Friday, November 22, 2013

50 years of Doctor Who!

I don't want to admit this but I have spent must of my life (so far) sitting in front of a TV screen. I have watched and enjoyed many TV series, of ALL genres. For the past 50 years a story has been told on our TVs, a tale of an alien who looks like a human. He travels through time and space. Sometimes he is all alone but most of the time he brings along a human, or two. He is mysterious and fascinating. He has had 11 different faces. "Although he has saved us many times we never knew he was there and he has never been thanked"-Martha Jones. He calls himself The Doctor and on November 23, 1963 in Great Britain he made his 1st appearance on the BBC and has lived in the hearts of many humans ever since.
 The name of this wonderful show is Doctor Who (When he tells you his name you ask "Doctor Who") . The plot may sound simple but that is far from the facts. To begin The Doctor is over 900 years old, his species is Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. When he was "younger" there was a Time War between The Time Lords and The Daleks. As Gallifrey was being destroyed The Doctor ran away using a stolen TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) and he "has been running ever since." When one travels one meets people but only a handful of those The Doctor meets actually get to go with him. In 50 years their have been 11 actors who have been lucky enough to portray The Doctor...

The first Doctor was played by William Hartnell who was also the oldest person in the role of this iconic character. His version of The Doctor was that of the wise old grumpy grandfather figure. He traveled with those that would become to be known as his "companions". The 1st Doctor's companions were a young girl named Susan who called him "grandfather" and two teachers named Ian and Barbara. Every companion has a different reaction when they first meet The Doctor but still end up going along with him as they enter The TARDIS (The TARDIS on the outside is a blue Police Box from The U.K. during the 1960s and when a companion enters they say " It's bigger on the inside"). The TARDIS has many rooms and we actually saw one or two in the first year. The characters travel through time (forward and back) and to whole new worlds/planets. It is in these new worlds where The Doctor meets up with friends and foes. It is during the first years of the show where we meet his most dangerous and biggest enemy (and still around today) known as The Daleks. I am not sure how to describe The Daleks , they are a squid looking creature in cased a metal cylinder has a blue light for an eye and kills with a laser. The Time war wiped out both Time Lords and Daleks but somehow a few survived.  Today you know a Dalek is near when you hear a robotic voice say "Exterminate, Exterminate". Susan, Ian and Barbara didn't stay for long and in 1966 The Doctor found new companions in Polly and Ben and they were just the start of this trend and new stories. Then when William Hartnell had to leave the show do to illness in 1966 the show would continue and The Doctor wouldn't die instead someone came up with the brilliant idea of regeneration, The Doctor would get another body with new face and whole new wardrobe to take on his new life.

Enter the Second Doctor portrayed by Patrick Troughton from 1966-1969.  This new Doctor was a "costume hobo" and "smarter then he appeared". He was mischievous with a sense of humor. This time the series became more about its title character and this new young Doctor was more active as he ran to help those in need. New Doctor, New Companions. Number 2 was joined by Zoe a young and tough female from the future, Jamie a teen boy who was a Scottish highlander from the year 1746 (Yes he even wore a kilt) who became a real friend to The Doctor and there was Victoria from the 19th century, This time around none of The TARDIS passengers actually came from the time period in which the show aired yet the concept still worked and people still watched. During the 2ed Doctor's reign viewers were introduced to new monsters like The Ice Warriors and a new foe for The Doctor called The Cybermen who are still around today.

Next in line is the Third Doctor Portrayed by Jon Pertwee from 1970-1974. For the first time Doctor Who is shot and televised in color. Using the new color format to their advantage his new outfit included a ruffle shirt and a black cape lined with red satin. A complete change from the 2ed Doctor the Third is exiled to Earth. The new setting allowed the show to deal with real issues of the time, like pollution and brought the issue to the front of the story. Trapped on this human planet The Doctor took a job at U.N.I.T (Unified/UN Intelligence Taskforce) as a scientist. While at UNIT his co-workers/companions include The Brigadier, a Sargent and Captain Avery (Played by Hugh Bonneville). His head science adviser was Liz Shaw who was smarter then The Doctor and was soon replaced by Josephine "Jo" Grant. Just because he wasn't traveling didn't mean there weren't monsters and bad guys to be defeated. With these new threats The Doctor got to act more like another British pop culture icon James Bond. The Third Doctor was an action hero who got to fight with his fists and with The TARDIS out of commission he got to drive fast cars, helicopters and hovercrafts but his main form of transportation was a yellow vintage roadster allowing the character to stay true to who he was. The new monsters during this regeneration were the Autons, who were living plastic mannequins and you will never look at mannequins in the same way again. It was also the first time viewers got to meet The Master, another Time Lord who was everything The Doctor was not.

The 3erd Doctor didn't stick around too long unlike Doctor number 4 portrayed by Tom Baker who from 1974-1981 (I was born during his time and may have watched a couple of episodes) still has the longest run as The Doctor. The fourth Doctor was the internal child who outwitted his enemies with humor and had the biggest sense of who he was as an alien. "Tom Baker didn't play The Doctor, he was The Doctor". He was the most loved by fans (aka Whovians) for many years and wore the most recognizable accessory a very long multi-colored stripped scarf which was a happy accident, for the woman who made it just kept knitting until she ran out of yarn. He loved to snack on jelly babies. While The 3erd Doctor was trapped on earth it was time for our hero to return to The TARDIS with his new beloved companion Sarah Jane Smith Played by Elizabeth Sladen only The Doctor called her Sarah and became the longest running and favorite companion and was his best friend (she would return years later). When Sarah Jane Smith did leave The 4th Doctor found Leela, a lone cloth wearing savage female warrior from another world. Leela was the student to The Doctor's teacher. We also got to meet K-9 The Doctor's robotic smart cute dog who in return called him master. In rehearsal the actor who voiced K-9 would be on set instead of the robot and this allowed Tom Baker to make the relationship between Man and robot realistic. The fourth Doctor's monsters included The Zygons who were shape shifters and kept The Loch Ness Monster as their pet and the sinister Davros who made and was the "father" of The Daleks after the Time War. Although the 4th Doctor went up against Davros and The Daleks he showed them mercy and did not destroy them when he had the chance letting them live to fight another day unbeknown to him at the time.

In 1981 The Doctor once again had to regenerate. For the next three years ('81-'84) he was portrayed by Peter Davison. The show had been on for many years now and as the 5th Doctor Davison was the first to play the role who actual got to watch the series as a kid. The actor was young and good looking, had a fresh face and lovable. The 5th Doctor was kind, had a huge heart, very emotional and more engaged with the world around him. Inside his never ending closet he decided on an outfit that was cricket uniform inspired and added a stick of celery in the lapel for a unknown reason. This Doctor had the most companions with him making it crowded in The TARDIS. At the same time there was Nyssa, whose home planet was lost because of The Master. Tegan from the 1980s and was a power dressing career obsess airplane hostess and always trying to get home. Then there was Adric a teenage boy who was good at math and in every right The Doctor's equal, although The Doctor would be the last to admit so. Spoiler alert-Adric was the first and only companion to die onscreen, at least it was a heroic death and he was saving Earth at the time and with no Internet to spoiler the surprise it was shocking to those watching. Those awful cybermen returned with a new design more frightening then the last time we saw them.

In 1984 Colin Baker regenerated into Doctor #6 and stayed in the role until 1986. This new Doctor was unpredictable, a showoff and had to be the center of things and did not care what you thought of him. In this era Doctor wore a long colorful patched coat. To remind the audience of  what/who he was The 6th Doctor was a true terrifying yet still heroic alien. His first companion was an American who stood up to The Doctor named Peri. This lead to many arguments between the two travelers. Her body was taken over by another creature allowing the creature to live, unknown if Peri was still alive inside. Mel was next in line to follow The Doctor with no questions asked, again this was the 80s and everyone was into fitness so of course she was an instructor with a positive personality. This was also the regeneration in which viewers met the alien species called The Sontarans  who can only be killed by hitting a certain spot on the back of their neck. There was also Sil, a slug like creature with a large laugh who portrayed big business, disliked by many in the mid-80s. The 6th Doctor had a strong belief in justice and fighting for what was right. Plus he fixed The TARDIS chameleon cloaking device and instead of a police box it turned into a music organ for a episode.

From 1987-1989 it was Sylvester McCoy's turn to portray The Doctor (The years I believe I would have become a fan had I grown up in the U.K.). The 7th Doctor had more layers of who he was in previous incarnations and put the WHO in Doctor Who. Although The 7th Doctor was a clown who made music with spoons, could do magic and mocked his villains he also had levels of emotions that showed real sadness and loneliness. Sometimes companions of The Doctor overlap and The 6th Doctor's assistant Mel, was still with him when he regenerated. When she did exit The TARDIS, Ace, a feisty, troubled, and tomboy teen of the 80s joined him. As she traveled with number 7 she became more mature and proved to be very useful to a man that doesn't believe in violence. Ace provided the muscle and had a backpack full of explosives. She even used a baseball bat to fight off a Dalek, how cool is that?! Yes the Daleks came back but this Doctor also had Rani, a mysterious master of disguise who wanted to rule the world!

The show ended in 1989 a was thought to be over. Seven years past with no new Doctor Who episodes. Then in 1996 just when viewers had forgotten about or never thought the show would return there came a "reset" in the form of an American/BBC made for TV movie. In the opening scenes of the movie the show started where it ended with a little older but still inside The TARDIS 7th Doctor. When he exited the TARDIS he was quickly shot by a San Francisco street gang on the night before New Years Eve 1999. One of the gang's member was Chang Lee and he tried to help by calling an ambulance and goes with him to the hospital. At the hospital The Doctor is quickly taken into surgery and ends up dying on the operating table when the surgeon Grace Holloway didn't believe in the x-ray and only operated on one of his hearts (did I mention Time Lords have 2 hearts?). Unknown to the staff  of the hospital The Doctor regenerates and wakes up in the morgue as the new 8th Doctor portrayed by Paul McGann. In my opinion it is a shame he was only seen as The Doctor in this movie because I liked his take on the character and would have liked to see more (Check out The 50th anniversary prequel on line to see a little more of his Doctor). Back to the story, as The Doctor regenerated so does The Master (Played by Eric Roberts) who has used up his lives and has found a way to take over the ambulance drivers body. When the 8th Doctor wakes up he finds new clothes in the staff lockers, a puffy shirt and velvet green coat that was going to be a Wild Bill Hickok party costume. Because of his dramatic regeneration he does not remember everything about himself and tracks down the doctor who preformed his surgery to help. He convinces Grace to help and with one kiss remembered that The Master was in town and the two worked together to find him. This is when Chang Lee re-enters the story and The Master has convinced him that The Doctor is the evil Time Lord and stole his body. The four characters end up in The TARDIS and well I don't want to give away the ending so let's move on...

(Doctor #8 and 1/2 The warrior doctor protryed by John Hurt. Appearing at the end of one episode, online and in the 50th celebration this Doctor had the ultimate desion to make-Should he destroy Gallifrey to save the universe or let the Time Lords and Daleks keep fighting? He steals the only weapon left in the Time Lords arsenal known as The Moment and with his TARDIS says "No More" and goes to a desert to use it. When The Moment developes a conscience she looks like Rose Taylor and calls herself bad Wolf and takes The Doctor on a journey of his own to see who he will become. What happens net whould be Spoliers. Side note David Tennant and Matt Smith are really cute together (The day of The Doctor, 50th annvasry 2013)

Nine years would come and go before we would enter a new century when in 2005 (I call it The Bad Wolf season) Doctor Who would finally and to much joy to Whovians, a new generation and ME return as a series. The man who re-created The Doctor was Russell T Davies and the man who would portray him for a year would be Christopher Eccleston. We don't and may never know when The Doctor regenerated but this doctor was born out of conflict and guilt and a loner. With his TARDIS, Psychic paper, that could say anything he wanted as long as the one reading believed and a sonic screwdriver. a device that can do almost anything you want from opening a door to diagnosing illness. The 9th Doctor was a 21st century alien wearing jeans, a black or green T-shirt and leather coat. He was in the center of all the action but stayed calm and cool.  He was direct and violence was the last resort. He suddenly appears into Rose Tyler's (played by Billie Piper) life at her place of work, The Doctor may have underestimate this emotion filled girl who work at a store but when he took her by the hand and ran she went right along. They were together for one season but while Rose was excited to travel with The Doctor her boyfriend a mechanic named Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and mother, Jackie were a little less enthusiastic and didn't trust The Doctor. They worried about Rose and had no idea where the two went or what they did. This new updated show brought back a newer Dalek that was a copper color and could fly. The 9th Doctor took Rose to worlds unknown, she saw her own world in the past and future, Rose experienced WWII during The London Blitz where they and viewers met the wonderful Captain Jack Harkness (played by the awesome John Barrowman).They went up against the Slitheen from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius.  After only 13 episode Captain Jack, Rose and the 9th Doctor found themselves fighting Daleks in the future and with one final "Fantastic" Eccleston's
time as The Doctor was up. He saved Rose one last time and right before her and our eyes he regenerated (first regeneration for me and I was more then a little shocked). The 10th Doctor came to be.

Remember when I said the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) was the most beloved by fans well that all changed when David Tennant took over the role from 2006-2010 ( I call his seasons Torchwood/Harry Saxon and Rose returns). The 10th Doctor could hit you in the funny bone and tear at your heart strings all in the same episode. He was a best friend and the guy you could take home to your mom but every once in a while his dark side would show and you might not want to get in his way when it did (while he was regenerating he had to fight The Sycorax in his jammies with a sword and lost an hand) He loved showing his companions the wonders of the universe. (Although he was The Doctor for only 4 years he left a place in most Whovians hearts that never healed) Rose stayed with him for a season but when the cybermen ( more sophisticated then the last time we saw them in the 80s, now they were humans that were turned or "deleted" when The Doctor learned this he was devastated "I'm sorry I'm so sorry") returned to our world meaner then ever and fighting against The Daleks she with her mother and Mickey were left behind on a parallel world. The next season The Doctor still wearing his long brown hero coat, blue or brown pin-striped suit and converse high tops found himself on a case in a hospital. It was there were he met med student Martha Jones (played by Freema Agyeman)! The hospital was transported to the moon and The 10th Doctor and Martha were on their first case. Martha stuck with The Doctor for one season before returning to her life with her parents, brother and Tish her sister but during her time with him she got to meet William Shakespeare and for the first time viewers were introduced in the episode entitled Blink to a new scary monster The Weeping Angels, statues that moved and attacked when you weren't watching. There is the episode Human Nature where The Doctor became human and Captain Jack Harkness return to help defeat the new The Master played by John Simm. When Martha Jones developed feelings, more then friendship towards The 10th Doctor (and who could blame her) she knew it was time to leave, entered The TARDIS one more time and said goodbye. The Doctor traveled alone for a Christmas episode and got to yell "Alons'y Alonzo", something he always wanted to say. With a new season came a new companion in the form of spunky red head Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and she quickly became a good friend. In their first episode they had to just "let the fat (adipose) walk away". It was The 10th Doctor that met the mysterious Professor River Song (Alex Kingston) for the first time. At the end of the season Donna's time was running short when she The Doctor, Captain Jack with Torchwood, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith and Rose with Jackie and Mickey defeated the return of Davros!  Donna was returned to her mother Sylvia and her amateur star gazer grandfather Wilf. Afterword The 10th Doctor traveled alone for five final episodes then after a final fight with The Master and with four knocks and sadness in his voice and eyes he regenerated and we cried.

  A year later (2011) Steven Moffat takes over as head writer, you could say we get more scarier episodes and enter Matt Smith as Doctor number 11! this new Doctor is clever, brave, funny, physical and even a little clumsy. It s mind over matter in his new adventures. You could call him a sexy geek who acts cooler then he is. He was still in the middle of regeneration when he and The TARDIS crushed landed into the back yard of a lonely little girl named Amelia Pond (Karen Gillan). After a snack of fish fingers and custard The Doctor wasn't finished regenerating and took The TARDIS also changing now with a library and pool, told Amelia that he world return in 5 minutes to help her with the crack in her wall. 12 years later Amelia has grown and goes by Amy. She is angry at The Doctor for leaving her for so long especially because no one in her small town believed her not even the boy next door/her fiancee Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).  The three work together to catch prisoner 0 and The Doctor finds new clothes that include a tweed jacket and a bow tie because "Bow ties are cool" an outfit that has hi looking like a college professor. Amy and The 11th Doctor quickly become best friends. From meeting Vincent Van Gogh to Rory proving his worth to The Doctor and Amy waiting 1000 years to save them as The Pandorica opens, to fighting pirates and finding Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, The 11th Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory did it all. This Doctor runs into The Weeping Angels, who can take you through time a few times and we meet the terrifying The Silent/lance who hate humanity and are out to get humans to kill each other through the TV airways as we forget when not looking at them and to remember draws a mark or more on their body. Then there was Madame Kovarian, the evil woman who stole River Song at birth and turned her against The Doctor. We the faithful fans finally got to find out who Professor River Song really is!? For the first time the series filmed in The U.S.A making this American happy. Sadly The Ponds also had to leave The 11th Doctor and again he was alone and in a deep depression. That is into Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) the impassible girl comes into his life. Turns out The Doctor has known Clara from his past she was a human turned into a Dalek in the future and a Victorian Nanny in the past, where when The Doctor met her he was being taken care of and helped by Strax, Jenny and Vastra.
Clara is still a nanny when he meets her in modern day London. They have already traveled to many worlds and faced the cybermen yet again.  The Doctor is over 1000 years old (An old man in a young mans body) and they are still together, for now.

The 12th Doctor will be portrayed by Peter Capaldi and will appear on Christmas day so the story of The Doctor shall continue...

Once you have admitted to yourself and others that you are a Whovian you are asked two questions 1) Who was your first Doctor? and 2) Which is your favorite Doctor?
For me the first question is the easiest to answer so I will start there-I was sitting on the couch flipping through the channels looking for something to watch, I had read about Doctor Who returning and thought I would give it a try but honestly forgot when it was airing in the U.S., lucky for me that day I came across the Sci-Fi network. I watch as a strange looking man, The 9th Doctor and a young blond woman, Rose where running. Why and where they were running to I had no idea, what they were running from, no idea the one thing I did know was that I liked what I was seeing and have not stopped. By the end of the first season I was a true fan. You know you are a Whovian when  you are so into the show that you feel real emotions for the characters. I realized this when I was sitting alone in the dark watching the episodes with the titles, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances there is a character, a young boy wearing a gas mask during the London blitz. The boy can call any phone (including the one in The TARDIS that doesn't work) and throughout these episodes he is always asking "Are you my mummy?" who knew that such a simple question could be so creepy? Fear is only one emotion I feel while watching this show. Ask any Whovian and most will tell you that the first time we meet The Weeping Angels in Blink is the scariest moment in Doctor Who history. When I am not hiding under the covers I have tears coming down my eyes. I cried like many fans did when the 10th Doctor regenerated but the episode that always gets me crying is when the 11th Doctor and Amy meet Van Gogh in the episode Vincent and the Doctor. The artist was a sad and tragic man and could tell that Amy was sad even if she didn't know why even the monster the three come across felt sadness. I realized while watching this episode that I was a fan of Van Gogh and learned to love him and his art even more, especially the Sunflowers. There are many episodes that I can refer to to show the power of emotion while watching a good TV series but this blog is already long but whatever mood I am in I watch an episode of Doctor Who and end up feeling better about life and the universe all around us. By the end of one episode you are crying like a baby but then another one airs and you are laughing with the biggest smile on your face :) As for question #2 I don't really have a favorite Doctor it's weird to admit this but I don't see the actor playing a role I only see The Doctor. I swear when watching a classic episode the 7th Doctor says something that I promise you was said by the 9th Doctor. The different faces of The Doctor even seem to have the same movements and facial expressions.

In conclusion-I LOVE DOCTOR WHO! I love the show because it is everything I have ever wanted in a TV series. It is about an alien so you think it is another silly sci-fi cult show like Star Trek, Firefly, or Battlestar Galactica and it is that but has so much more. For 50 years it has bean full of action and adventure, horror, comedy and drama, love lost and found, true friendships and lessons learned, new worlds and past times with monsters, aliens, humans and creatures of all kinds. The Doctor is the only fictional character that I have come across (including in books, film, TV and plays) that I wish was real and I daydream of the day when The TARDIS appears in my backyard and The Doctor asks me to join him and I go like the companions before me and the only question being where and when do I want to go? (answer-Gettysburg Penn, Nov. 19 1963) then I open my eyes and remember how uneventful my life really is. I love the series because the writers write anything they want like New New New York City and the planet of The Ood and their stories feel true. Every actor that has portrayed The Doctor and everyone that has played a companion put their own twist on the show and makes watching each episode better then the previous. Doctor Who is a wonderful and amazing TV show that has something for anyone and everyone. In 1962 Doctor Who was "created" by BBC network head of drama programming Mr. Sydney Newman, Producer Verity Lambert and director Waris Hussein, Russell T Davies for bring it back and Steven Moffat for continuing the half century story,
I am sure there is more I could say about Doctor Who but in the end all I can think to say is I spent 20 years of my life watching and searching for the best TV show ever, who knew that it would be the one series that was A)  Foreign/British B) Sci-fi with a spaceship and C) on for 50 years (18 before I was even born)

Now after 7 seasons who knows how much time/episodes the show has left but for the rest of my life I would give up the 40 hours of television I watch each week if in exchange I got one new episode per month of Doctor Who.

The Doctors revisited 1-10 on BBC America