Doctor Who past, present and future
The Doctor Arrives
IN THE BEGINNING
The present Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi, has possibly a touch too much of the sixth Doctor Who as played by Colin Baker. It is good at times to reveal the Doctor's dark side but this can be taken too far. The first Doctor Who Christmas special, however, reveals that this need not always be the case with Peter Capaldi's Doctor.
There have been many Doctors and most of them have been successful. It remains the best role on British television. So how did this Doctor Who thing get started?
In the beginning, or so the story goes, there was a grandfather and his granddaughter who were from another planet. They were also from another time. The granddaughter was happy in the London of the 1960s until the TARDIS was discovered by two teachers from her 20th Century school. Then the grand adventure into time and space took off.
There have been many salutes to H. G Wells' famous novel The time Machine. One of the latest is a 2014 anthology called Break Time. The television show Doctor Who, however, has been the most enduring.
Set primarily in the future Break Time is about repairing damage done to the time line by misadventure. Dangerous? yes. Complicated. You bet!
To celebrate 50 years of adventuring in the TARDIS all the Doctors came together for one grand adventure. Leading up to this event old foes not seen for many a year have made a reappearance.
This included an Ice Warrior aboard a Russian submarine. The Ice Warrior was found in ice which is very reminiscent of how the very first Ice Warrior of the 2nd Doctor's era was discovered.
In a recent episode of Doctor Who it was made clear that the Doctor had stolen his TARDIS. This revelation had also been made long ago in much earlier episodes.
What was new was the further revelation that the TARDIS herself wanted to be stolen. Being cooped up on one lone planet simply wasn't for her. She wanted to see other worlds and have adventures. In other words, the machine that could travel through time and space wanted to do so and made it easy for an adventurous time lord to do the stealing. In a sense they had stolen each other.
And so there once was a time lord who made off with a TARDIS because he had scientific curiosity and an adventurous pair of hearts. Despite the fact that he came from the planet Gallifrey, he formed a particular love for the planet Earth and its mixed up people.He traveled to just about all ages in his battered old time and space machine. He even traveled to other planets.
This Doctor, like the other Doctors to come, was not keen on going back home. He enjoyed the freedom of the space ways too much. He was in his own way a space rebel. What's more, if he landed in a place where the local authorities were corrupt or misguided in what they were doing, he'd do something about it. This put him on the same wavelength of teens who, in real life, were not content anymore to accept what older people told them at face value. They wanted things explained so they could make up their own minds as to what was truly right or wrong.
So a little bit of the rebel in even the first Doctor was much appreciated. Authority was honored only when honoring it actually did make sense.
In saving the earth from the menace of the soulless Cybermen, this time lord known as The Doctor succumbed to radiation sickness. He didn't die. He simply changed his appearance. William Hartnell who had been the first Doctor was transformed into Patrick Troughton the second Doctor.
An old but lovable grouch became a slightly younger scarecrow idiot savant. He was sometimes too clever for his own good. Also he was a lousy musician taking up the recorder as his instrument of torture. (Why oh why didn't he take up the violin?!)
This second Doctor is eventually caught by his fellow time lords (the judicial ones) and he is banished to Earth as punishment for past misdeeds. He still has his TARDIS (space and time machine) but his memory of how to control it is taken away. Also he is altered into the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee.
Trapped on Earth for at least the time being, he becomes UNIT's chief adviser on things alien. UNIT is a military organization with the purpose of keeping the world safe. The British branch is run by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as played wonderfully by Nicholas Courtney. Needless to say the crusty and very proper Brigadier is not amused at the 2nd Doctor transforming into the third Doctor. In going from the 2nd to the third Doctor, the show also comes into color for the first time.
The Master, The Mistress, Dinosaurs and K-9
Two Very Different Doctors
Jon Pertwee's Doctor is as close as this time lord is ever likely to get to being a James bond with with long silver hair. He is also very much the scientist like the first Doctor but with a genuine love for gadgets.
In Pertwee's time there is a vintage car that can go incredibly fast because of the Doctor's ingenuity. There is also a flying car plus we see the sonic screw drive being used a tad bit more often.
This Doctor is more physically active than his predecessors and has some martial arts training. He is somewhat a zen Doctor too with an incredible knack for earth languages. Zen was very popular among teens and twenty-somethings at the time.
One foe the third Doctor can't seem to shake is The Master, a fellow time lord gone wrong.
He has scientific knowledge well in advance of earth men on his side plus his own working TARDIS. His time and space machine, however, can more easily blend into any background and so doesn't have to look like a police call box.
For a short time the Doctor does come close to fixing the chameleon circuit on his own TARDIS (this is the 6th Doctor) so it can transform into many things but that is well into the Doctor's future.
The Master's power of hypnoses tends to get him out of trouble. Occasionally it pleases this bad time lord to use earth weapons against the Doctor. It also entertained the Master to hypnotize earthlings into doing his bidding.
The Master has been played by nine actors. The first four ( Roger Delgado, Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers and Anthony Ainley) remain the best. Back then the Master was a cunning devil with a great looking beard who, every once in a while, outfoxed the good Doctor.
It is a pity but the present day Master isn't as clever or as much fun as his earlier incarnations. I guess that can come with age even though the poor fellow is looking younger and younger with every transformation. Ah! but now the Master has been replaced by a Mistress and she is a rather nasty piece of work. So we are back to the old standards again.
One of the things we learn from this third Doctor is that the price one might have to pay for technological advancement can be too high. Also a 'gift' from outer space might actually be a newfangled Trojan horse.
Eventually the time lords in power on his home planet give the third doctor back his freedom and, once more, he is able to travel anywhere in the TARDIS. Even so, returns to earth can and did come with surprises.
Imagine London in relatively the present menaced by dinosaurs appearing and disappearing throughout the city. Granted they were not very realistic dinosaurs but you can't always have the budget for really swank special effects. In fact, for decades Doctor Who ran on a rather limited budget.
The third Doctor had a number of assistants. His most popular was Sarah Jane Smith who kept on in the show after Pertwee left.
THE FOURTH DOCTOR
The time came for Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor to take the reigns. He was just as energetic as the third Doctor had been but less diplomatic and less inclined to favor gadgets. He was more the chaos man/explorer who sets things to right wherever he goes in both the universe and the wider multiverse. He was also more temperamental and a tad more alien in his overall outlook. He also had a great sense of humor.
Tom Baker, in his own right, was and probably still is a bit of a character. He would go on long drives into the country on weekends and not get back to his own place in time to watch that week's episode of Doctor Who. What then is an actor to do? Legend has it that Tom would knock on doors asking people if it was alright for him to watch Doctor Who on their tele. Can you imagine having Tom Baker watching Doctor Who with you? It would have been marvelous for the lucky ones after they got over the shock of seeing the Doctor in person.
One of the fourth Doctors best loved and remembered companions is Leela of the Sevateem, the savage from humanity's future as played by Louise Jameson. She was a warrior who often sized up a situation in military terms.
This made for some humorous moments in 19th Century London in the adventure The Talons of Weng-Chiang. She was not a proper lady and really had no desire to be one. She was always handy with a knife.
A trip down memory lane with the fourth Doctor would not be complete without at least mentioning Romana and K9. Romana was and is a fellow time lord, only she is supposed to work with him and, most of the time, has no desire to do him in. At first she was a bit snotty having graduated as a time lord higher in her class than the Doctor but the adventure titled The Ribos Operation put them on a more even keel.
Mary Tamm first plays Romana then, after a regeneration, the role is given to Lalla Ward. It is the 2nd Romana that proved to be the most popular of the Romanas. Lalla seemed to have a sense of timing and of humor that gelled nicely with Tom Baker's version of the Doctor. She wasn't just a pretty face.
K9 is a mechanical dog loved by Doctor Who fans but not necessarily adored by all actors involved in the show. Nowadays he is more associated with Sarah Jane Smith than the good Doctor.
The Doctor as Demon Bowler!
THE FIFTH DOCTOR
This was the cricketing Doctor. Back in the 1980s, at a time when England wasn't doing so well against Australia in the Ashes, the English really did need this very special Doctor just to cheer them up. He was okay at the bat but it was as a demon bowler he is best remembered.
Played by Peter Davison of All creatures Great and Small fame, this Doctor was less bombastic than the previous one could be and didn't always have the best of companions.
His companions were Adric, a boy mathematical genius, Nyssa, an aristocratic woman from another planet, Tegan, an Australian airline stewardess, Turlough, a snotty alien lad, Kamelion, an android, and Peri Brown, an American college student. Boy did the Doctor have his hands full at times just keeping his sanity.
Adric (Mathew Waterhouse) could be a little needy at times, Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) could be too brilliant for her own good, Tegan (Janet Fielding) loved to complain about just anything and everything, Turlough (Mark strickson) spent half his time either trying to kill the Doctor and/or destroy the TARDIS, Kamelion (Gerald Flood) could be mentally controlled by others to do bad things, and Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) wasn't with this Doctor long enough to cause him too many headaches but she turned out to be a complainer just like Tegan only for the sixth Doctor. With this lot the Doctor really didn't need enemies to complicate his life further.
It is true that Tegan and Peri Brown were and are easy on the eyes but I have my doubts whether they would be worth the trouble of having around. I am sure, however, that Janet Fielding and Nicola Bryant aren't like that in real life.
The fifth Doctor was really a very easy going fellow. His best adventures are Castrovalva, Four to Doomsday (it has Australian Aboriginal dancers on board an alien craft) Black Orchard (the Doctor gets to play cricket in the 1920s), and The Visitation (the Doctor stops the spread of plague).
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