Doctor Who…? This long running series is its own inside joke. In its entirety, it is older than I am. I was completely unaware of it until it showed up on PBS in the US in 1978 when I was in sixth grade. It was always a treat after school and my introduction to the series was, of course, the great, long-scarfed Tom Baker, the Doctor with the longest run.
For those that have no idea about this show, Doctor Who is a Time Lord, an alien from the planet Gallifrey (setting aside the recent retcon). He belongs to an ancient race of beings who time travel and have a non-linear perception of time, itself. He (and, she, now) also has the ability to regenerate, meaning, if mortally wounded, a healing process takes place with a new body created and…a new personality. The name “Doctor” is a personal, self-selected title, and his true name is unpronounceable by humans. He travels in a TARDIS (Acronym: Time And Relative Dimension In Space), a spacecraft/time machine that he stole when he fled his planet with his Granddaughter, Susan. Built with a chameleon circuit (that is stuck in one position), the Doctor’s machine looks like a 1963 blue British police box. It is dimensionally transcendental, meaning, it is bigger on the inside than on the outside. He travels all over the Universe and, sometimes, into other, parallel Universes but, he has a particular affinity for Earth.
The Doctor rarely travels alone, preferring to have at least one companion. When I started watching, his companion was Sarah Jane Smith and she had been the companion of the Third Doctor (the late Jon Pertwee) prior to his regeneration. I watched the Tom Baker version for several years (with other companions Leela, Time Lady Romana & K9) and saw some of the episodes of the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) in the early 1980s. By the end of his run, I was a senior in high school and lost interest. Fast forward to 2005 and I’m living in Texas. The series is revived and I’m curious. My late-thirty-something self fell in love, all over again, with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and, his companions Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness. In his case, he became the Doctor with the shortest run and a new story-line that makes the Doctor the Last of the Time Lords due to a Time War (against the Daleks…mutant beings in metal containers that resemble salt & pepper shakers) that took place prior to the show’s revival.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new episodes when they were picked up by the Sci Fi Channel in March 2006. The return of Sarah Jane Smith and K9 in the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) series and the return of Tom Baker in the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) series was an exciting re-visit of my childhood. The introduction of the War Doctor (the late John Hurt) was an interesting addition to the story-line, born out of Eccleston’s controversial exit (and subsequent blacklisting by the BBC).
Then show-runner, Steven Moffat, had originally written the Ninth Doctor as the one that ended the Time War but, knew Eccleston would not return and couldn’t see the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) providing a proper back-story. McGann never got the opportunity to explore the character for himself in any great length, despite a television film that did well in the UK in 1996. The film was a joint venture with the BBC, Universal Studios & Fox Broadcasting but, US audiences didn’t appear to be interested and a new series was not developed. When contractual rights were returned to the BBC, the revival proceeded.
By the time the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) showed up, I had lost interest, again, as ridiculous politics began to show up. I did, however, watch the last episode with River Song/Melody Pond, an on-again, off-again, sometime wife-companion to the Eleventh & Twelfth Doctors and daughter of Amy Pond & Rory Williams, companions to the Eleventh Doctor. Conceived in the TARDIS, River is human but, has Time Lord DNA. Other wonderful companions were Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Astrid Peth, Lady Christina de Souza, Adelaide Brooke and Wilfred Mott (Donna Noble’s maternal grandfather) (Tenth Doctor).
I’ve seen a handful of the First Doctor (William Hartnell) episodes but, I’ve never seen an episode of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) or the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). I’ve seen a few episodes of the Captain Jack Harkness show Torchwood but, didn’t really follow it. I made a valiant attempt to watch the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) but, between her and show-runner Chris Chibnall, the show is unwatchable and the ratings have tanked, completely. I’m so hoping that someone, somewhere, will correct this show and, bring back the whimsy and great storytelling. Until then… ~Vic
♦ Lalla Ward, the second Lady Romana (after her own regeneration), was once married to Tom Baker.
♦ David Tennant is married to Peter Davison’s daughter, Georgia Moffett.
♦ Georgia Moffett was Jenny in The Doctor’s Daughter, opposite her future husband.
♦ David Troughton, son of Patrick Troughton, was Professor Hobbes in Midnight.
♦ Karen Gillan’s (Amy Pond) cousin, Caitlin Blackwood, was Amelia Pond (young Amy) in The Eleventh Hour.
♦ Patrick Troughton was Father Brennan in The Omen.
♦ Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) was Tom Campbell in the 1966 film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. as a companion to the Doctor (Peter Cushing).
♦ Alex Kingston (River Song) and John Barrowman (Jack Harkness) share the same birthday…March 11 (1963 & 1967, respectively).
♦ River Song is the only companion that knows The Doctor’s real name.
♦ Leela (Louise Jameson) was named after the Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled.
♦ David Tennant was Barty Crouch, Jr., in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
♦ Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness were named after Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) from Titanic. Kate Winslet was the original choice for River Song.
♦ Sylvester McCoy was Radagast in The Hobbit Film Series.
♦ Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, companion to the Eleventh & Twelfth Doctors) have all been in Marvel movies.
♦ Sarah Jane Smith (the late Elisabeth Sladen) had her own show The Sarah Jane Adventures.
♦ There are 97 episodes missing from the first six years due to BBC archive deletions.
♦ The theme music was composed by Ron Grainer and developed by Delia Derbyshire, with early electronics, in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Original Theme From 1963
Updated Theme From 2005