His attitude is aloof and it seems that nothing interests him so his attention seems to shift all the time. Actually he proves he’s capable of simultaneously evaluate various elements of a broader context.

His thought patterns are indeed non-linear so he’s the only one who can follow them while anyone who hears what sound like fragments of thoughts that seem meaningless get puzzled. As if that weren’t enough, in the midst of important moments he often offers anyone his beloved jelly babies. This attitude apparently bizarre misleads his collaborators and even his teammates, even more so his enemies who often consider him to be a bit crazy and therefore harmless, at least until they get defeated.

The Fourth Doctor’s appearance is quite picturesque: he’s a big man with physical characteristics that stand out such as his curls and teeth. He adds to this physicality other elements, especially his long scarf, which became an icon of the character. It’s also because of this look that those who don’t know him tend to underestimate him and then often regret it.

If his attitudes might seem strange, the Fourth Doctor has a very strong sense of morality, which is well understandable. It’s this strength that leads him to fight vigorously against the forces of evil he encounters but also to ask deep questions in the most difficult moments because it’s important that morality isn’t an excuse to act without thinking.

The Fourth Doctor was the protagonist of seven “Doctor Who” seasons and you can tell he went through different eras because the show changed some times in the course of those years. Initially, he continued working with UNIT as did the Third Doctor but the period of the gothic horror stories already began with a progressive detachment from the adventures on Earth. The controversy over violence in the series led to a certain point to a marked change with stories containing much lighter tones. In his last season, the tone turned more serious again with more “orthodox” science fiction elements.

The length of the Fourth Doctor era, or eras, can also be seen by the changes in his companions. Sarah Jane Smith kept on traveling with him for quite some time. In the classic series they couldn’t even hint at a possible romantic relationships between the Doctor and one of his companions and only in the new series the Tenth Doctor admits that his feelings for Sarah Jane weren’t exactly fatherly.

Initially, Harry Sullivan also traveled along with the Fourth Doctor but it was only a temporary situation. On the contrary, we can say that Sarah Jane had her era. At its end, the Doctor traveled together with Leela, a savage warrior, the robot dog K-9, Romana, a Time Lady appeared in two different incarnations, Adric, a boy met in the so-called E-Space, Nyssa, a girl from the planet Traken, and finally Tegan, a flight attendant who got into the Tardis thinking it was a real police box and for that reason got involved in the Doctor’s adventures.

The Fourth Doctor has to face many enemies, new and old. For the first time Davros, the creator of the Daleks, appears, then the Black Guardian of Time. There’s also the return of the Master, who is the end of his regenerations cycle and wants to survive at any cost.

For me, the Fourth Doctor was the first I knew and it took me some time to appreciate the others. This is normal because the first Doctor is always special but the Fourth Doctor has left such an imprint on “Doctor Who” and its fans that after him the show hasn’t been the same.


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