Thread: 24-7

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  1. #1
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    Far from the "player of chess on a thousand boards" he's possibly become, we start off with a rather different 7th Doctor. In Season 24 we see him as a clown, but maybe a melancholy clown- full of life, but with a streak of sadness running through him.

    What do you think of the 7th Doctor in Season 24? And of the actor who played him, Sylvester McCoy. Have your views changed since the season was first broadcast?

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2

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    I lost touch with Doctor Who when they moved the transmission dates from the last year of Peter Davison and missed out on Colin Baker.
    It managed to find the time for McCoy. Although I was sick of his "master manipulation" stuff by season 26, I was still impressed enough to keep on watching. His running and pratfalls aside, I could believe in him.
    Maybe not the best role model for secondary school... but I always feel he never deserved to be blamed for the show coming off the air.
    So I vote "Hit"! But I know others won't.

  3. #3
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    It's all so bizarre. Season 24 remains so unpopular in some places, even after all this time. Me? I've always loved it.

    Let's see, 1987 - I was 16, my two years of A-Levels started on 14th September, the day part 2 of Time and the Rani went out. So effectively that difficult first term is intertwined with a warm nostalgia for McCoy's first run - perhaps in part because having only got a VCR the previous December, this was the first full run we were able to tape, and so watch again and again.

    I remember really, really liking McCoy - when he was cast, I felt sure he'd either be brilliant or a disaster, and IMHO he was the former from the off. I vividly recall wanting to tune in each week to see how the new Doctor was, and McCoy's performance instantly won me over in a way Colin's never had. The madcap nonsense is there, yes, but it's reined in and tempered by quieter, more sombre moments - the sadness in his eyes when he muses that "This doesn't bode well for my seventh persona, being so completely taken in by the wretched Rani" or the warmth in his greeting for Mel when they're finally reunited in part 2.

    There's more than that - he can mix apparent silliness ("Leave the quotes to the experts Mel" is one of my favourites in TATR) with great command ("Here, go and listen" in TATR, or many of his scenes with the Caretakers and the Kangs in Paradise Towers).

    And it's a very physical performance, he's a very 'mobile' performer. I love, for example, the way McCoy follows the line of the feeder pipes in the Rani's lab in TART, leading to the locked door.

    So for me, a definite hit. There's the occasional offday (parts of Dragonfire and Battlefield mainly) but certainly in his early episodes, a very lovable new Doctor.

  4. #4
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    Sorry guys, but I've got to disagree. I don't know if I was simply the wrong age group for the series at that time, but I thought McCoy was awful way back then and he never really grew on me over his 3 seasons, although I could (just about!) accept him as the Doctor during S26 when he had stronger scripts.

    It's not that I don't like him as a person, he's actually quite entertaining when you see him inteviewed, but I think that his acting abilities (at the time) were certainly very limited. But this was a time when the series was under pressure to produce the goods after the perceived failure of Colin Baker, and with the casting of McCoy I feel that they failed big time. It was a time to play it safe with an established actor in the role, someone who could cope with poor scripting, rather than taking risks. Colin Baker would have been much more enjoyable to watch in these stories than McCoy was, and could have at least salvaged something from this season.

    It has to be said though that his performances improved over the seasons along with the quality of the scripts. He's in the same boat as Colin though, sadly being largely remembered by the general public as being something of a failure as the Doctor on tv (imo it was the overall efforts of the entire production team) which led to a lower quality series on-screen. I firmly believe that it was more down to the lack of new blood at production level, JN-T was running out of ideas by here and desperation was creeping in...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    The madcap nonsense is there, yes, but it's reined in and tempered by quieter, more sombre moments - the sadness in his eyes when he muses that "This doesn't bode well for my seventh persona, being so completely taken in by the wretched Rani" or the warmth in his greeting for Mel when they're finally reunited in part 2.

    There's more than that - he can mix apparent silliness ("Leave the quotes to the experts Mel" is one of my favourites in TATR) with great command ("Here, go and listen" in TATR, or many of his scenes with the Caretakers and the Kangs in Paradise Towers).
    I've got to disagree with you there, Andrew. It's quite simply down to a matter of personal taste, but the examples you give here are just some of the reasons why I dislike McCoy's performance so much! It doesn't help that he is being given such dodgy dialogue but he just didn't have the talent/experience to convincingly deliver the lines, as far as I was concerned.

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    Fair enough, and you're right of course that a lot of it is just down to taste.

    I do vividly recall, though, that on the Saturday after part 1 of TATR aired, the Daily Mail gave over a full page article in its TV section to, in essence, slating the new show. (I can't think who wrote it now - I have a feeling it was a 'fan name' but I may be wrong.) And it really got me down, because I'd enjoyed part 1 so much and I came away from the article thinking I must just be an idiot... Of course, after enjoying part 2 even more I stopped woryying about it!

    But it was about that time (after part 4 I think) that JN-T was on Open Air, and amongst other things made his famous "the memory cheats" comment. I think that in places like DWB and, later in the season, on Did You See? where the BBC themselves gave over an item on their review show to allow Jeremy Bentham, Ian Levine, et al to say how wonderful the show was in 'the good old days' and how c**p it was now; in that sense there was some kind of claim that "60s & 70s were great, 80s is bad" - and it was almost as if that wasn't opinion, it was FACT, which is why JN-T's comment was scorned so much.

    Now, of course, we've all seen 'the good old days' on video or DVD or Gold or the 'net - and clearly JN-T in 1987 was bang on. There's great stuff in the 60s & 70s, but there's also a lot of... well, not so great and even rubbish stuff. But for a young fan in the 80s, who had no access to that stuff, it was very hard to fight the feeling that you were too stupid to realise how rubbish the show you loved had now become. Allegedly.

  7. #7
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    It's a difficult one. Let's be honest - McCoy was not a great actor. He was a light entertainer that they got cheap. But on the plus side, Doctor Who at that time was going back to being a quirky show for young teens - sort of in the Rentaghost stable. The show couldn't have afforded Sir Ian McKellen as the Doctor; McCoy's assets were that he was interesting to watch; he's unpredictable, he has a flexible young/old but kind face, and he's a good funnyman. He's exactly the sort of wizardy type of performer that kids like, especially when the show is being pitched in the Mr Mejeka mould. His casting was therefore quite inspired.

    Part of the trouble is that when the series went on to be a bit more like it's serious/horror roots in Seasons 25 and 26, McCoy occasionally found himself out of his depth, I think. It's ironic that the fans hate Season 24 but love Season 26, because McCoy is much more suited to the former. Don't get me wrong, he didn't disgrace himself (very often) and his brooding moments are wonderful. But when required to pull off spectacle, either huge anger or righteous indignation, he comes over as a bit silly because he just can't do it (it's been remarked upon before). My Dad remembers McCoy with scorn - he's the Doctor that kids loved, but adults found annoying. Season 26 therefore comes over as the format stretching its available talent as far as it can go - you end up with these epic stories of a God from the Dawn of Time battling huge dark forces, and in the middle of it is a TV funnyman and a CBBC Presenter. It doesn't help that they didn't have the time for 'second takes' a lot of the time; Doctor Who was very unkind to McCoy as an actor in the way that it was with Hartnell. If it was directed like it is today, perceptions would probably be quite different.

    McCoy was an absolutely marvellous choice for the Doctor for those that can see the charm in the character, and recognise that he is as William Hartnell played him - a wizard that kids love to watch. But when the series tried to grow up again and be "proper drama", or even when it was reborn with a big budget for actors and we have cause to look back, McCoy falls short among the great actors the show has attracted because he was, really, just a light entertainer doing his best.

    He has, of course, since gone on to become a rather great theatre actor so perhaps he'd be a better Doctor now?

    Si.

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    Si has hit so many nails on the head there that I secretly think he's using a nail gun!!


    And as much as I agree with his brilliant post it is for those reasons that I am not fond of TatR & a lot of McCoy's early stories.
    For 1 I really did not like Mr Mejeka (not that I saw much of it) & if I wanted that I'd have watched that & not Doctor Who.

    I totally agree, McCoy was light entertainment in style & persona & really wasn't good enough for the role at the time. And the trouble is McCoy played it as light entertainment (as I saw it) which is what he did as a job & totally not his fault but the BBC's. He was cheap, available & no one else probably wanted the role as it was preceived as a career killer in the industry. (That's why J.N-T was producer for so long, he wanted out but the BBC kept telling him that if he went the show went & he was too fond of it to kill it).
    McCoy is better suited to theatre than TV, where over acting is not such an issue because you have to reach the back of the stalls but TV is far more intimate* & as such you need far more acting talent to pull it off.

    As for liking S26 more than S24, well I can only speak for myself but I was never put off by McCoys acting (much) but more so the level of the story. It had, to my mind & eye, gone to a more juvenile level that the previous 2 seasons were not. Which is odd as TatR is about enslavement & the kidnapping of people. But it seemed to me that TatR was played with a not so insignificant amount of light-heartedness that reduced the serious elements to the level of light entertainment. I suppose the story is sound but the production of it is all wrong. As Si said, if it were made today then I'm sure I'd like it a lot, but it wasn't & it suffers. There's poor direction in regard to McCoy & really poor lighting choice that makes the whole thing look 'wrong'. I'm sure there are at least 6 stories we could all agree on that were over-lit & I bet if not all then most are from the '80's.

    I'd have to rewatch this to give a more accurate score but from memory right now I'm not sure I could give it more than 4/10.




    *when I say intimate, I'm referring to the viewer having this person so close to you in the room & not for the actors who all say that Theatre is more intimate because they are nearer the audience.

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    I'd have to rewatch this to give a more accurate score but from memory right now I'm not sure I could give it more than 4/10.
    Er.. you're not on the "Time and the Rani" thread y'know Tim!

    Si.

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    Er, yeah, I knew that.

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    Well it's interesting comparing what McCoy did in TatR with Silver Nemesis?
    I'd rather the Doctor was running around clown like than waiting in a forest for something to happen?

  12. #12
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    I think the big mistake they made in TATR was saddling McCoy with the stupid amnesia plotline. That's where all the pratfalling and silliness in his performance comes from (at leats in TATR) and they should have thought it through a bit better. He comes into his own a bit by the end I think.

    It's odd, he seemed so assured and ready in his audition tape and yet it's not quite there when it's get to the screen. Maybe he was badly (or not at all) directed, and not given as much guidance as he should have been. It sounds like he was pretty much left to decide how he wanted to approach the role and get on with it. The scripts didn't help much as they were all written for a generic uncast Doctor (he was cast very late on, lets not forget) and so it's no wonder things didn't settle immediately.

    That and the 14 episode season may not have helped, as there wasn't time, again, to turn things round. Just look at how assured he is in Remembrance, when they're writing for him and know what he can do. It's far better.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    As far as I'm concerned, McCoy's best performance has got to be in the TVM. And before someone says it, no it's not because he gets killed off to regenerate into McGann...!

    I just think that he plays a much quieter, older, wiser Doctor here than he appeared to be in any of his 3 seasons. That's the impression I get anyway. He doesn't have very many lines, but he's convincing in a way that he never was in the regular series.

    A much better way to remember the 7th Doctor than most of his own stories, I have to say.