Friday, November 22, 2013

50th Anniversary: Doctor Who (1963-2013)

Doctor Who is perhaps the greatest science fiction show of all time. It’s also so amazingly unique that nothing has even come close to copying it. And on Saturday, it turns 50 years old. Who would have guessed?

An Inauspicious Start

Imagine you are tasked with starting a new series. You are sent off to the hinterlands and the worst studio facilities. You are given actors who don’t want to play the parts. Your main actor is “difficult,” and will eventually become a depressed alcoholic who needs to be retired. Your script is nonsense. Your budget is so low you can’t afford props. Nevertheless, you finish your show and it gets scheduled... for the night after JFK gets kill. That’s an inauspicious start for a show. Incredibly, that same show is still running 50 years later with only a short break in the 1990s.
Who is Doctor Who?

The Doctor, we never do find out his real name, travels around the universe in a stolen time machine called the TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. This time machine can go anywhere and anytime. It is also vastly larger on the inside than it is on the outside. In theory, it can blend into the background wherever it lands, but that circuit is broken, so the Doctor’s TARDIS looks like a blue British police box wherever it goes.

When the story began in 1963, William Hartnell played the Doctor. He was old and nasty. He traveled the universe with his granddaughter Susan and two of her teachers who end up stuck aboard the TARDIS: Barbara and Ian. Their episodes were plodding and unfocused, but were enough to attract attention. After awhile, Hartnell needed to be retired for personal reasons. But how do you replace the main character for whom the show is named?
This is where the show found its genius. They killed the Doctor, but rather than dying, his character magically regenerated into another version of himself... the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton (above)). Troughton took over the story until he retired, at which point he was replaced by Jon Pertwee (below). Troughton played the Doctor as a bumbling professor. Under Pertwee, the series took a different turn. The episodes switched to color. His Doctor also was banished to Earth and more often than not used an old yellow car to drive around than the TARDIS to travel. He ran into any number of creatures who were trying to take over the Earth. He was also a very physical doctor, being more than willing to knock people out with a little alien judo. He was a bit like an alien James Bond.
His replacement is the most famous Doctor in the US, Tom Baker, because he ran the longest and because his shows were the ones imported by PBS for years. Most Americans (until recent years) will list him as their favorite. He also traveled with the most beloved of companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). Following him were Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Then the show stopped in 1989 for lack of interest. In 1996, a movie was made starting Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. The idea was to revive the series, but the film bombed. The series seemed dead.
Then in 2005, Christopher Eccleston (above) rebooted the series as the Ninth Doctor. His episodes were much more modern. Gone were the cardboard sets, the BBC rock pit as a background, and the Shakespearean dialog. Instead, a modern sensibility was brought to the show. And let me tell you, it was a heck of a reboot. I’ve seen all the old episodes (had them on VHS) and I loved them, but the reboot won me over almost instantly. David Tennant (below) followed Eccleston and Matt Smith followed Tennant. Each was better than the last, and these shows have been really high quality all around. Indeed, these shows have featured amazing horror stories – inventing truly unique monsters, solid dramas, touching love stories, and all of this was done while carefully walking that balance between a kids’ show and something adults would love just as much. This is top notch science fiction.
What is Doctor Who?

So what is Doctor Who? Well, it’s a kids’ show that also pulls in adults by being much smarter than it deserves to be. It’s the kind of show you can’t help but like if you can get over the cheap effects and low budgets. It’s a solid action show in which the Doctor is called upon to save someone from catastrophe each week. It’s a solid science fiction show which deals with an amazing array of aliens and ideas. It’s a philosophical show where the Doctor will constantly be forced to ponder whether or not he has the right to take some action.

Despite spanning 50 years as of tomorrow and despite the feel of the show varying greatly over the years, the show has retained its core throughout. That core is this: the Doctor comes from a corrupt but brilliant race of people known as “The Time Lords.” They (falsely) claim noninterference is their highest rule. The Doctor wanted to help people, but was told he could not interfere. So he stole the TARDIS and fled Gallifrey (the home world of the Time Lords). Now he goes around the universe helping people who need it.
Traveling with the Doctor are usually one to three companions who act as assistants or foils. These are people who end up onboard by choice or accidentally, and since the Doctor isn’t great at operating the TARDIS, they often end up stuck with him for some time because he can’t take them home again easily.

The purpose of the show is to tell interesting stories. Sometimes there is a moral, sometimes there isn’t, but there’s always a bad guy who needs to be stopped. Indeed, the Doctor has amassed an amazing array of enemies and he has taken on whole civilizations at a time, such as the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Sontarans. The Master is his nemesis.
Prior to the reboot, the show was generally broken into 30 or 40 minute segments which would fit together to form longer stories that are anywhere from 40 minutes to three hours in length. The reboot shows are standard one-hour long episodes that sometimes spill over into multi-part episodes. Each story forms part of the history of the character and is considered cumulative even if it doesn’t form a direct story.

Philosophically speaking, I can’t tell you that the show is conservative because it’s not specifically. There are some elements that are, like a strong libertarian streak, an opposition to man playing God, and an opposition to tyranny. But there are just as many moments that feel standard-liberal. For example, the third and fourth Doctors were insultingly anti-military. The seventh Doctor was deeply politically correct. The Ninth Doctor was pro-gay. But these issues tend to be rarely raised and they tend to involve just moments rather than being the point to plots. Indeed, the main thrust of the show, philosophically speaking, has always been a combination of a respect for the sanctity of all life (no, it’s not about abortion) and an opposition to tyranny
At many points, the show has had brilliant moments. In “The War Games” you get humans who think they are fighting in wars such as World War I, only to discover they are on an alien planet and are being studied (like Dark City). The fourth Doctor has an amazing episode in which he goes far back in time and discovers how the Daleks were created in “Genesis of The Daleks.” Does he have the right to kill them before they grow? “Robots of Death” is my favorite. The fifth Doctor saves the Earth from a space freighter and discovers what killed the dinosaurs in “Earth Shock.” And so on.

But the older episodes really are meant as a series. You need to get to learn who the characters are and what their histories are for the shows to have their full impact. By comparison, the reboot episodes work much better as standalone episodes. And in that regard, you can find some amazing stories: “The Empty Child” is unbelievably creepy. “The Girl in the Fireplace” is a heartbreaking romance. “The Satan Pit,” “Blink,” and “Silence in the Library” are amazing horror films. “Midnight” is an intensely strong drama about how people behave when they are scared and under pressure from those around you. “The Time of Angels” is a heck of an adventure story. And so on.
If you’re at all into science fiction, then you really should know Doctor Who. The new shows are very modern and very entertaining, and I highly recommend them. But I also recommend going back and watching the rest too. Do not start with the first Doctor, however. Your best bet would be to start with the episodes that involve multiple Doctors: “The Three Doctors” and “The Five Doctors.” Otherwise, start in the Tom Baker era (fourth Doctor) and see if you like something like the episodes I mention above... start with “Robots of Death.” Then try the fifth and third Doctors. You’ll find that each is different, but also enjoyable in their own way. It’s the kind of show where your favorite Doctor ends up being whichever Doctor you watched last.

64 comments:

shawn said...

Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) was my introduction to Dr. Who. It was great stuff in the late 70's/early 80's for a young teenager. Recently tried to re-watch some of the old Whos and quite frankly, Nu-Who (the reboot) is much, much better than the old stuff. Having said that, any Who is worth watching.

Michael K said...

I was turned off by the cheap sets and effects of the old series when it was on PBS during the 70s/80s; I was a kid/teen. But I gave the re-boot a look and has been hooked ever since. One thing is Doctor Who, at least the re-boot episodes I have seen, does Period Pieces very well with nice costumes and unlike say Star Trek TNG it does not treat the people from the past as some ignoramuses whom the Doctor needs to enlighten.

Dave Olson said...

Oh, my my my. You have touched upon my favourite show. I discovered it in 1978 at the tender age of 7, when I came home from my first day of second grade and realised that I was getting too worldly for "Sesame Street". So turned the VHF channel dial (this was WAY before remote controls) and stumbled upon a man in a scarf and hat battling a giant robot. I had no idea what was going on and had a bit of trouble understanding the accents, but this was just a year after I'd seen Star Wars in the cinema and whatever I was watching was a HELL of a lot cooler than "Sesame Street".

I like both the classic and reboot series. What the classic series lacked in budgets and production design was more than made up for in imagination and talent. And the new series is just fun to watch. The special effects are vastly better yet they retain a certain cheesiness that keeps me watching.

(British spellings off)

KRS said...

My SIFI fantasy as a kid was Star Trek. The visuals for the late 60's were awesome and you really fell into it. When I discovered Dr Who, I thought the thing was some old 1950's BBC series in late night syndication. Watched a few and gave it up. It wasn't until the late 80's that I learned I had been watching current episodes. Found it rather funny.

I can deal with cardboard sets in many genres, but not SIFI. And the American style was to load up the visuals, so anything else looked, well, like a Plan 9 knockoff.

That doesn't mean all our SIFI was great imagery: "Danger, Will Robinson!" But TOS broke new ground, raised basic expectations and established a visual threshold, so I never understood Dr Who's longevity.

That said, I did give the reboot a chance and found it very good for all the reasons, you state, Andrew. But it measures up to contemporary style. I would probably like the old ones, too, if I simply read the stories, but for me, the visual presentation is a critical part of suspending disbelief.

Dave Olson said...


As much as I love "Doctor Who", there's another BBC show from that era that is just as low-budget and far more interesting: "Blake's 7". It's a dystopic sci-fi show set in a totalitarian future and it tells a tale of a group of "criminals", some of whom actually committed real crimes. While being transported to a penal colony (from which no one leaves, if you get my drift), they stumble upon a fantastically advanced ship drifting in space. Led by the eponymous Blake, our heroes take the ship, rechristen it the Liberator, and take on the nefarious Federation.

Watching the show as a teen, most of the politics went over my head. Watching it now on YouTube, I'm struck at its brilliance. Despite the Beeb's notorious leftist bent, the show is remarkably nonpartisan. The Federation is simply evil and oppressive, allowing the viewers to impute their own biases on the tyrants. Doubtless the creators saw it as being right wing oppressive, but by never getting into its actual policies, viewers like me can watch and enjoy a show in which we see the bad guys as leftists.

ScottDS said...

"Doctor Who is perhaps the greatest science fiction show of all time."

How could you say this, Andrew, after all those Trek articles we worked on?!

:-)

Yeah, this show is on my radar - it's always on my radar by virtue of the fact that I'm a geek and even though I've never seen a frame of the show, geek news has a way of finding me.

I've been told to watch it my many people, including the cute asexual girl in class who spent 20 minutes talking about it during lunch without taking a breath. (I've mentioned her in a couple e-mails. I sure can pick 'em!)

Anyway, everyone says I can go back to the 2005 reboot, even though I'm a completist and would prefer to see everything. (Aren't some of the episodes lost?)

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, New-Who is by any measure much better television, but I do still love the old stuff as well. But the old stuff does have a learning curve, which the new stuff doesn't. My favorite of the old was Tom Baker because he was my introduction, but I think that over time I came to like Pertwee better.

AndrewPrice said...

Michael, The cheap sets and bad effects do take some getting used to, but once you get over that, they really do have quite a charm to them. They are real enough to be believable, but fake enough to give the story a kind of fairy tale feel. But that is the biggest hurdle for people.

The reboot does period pieces extremely well. I love shows like the one involving Shakespeare or the one in Venice. Those are some of the best. And they mix the science fiction elements very well.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, Same here! I turned the dial past PBS one night and low and behold there was a man in a scarf battling something. In this case, it was a space pirate with a fake bird on his shoulder. Intriguing. Halfway through the episode, I was hooked. Over the years, I discovered how to get my hands on these things and I have to say that I've enjoyed every minute of the series. As you say, what it lacked in effects and sets, it more than made up for in talent. The writing is wonderful, the acting is over-the-top but at just the right level to really be fun, and the villains really feel like they could be out there.

So I was pretty skeptical when they announced the reboot, but they did such a great job with it that I love that too. It's totally different, but it's just blown me away with the great ideas they've put on screen. Great show!

Kit said...

My favorite episodes of the new show are "Vincent and the Doctor", "Blink", and "The Doctor's Wife".

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, Very understandable. In all honesty, the visuals in the older series stink. It's cardboard sets, guys in costumes they can barely move in and which sometimes don't make any sense. If you can get over that, the stories are great and the characters are great, but it does take some work.

I think the longevity can be explained by the idea that people came to see the doctor and his companions as friends. There is a lot of camaraderie going on there and the fans really seem to latch onto favorites who they watch over and over. I think people just get pulled in and feel like they are going along for the ride.

On the new ones, I actually didn't expect to like them, but they blew me away. They've done an amazing variety of shows, and they've all been high quality, with great visuals and great twists and turns, and just enough of everything to keep your eyes glued to the screen. It really has been impressive.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, I'm a big fan of Blakes' 7. Blakes' 7 was unlike anything else on television. For the first time ever, you had a collection of people who are essentially bad guys and who can't get along all forced together for their survival. It made for quite compelling drama, not knowing if they were going to betray each other or not at every turn. And I have to say that Avon is one of my favorite characters of all time because you never really knew if he was good or bad or what he would do next.

I see a lot of echoes of Blakes' 7 in Serenity

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, In essence, it's two different shows at this point. The reboot has a totally different look and feel and they've even monkeyed with the history. So you can treat them as separate endeavors. But yeah, a good geek would know both.

Yes, there are lost episodes! The BBC had a fire at one point and I believe it wiped out all of the first two Doctor's work. They've been piecing it back together ever since from things they've managed to collect from forgotten reel sent overseas. I still remember reading in the late 1980s about a particularly big find in some backwoods studio in Australia. The last I knew, they had restored all of the first Doctor's episodes and a good chunk of the second Doctor's episodes. I don't know off the top of my head how much is still missing, but there is some.

As for Star Trek, I've never seen them to be in competition, just like I don't see Star Wars in competition. They are different universes with very different feels. So I enjoy them both for different reasons.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's all you have to say about Doctor Who?? ;-P

Kit said...

Was at work.

AndrewPrice said...

I was kidding. :)

Kit said...

I know. (I Barely had time for the email.)

Anyway, more on Who. I don't know what to say. It, along with Firefly is my favorite TV show. Certainly my favorite sci-fi show.

My favorite Doctor of the new show has been 11. So he and 4 are probably my favorites, followed by 10.

Also, bow-ties are cool.

Kit said...

One thing about Matt Smith is that you see the old man much more clearly and more often than Tennant.

If Tennant was the Doctor trying to recapture his youth, Matt Smith is an old man who has come to accept his age.

AndrewPrice said...

Smith became my favorite of the new ones as well. I love that line, "Bow-ties are cool." LOL! Smith feels more comfortable to me in the personality. Tennant too often was playing a character who needed to be larger-than-life at every moment. Smith is a guy who is doing what he does. I also like the interaction between him and Dr. Song a lot better.

How have you enjoyed the older ones, seeing as how you started with the newer ones?

Koshcat said...

I never got into the old Whos. I tried but didn't understand what was going on so probably went outside to play. I have watched the first season of the reboot on Netflix and thought it was very good scifi, better than most of the crap on scyfy. We watched part of an episode the other night and my kids started to get into it. Perhaps we should have a Who-athon.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, The old Whos do have a learning curve. He has a history with a lot of the villains and so it helps to know about their prior encounters. It also helps to know his personal history to understand whenever he runs into himself or the Time Lords.

The new ones don't really have the same learning curve, though it is probably best to watch them in order -- or at least the seasons in order. I think the new ones are really top notch science fiction and are well worth watching!

Anonymous said...

I love sci-fi and time travel so it is a bit of a mystery as to why I never got into Doctor Who. The cheap sets would have been a turn off, maybe even the age of the Doctor was a factor, as a kid I thought heros had to be younger. And because I never got into it as a kid I never even gave the re-boot a chance, too much baggage probably.

I watch a lot of average sci-fi growing up, hell I loved Sliders and watched it even when it went really downhill towards the end. But Doctor Who was never on my radar.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Give the reboot a chance. I think you'll be surprised how good it is -- and how modern. It definitely doesn't suffer from the bad sets and bad effects problem of the original.

Check out the episode "Blink." That one's a standalone and it's funny and it's scary and it's all around a great episode.

Backthrow said...

Ah, Doctor Who. Our PBS station in Virginia in the 1970s didn't run the show at the time, but I'd sometimes see photos of some of the alien villains in Famous Monsters magazine and Starlog back then. I moved up to the tri-state area in 1982, and WOR-9, a NYC indie station (of all places), was running them in the afternoon for a little while, some Baker episodes. I saw some Pertwee episodes around that time, too, on PBS, as well as 'The 'Five Doctors' special, which was pretty cool. That said, it was obvious to me that I was dropped right in the middle of a long, ongoing saga, so it didn't grab me as much as the self-contained episodes of Star Trek or (especially) reruns of the original, 1960s version of The Outer Limits, which I liked best, so I kind of fell out of watching them, for the most part.

The reboot was interesting, though I think I've only seen some of the first batch of them, with Eccleson (such as the one with the baby-faced aliens taking over government, and the one with the creepy gas-masked kids). At the time, it seemed to hop from BBC America to Sci-Fi Channel, and back again, and I missed a bunch, so I fell out of it, again. I'll catch up with 'Blink' and such, one of these days. Diana Rigg and her daughter starred in an episode earlier this year, tailored for them, so I want to see that one, at least.

I've been sporadically watching the Pertwee episodes, roughly in order, on Netflix, and they're pretty fun. His occasional anti-military tirades are a drag, but the show sort of presents him as pig-headed and wrong part of the time, as well as his adversarial ally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, head of U.N.I.T., so the Brigadier isn't simply a strawman foil for the doctor to dress down every episode. Those episodes are also cool because they resemble the British 'Quatermass' films of the 1950s and 1960s, similar setting and dynamic going on there, minus the time-traveling alien aspect.

Kit said...

Scott,

"Blink" is amazing! One of the best things ever written for television. And written by the now current showrunner Steven Moffat.

Backthrow said...

Also, in regard to the lost episodes (several since recovered), it wasn't a fire, it was that the BBC was in the regular habit of erasing (or "wiping") the tapes after a ew airings, back in the early 1970s. Video tape was expensive, so they either wanted to re-use the tapes, or didn't want the burden of storing them. lots of videotaped U.S. television has suffered the same fate, particularly most of the first decade of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, and big chunks of famous/popular game shows and soap operas (the fact that Dark Shadows survives pretty much intact is a rarity for such videotaped programs from that era).

The Baker (and a good share of the Pertwee run) and later Who episodes survived because they'd made international sales of the series by then, particularly to North America. The lost episodes that have been recovered have often been kinescopes (live or videotape footage replicated on film) made for and stored in other countries. I've heard one Pertwee (I think) episode survives in color only because an American fan had made an early home-videotaped recording off his local PBS station, whereas the BBC has erased their master copy. The current BBC was then able to use it as a guide to restore their black & white copy to its original color, in a curious, complicated process that wasn't simple computer colorization.

Kit said...

Also, my favorite companions are Sarah Jane Smith and Rory Williams.

And, of course, "Sexy". ;)

(Some spoilers for "The Doctor's Wife" at the link.)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Interesting. I'd read years ago in a fan magazine (a friend of mine used to collect them) that it was a fire. I never bothered to verify that because either way, they were lost, but have been turning up. I understand that 106 early episodes were lost, but that a great many have been found with another group having been discovered in October of this year. They found one of the better ones -- the first Cybermen episode -- in Hong Kong, where it had been transferred to film for local consumption.

Brigadier Stewart is one of my favorite characters. I love how he puts up with the Doctor no matter how obnoxious or "out there" the Doctor became. And I like how he is often correct, even though the Doctor won't admit it. I think he and the original Master are real high points of the Pertwee Era.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Sarah Jane Smith is the perfect companion. I think everyone fell in love with her. Her leaving was by far the saddest episode, even though it was suppose to be happy.

I've liked Rory a lot. He's loyal, likable and calm. Other ones I've liked a lot include Rose, River Song, Jack, K-9, Jo Grant, Ian, Perry, Tegan, and Romana II.

People I have not liked (hated) Donna, (hated) Ace, (really disliked) Turlough, (really disliked) Adric.

And yes, I know that Ace and Donna are both very popular. Don't care. Hate them both.

Kit said...

Andrew,

What about Sexy?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Are you kidding? I LOVE the TARDIS! I love that it can go anywhere and anytime. I love that it's bigger on the inside than the outside -- I love his explanation for that too.* I love that it changes to suit his mood. I love that he has a swimming pool. I love that all the cool stuff doesn't work. This is the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon all rolled up into one with the personality of an old friend!


* He took a larger box and held it next to a smaller box. Then he walked away with the larger box until it appeared smaller. Then he said, "No imagine if you could put this box inside the one you are hold when it was further away as it is now. That's how it works. Total nonsense, but it sounds almost brilliant!

Kit said...

Andrew, I love the old girl, too.

AndrewPrice said...

:)

wahsatchmo said...

You can't have a post about Dr. Who without mentioning Doctorin' the Tardis by The Timelords (The KLF/The Jams).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5fDOCwa9L0

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, So true! LOL! LINK

John Jameson said...

Andrew, you said above that you watched *all* the old episodes on VHS... I think the BBC would like to know! Joking aside, Wikipedia has an entire article on the story of the "Doctor Who missing episodes" including the shocking fact that they were considered worthless partly because of union regulations about rebroadcasting them!

John Jameson said...

I think I would have become a major Doctor Who geek if it hadn't frightened me as a kid: in the early days of serialized plots, most episodes ended with a scary cliffhanger. It wasn't quite as scary as the (really creepy) "Sapphire and Steel", but it came close! There was a lot of interesting low-budget BBC scifi around that time, such as the remarkable Blake's 7 mentioned in this thread. It was striking for its Orwellian and dystopian vision of the future, contemporary with Star Wars, and predating Blade Runner. It had great characters as well: Avon was compelling, but so too were Villa and Servalan, in their own way.

AndrewPrice said...

John, LOL! Let me rephrase -- all the episodes that have been made available. In the 1980s, one of the PBS stations here showed all that were available (start to finish) and I taped them all - something like 70 tapes were involved. Then, over the years, whenever they released new ones, I would typically buy or rent those whenever possible. I haven't seen whatever the newest batch is that they found, but I will as soon as they are available. :)

Sadly, my VHS collection has long since gone bad.

That's interesting that union rules would have made it so hard to reshow them. But then, today you have the problem of getting the rights. It's interesting that someone who produced a show can't just reshow it whenever they want.

AndrewPrice said...

John, I agree. Villa was probably my second favorite. In fact, the only character I didn't find all that fascinating was Blake. Unfortunately, Blake's 7 was not very popular over here so finding them was really hard. I actually never lived anywhere that they were shown, but I had a friend who had taped them in Pennsylvania. So I borrowed them from him.

In recent years, I keep wanting to buy the series, but the last time I checked they weren't for sale in the US and they weren't coded for our region and I didn't have a player that would pay their format. I should look again.

John Jameson said...

I know what you mean about Blake, but I really missed him when he departed the series. Avon really shone when Blake's idealism provided a sharp contrast for his character.

If you want to see Blake's 7 before you find a way to purchase the series on a DvD you can play, try YouTube: Blake's 7 is sufficiently obscure that uploads of episodes are not heavily censored.

Kit said...

Doctor Who also had some great examinations of evil. As seen in this exchange between the 9th Doctor and a villainess.

Margaret: "I promise you I've changed since we last met, Doctor. There was this girl, just today, a young thing, something of a danger. She was getting too close. I felt the bloodlust rising, just as the family had taught me, I was going to kill her without a thought...and then, I stopped. She's alive somewhere right now, she's walking around this city because I can change, I did change. I know I can't prove it—"
The Doctor: "I believe you."
Margaret: "Then you know I'm capable of better."
The Doctor: "It doesn't mean anything."
Margaret: "I spared her life."
The Doctor: "You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then a little victim is spared because she smiled, 'cause he's got freckles, 'cause they begged...and that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions, because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind."

AndrewPrice said...

John, It's kind of funny because you're right -- even though I didn't like the character, I did miss him when he was gone. He added a level of balance that helped a lot.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That was a great speech.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, BBC America is doing a "Matt Smith Fan Favorite Episodes" on Sunday. If you're interested, there will be some really good ones.

Kit said...

HAPPY DOCTOR WHO DAY!

AndrewPrice said...

Happy Doctor Who Day to you too Kit! It sounds like we have a new holiday! LOL!

wahsatchmo said...

I should mention that I actually haven't watched Doctor Who since the Tom Baker days, but it looks like Neil Gaiman has written a couple of the new episodes, so I'm going back to check those out.

And for those who are bored and cynical, here's The Timelords'/The KLF's/The Jams' instruction manual on how to produce a number one hit in the UK.

Backthrow said...

Amidst all this celebrating, leave us not forget Doctor Who #1b and... er... #2b.

Dave Olson said...

How odd to see Governor Tarkin as the kindly old Doctor

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, How could you not like a manual that starts with this:

In parts of this manual we will patronise you. In others we will cheat you. We will lie to you but we will lie to ourselves as well. You will, however, see through our lies and grasp the shining truth within. We will trap ourselves in our own pretensions. Our insights will be shot through with distort rays and we will revel in our own inconsistencies. If parts get too boring just fast forward - all the way to the end if need be.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow and Dave, Somehow, the official show seem intent on ignoring those.

Rob S. Rice said...

The first is always the best, hence, Roger Moore as Bond, Tom Baker as the Doctor, and I don't bother to justify it any more. Watching the Toho epic classic, 'Atragon,' I realized a great truth which applies to Dr. Who more than anything besides Atragon, that being:

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING ON FILM AS LONG AS YOU DON'T SWEAT QUALITY!

The GRANDEUR of those Tom Baker episodes--and among the authors, Douglas Adams, whom, when I met him at a book-and-towel signing (I have one of each, he was ready with a laundry marker), smiled when I told him how much I loved 'The Pirate Planet.' A planet materializes AROUND YOURS and GRINDS IT UP to steal EVERYTHING? EAT THAT, LUCAS! I didn't need to see it, the THOUGHT staggered me. Talons of Weng-Chiang? It just doesn't get that good. Even Shakespeare requested, 'Upon your imaginary forces work...' I never minded with the Dr.

AndrewPrice said...

Rob, I love the Baker episodes because the writing was so over the top. It was just a joy to watch him eat up the scenes with huge, complicated dialog and thoughts... and then finish with some bizarre defusing statement like, "Or perhaps not." LOL!

"Weng-Chiang" is a personal favorite.

John Jameson said...

After all this praise, is there no opinion on the 50th Aniversary Event Episode?

Kit said...

John,

It. Was. Awesome.

AndrewPrice said...

John, I thought it was really good. I'm glad they fixed the idea that he blew up Gallifrey because that never worked with the character. I liked the interaction of the Doctors a lot. And I really loved seeing Tom Baker again, though it also made me feel very sad. What did you think?

P.S. I saw that the Mail Online hated it, but I think the review tells us more about the reviewer's prejudices than the show itself. LINK

John Jameson said...

Yeah me too - I'm fine with the Doctor deciding to be a warrior, but not a psychopath. I wouldn't worry about The Mail - they have axes to grind. The Telegraph loved it, as did The Metro, which is the free paper of urban Britain.

As for Tom Baker's appearance, he can't have been the Fourth Doctor, so if he was a later incarnation of The Doctor, then that has implications for the whole regeneration idea, doesn't it?

AndrewPrice said...

John, I agree. He's been a warrior quite a few times, despite the pacifist label people want to hang on him. But he's never been a psychopath and he would never wipe out innocent people.

On Baker, it does. But digging WAY back in the memory machine, I think in "The Two Doctors," Patrick Troughton implied that the Doctors continue to live their lives after they appear to die. So they may have been thinking about this problem for a long time now.

In any event, I'm sure they have a way to give us more doctors.

Kit said...

I don't think the Tom Baker thing should ever be explained. It should be the Doctor Who equivalent of Tom Bombadil. Never explained but forever pondered...

Kit said...

Agree on the warrior thing.
In fact, here is a video about his use of violence from the classic show (song played contains profanity): LINK

AS for the Mail, where there is a reason so many people hate them (and its not just their politics)...

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I guess we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Oh, jeez-- squeegee me up off the floor at the end of the Van Gogh episode.

All in all, great fun, although it really doesn't start to get good until it was shot in color.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, There are a couple that are highly emotional. The Van Gogh was tragic.

Yeah, the black and white stuff is not great.

Individualist said...

I started watching Doctor Who in college when it would come on PBS late at night. I stumbled on it by happenstance looking for Monty Python which I started watching as a kid. Never watched it after college until the reboot.

Saw the pilot episode with the first doctor and was stunned how different it was. Seemed to be a completely different show.

I wonder if they have a book of Doctor Who cannon that they reference to keep from ticking off fans the way the new Star Treks do... somehow I don't think they have to because they can just use the "that was a different alternate dimension excuse".

Post a Comment