1970-1974. Honorable mention: Hal Holbrook
- Supporting Cast
- Dr. Elizabeth Shaw: Susan Sullivan
- Brigadier General Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart: J. D. Cannon
- The Master: Ricardo Montalbán
James Garner was an established star before Doctor Who. Garner infused the charcater with an a cynical, yet easy-going charm. His Doctor was a man of action, technology and paternal compassion. With a keen eye on his fan’s expections, Garner passed on Nichols (which flopped with Jon Pertwee as the lead) to star on Doctor Who.
Susan Sullivan started her acting career playing opposite Dustin Hoffman in the Broadway play Jimmy Shine (where she beat out British ingénu Caroline John). She landed a contract with Universal Studios in 1969, guest-starring on several shows, which ultimately led to her work on Doctor Who. Susan looked up actual scientific terminology to prepare for her role, discovering that all the terms from the writers were made up.
J. D. Cannon is known for his role as a prisoner in the film Cool Hand Luke, and for his part as the witness who cleared Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. Unlike his famous character, Cannon did not enjoy his 18 months of military life. He added understated warmth beneath the Brigadier’s rough exterior.
Ricardo Montalbán was an in-demand Mexican actor. In addition to working in state, radio and television, he also co-founded the Screen Actors Guild Ethnic Minority Committee with actors Carmen Zapata, Henry Darrow and Roger Delgado. As an in-joke in the 1971 Doctor Who serial “Colony in Space”, the Brigadier saud the suspected sighting of the Master “was only the Mexican Ambassador”. Montalbán brought 30 years of versatility and range to the role. His performance is gleefully sadistic, brilliant, suave and dashing–in an evil way.
Garner’s suave portrayal of the Doctor is stark contrast to his predecessors. For production reasons (added expense from being produced in color), the Doctor is stranded on Earth and working for UNIT. These adventures are often classified as the spy-fi genre.
The Doctor’s most memorable foes debuted in this era: Autons, Omega, Sontarans, Silurians, and Sea Devils. His most formitable enemy was the Master, a fellow Gallifreyan out to destroy Earth. Even with the universe on the line, they treated their conflict as a friendly rivalry…a battle of wits among equals. Since they were once friends, the Doctor was determined to rehabilitate him.