Posted Mar 21, 2006 @ 2:22 PM
I didn't know McCoy was polarizing either.
McCoy is MY Doctor, I was like 6 and a half when the show was cancelled in 1989 and had just started watching at the time, so my experiences of the show were totally defined by McCoy and by Aldred as Ace. I suppose that's why I look back on them whenever I see repeats with fondness.
'The Curse of Fenric', 'Ghost Light', even 'Rememberence of the Daleks' seem to play completely differently depending on whether you are a child or a grown-up/teenager when you watch them. They deliver the villains and the frights for the kids, but Cartmel also delivered a storyline with every adventure, they were about something. He certainly didn't talk down to the audience, which is fantastic if you are coming back to the show and re-watching them after a gap of several years. 'Fenric' terrified me as a 5 year old, I think I may have slept with the light on that night, but maybe three years ago I saw it again and realised there was a really mature story about Ace facing her past and putting her 'issues' with her mother to rest, particularly after she finds out who the baby is. In a sense she's finding some grace in the 1940s after having had a relatively rough time of it in the last period of her life. 'Ghost Light' is both your classic 'mysterious outpost' Who-story but is also rather complicated and requires a lot of attention to get exactly what its going on about. I do actually like shows where you have to pay attention to details to get what its about, so that in itself is a reward, after all Doctor Who has a reputation as being for children and therefore the plots themselves were not always that complex. 'Rememberence of the Daleks' was both a Dalek story to entertain the kiddies and a recovery in-terms of Dalek stories and tried to define a command structure with the Emperor Dalek that I found interesting. 'Battlefield' was about something, mythology and had the Brigadier in it, so I don't mind it at all.
In some ways I think it might be Doctor Who seeing the weaknesses in their own format, trying to grow-up, engage with an audience demographic that had changed, the older viewer who were kids in the 1960s or 70s and were often as not cult-fan-boys (and girls.) They knew if it was going to go out, it had to go out its head held high and be about something other than some eccentric professor-type defending the universe against slime-monsters with a pretty girl side-kick. I find the McCoy era a lot more rewarding now as an adult than I ever did as a child, simply because I get what they were trying to do and know a bit about the backstage stuff so I can put it in perspective. Is that a common experience I wonder?
I loved Ace (I still sort of do, mostly nostalgically and because when I was about 10 I wanted that bomber jacket.) She seemed approachable in a way the Doctor didn't. He was sly and schemeing but you knew he could see bigger-pictures than we could so you trusted him to do the right thing. Sure, "wicked professor" drove you nuts eventually, but she wouldn't stand and scream, did Ace ever actually scream? She just got on with the job and stood up and was counted. I think Ace might be an earlier form of Rose actually, a reasonably intelligent, confident, capable woman who wasn't about to let anybody get away with anything and had a good heart. Not a bad thing to see on your t.v. on a weekly basis when you are a 6 year old girl is it?
Its been so long since I've seen the Bonnie Langford episodes that I don't remember details. I think she might be the 'last of the old fashioned, screaming companions.' Does Mel play better now when you're older? Can I dare hope she comes off better? I saw some repeats in the mid-1990s and didn't like her much at all, although I found her episodes, like say 'Paradise Towers,' weird in a good way.
Plus of course McCoy is Scottish and I'm Scottish, so that was fantastic to me as a child. Its nice to see 'us up North' (the real North, not the English North) represented on a Great British institution.