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Would Jon Pertwee's Doctor have worked better with more humour?


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Old 28-10-2013, 19:12
daveyboy7472
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After commenting on Beryl Reid in the Earthshock thread, it got me thinking about Jon Pertwee's Doctor and whether I would have liked him more had his Doctor been a bit more humourous than he actually was.

That's not to say he was without humour, a lot of his early stuff in Spearhead From Space was quite funny and some of the stuff with The Brig and other odd scenes were quite amusing. However, as I've mentioned several times previously on this forum, I found his Doctor very overly moralistic and too serious at times, especially in stories like Planet Of The Daleks. Sometimes I feel watching him that the eccentricity that the first two Doctors had and some of the later Doctors went seriously AWOL and that he wasn't much fun at all. I find it all the more bizarre as he was a comedy actor at heart and as with Beryl Reid, played The Doctor completely against type.

So do you think the Third Doctor would have worked better with a bit more humour or do you think, as most people probably will, that maybe it worked well enough as it is?

I personally would have liked a bit more humour from him in the role but on the flip side if he had been too funny, the contrast with Tom Baker when he took over wouldn't have been so effective and maybe Tom Baker wouldn't have been cast at all.

I love asking questions like this, there's no right or wrong answer, it's simply about opinion. So what do you all think?

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Old 28-10-2013, 19:30
Face Of Jack
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I wasn't a Pertwee fan for this very reason! He was TOO serious most of the time wasn't he? And a bit boring (for kids).
Admittedly, he did a few comic routines - but very sparsely.
No Tardis didn't help in his early years either! Nor did his years working for 'UNIT' with the Brigadier (Love the Brig though!).
He was definitely far too serious.....although I loved him in 'The Three Doctors' and 'Carnival of Monsters'
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Old 28-10-2013, 19:38
DODS11
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Yes and no. Pertwee's Doctor can be funny - he certainly throws himself in to ridiculous situations (washer woman disguise etc.) and can see the funny side in things. But he was a man of the military, and a rightful contrast to Troughton's playful and eccentric little man version of the Doctor.

I think if we hadn't had such a contrast and Pertwee's era was more colourful and comical, the Doctor would be doomed to be a comic figure. Troughton and Pertwee combined allowed the later castings to be a diverse range because they weren't similar to one another.
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Old 28-10-2013, 19:39
CELT1987
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I liked Pertwee but he did play the part too straight. He was a comedy actor before, so it was a suprise he played it so serious. Although there were touches of occasional humour(like dressing up as a cleaner in the Green Death), he played it totally seriously. Having UNIT there all the time, made it a bit tiresome. I liked the banter with the Brig though.
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:03
Michael_Eve
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Oohh...love questions like this.

I've liked all the Doctors, but Jon Pertwee isn't high on my list (I'm a fan; I make lists.) After the superlative Season 7, thought the era was rather hit and miss...although the 'hits' are terrific. Think this might be that I never warmed to the third Doctor as much as other incarnations. He could be very pompous and patronising at times.

However, it's a perfectly valid 'take' on the character and Pertwee's earnestness in itself can be quite endearing. I remember when I first got involved with other fans in the mid-eighties, a lot of them were critical of 'my' Doctor (Peter Davison) for seeming "too human" and I would always counter that the third Doctor seemed the most "human" of the (then) Five incarnations. (Davison for me always projected a kind of gentle otherworldliness.) Not so defensive many (many!) years later, so;

More humour? Perhaps. But I detect a mellowing of his Doctor as time went on. A valid and successful interpretation of the role? Absolutely.

As others have said, you need a contrast between incarnations, and long may this continue. Not my favourite Doctor, not my favourite era....but still a splendid chap.

PS Can you imagine this place if it existed in 1969 and an actor famous for his comedy roles, character voices and Carry On cameos was announced as the new Doctor?
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:10
Grisonaut
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Pertwee's doctor was my first, though my recollections are hazy.

Basically I remember the Peladon monsters, a bit of martial arts, some soldiers, Sea Devils (my personal hide-behind-the-sofa monster), a cape, and his hair.

Even now I don't recall Bessie or some of the other tropes of his era (probably because I was outside playing, as we wont to do in the quaint 1970s).

But from what I read 3 was a kind of 007 Dr, which was hugely popular at about the same time. I don't think we'd get that same mirroring today, not unless you reckon 10 is the Twilight doctor (which, um, you might)..
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:14
saladfingers81
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I don't think I would change much about his era. I think it works and stands out because it is at times quite dour and as pointed out already it paved the way for Toms different approach.

That said it is strange that someone with such a natural propensity for humour and even first class clowning- I give you one Mr W. Gummidge as proof of this- played it so straight. Maybe it was a deliberate decision to try something a bit different.

Related to this I recently listened again to my recording of Bill reading from his memoirs which aired on R4 Extra a few months back. He was a lovely, warm and funny man full of bonhomie and great tales.
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:34
gingerfreak
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I totally agree with your take on Pertwee's Doctor, davey, but I do think the production team missed a trick. The "I am no sort of chap, sir" scene in The Deamons set a nice precedent for the Doctor's pomposity to be pricked on a regular occasion. That was my main problem with the 3rd Doctor, his pomposity.
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:36
Jethryk
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After commenting on Beryl Reid in the Earthshock thread, it got me thinking about Jon Pertwee's Doctor and whether I would have liked him more had his Doctor been a bit more humourous than he actually was.

That's not to say he was without humour, a lot of his early stuff in Spearhead From Space was quite funny and some of the stuff with The Brig and other odd scenes were quite amusing. However, as I've mentioned several times previously on this forum, I found his Doctor very overly moralistic and too serious at times, especially in stories like Planet Of The Daleks. Sometimes I feel watching him that the eccentricity that the first two Doctors had and some of the later Doctors went seriously AWOL and that he wasn't much fun at all. I find it all the more bizarre as he was a comedy actor at heart and as with Beryl Reid, played The Doctor completely against type.

So do you think the Third Doctor would have worked better with a bit more humour or do you think, as most people probably will, that maybe it worked well enough as it is?

I personally would have liked a bit more humour from him in the role but on the flip side if he had been too funny, the contrast with Tom Baker when he took over wouldn't have been so effective and maybe Tom Baker wouldn't have been cast at all.

I love asking questions like this, there's no right or wrong answer, it's simply about opinion. So what do you all think?

Jon Pertwee was immensely popular and helped save the series from cancellation.

Would he have been even better with a bit more humour? Who knows, but I wouldn't want to go back to one of the most successful points in the series history and change anything.
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Old 28-10-2013, 20:39
TEDR
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If additional humour would have taken screen time away from car chases, kung fu and shoot outs then I'm all for it. As long as it didn't invoke chromakey.

That said, I take the point that had Pertwee been comic then T.Baker, even if cast, would probably have had to start in City of Death mode and we'd have been robbed of some of the best stories of the original run.
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Old 28-10-2013, 21:02
solenoid
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No. Pertwee needed to play the straight man to the Brigadier's "Eric."
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Old 28-10-2013, 21:53
TEDR
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No. Pertwee needed to play the straight man to the Brigadier's "Eric."
... Pertwee was the song and dance man?

Brigadier: Listen, Doctor, we've got to impress the man from the ministry. So just do your lines like in the play what I wrote.
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Old 28-10-2013, 22:27
daveyboy7472
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I don't think I would change much about his era. I think it works and stands out because it is at times quite dour and as pointed out already it paved the way for Toms different approach.
It wasn't whether the era needed changing(though for me the Earth Scenario sucks)it was Pertwee's Doctor himself though I acknowledge the Era was led pretty much by his Doctor, so if he'd been comic and less action orientated it definitely would have seen a different style to the Third Doctor's Era.

I totally agree with your take on Pertwee's Doctor, davey, but I do think the production team missed a trick. The "I am no sort of chap, sir" scene in The Deamons set a nice precedent for the Doctor's pomposity to be pricked on a regular occasion. That was my main problem with the 3rd Doctor, his pomposity.
I agree about the pomposity. At times in Season 7 he was very pompous and arrogant and I'm glad that side of his character was mellowed out in later Seasons. It's one of the many reasons I dislike Season 7 so much.

Yes and no. Pertwee's Doctor can be funny - he certainly throws himself in to ridiculous situations (washer woman disguise etc.) and can see the funny side in things. But he was a man of the military, and a rightful contrast to Troughton's playful and eccentric little man version of the Doctor.

I think if we hadn't had such a contrast and Pertwee's era was more colourful and comical, the Doctor would be doomed to be a comic figure. Troughton and Pertwee combined allowed the later castings to be a diverse range because they weren't similar to one another.

I agree Pertwee had to be different to Troughton but Tennant and Smith have proved in the New Series that you can have back to back humourous Doctors. Both of those Doctors are very different in terms of the funny side that they showed. Tennant was jolly but Smith is a bit more eccentric and manic.

So if Pertwee had gone for the comedy Doctor, I think it would have been different to Troughton's humour but as I sort of said at the top maybe the difference between the Doctor's either side of him wouldn't have been so great.

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Old 28-10-2013, 22:32
bokonon
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Definitely not. Generally I do prefer the more light-hearted doctors and Eccleston I did find humourless. But rewatching Spearhead from Space the other day, it was clear that it was a good idea to take the Doctor in a different direction after Troughton. The earthbound era had its own charms and one of them was Pertwee's serious disdain for for our human backwardness. It was fun in its own way.

But I am probably only saying that because he was my first doctor and was devastated when he was replaced by Tom Baker. Not for that long though.
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Old 28-10-2013, 23:11
johnnysaucepn
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I think it has to be seen in the context of the times. From our perspective here, it seems odd, but at the time they were trying to capture the harder edge and action adventure spirit of the spy thrillers and less of the hippy fantasy sci-fi. Which eventually came back round around, mind you. So, I think it worked, even if it isn't my favourite. It achieved its own goals.
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Old 29-10-2013, 01:11
Pointy
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Pertwee's Doctor was great for his time, but hasn't aged so well. It's not Jon's fault in my opinion, but Barry Letts' heavy-handed 'moralistic' producing. Thankfully, Terrance Dicks was there to balance that out a bit. Tom Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe brought the fun element back to the show.
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Old 29-10-2013, 03:08
Mr_XcX
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I love Jon Pertwee's doctor but I do agree. He could be so serious. I think he was a doctor for the grown ups and not the younger audience.

Still in my Top 3 faves though.
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Old 29-10-2013, 17:40
W._O._Frobozz
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I always viewed Pertwee's Doctor as "Action Doctor," always on the move, always ready with his "Venusian Aikido" and racing around in Betsy. Yep, he was very serious and more than a hint of grumpy which worked really well given his predicament.

But oh yes, humourous moments...the cleaning lady incident comes to mind.

And his interplay with Troughton ALWAYS makes me laugh. If Pertwee was the straight man Troughton was definitely a clown, and the way the two Doctors acted like they didn't like each other was fabulous.
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Old 29-10-2013, 17:45
CELT1987
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I always viewed Pertwee's Doctor as "Action Doctor," always on the move, always ready with his "Venusian Aikido" and racing around in Betsy. Yep, he was very serious and more than a hint of grumpy which worked really well given his predicament.

But oh yes, humourous moments...the cleaning lady incident comes to mind.

And his interplay with Troughton ALWAYS makes me laugh. If Pertwee was the straight man Troughton was definitely a clown, and the way the two Doctors acted like they didn't like each other was fabulous.
Love Hartnell's put down of the 2nd and 3rd Doctors, 'a dandy and a clown'.
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Old 29-10-2013, 19:41
Rooks
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Well the question sort of implies that Pertwee's Doctor didn't work well, to which I disagree. I never used to be much of a Pertwee era fan but recently I've found new appreciation for that era and I rate it quite highly now.

Also if you remove Tom Baker from the mix, Doctors 1-8 didn't focus much on humour at all. I think it's easy to think of the Doctor as a humourous character because of the new series but actually, historically, he's quite serious.
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Old 29-10-2013, 19:59
sandydune
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Some of The Doctors can be funny by mannerisms where as some need funny dialogue.


Jon Pertwee was better at the mannerisms.
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Old 29-10-2013, 20:53
daveyboy7472
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Well the question sort of implies that Pertwee's Doctor didn't work well, to which I disagree. I never used to be much of a Pertwee era fan but recently I've found new appreciation for that era and I rate it quite highly now.

Also if you remove Tom Baker from the mix, Doctors 1-8 didn't focus much on humour at all. I think it's easy to think of the Doctor as a humourous character because of the new series but actually, historically, he's quite serious.
This is where I disagree with you just a bit as I think a lot of the humour from other Doctors came from their eccentricity.

Hartnell's humour came from his absent mindedness and all those high pitched chuckles and sense of mischief.

Troughton I don't think you could ever call serious to be honest. I think there are numerous examples of his humour that could be stated.

Tom Baker we all know about. With Davison, like Hartnell, he had these moments of child like eccentricity despite the serious nature of his Doctor, but that was forced upon him by JNT and I think if he'd had his own way we'd have seen more of an Androzani sort of Doctor.

Colin Baker, can you really say he was too serious? The evidence in Season 23 says otherwise. people think too much of his grumpy side but he was jokes aplenty especially in scripts by Robert Holmes and Pip and Jane Baker.

And in Season 24, McCoy was overly humourous and even when he became darker his humour arose from his banter with Ace. And he was eccentric at times as well.

So I sort of disagree the other Doctors were too serious. I also have to mention I never stated as fact Pertwee didn't work, it was just my opinion that it could have worked better.

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Old 29-10-2013, 21:31
FunkyJawa
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Well, i enjoyed Jo Grant. But that's a different thing altogether.
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Old 29-10-2013, 21:55
Irma Bunt
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After commenting on Beryl Reid in the Earthshock thread, it got me thinking about Jon Pertwee's Doctor and whether I would have liked him more had his Doctor been a bit more humourous than he actually was.

That's not to say he was without humour, a lot of his early stuff in Spearhead From Space was quite funny and some of the stuff with The Brig and other odd scenes were quite amusing. However, as I've mentioned several times previously on this forum, I found his Doctor very overly moralistic and too serious at times, especially in stories like Planet Of The Daleks. Sometimes I feel watching him that the eccentricity that the first two Doctors had and some of the later Doctors went seriously AWOL and that he wasn't much fun at all. I find it all the more bizarre as he was a comedy actor at heart and as with Beryl Reid, played The Doctor completely against type.

So do you think the Third Doctor would have worked better with a bit more humour or do you think, as most people probably will, that maybe it worked well enough as it is?

I personally would have liked a bit more humour from him in the role but on the flip side if he had been too funny, the contrast with Tom Baker when he took over wouldn't have been so effective and maybe Tom Baker wouldn't have been cast at all.

I love asking questions like this, there's no right or wrong answer, it's simply about opinion. So what do you all think?

Pertwee is by far and away my favourite Doctor and his era has never been bettered in my opinion. I liked it because the humour was subtle and sly, unlike, for example, the school of trip over scarf/do a pratfall/offer a jelly baby.
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Old 29-10-2013, 21:57
Koquillion
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I love Jon Pertwee's doctor but I do agree. He could be so serious. I think he was a doctor for the grown ups and not the younger audience.

Still in my Top 3 faves though.
Well my earliest DW memories are of Pertwee. That was when I fell in love with the show and he was my Doctor. I remember clearly season 8 when I was 4 and I never missed an episode. When they announced his departure I cried. Properly cried. I really could not see anybody else as The Doctor.

I sometimes feel guilty about the fact that I went on to love Tom Baker even more (by about episode 2 of Robot!), but he was just so brilliant!

I guess I wouldn't want anything to change about the Pertwee era because that's my fondly remembered childhood.
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