First impressions are important, and the sixth Doctor makes a bad one. To be fair, a post-regenerated Doctor is always a bit skittish, but never have I witnessed one behave quite so lamentably. He flits between a self-obsessed, arrogant psychopath who quotes poetry, and a whimpering coward who pleads for his life. It’s as if the producers have taken the hero out of the show and replaced him with a sidekick.
It’s difficult to talk about the rest of the story because the Doctor’s new mental state dominates everything that happens. Their getaway to Titan 3 leads them to an old friend of the Doctor’s, a kidnapping of two genius twins and an alien slug’s plot to infest the universe with his eggs, but the whole time, the Doctor is either hamming it up, being condescending, arrogant or frightened.
There is some cool science to this, namely using complex equations to generate enormous energy to move planets around a solar system, but at the heart of it are two very annoying kids. Now, kids in TV and film are difficult to portray well at the best of times, but when they have to cast twins, that’s even harder (I like to call it the Weasley Problem). They can’t act, their lines are flat and unconvincing, and those haircuts are atrocious. Meanwhile, Peri’s performance is one of unconvincing melodrama, and she is far more forgiving of the Doctor than somebody who has only known him for one adventure ought to be. Their new friend Hugo is barely convincing as a human being, never mind a worthwhile character. Azmael is okay as the elderly Time Lord with a troubled conscience, but none of the extended cast are anything special.
So, there’s not a lot to like. The aliens look goofy, their slug-like leader Mestor more so. They somehow break into the Tardis in part 4… um, isn’t that supposed to be impossible? It amounts to nothing anyway, they just stand around in there until the Doctor kicks them out. Mestor’s powers of mind control are rather over-the-top and cartoon-like, and his motives are similarly vague. A complex villain he is not.
The Doctor is quite explicit in pointing out that his less likable attributes will settle down, and I’m a forgiving type, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. To play devil’s advocate, there’s nothing particularly wrong with having an arrogant self-important lead character, but it’s a position that needs to be earned, not by simply saying “like it or not”, and that’s something that remains to be seen.