The Third Doctor: Action Man Or Inert Lump Of Carbon?

He was a master swordsman. He was familiar with firearms, and not afraid to gun down an Ogron or two. He was skilled in the art of hand to hand combat, thanks to his knowledge of Venusian Akido, or Venusian Karate, or as Sgt. Benton once put it, “oojoh.” He was the Third Doctor and he is considered by even those with the most fleeting awareness about him that this Doctor was the one most likely to throw himself headlong into danger.  He was like a secret agent, all guns, gizmos, and Grant (Jo). He was like a superhero, a fashionably Caped Crusader. He was ready to fight injustice at any time, any where. He was “Action Doctor.” 

Or was he?

I ask this because it has been brought to my attention by the media watchdog group Movies, Advertising, Stage, & Television Education & Reform, who feel that the Third Doctor’s reputation is inaccurate and a careful analysis of his adventures would show him to be “more passive than active, and much more prone to inertia than previously described.”

The President and CEO of Movies, Advertising, Stage, & Television Education and Reform, Mr. Aster-May. 

And so, with the information provided by the good folks at Movies, Advertising, Stage, & Television Education & Reform, (sure wish they had an acronym I could use instead of having to type all that out!) here’s  a stunning list of times that they say prove the Doctor was not quite living up to his action reputation. Let’s look at the evidence below and ask the question: Was the Third Doctor really the “Action Doctor?”

(Note: All examples are taken verbatim from Seasons 7-11, which amounts to close to 52 hours of research. This goes to show the dedication to the research, and that I don’t know what the word “transcript” means.)

Spearhead From Space:

“Troughton was up and at it within five minutes of regenerating, you lazy layabout!”

(The Doctor and Liz Shaw have just made an unsettling discovery at the Wax/Plastic Museum. The display figure of General Scobie isn’t a plastic effigy, but the real flesh and blood General himself!)

Liz: Now what do we do?

Doctor: Well, there’s only one thing we can do. Wait. 

Doctor Who And The Silurians:

(The Doctor has been captured by the Silurians and wishes to return to the surface and broker peace between the humans and the Silurians.)

Silurian: Very well. I shall explain to the others, so that you may return safely. 

Doctor: Thank you. 

Silurian: You will wait here. 

(The Doctor waits there.)

The Ambassadors Of Death:

      “Doctor? Hey, Doctor! I think he nodded off again. Is he narcoleptic or something?”

(Mysterious signals are being transmitted from space to earth and vice versa. What can be done?)

Doctor: The message was repeated. Perhaps the reply will be. All we can do is wait. 


“Just five more minutes, Miss Shaw…”

(The destruction of the parallel Earth has begun.)

Parallel-Liz: How long have we got?

Unparalleled-Doctor: Maybe a few weeks, maybe only a few days. 

Parallel-Greg: So it’s Doomsday? We just sit back and wait?

Terror Of The Autons:

(The Doctor and a ham fisted bun vendor are discussing UNIT’s plan to blow up a bus full of Autons. )

Jo: What do you think we should do?

Doctor: Nothing. Just keep them under observation for a while and give me a chance to find out the purpose of these flowers.

The Mind Of Evil:

“Just five more minutes, Miss Grant…”

(The Doctor and Jo have escaped from a prison cell, but have yet to escape from the prison. They are holed up in the Warden’ s office.)

Jo: Doctor, we can’t go on sitting here. 

Doctor: Why not? It’s the safest place at the moment. 

The Claws Of Axos:

(The Doctor and Jo are deep within the bowels- pretty sure that’s not figurative- of the Axos spaceship, being held into place by the titular claws.)

Jo: Doctor! I can’t move!

Doctor: Jo, lie still! There’s nothing we can do.

The Colony In Space:

(Okay, I can’t recall when this happens, because, let’s face it, The Colony In Space is incredibly dull. But rest assured at one point this conversation occurs:)

Master: What’s happening?

Doctor: Wait and see. 

The Daemons:

“He’s frozen stiff! He must be in a state of suspended animation!”                                               “Oh I wouldn’t say that.”                                     “Brrr…j-Just f-f-give more m-minutes, Miss Grant. And a blanket.”

(Sergeant Benton wants to take some proactive measures against the Daemons. Unfortunately, he is talking to the Doctor about it.)

Benton: Look, shouldn’t we get over there and sort this Daemons thing out?

Doctor: How?

Benton: Well I could get the men…

Doctor: Yes?

Benton: Well, we could….

Doctor: Exactly. All we can do is wait. 

(Bonus moment from The Daemons! A conversation between Sgt. Benton (May) and Mrs. Hawthorne (December)!

Benton: Something’s gone badly wrong. We’ve no idea what’s happening to Miss Grant and the Captain, the Doctor should be back here by now, I can’t get through to the Brigadier, and you’re nattering on about tea!

Mrs. Hawthorne: You must learn the art of waiting, Sargeant. The Doctor will come or else he won’t and that’s all that can be said. Now, milk or lemon?

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?”

Day Of The Daleks:


(At this point, Jo has spent an entire Series with the Doctor and is beginning to know what to expect.)

Doctor: Well, in that case, there’s only one thing left for us to do.

Jo: I know. Wait.

Doctor: You’re learning, Jo.

The Curse Of Peladon:

(Something-Something-Something, Planet of Peladon, Patrick Troughton’s son, an unfortunately shaped alien, blah blah blah. This happens some where in all that. Good times.)

Doctor: Come on, Jo, follow me. I’ve got a nice surprise for you.

Jo: What?

Doctor: You wait and see. 

The Sea Devils:

(To be honest, the Sea Devils is pretty fairly action packed. There was only this:)

Jo: But what about the guards?

Doctor: Don’t worry about the guards. You leave them to me. Now you hurry back and wait for the off.

The Mutants:

(The Doctor is attempting to reason with Varan, but Varan is over acting so loudly, he can’t hear the Doctor. )

Varan: Is this the way to fight the Overlords? To stay here and be killed by Mutts? If you will not fight, Varan will!

Doctor: Now, Varan, wait. Varan, wait!

(Varan does not wait. He takes one last chew on the scenery and leaves.)

The Time Monster:

“Never mind fixing the chameleon circuit. What I really need in here is a nice comfy chair. Ooh, my legs.”

(The Brigadier demands answers. )

Brigadier: All right, Doctor, go on. What next? Having picked us all up by the scruff of the neck and bundled us in here, what do you propose to do with us?

Doctor: Nothing at all. There’s nothing to be done but wait. 

Jo: I seem to have heard that before. 

The Three Doctors:

(There’s a large blob of pulsating, glowing ooze that is on the loose, making people and the Doctor’s car disappear. The Brig sums up the situation.)

Brigadier: Well, now it’s arrived, and it’s hostile, and it’s still here, what do we do now and how do we find it?

Doctor: We don’t find it, Brigadier. If we wait around here long enough, it’ll find us. 

Carnival Of Monsters:

Jo: “Oh, well.If you can’t beat’em, join’em. Zzzz…” Doctor: “ZZZZ…”

(What follows is a pretty poor example, but this story is too fast paced for any standing around. Here, the Doctor is getting Vorg and Shirna to help him in saving everyone trapped in the Miniscope but first he needs to nip into the Tardis. Not all these examples can be gold, you know!)

Doctor: Look, come with me and I’ll tell you what I want you to do. Er, would you mind just waiting here for a moment?

Frontier In Space:

(The Doctor and Jo are accused of helping the Draconian hijack a space vessel when it was really the Ogrons. What should they do?)

Jo: So we just sit around here waiting for those jolly old Ogrons to show up again?

Doctor: That’s about it, yes. 

Planet Of The Daleks:

“Miss Shaw would have brought me a fluffy pillow by now.”

(The Doctor, Jo Grant, and some Thals are camped out, waiting the return of two of their party, who went to the Dalek base to destroy the refrigeration unit. Which would be the worst thing they could possibly do. Time for some action, yes?)

Rebec: What shall we do about Taran and Codal?

Doctor: Well, we’ll wait until first light. 


The Green Death:

(Multiple problems abound for the Doctor. There’s an evil corporation doing, well, evil things, there’s unfeasibly large maggots crawling about, and there’s a mysterious, fatal illness going around that turns the skin green as it kills. And now Professor Jones, the environmentally friendly apple of Miss Grant’s eye, has contracted it! And there’s no known cure! What shall be done?)

Brigadier: And the cure for Professor Jones?

Doctor: That’ll have to wait, I’m afraid. 

The Time Warrior:

“Doctor, what are you doing in there? And did you just call me Miss Grant?” “Hmm? No, of course not…just five more minutes, Miss Grant…zzz…”

(The Doctor and Sarah Jane have just returned from Irongron’s castle after a narrow escape.)

Edward: So then, Doctor, your plans have miscarried, I fear. What will you do now?

Doctor: Oh, wait a bit. Give the potion time to work and go back. 

Invasion Of The Dinosaurs:

“Hey, everybody, look at me, I’m the Doctor! Ready? Zzz…just five more minutes, Miss Grant…zzzz…”

(The streets of London are deserted, except for the occasional looter or military patrol. When the latter mistake the Doctor and Sarah Jane for the former, they are hauled into the nearest HQ for questioning and a speedy trial.)

Sarah Jane: What do we do now?

Doctor: Wait for the officer to show up. Maybe we can get some sense out of him.

Death To The Daleks:

(The Doctor and Sarah Jane prepare for a seaside outing on the planet Florana.)

Sarah Jane: (after being assured one cannot sink in the waters of Florana due to the bubbles) Like swimming in a glass of health salts. 

Doctor: All right, but you wait until you’ve seen Florana. 

(She doesn’t. At least not on television.)

The Monster Of Peladon:

(The Doctor heads back to Peladon because what the hell, why not. This time there’s a miners strike, duplicitous Ice Warriors, and a lethal statue of Aggador that shoots lasers or heat beams or laser pointers from it’s eyes. A shame all six episodes are like someone spinning a shiny object in front of you  while singing, “Haroon, haroon, haroon.” Here the Doctor and the miner Gebek discuss a plan of action. )

Doctor: No, if we show our faces there, Azaxyl will wipe us out without a qualm. I’m sorry, Gebek, we have to wait. 

Planet Of The Spiders:

“Are you sure he’s regenerating? I can distinctly hear snoring!”                                                “Zzzz…just five more minutes, Miss Smith…”

(The evil Lupton has stolen the blue crystal and goes for an escape. The chase sequence involves all sorts of vehicles, and actually it isn’t as boring as one has been led to believe. In the end, Lupton is trying to escape in the gyrocopter, when the Doctor and Sarah Jane catch up to him in the futuristic Whomobile.)

Sarah Jane: Well, now that you’ve caught up to him, what are you going to do?

Doctor: Nothing. He can’t last much longer. He’s almost out of fuel. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So there you have it. And so the question remains: Was the Third Doctor really the “Action Doctor?”

And the answer is: Of course he was. What a stupid question. But thanks to Mr. Aster-May for asking the question! I hope this has been to his satisfaction!

Apparently this has NOT been to Mr. Aster-May’s satisfaction.

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