Many of my problems with Pertwee’s Doctor exist in other Doctors as well, but the fact that there are so many all together in one incarnation adds up to (or subtracts down to) a very low level of appreciation for Doctor #3. The first of these is that he’s so mercurial (and yes, like I said, that’s not something unique to Pertwee). Travelling with the third Doctor seems reminiscent of being in a dysfunctional relationship. In The Curse of Peladon, one minute he’s yelling at Jo and calling her an idiot. Not a minute later, he softens drastically and allows that she’s also been very brave. His mood swings must be exhausting to deal with. I understand that it’s gotta be difficult for the Doctor to have to deal with mere humans all the time, but about-faces like that smack of “I’m sorry baby; I didn’t mean it; you know I love you!” Yuck. At times it’s almost like he has multiple personality disorder or something. He’ll be yelling and brash and jerky, then in the next scene he’s all meek and loath to hurt anyone’s feelings. In Terror of the Autons he rails to the Brigadier about how terrible Jo is and how she’ll have to go, but in the next scene he can’t bring himself to fire her, and relents to having her assistance, however useless it may be.
When it comes down to it, he just doesn’t have a very pleasant personality. Curt insults trip off his tongue more often than praise, and not just for Jo; the UNIT boys bear some of the brunt as well. Plus, he’s often snarky. When Mike Yates asks if Jo is hypnotized in Terror of the Autons, the Doctor snaps at him “Of course, why else do you think she tried to blow us all to pieces?” Then the Doctor condescendingly mocks Yates by repeating him and pointing out how wrong he is about hypnotism. In that same story, when the Doctor dresses down Brownrose the bureaucrat, instead of inspiring that “In-your-face!” feeling that I love to get when a fool is put in his place, this just smacks of dipping down to Brownrose’s self-important level. “Tubby” indeed. *rolleyes* The third Doctor comes off as a pompous blowhard a lot of the time. The only thing that mitigates it for me is the fact that he’s got something to back it up. He does know more than everyone else around him. That fact can only soften it so much though.
I suppose one could defend him for having somewhat frayed nerves when it comes to dealing with humans. The third Doctor is primarily confined to Earth, so he has to deal with Earthlings on a day-to-day basis for a good stretch of time. I guess that must wear on him. But he’s a Time Lord. The few years he has to spend on Earth are a drop in the bucket for one as long-lived as he. Though I could argue with myself further here (I often do) by pointing out that the Doctor lives quite the vagabond lifestyle, and any curtailing of his freedom, no matter how brief, is bound to make him rather cross and sour in general. Even if you buy that, it’s pretty darn rude for him to take out his frustrations on the humans around him rather than the Time Lords who stuck him on Earth. He ought to learn some more effective coping mechanisms. That might help him minimize the hissy fits.
Yes, that’s right, the third Doctor throws tantrums—whether it be tearing up reports or kicking the TARDIS and declaring that he likes being childish. Come to think of it, those types of outbursts pair rather oddly with his general suave demeanor. Perhaps we’re meant to find these different sides of our protagonist interesting and complex, but to me it just seems jarring, confusing, and even a little unsettling. This is certainly not “my Doctor.”
Removing this dichotomy of character wouldn’t save the third Doctor for me. Even if he expressed the suave side of his nature and nothing else, I still wouldn’t enjoy it. I shall expand on that tomorrow.