9

Since the Doctor traveling through time and space was a significant chunk of the show's premise, the decision to restrict the Third Doctor to "modern"-day Earth for much of his tenure seems like it must have had some reason behind it other than the obvious in-universe one of the Time Lords exiling him there.

Were they hoping to make the doctor more relatable by "depowering" him and forcing him to hang out with people he didn't always get along with? Did they want to make us humans look a bit more competent by having UNIT save the day once in a while? Were they unsure whether they could make an alien world look convincing after they started filming in color, or afraid it would cost too much to do so?

  • 1
    I'd guess it was cost. – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 16 '16 at 9:33
  • Good question! That must have made the Pertwee era much less Doctor Who-y than most of the rest of the show. How can he be the Doctor without his TARDIS?! – Rand al'Thor Jan 16 '16 at 11:17
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    @randal'thor Unsurprisingly there seem to be a lot of aliens on Earth, including several episodes with The Master, so in the end it feels about as DW as any other DW season. My favorite part so far was the end of Inferno where he thought he got the TARDIS working again, so he calls the Brigadier a "pompous, self-opinionated idiot" before disappearing...then lands in a nearby rubbish tip and has to beg the Brigadier to help him dig it back out. – Ixrec Jan 16 '16 at 11:39
  • One has to wonder why all these aliens feel the need to invade Earth of all places, and how other planets cope without a resident Time Lord protector ... – Rand al'Thor Jan 16 '16 at 11:41
  • @randal'thor I'd say it's the other way around, wherever the Doctor goes, problem follows. Not that the aliens would go to Earth looking for him, but the Universe/Web of Time/God herself is another thing :) (Or the producers, which is the same thing after all) – confusedwhovian Jan 18 '16 at 15:57
11

Quoting from the Wikipedia page for the Third Doctor:

The early ones were set on Earth due to cost constraints on the series.

This seems to be the generally accepted explanation; for example on The Nerdist:

As a cost-saving measure, the last series [with Patrick Troughton] ended with the Doctor being exiled to Earth, so alien sets would not have to be built.

although I haven't found a direct quote from somebody who was on the production team or similar.

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    The documentaries included with some of the DVD releases of the Jon Pertwee episodes confirms that it was a cost-cutting measure. – Klaatu von Schlacker Jan 16 '16 at 10:30
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    @KlaatuvonSchlacker I just watched the "Down to Earth" bonus feature on Spearhead From Space to see if I could find that confirmation you mentioned, and oddly enough in this feature the producer Derrick Sherwin says the motivations were making the Doctor relatable and reducing the number of lines for the Doctor's actor. He didn't mention cost at all until they started discussing specific scenes. Do you happen to remember which DVD commentary you saw that said it was about cost? – Ixrec Jan 16 '16 at 18:27
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    Remember that they had just gone to color, which meant simply recording the series had gotten a lot more expensive. – John Sensebe Jan 29 '16 at 19:13

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