The fourth Doctor's era
For Me, The Original by Dennis McDermott 5/9/97
My first encounter with the Doctor occurred on The Pirate Planet when I decided to see what my friends were talking about. I haven't seen this episode in years, but about midway through the program the Doctor was escaping through a high-speed tunnel that had some device at the end that defied the normal laws of physics. Baker turns to his companion and says something along the lines of: I think the laws of the conservation of momentum are very important, don't you? He then sabotaged the device, which sent his pursuers splat against the opposite wall.
A bit brutal perhaps, but I was hooked. Any program that could intelligently combine a little science with slapstick humor was all right with me.
I think the contributors to this forum have been a bit hesitant to give Tom Baker his due, myself included, as if it wasn't the "cool" thing to pick the obvious choice as your favorite Doctor. He has been called "conniving". An understandable characterization, but one that makes me wonder how he benefitted from his plottings. And he has been accused of using jellybabies to get out of trouble. In which stories did that happen? I don't recall him handing jellybabies to Sutekh, the Black Guardian, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, Magnus Greel or any of the other villians he faced in his tenure.
Tom Baker was an excellent actor who knew how to establish rapport with the audience and well as his fellow actors. He knew when to flash that smile and throw in an offhand remark, but also when to get serious and send a message to his adversaries. In the end, he created perhaps the single most popular era of Doctor Who of any of them.
Was he perfect? Naaaah.... Did he go over the top sometimes? Yeah, but just a little bit and it was always amusing.
Troughton is my favorite, but Tom Baker was my first -- and he's just a step behind.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 2/4/01
The Fourth Doctor is, for better or worse, the most famous incarnation of the character. Casual people, with a little knowledge of the show, will inariably mention the man with the long scarf and the big smile who helped save the universe from rubber-suited menaces in TV studios.
Being an American, he was my first Doctor. The first story I saw complete was City of Death (which is still my all time favorite, and one of the best ever), and I was hooked by the character of the Doctor, who seemed to have a quip for every ocassion, and an ability to cut to the meat of any issue with resorting to dull speeches. His sense of justice was without reproach, even if played the clown along the way. (A quick aside: in a way, this incarnation of the Doctor reminded me of Bugs Bunny; you knew he was going to win in the end, but what it fun was how he got there)
This Doctor had a charisma that made it impossible not to watch him and see what he'd do next. Whether it was offering a jelly baby to the Fendahl skull, outhustling a pair of hustlers (The Ribos Operation), battling within the APC Net, or pretending to betray his people in order to save them (Invasion of Time). He was unpredictible, charming, and ahead of both friend and foe by a step or two.
In going back recently and watching various Who stories in random order and random Doctor, what now appeals to me about Tom Baker and the Fourth Doctor is that he's still very watchable and entertaining, even in some of his dodgier episodes. And it's that very quality which makes this Doctor still my favorite. Even in The Android Invasion and Revenge of the Cybermen (two slip ups in the otherwise brilliant Hinchcliffe/Holmes era), or in Nimon (which I like, despite the high cheese factor) Tom Baker makes them watchable. Picture another Doctor in these stories, and you would have a disaster.
There were also more classics during the Tom Baker years than in any other. A short list includes: Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars, The Deadly Assassin, Face of Evil, Robots of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang, City of Death and The Ribos Operation.
In short: Tom Baker made a crap story watchable fun, a good story great, and a great story a classic. He is the definitive article, as far as I'm concerned.
Care For A Jellybaby? by Mark Irvin 24/9/01
I don't think anyone could ever forget that man with a broad grin, floppy hat, matching teen foot long scarf and a coat that had huge pockets full gizmos, junk and jellybabies. To me personally, Tom Baker was Dr Who. For the seven seasons that he spent in the lead role I can't recall a single one of his adventures that I completely dislike. Well, perhaps there were a couple of exceptions but even if the story was fairly ordinary Tom always seemed to be able to bring himself out on top. He would always produce at least a few highlights, usually in the form of his interaction with characters and comic relief, displaying his enormous talent as an actor. For this reason I rate him above all others to play the role, he had the ability to carry a story despite any limitations it may of had.
As we all know humour during his tenure was a major focal point, being a bit of a joker myself this was probably why I liked him so much. However in this tremendous strength may have lied his one and only flaw. Even I must admit he did at times push the line between amusement and seriousness a bit too far, The Invasion of Time being a prime example.
Out of all the actors that played the role of the Doctor, Tom is the only one who could lay any real claim to being an international television icon. As Terrence Keenan rightly pointed out, people who know very little about the show are able to identify with the Doctor's fourth incarnation. Recently I was watching an episode of the Simpsons and for some reason or another they had various famous characters from television sitting around a table. I think one of them may have been Marvin the Martian, that furry little alien Alf and but who would have guessed was also there, a curly haired man with a long flowing scarf complete with a yellow Simpson look -- Doctor Who.
A Review by Rob Matthews 16/12/01
Big Tommy B. When you're talking favourite Doctors, he's pretty much unassailable. Even when we're writing favourable reviews of other Doctors, we'll often, consciously or not, do so defensively, comparing other actors to the tousled boggley-eyed funny one, using him as a standard, a marker. The reasons for this are a) that we know he's the Doctor in the popular consciousness, in the minds of those nebulous 'general audiences' and b) simply because he's a fathomless well of charisma; a presence as rich and deep as that voice of his. If asked who your favourite Doctor was, it'd be tempting to name someone else just because 'Tom Baker' is such an obvious choice. That's a daft but temptingly rebellious impulse, yet there's never really been a big Baker backlash. Some will genuinely and angrily champion Pertwee or Davison over their neighbouring Doctor, but that's about it. For me, it's a struggle between Baker and Troughton (having deducted points from McCoy for his first season), with Troughton just about coming out on top, most of the time, just for being there first.
But I doubt this who's-the-best Bakercentric attitude was ultimately beneficial to the show. One perception of its run is that it never really recovered from his departure, that none of the actors who came afterward could fill his shoes and the show was left living on borrowed time. Baker took the show to its pinnacle, became the show and, by leaving, killed it.
Having recently viewed his seven series' in a handily compressed timeframe, I set about wondering what would have happened if he'd spent the apparently optimum period of three years in the part, before handing over the reigns to someone else. Would we have missed any developments in his character or remembered him any differently?
In all likelihood, I thought, no. Everything important about his character is there in his debut season, #12. The silliness is established right from the off in Robot, with his costume tryouts and his admonishment that the Brigadier needs to cultivate a sense of urgency. His humour and timing are there in his very first lines, when he babbles about dinosaurs being placid and adds 'And stupid!' just as Benton enters the room. And when the Brigadier boasts that 'of course', Britain was the only country where the laser plans could be hidden, the Doctor deadpans, 'Of course. All the others were foreigners'.
Must have been a relief after five years of Pertwee. Pertwee's Doctor was a bloke who you felt would never get your jokes, whereas Baker seemed to be having an almost constant chuckle to himself at the universe in general. Not in an arrogant and annoying way, rather as someone who could defuse evil itself just by being good-natured and daft.
Perhaps viewers worried at the time that the show might degenerate. Robot may have been as much a shock to them as Time and the Rani was to me, a sign of horrible impending stupidity, a Doctor you couldn't take seriously. Pertwee was such a straight arrow, and we'd just seen him heroically sacrifice himself, only to give birth to this wild-eyed chortler. It's like a milder version of what happened later with Davison's transition into Colin Baker, saving Peri's life only to transform into a loony who then tried to kill her.
But Baker proved he had depth pretty quickly, most especially in his first battle of wits with the quintessential Who villain, Davros, also introduced in this season and played definitively by Michael Wisher. The scene where Davros and the Doctor are first left alone together is for me the one that really clarifies Tom as the Doctor, as the same man who announced that 'some corners of the universe have bred the most terrible things'. The look on his face when Davros denounces him as 'afflicted with a conscience' really is worth a thousand words.
But Baker's not a one-note performer. He acts the scene appalled, but also morbidly fascinated by how far Davros will actually go; it's worth remembering that both the Doctor and the audience were discovering the Daleks' creator for the first time here. Cold and vicious though he clearly was, we might still have hoped he would change his tune before the end of the story, once it became apparent to him that he'd created an abomination -
(you could argue this did happen at the end of the story, but ultimately he remained unable to press that big red button )
-. That we know him now - that he was in the long run characterised - as a ranting megalomaniac is due in large part to that still chilling declaration, 'Yes. I would do it'. And so effective was this confrontation that it recurred in all the Dalek stories that followed. Genesis of the Daleks had one of the most fortunate pairings of actors in the show's run - Baker and Wisher beat anything that Pertwee and Delgado managed in any of their repetitive face-offs.
Added to this, the same story gave the show its definitive conundrum. Daleks in incubation, a pair of wires. That one. A 'Would you go back and kill Hitler'-type thing. Okay, so the Doctor's reasoning doesn't quite make sense - and, unless I've forgotten some important detail, he does go back and blow it up later in the story -, but for the first time since Pertwee's debut season we have ambiguity and a genuine struggle to decide which course of action is right.
Then back off to Nerva Beacon, and with Revenge of the Cybermen the first real demonstration of how this Doctor can make very average or disappointing stories watchable - witness him bidding 'bye-bye' to the Cyberleader. That continuous watchability was almost certainly his most valuable attribute.
Most of season 12 took place in what the Doctor intended as a brief spin in the Tardis after the events of Robot. A bunch of cunning plot obstacles thrown at him by the scriptwriters, however, kept him travelling through time and space.
Then, in season 13, the Doctor finally started to get fed up with loitering around on Earth with UNIT - something Pertwee's Doctor had bafflingly persisted with even though his exile had been lifted. The UNIT era didn't so much end as fade away, with both the Doctor and the series moving on without a backward glance. Which was fair enough, as - apart from being tired by this point anyway - it didn't suit Baker's Doctor. He was in his natural element spinning through the continuum and offering jelly babies left, right and centre. Season 13 offered a mixed bag of stories, with Pyramids of Mars and Terror of the Zygons standing out (despite the latter's oft-overlooked crap plot), but a bumper crop of goodies awaited us the following year, most notably with The Deadly Assassin. Amidst a cluster of - very good - sci-fi rewrites of gothic horror, here was something more original - a gothic sci-fi political thriller. It's deliberate contradiction of the general benevolence the show had always attributed to the Doctor's people wasn't successful simply for being 'dark', but because it subtly reinforced our view of the Doctor? idealistic nature: he hadn't after all, took his leave of a nice but dull world out of petulant boredom; Gallifrey was as corrupt as anywhere else. We were shown a tired oligarchy - and thanks to the baroque vocab of Robert Holmes for that one - who'd rested on their laurels for so long they'd forgotten about the big black hole buried underneath them. And episode three, set in the Matrix, was surreal yet psychologically nifty, with - in Freudian terms - the Doctor as the Ego, mediating between the dark, senseless world of the id (the Matrix) and the overly-ordered superego of Time Lord society. Besides which, it had evil clowns and cows in gas masks. And, in the same way, the overreaching Time Lords were portrayed as living over the ultimate abyss, stabilised to give them their power, but not as safe as they thought it was. So the Doctor, walking the tightrope between chaos and order, was very subtly identified with Rassilon even here. And Rassilon, it should be pointed out, was introduced to the show's mythology as an almost messianic figure, an icon of both romanticism and rationality; he roped down a star and kept it in place with equations.
So, had the Doctor, say, been knocked out by Magnus Greel's laser gun and forced to regenerate at the end of this season, his favourite Doc status would no doubt be assured. The initially-hated Deadly Assassin would have been seen as a slight blemish on his track record but later reassessed, much as it was in, ahem, our universe.
But most likely his era would have been remembered as a rather dark one, and we'd probably regret that his humour had not been given the chance to flourish. So, though Tom Baker apparently rarely saw eye to eye with Graham Williams - except in matters of casting -, he was almost certainly his most beneficial producer - particularly when Douglas Adams became script editor. That said, seasons 15 to 17 could hardly be described as perfect. Often the stories were tedious or throwaway - Image of the Fendahl and The Invisible Enemy, for example, each started well enough but went seriously awry towards the end. The Gallifrey portrayed in The Invasion of Time felt somehow more false, with the invading Vardans piss-poor even by Doctor Who standards (it was bad enough that they looked like tin foil, did they have to sound like it as well?!), and Leela's departure was unbelievable and rushed. The Sunmakers was probably the best story of season 15, but still slightly off-kilter.
Season 16 was an improvement, the most consistent of the Williams series, though still only up to a point. The comedy and drama were evenly balanced throughout, and there was a thoroughly refreshing lack of old, returning villains. Not only that, the traditional men-in-rubber-suit monsters were replaced by, like, actors. All the Doctor's enemies were humans (oh very well then, humanoids), and the stories were all the better for it. Indeed, the only bad serial in the season was the one about an enormous squid.
Season 17 was, I think, a comedown. Yes, it had one of the show's all-time classic stories with City of Death, but that playful adventure was sandwiched between the appalling Destiny of the Daleks and the workmanlike Creature From the Pit, and nothing else in the season equalled it. Still, Baker got to overact like crazy throughout.
His job done, he stayed for John Nathan Turner's first season as producer, easing the transition into a new era. For his last year with the show, Baker was comparatively subdued. He was clearly unwell anyway, but there was also more of a driving urgency running though the series - must get out of E-Space, must get back to Gallifrey, and so on, so that the Baker personality became less important while the show itself took back the centre stage (in line with my own argument, this was, by the way, a good thing). Indeed, with Tom in that burgundy coat that didn't seem to fit or suit him, one could almost see him as becoming something of a prop. But I wouldn't go too far with that argument - he still had his moments, including some superb confrontation scenes in Full Circle.
It was dramatically fitting that it should be the returning Master who finally bested this Doctor. Even though the chuckling chancer of Logopolis was rather disappointing after the cold manipulator of The Keeper of Traken, he remained a popular villain from the series' past, and an established opposite number to the Doctor. His return culminated not only Baker's era, but acted as an overdue (and respectfully deferred) payoff from the Delgado/Pertwee rivalry. And it turned out that Tom's Doctor couldn't defuse evil just by being good-natured and daft. Like Troughton's and Pertwee's, he sacrificed himself. By the end of Logopolis, his flow of quips had run dry. He responded to the Master's scheme not with an insouciant putdown, but by realising with weary horror that his opponent is 'utterly mad'. Though to be fair, I'm not sure the weariness wasn't Baker's own. 'Entropy increases...'
But of course no Doctor exists in a vacuum, so now I move on to an important factor that I've been rather artificially neglecting: Companions. Would Troughton be as good without Frazer Hines? McCoy without Sophie Aldred? Frankly, nope. It's the Doctor's relationships with his fellow travellers that define the way we see his character. So -
Sarah Jane Smith. Introduced as a companion for Pertwee, but clicking with Baker like nobody's business. You could actually believe this pair were best friends, equals despite the one being a really rather old Time Lord and the other being a young human woman. The best Doctor-companion relationships were always the ones where the Doctor never patronised his assistant. Sarah was perhaps the best of Baker's companions because she was the easiest identification figure for viewers, the only one from present-day Earth.
Harry Sullivan, meanwhile, seemed like he'd have been more suited to Pertwee's era, a surrogate man of action to help out an older Doctor, a sort of polite Ben Jackson. There was nothing at all wrong with him, but he was superfluous.
Next there was Leela, a favourite with 'dads' and indeed anyone who likes looking at a pair of firm thighs in a short skirt, but not really a successful companion. Apparently the idea was that the Doctor would be a sort of teacher to Leela, elevating her Pygmalion-like from dangerous savage to - actually, I don't know what he was ultimately going to elevate her into. We never got there. And neither did we get the aforementioned, non-patronising Doctor/companion relationship. Obviously the scriptwriters had their part to play, but I'd say the onscreen failure of this partnership was Tom Baker's fault rather than Louise Jameson's. His disdain for the Leela character was palpable throughout her entire time with the show, and a relationship that could easily have been mutually beneficial and affectionate was not mutually anything. I mentioned that her leaving scene was poor, and a good part of the reason for that was Baker's disinterest. He grins superciliously at her then darts into the Tardis 'confessing' 'I'll miss you too, savage' with an insincerity you can almost taste. You get the feeling that if Baker could have written his own lines for this scene he'd have said 'Good. Fuck off'.
Then there was K9. Apparently Baker didn't like him much either, but that thankfully didn't show on screen. Well, maybe in his first few episodes.. The funny little robot dog was actually a good companion for this Doctor, an extension of the general silliness and sense of fun that Baker brought to the "Doctor Master's" show. John Leeson's voicing of the mechanical mutt was note-perfect and he gave K9 real character. 'Your silliness is noted' cracks me up. I could never get used to that other bloke in season 17, he just sounded smug, and it was a huge relief to hear the familiar nasal voice chirruping cheerfully with Romana when the next season began. It's just a pity he had to be broken all the time (though I personally find even that quite endearing).
With the introduction of Mary Tamm's Romana, the Doctor's silliness was allowed to increase. He now had an equal - or at least someone who wouldn't stand being treated as anything less than an equal. She was a character who could sometimes bring his mind back to the task in hand, and at other times act as a sublime catalyst to his silliness. The interplay of this pair makes even The Power of Kroll worth watching.
Lalla Ward's version of the character was slightly less independent, and not so comically haughty (except in Creature From the Pit, which was written with Tamm in mind). She was disappointing at first - blubbering at the Daleks is something Tamm would never have stooped to -, but soon established herself as intelligent, forceful, frivolous and ultimately noble. And what with the female version of Baker's costume she initially wore, the construction of her own sonic screwdriver, and finally of her own Tardis, she became more obviously an apprentice figure, someone willing to learn from the Doc as well as outdo him. And ultimately, like Tamm before her, she fitted the show like a glove.
Next, the annoying stowaway boy with the maths badge. What a little git he seemed - 'Of course I'm better than you' he said to his 'friends', 'I'm an Elite'. Not the best way to endear himself to them or to viewers. And he was bloody obtuse in State of Decay. But in Warriors Gate, he actually worked very well as the child of a shortlived 'Doctor Who family', with the Tardis chain of command appearing to go Doctor-Romana-K9-Adric. Like Romana, he became a sort of student of the Doctor's, and in the final two stories of the era he worked well - though not exceptionally so - with Baker.
Ultimately, it felt rather sad that Baker's transition was not effected with a more suitable, more established companion like Romana at his side. Unfortunately companions who were okay but not great became something of a trademark of the JNT era, at least until Ace turned up. Turlough was original and worked well, but I couldn't rank him with the best. So had Baker stayed in the role after this point, I doubt it would have yielded many benefits for the show, not without the rapport he'd enjoyed with Liz Sladen, Mary Tamm or Lalla Ward.
Now that we have the novels, the question arises of whether there is anything left to be done with the Baker era. Davison, C Baker and McCoy all left, or were given the push, too early, so there's plenty to be done with them - Peter Davison could have had a few adventures with the underused Nyssa between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity, and Colin Baker could have had bloody ages between Trial of a Timelord and his Time and the Rani. But Tom?
Well, the Doctor/Leela relationship was nonexistent on screen, so plenty of room for improvement there. Leela's own creator Chris Boucher has penned a few PDAs with that team, which I can't comment on because I haven't yet read any of them. There's a companionless gap between Deadly Assassin & Face of Evil, and a sojourn with K9 between Invasion of Time & Ribos Operation, so a clutch of solo escapades might prove interesting. Left to his own devices this Doctor's mercurial side might show itself, and it's become more common now in the books for later incarnations to remember their earlier self as fond of beer - I wonder what inspired that, then -, so, amongst other things, someone could fanwank up his meeting with the Time Lord Azmael. Everyone wants to use Mary Tamm's Romana, but that Key to Time thing is restrictive and Dave Stone and Simon Messingham have already pushed continuity credibility to breaking point.
Season 17, however, has spawned a whole subgenre of Doctor Who books. The stories of that season were entirely unrelated, so the Doctor, K9 and Romana could have had innumerable adventures between them. You can't put anything groundbreaking there, but it's a fun team to read about. And you imagine K9 talking with Leeson's voice rather than whatsisname's (what a K9 purist I am...).
But ultimately, no, the books are left using him as a presence rather than developing him as a character. A tribute to Baker's mastery of the role that there's nothing left to say about it.
A Character Study of The 4th Doctor... or The zombies ain't gonna like it! by Ronald Mallett 24/4/03
By far the most popular interpretation, the 4th Doctor proved to be both a blessing and a curse to the show. There is no doubt that Tom Baker's Doctor helped the sell the show to America and enabled it to survive into the eighties - but his very success may have proved the key to its eventual demise. To many - and quite incorrectly - he was the Doctor. This belief was to prove equally disastrous to Tom Baker's acting career.
The 4th Doctor was to prove far more alien than his predecessors. He was more selfish and determined to break away from his Earthly ties (i.e. UNIT) and return to his meanderings through space. His bohemian dress sense was a total departure from that of his predecessor. His floppy broad brimmed hat and outrageously long scarf was to become his trademark. Tom Baker was able to imbue the Doctor with a kind of detached alien eccentricity that often proved quite comic. Unfortunately as the gothic nature of the program was toned down after the departure of Philip Hinchcliffe as Producer, humour was utilised to fill the void and often Tom's interpretation was allowed to degenerate into silliness.
The 4th Doctor's final season saw the return to a much more restrained Doctor, in keeping with the early Baker. His costume became more standardised as he led the show into the more sci-fi orientated John Nathan-Turner production era. While there was no doubt about his charisma, the success of the 4th Doctor was more about marketing an image than actual substance. Although the public grew tired of his performance in what by his fifth and sixth seasons could have been renamed 'The Tom Baker Show', they found it impossible to let his memory fade. A glance at the synopsis for the abandoned 30th anniversary story The Dark Dimension, illustrates that the view that the 4th Doctor is and should remain the genuine article and his successors were nothing but second rate imitators was still at that time accepted as a universal fact. To me the image of Dicky Hurndall and three actual Doctors posing with Baker's dummy from Madame Tussaud's epitomised a undeniable truth: unlike his audience, Tom Baker had cast off the trappings of his success and allowed it to rest in peace. And despite a non-canonical return in Dimensions in Time, his cagey refusal to join the Big Finish Audio series only reinforces this argument.
Eccentric as hell... by Joe Ford 3/10/03
Tom Baker? Who the hell is that? That was my mother's reaction when she heard who would be succeeding Jon Pertwee as the Doctor. Of course now, in 2003 it is difficult to find anybody over the age of fourty who does not know who the man is. Such was the impact he had during the seven years as the greatest television character ever to grace the small screen. The toothy grin, the curly hair, the jelly babies... it's all stereotypically Doctor Who. Tom Baker embraced the role fully, never giving less than an entertaining performance, you can always be sure that even if the story is a load of old tripe trusty Tom will be on hand to give you a few sparkling moments to cherish. His eccentric behaviour rewarded the fans with some of the most offbeat and hilarious moments.
And yet it is surprising just how inconsistent his performance is, another factor of his success is his ability to play drama and comedy with equal style. His character (and era) underwent massive changes and it is worth taking a moment to see just how his performance was affected by outside influences (scripting, chemistry with companions, etc...).
Season Twelve: Personally I think it is easily Tom's weakest season in the role. Not the stories but his actual performances. In only two of the five stories does he give us a taster of the wild-eyed eccentric that was to come. Robot is an understandably unstable period for the writers and actor (and the character) and it is an acceptably vague character that whizzes through the story. Touches of this story (his hyperactive goofiness) would be picked up later on but was pretty much dropped with the rest of this season as the darker edge that Hincliffe and Holmes were introducing took hold. Bizarrely in The Sontaran Experiment and Revenge of the Cybermen (cringe...) he appears to have little character at all, one not substantial to offer any time to delve into his new persona and the other hideously written and thus portraying him as a cliched hero, loud abrasive but not very interesting.
It is with the two stories mostly influenced by Robert Holmes that he shines. The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks reveal just how the script editor understood the character. Yes I know Terry Nation supposedly wrote Genesis but I find it odd he didn't come up with anything this consistently excellent until Holmes became editor. Lis Sladen makes an excellent point in The Ark in Space commentary; Tom does play against the script. The second half of Ark is almost unbearably tense and all the characters are naturally scared but the Doctor is grinning, seemingly having fun despite the high stakes. We never forget this man is an alien and that he is an expert at these things, his confidence in both stories is admirable. They both let him indulge in long, poetic speeches and they spring from Tom's verbose Doctor with a lot of power. His plea to Noah to led the swarm into space and his desperate emotional dilemma when it comes to deciding whether he has the right to wipe out the Daleks, both are performed with a real sense of urgency and the end result is very powerful.
Season Thirteen: Things are looking up. This is one of Tom's most active and violent seasons, although he seemed to spend half his era rushing about he was rarely more calculating and openly aggressive as he is here. Some have commented that it goes against the nature of the character but I think it gives him a real edge. Watch with baited breath as he cyanides Solon to death and hunts down the Morbius creature in The Brain of Morbius or how he twists Scorby's neck and punches out a guard in The Seeds of Doom. He violently shoves the Sarah android to the ground, punches out and grapples with the Sorenson creature in Planet of Evil. It's all breathlessly exciting.
But it's not like he is wandering into his adventures attacking people willy nilly, his violent tendencies only emerge when there are no other alternative and are balanced by his charming relationship with Sarah Jane. Tom Baker and Lis Sladen are a formidable team, justifiably praised. They complement each other well, she asks the questions, is cheeky and a bit useless and he provides the technical expertise, the muscle and the witty quips. Their stories are crammed with lovely moments together, the exploration of Clements shed ("Perhaps he sneezed"), the Doctor's sulk as he exits the TARDIS on Karn (she blows a big raspberry!) and later when Sarah finds out she's blind ("If you're going to sit there sulking I'll bite your nose" he retorts). It is pleasant to see the Doctor getting on so well with his companion (forgotten in later years) and judging by interviews Tom and Lis got on like a house on fire. It certainly shows.
It is a far more confident year for the Doctor, he has started dominating the stories and provides some really riveting scenes when he loses his rag and takes control. "Scorby if I die, you die" he tells the would be assassin in The Seeds of Doom, "I'm prepared to take that chance" he replies. "THERE IS NO CHANCE!" he shrieks, out of control. When the Doctor loses it, things are BAD. "When I left the Cyonic Beam with you Brigadier I said it was only to be used in an emergency!" he screams in Zygons, "Are you alright?" "Yes I think so" "Well you don't deserve to be!" he screams at poor Lawrence Scarman. Tom knows how to make his point and does so by commanding our attention with his threatening tone. It's great stuff.
Season Fourteen: Possibly Tom Baker's most assured season in his entire tenure, the one in which he is at his all time most Doctor-ish. His trademark jelly baby introduction is used at every available opportunity and his eccentric moments sometimes threaten to turn him into a bit of a weirdo, albeit a lovable one. He chats away to himself when he has no companion in The Face of Evil. Similarly he confirms his plans with himself in The Masque of Mandragora because nobody else will understand him. Brilliantly, he worms his way into Henry Jago's theatre by performing a number of magic tricks. This is a man you would want to travel the universe with; he's fun and cuddly with his childish tantrums and barmy shifts in personality. You get the impression that Tom Baker is very comfortable in the role now, his moody look suiting the gothic horror of this period perfectly.
What's more he is at his all time most heroic. Never before was a Doctor as dashing as Tom Baker is in this season (not even the frilly Jon Pertwee). Spectacular action abounds and the Doctor is right in the thick of it. He escapes his execution in Masque of Mandragora by knocking a guy off his horse and riding away, jumping over a high wall, rushing down some steps and dodging the guards in the market place. He stands over the pit of Horda in Face of Evil and passes the test with ease. He looks gorgeous in his long baggy shirt in The Deadly Assassin, escaping death at every turn. And he rushes about the sewers in Talons of Weng-Chiang with an elephant gun ready to shoot down a giant rat. Tom seems to appreciate the high action content this year and it is wonderful to see the Doctor so active.
It could be because this season is so full of strong stories but a feeling of stability and confidence pervades the season and positively glows from the Doctor. His relationship with Sarah Jane has developed to a point where they work expertly as team and understand each other perfectly. It makes his non-reaction to her departure all the more puzzling but once again Tom Baker plays AGAINST audience expectations and proves how alien he is.
It is only with the introduction of Leela that we see some real shadings of character. It is charming to watch him take on a Professor Higgins type role and teach the savage (like Eliza) how to conduct herself in society. What makes their relationship so special is that it is clear that Leela's approach to things is embarrassing (she admits to killing people, she questions a man as to why he is smoking) the Doctor never, ever bats an eyelid. Anyone else would be mortified but he simply understands and respects how she is. I love that. And he tries to teach her a bit of culture (taking her to the theatre, how to make tea) without patronising her (well okay he occasionally oversteps the mark). It is a mutual friendship where her skills as a hunter come in just as handy as his brains. Tom Baker may not have liked this new character but it never shows in his performances, the Doctor's affection for Leela is one of the main highlights of the year.
Season Fifteen: Hmm, a bit of an odd year this one and a tiny bit inconsistent with the Doctor's character. The show was shifting away from the horror based stories of the Hinchcliffe era into the comedy orientated stuff of the Williams era and this season has a mixture of styles from claustrophobic drama to light humour and Tom Baker's performance adjusts appropriately. He is very good at both but the shift from story to story is a little jarring, watching him brood in Horror of Fang Rock and then fire witty quips in The Invisible Enemy is a bizarre switch. The balance never really settles, Fendahl has the Doctor in a gorgeously sombre mood but he is again at his all time most hyper active in The Sun Makers. Once again I must state that Tom Baker is faultless, his acting is highly engaging but there is no real consistency here.
Saying that this unfairly maligned season has some of his best ever moments. Lots of people name Horror of Fang Rock as their favourite Baker story and it's easy to understand why. He is in a really bad mood throughout, rude, snappy and arrogant. I love it when he realises he has locked the enemy into the lighthouse with them; his monologue is very creepy. Plus his nasty reactions to the gentry are superb ("Get her out of here!" he screams at Adelaide). His work in Fendahl is just as good; his silent horror as he gives Stael the gun to kill himself is very affecting. But The Sun Makers has to be his best performance of the year; the one that proved just how fabulous Tom was at playing comedy. He is like a firework that won't stop exploding, tripping over his tongue twisting dialogue with remarkable ease. The scenes with the Collector and the Gatherer are all hysterical, the way he tricks them into thinking they have the upper hand, remaining perfectly polite whilst tearing down their little financial empire is pure genius. The Invasion of Time is held up entirely by Tom Baker's excellent acting, this time it appears the Doctor has gone rogue and sold out Gallifrey and Tom Baker is absolutely frightening as this sinister version of the character we know. No wit or smart arse comments just those staring eyes and violent reactions. Very nice.
Season Sixteen: The year Tom Baker went insane. I kid you not. He is like a kid who has been given unlimited access to a sweet shop and is on a constant sugar high. Not since Troughton's mischievous imp have we seen a Doctor who seems to ENJOY himself so much in his adventures. Honestly he grins manically throughout the year relishing the ups and downs and all those funny bits in the middle. He is teamed with Mary Tamm's Romana, a woman who seriously needs to find the fun a bit so perhaps this why Tom's lunatic Doctor seems so perversely happy all the time... erm no, that's not the reason. He really is genuinely thrilled to be on the quest for the Key to Time, jumping from planet to planet.
It is always a pleasure to re-watch this season for Tom's zany performances alone. The stories, high quality in themselves, afford him tons and tons of memorable moments to savour. Ribos has his scenes with the intergalactic con man Garron, the two of them lounging about swapping stories as their lives are in immediate danger. In The Pirate Planet he is too mind bogglingly bonkers to find fault, his twisted pleasure in baiting Queen Xanxia in episode four is delightful and yet he still has time to spare a righteous moment or two at his disgust their massacre spree throughout the galaxy. Tom's fierce anger in these scenes is electrifying. Stones of Blood contains possibly the best Doctor performance by any actor in the role, he is just soooo funny from his charming relationship with Professor Rumford, his sly digs at De Vries, his antagonistic relationship with Romana and his cheeky verbal during his 'trial'. Wonderful in every way. In Androids of Tara he's taking a holiday, fishing by a lake instead of searching for the key. Building android kings, indulging in fencing and meddling in politics, he seems right at home.
If the stories looked a bit ropey production wise there was always Tom's performances to savour. This is precisely the period your mum and dad talk about when they remember how fun Doctor Who could be and how wonderful their hero was.
Season Seventeen: This is where it all got a bit too much. Rather than the controlled humour of the previous year Tom Baker was now in total control of his character and would not let any director or writer stand in his way of his own personal interpretation. Sometimes this was pure genius, his timed to perfection wit in City of Death is perhaps his greatest performance ever. He never falters in this sparkling story, controlling every scene, making you laugh as he reacts in horror/amazement/disgust/ at the weird goings on. Nearly every thing he does in this story is funny, every glance and word has been thought out. It is a performer at the top of his game giving his all. Perhaps because the story is so bloody well written because he certainly isn't this good in every story this season.
There is a feeling of boredom that permeates a lot of Tom's performances this year, where even he feels he has been at it for too long. Destiny of the Daleks and The Horns of Nimon contain oddly subdued versions of a usually watchable Doctor. The former is a decidedly uneven story anyway and the Doctor is equally mediocre. His reaction seems to be "Sigh, not the Daleks again... and oh look Davros... never mind." In the latter he is moved to the sidelines altogether and Romana (in the new and improved Lalla Ward guise) takes over. It seems wrong to have the mighty Tom Baker relegated to second position.
It's not all bad by a long shot, each story has a shining moment or two. Destiny contains that hysterical bit where he throws a Dalek down a corridor with a bomb strapped to him and shouts "BYE! BYE!", Creature from the Pit has the Doctor share his death sentence with the very witty Organon, Nightmare of Eden sees him at the top of his game dodging policemen, fighting monsters and unmasking bad guys.
He just seems tired and so does the character, the opportunity for comedy now exhausting a wee bit. Paired up with the infectiously fun Lalla Ward as Romana for once the Doctor doesn't seen quite so interesting. And that is never a good sign.
Season Eighteen: The fourth Doctor's seventh and final year. And what a difference a year makes! Incoming producer stamps his mark in every way but nothing could have prepared fans for the sudden shift in the Doctor's behaviour. Obviously Tom Baker's wilder characteristics have been reigned in and in steps a quieter yet compelling character. I love what they did with his character this year, sending him out on a real high.
The sombre mood he appears to be in breaks as soon as he gets tied up in another adventure. It's almost as though he know his regeneration is coming but just has time for one more death defying adventure. I must say it is a pleasure to see that contemplative, thoughtful man who stood out so much in seasons twelve through fourteen. His angrier moments this year are amongst his most powerful ever, his scorching reaction to the Deciders' secret in Full Circle in particular. Plus he seems more inclined to listen to people again and not just take over a story; secondary characters get a chance to tell their story as well.
That's not to say the great man has lost his edge. His out and out comedy scenes with Romana in State of Decay are terrific as is his touching goodbye to her in Warriors' Gate. Tom and Lalla are at it like rabbits behind the scenes and their obvious adoration for each other spills on screen and helps to create one of the most memorable Doctor/companion team up ever. There is a lot of subtle touching between them and the Doctor seems to trust her more than his other companions... it is the closest he ever got having any real romantic feelings to anybody and gives the show a fascinating edge.
But it really is the out of character moments that make the most impact in this season, moments that you just don't think would suit Tom Baker and yet end up mature and compelling. His haunted reaction to the Watcher in Logopolis, his terrifying bargain with the Master, his touching portrayal as the older Doctor in The Leisure Hive that convinces totally... it is the quieter, more contemplative stuff that really impresses. It proves without a shadow of a doubt that even after seven years there are still more layers to this wonderful character.
Looking at the fourth Doctor over his seven seasons I have noticed there really aren't that many poor patches at all. A few moments here and there where the production changes have affected the storytelling (and hence the characters) but on the whole there are no noticeable sags as all in his seven-year reign.
Tom Baker is a fantastic actor who brought many facets to the role. The fact that he could play comedy and drama so well meant his era could be one of the most versatile of all and it is quite a joy to realise no matter how bad a story can be Tom was always there doing his best to keep you entertained. There was always something to keep you watching.
A confident time for the show and for the character of the Doctor, at his best the fourth Doctor knocked spots off all the others. His era deserves to be the best remembered as it represented all that was wonderful about the lead character... he was a hero in every sense of the word, moral, leaping into action, funny, dramatic, charismatic and clever.
A definitive portrayal.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 5/12/03
As a relatively unknown actor to play the Fourth Doctor, the fact that Tom Baker`s portrayal is the most recognised is something to be applauded. What he brings to the part is a joyful enthusiasm to even the most lacklustre scripts that is a pleasure to watch. The other thing to notice is because of his longevity the Fourth Doctor is a continally growing and developing character, from sombre to dark to intense to flippant to smug to bohemian and finally back to sombre (as reflected in his costume), this Doctor runs the gauntlet. This is also reflected in his relationships with his companions, certainly he seems to enjoy the verbal sparring with his more intelligent travellers (Romana and K-9) than constantly rescuing Sarah Jane, belittling Harry or educating Leela. In short then, there is something for everyone with this Doctor.
A Review of The Fourth Doctor by Benjamin Bland 14/3/06
Tom Baker's incarnation of the world's favourite Time Lord is widely regarded as the best, particularly in America. My question is, really, why?. What makes Tom Baker's Doctor any better than the rest?.
In my opinion the years of 1974-1978 were among the best in the shows history. The Ark In Space, Genesis, Pyramids, Morbius, Seeds Of Doom, Robots of Death and Talons of Weng-Chiang to name a few of the glorious stories during that era. Philip Hinchcliffe at the helm as producer with Bob Holmes as his script editor. Now if that was the entire era of Tom Baker in the TARDIS it would be hard to ignore his claims as the best doctor ever. But that wasn't was it. Baker went on until 1981. In my opinion past his sell-by date. Yes, he performed well enough in plenty of stories between '78 and '81 but he simply wasn't the same as during his first few years in the role. He didn't have the same boundless energy as before and he hammed up on every possible occasion. So he was in fact a brilliant Doctor but far off being the best one.
The General Opinion
The general opinion of the fourth Doctor is that he was the original, the one that ruled the Who universe; to some the others pale in comparison compared to this larger-than-life Doctor. He was strong, funny and alien all at the same time, they say. Davison was wetter than a sponge but Tom Baker, well, he was another matter: he was brave and he made us laugh with his jokes and passion for jelly babies. Colin Baker, too harsh and mean; now Tom Baker was never mean, he always cared for his companions to the utmost and he was brave; he never shirked from danger. Patrick Troughton was just too laughable: how could he save the universe; now Tom Baker was a believable Doctor, he looked like he was there to save the universe. Now I know plenty of fans aren't like this in their praise of Tom Baker but plenty are too. Tom Baker wasn't the only Doctor you know, but it's hard to believe when listening to some people.
The Final Verdict
Tom Baker was a defining Doctor in many ways, that I admit, but was he really all that good?. It's up to you to make up your minds but for me he ranks only fifth in the list of Doctors. He gets a final Doctor rating of 8/10.
A Review by David Rosenthal 9/9/06
Tom Baker was the longest and best remembered Doctor especially in America. His alieness and quirkiness made him the most alien of the Doctors, except maybe the Sixth. When he was first introduced in Robot you could tell he was the complete opposite of Jon Pertwee's Doctor. He was a bit wild in that story after a few stories he calmed down.
Genesis of the Daleks was one of his finest stories, about the war between the Kaleds and the Thals, the introduction of Davros and the creation of the Daleks. His confrontation with Davros (played by Michael Wisher) to beg Davros to use them for good is a classic confrontation. Anoter scene was when he had two wires and he says " Do I have the right to erase evil because from evil must come good to fight the evil". Weird how later Sylvester MCcoy has no problem destroying the Daleks and Skaro.
He had sone good companions from Sarah Jane Smith to Harry Sullivan, Leela, Romana and K9. HIs first episode with the Master was a classic The Deadly Assassin.
By Season Eighteen, his last season, Tom was getting to be a very lonely and serious Doctor, who once in a while jokes around; a contrast to his earlier seasons. Plus his new red burgundy scarf and jacket also contrasted with his earlier multicolored scarf and brown jacket. This was the beggining of John Nathan Turner's era. In this season we were introduced to Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. Tom's two best stories were his two last ones: The Keeper of Traken, which had the disfigured Master - this time played by Geoffrey Beevers - who wants to be Keeper of Traken and does towards the end. Anthony Ainley, who plays Nyssa's father Tremas, becomes the new Master when the Master takes over Tremas's body. That was a great end to the beginning of the Master trilogy.
Logopolis was even better with the Master played by Anthony Ainley who wants to take over Logopolis but towards the end Logopolis dies, Tegan joins the crew because her aunt was murdered by the Master and throughout the story we see a character in the shadows named the Watcher; well, at the end we know what he is. When Tom's Doctor falls off the Earth telescope it turns out the Watcher was the future Doctor. Before the the Watcher merges with the Doctor the Doctor says "It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for" and he points to the Watcher and he regenerates with the Watcher and they both merge and a new, much younger Doctor, appears, played by Peter Davison. A brilliant end to a fantastic long era of Tom Baker as the Doctor.
Thanks Tom for being the longest and best remembered of Doctors.
The Two Tom Bakers by Thomas Cookson 13/8/11
In my favourite article from Licence Denied, Gareth Roberts claimed that the Williams era truly began with The Deadly Assassin and ended with Warrior's Gate (personally I'd say it ended with The Five Doctors). Stretching out the era in this way nicely encompasses Leela's introduction and Romana's departure, since both companions defined the era well.
Moreso The Deadly Assassin marked the point where all links to the Pertwee era were finally either jettisoned (UNIT, Sarah Jane) or outright backlashed against and radically subverted. The once suave, charming, cosy Bond-villain Master was reimagined as a disfigured, homicidal mad dog. Likewise, the once-benevolent, powerful Time Lords were exposed as corrupt indolent despots. In fact, from this point on, any renegade Gallifreyans the Fourth Doctor encounters (Drax, Salyavin), are actually endearing rebels rather than villainised megalomaniacs like the Master or Morbius. Suddenly Gallifreyan society is well worth rebelling against. Image of the Fendahl sees the Doctor outraged at the Time Lords' destruction of the Fendahleen homeworld. Season 16 debunks the Time Lords even further as they're superseded in power by the Guardians, whilst the Doctor's relationship with Romana revolves around teaching her to reject her heritage. Indeed The Deadly Assassin's reimagining of Time Lord mythology, and its diatribe about bureaucracy and power of the media, spawned three sequels in Season 15: The Sunmakers, Underworld and Invasion of Time.
State of Decay sits oddly within Gareth's parameters, being one of the last stories where the Time Lords are glorified and revered, but it's also the last story before the Doctor's heroic stature is emancipated and castrated by JNT (the story itself seems to prophesise JNT's overbearing control forcing the show into stagnation and regression), so it probably fits the Williams era better. Back then, the Pertwee era was considered the show's golden age. When fans began calling the shots in the early 80's, most of the show's recurring elements were from the Pertwee era: the Brigadier, the Master, Omega, Silurians and Sea Devils. The revisionism of The Deadly Assassin caused quite a furore in fandom at the time, which is another reason to lump it with the Williams era.
Jan Vincent-Rudski wrote a notoriously scathing review at the time on The Deadly Assassin, and it's become sickeningly fashionable now to look back on his review with shame and a smug sense of superiority about how 'we know better now'. I've long hated fandom's tendency to proscribe the 'right' and ridicule the 'wrong' opinions or mindframes to have on the show.
The Deadly Assassin is probably one of the show's most intelligent and politically potent stories. Indeed, I'm baffled how a fandom raised on such an intelligent story about media manipulation could grow to be suckered by the hollow spin and propaganda machines of the JNT and RTD eras. It also feels awkwardly rushed, opening with what feels like a series of 'previously on' clips clumsily extended to 20 minutes, and not like the unnerving editing that benefitted the tension of Season 7 and Terror of the Zygons.
However, in many ways, The Deadly Assassin set off a disastrous domino effect, resulting in the show's decline and ultimate demise.
Mary Whitehouse drew her claws on the show. She and her fellow moral guardians complained about the show's violence and horror during the Hinchcliffe years. She was particularly furious about The Deadly Assassin's cliffhanger where the Doctor's being drowned. It'd be nice to remember Mary Whitehouse as a well-meaning, harmless, out-of-touch grandma, but unfortunately she did serious damage to the show. The BBC somehow ended up taking her seriously and Hinchcliffe, the show's best producer, was sacked; actually he was moved onto another show, but still he was resentful enough to exercise a scorched Earth policy on the budget before he left, hence why Talons of Weng-Chiang looked so darn lavish, and why the stories after looked increasingly cheap.
Hinchcliffe was replaced with an inexperienced producer in Graham Williams who had to juggle a slashed budget, an uncontrollable Tom Baker, whilst BBC higher-ups kept a tight reign on how frightening the series was allowed to get. As the show looked cheaper and more ramshackle, and as the horror was replaced with broad send-up, the BBC became increasingly sniffy towards the show. When Graham Williams left, he nominated JNT as his successor, simply because of his budgeting skills. One inexperienced producer nominated another. The BBC lacked faith in JNT, and drafted Barry Letts to be JNT's overseer for Season 18. A producer lacking full-rounded qualifications and the BBC's faith is more likely to be a producer with something to prove, which was the source of everything wrong with the 80's years. Everything became neurotic and pretentious. Good writers were blacklisted in favour of yes-men.
Characterisation of the Doctor reflected the worst of JNT's narcissistic martyrdom-complex tendency for courting disaster and making blinkered, wrongheaded decisions to make himself appear the hero or victim struggling against impossible odds, to boost his own self-importance, as well as script-editor Eric Saward's passive aggressiveness. Indeed, the Sixth Doctor seemed conceived by a mindset not unlike Munchausen syndrome.
Also, The Deadly Assassin is where Tom Baker changed for the worse. The Tom Baker we had before The Deadly Assassin was everyone's best friend. The jolly, welcoming, charming hero who connected with our inner child. The Tom Baker afterwards was a moody, volatile prima-donna with barely concealed contempt for the show's cast and production. When Paddy Russell directed Pyramids of Mars, Tom Baker was never less than deferential and professional, but when she directed Horror of Fang Rock two years later, she found herself directing a much different Tom Baker, prone to on-set tantrums and vitriolically cursing the script (for reasons best known to himself; personally I rank the story higher than Blink). I think the sore point for many is that these unpleasant aspects of Tom Baker's personality tainted the character of the Doctor himself.
The Deadly Assassin is probably the real turning point. Tom Baker had a wonderful rapport with Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter, and their camaraderie really translated to screen well. But by The Deadly Assassin, both were gone, and afterwards Tom Baker was paired with Louise Jameson and then produced by Graham Williams, and Tom developed a strong dislike for them both. In his later years, it was only really Lalla Ward who managed to get on his good side, which might explain why City of Death stands out so well from the pack, but even that holiday romance turned sour quickly.
What essentially had happened on The Deadly Assassin is that, for just one story, Tom Baker had his way. He'd suggested that the Doctor shouldn't need companions, and so had been allowed a companionless adventure. When it was over and it was back to having a sidekick, Tom Baker became more petulant and demanding, wanting more and more of his own way.
Mike Morris pointed out that Season 13 features the Doctor at his most violent. Blowing up the Zygons, cyaniding Solon and being even more of a brutish thug in The Seeds of Doom than Pertwee was in The Mind of Evil and Day of the Daleks. But it was his compassion for his companions and his love of the people of Earth as 'his favourite species' that validated his aggression and ensured that he remained endearing and championable as a hero. He was a Doctor who cared back then. However, in Horror of Fang Rock, Tom's overall contempt for proceedings perhaps makes his Doctor come across far more cavalierly than usual. The story gets away with killing off Skinsale by making a point of greed being his fatal flaw, but Tom really makes it look like he was deliberately taunting him by casting away the diamonds. Unlike how Ghost Light or some of Moffat's stories bear signs of high-functioning sociopathy, this was Tom's own cavalierness being projected onto the show.
Whereas Genesis of the Daleks and The Hand of Fear ended on a nice afterthought and fond farewell, The Deadly Assassin ends with the Doctor making a very rushed and curt goodbye to his temporary companions. Robots of Death ends on a similarly rushed note, as though Tom just wants to get the scene over with and go the pub. When he says an insincere goodbye to Leela in The Invasion of Time, it's clear the charm and warmth his Doctor once showed just isn't there anymore. Indeed, the Doctor's tantrums at Leela in Robots of Death ("Do you have to talk so much") and at Romana in The Ribos Operation are particularly unpleasant viewing.
In Underworld, Tom seems to be completely rewriting the script. His unscripted irreverence is at its most inane, and his scenes with Leela in the caves are so awkwardly edited that one gets the sense this is the only usable material they could get out of him before he killed the scene. Uusally when Doctor Who broke the fourth wall it was only ever done with a sense of occasion and importance, like Hartnel's Christmas message, or Genesis of the Daleks' chilling Dalek monologue to the camera. In The Invasion of Time, Tom Baker addresses the audience, completely unscripted for no other reason than to self-indulgently declare "Even a sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one." It didn't enhance the mood, the occasion, or the threat. It simply undermined the suspension of disbelief. However the nadir moment is in Power of Kroll, where the actors playing the refinery staff are selling the illusion of drinking from cups, but Tom Baker undermines everyone else's good work by putting his cup in his pocket.
Whilst we can dismiss the Williams-bashers as humourless, or even mean-spirited, there's often a sour aftertaste left by Tom's onscreen antics. Hence why the Williams era comedy seemed more smug and contemptuous than invitingly jolly, and the Doctor's increasing ability to come through adventures unscathed was compounded by his general unpleasantness that made the fans yearn for him to fall.
The Doctor has always needed a strong personality. It's the sheer strength of character of the First Doctor, Ian and Barbara that gave the erratic, morally ambiguous early years a sense of direction that made it worth following, and why attempts to imitate this in the 80's were so disastrous, resulting in a completely aimless series. The Fourth Doctor had a strong personality, but many fans felt that Tom Baker's own strong personality had overpowered the character and the show. That's the only explanation I can think of for the fans welcoming how JNT obsessively neutered and weakened the Doctor, rendering him fallible to the point of incompetence like a voodoo doll curse puppeteering a once free-spirited, strong-willed hero. So much was fans' antipathy for Tom Baker's overbearing personality that they gladly welcomed a replacement who had no personality or strength of character at all. An ineffectual, appeasement-minded failure who'd be a horribly misconceived protagonist in any TV show, and whose character made no sense outside the context of his contrast to Tom's Doctor. Indeed, fans forget that Tom's Doctor was fallible, particularly in Genesis of the Daleks, but he never stopped being a championable, competent hero.
Peter Davison wasn't at fault. He demonstrated credibility as an action hero in Earthshock, and was probably the only 'name' who could have replaced Tom and maintained the show's popularity. Alas, the millions of viewers attracted by Davison's star-power and the buzz of Earthshock, didn't stick around long when presented with dreck like Time-Flight, and neither did Davison. Davison had occasional, transient moments of champ-hood in Enlightenment (where he's written eerily close to the Seventh Doctor), Frontios, and Caves of Androzani, but Tom's Doctor never needed to be written against type in order to prevail. All the 80's Doctors did.
I still maintain that when Tom departed in Logopolis to dismal ratings, the show should have just been axed, because without a strong Doctor, the show was nothing, or worse, such a void became corrosive to the whole ethos.