Doctor Who? That is the question that fans across the globe are anxiously awaiting to be answered. On November 23, 2013 the British sci-fi show Doctor Who will celebrate The Day of The Doctor. This episode will premier exactly 50 years after the First Doctor graced the silver screen in 1963. Since its incarnation Doctor Who has generated a fan base as big as the inside of a TARDIS. It is because of this large fan base that the show was rebooted in 2005 after an eleven-year-long hiatus. In the age of the Internet, fans can go on sites like Tumblr and talk about their favorite shows with other fans. It is because of this that I got turned on to the show. I was surprised to find that Doctor Who has been around for almost 50 years. I believe that it is important that we look back on the original series in order to prep for the ever-nearing Day of The Doctor.
“’A frail old man lost in space and time’: that was the original profile, floated in discussions at the BBC in 1963” when Doctor Who first premiered. The Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell. By the third season of the show, it was clear that Hartnell could not carry on due to his multiple health issues. The clever writers didn’t want the show to end since it was doing well so “it was decided that the Doctor should ‘regenerate,’ taking a different human form.” The regenerated Doctor would retain the memories and intelligence of the previous Doctor, but with a different personality. This allowed different actors to portray the same man for 50 years, but add their own spin on the character. Hartnell was replaced by Patrick Troughton in 1966. “After Troughton came Jon Pertwee, wizardly in aspect but driving a little yellow roadster, like Mr. Toad. And after Pertwee … there was Tom Baker, wild hair and Shakespearean elocution; affable Peter Davison in his cricket jersey; testy, priggish Colin Baker, dressed for some reason like an entertainer at a children’s party; Sylvester McCoy … and then handsome Paul McGann, The Doctor for one TV film.” In 2005 the show was rebooted and has featured three new incarnations: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith.
I’ve listed all of the men who have played The Doctor over the past 50 years, but who is The Doctor? “The Doctor is 950 years old, and he comes from the planet Gallifrey. Although humanoid in form, he has two hearts and almost-celestial intelligence. He is a Time Lord — something between a cosmic guardian and a private investigator — and he travels the spaceways in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), a time machine that, owing to a dodgy chameleon circuit, is stalled in the shape of a 1950s London phone booth.” The Doctor travels around with his Companions. There have been many different Companions throughout the show’s history but whether they are human or alien, the Companions still serve the same purpose: They are meant to be the surrogate for the audience. The Companion has the opportunity to travel the universe with The Doctor and we as the audience feel like the Companions. We watch The Doctor visit all these wonderful lands and creatures that we could only dream about so we can easily identify with the Companions.
Another large part of the Doctor Who series are the enemies that The Doctor faces in the universe. There are the Daleks, the Cybermen, The Master, and my personal favorite, the Weeping Angels. Each enemy has their unique characteristics but they are all equally important to the saga of The Doctor.
The Daleks are The Doctor’s oldest and most fearsome foe in the entire universe. They are easily identifiable by their giant metal bodies, eyestalk, and plunger-like arm. But do not underestimate them by their appearance, the Daleks can vaporize their foes faster then you can say “Exterminate.” The Daleks are war machines whose soul purpose is to rid the universe of all beings inferior to the Daleks. The Doctor has been facing the Daleks since his second episode in 1963 and still show up at some point every season. The Doctor had to defeat the entire Dalek race during the Time War, a war between the Daleks and the Time Lords that left The Doctor alone in the aftermath.
The Cybermen are cyborgs that originally appeared in 1966, William Hartnell’s last serial as The Doctor. Since then, like the Daleks, the Cybermen have appeared numerous times in the show’s history. Their main objective is to “Upgrade” everything they meet to create a race of super-cyborgs that will take over the universe. They remove everything that is human about someone, like their emotions, to create the perfect soldier.
The Master is a Time Lord, like The Doctor, who made his first appearance in 1971. He is known as The Doctor’s archenemy because of their differing views. During the Time War, The Master fought along with The Doctor on the front lines, but he fled the war, ignorant of the outcome. He ended up at the end of the universe where he turned himself human and forgot all about his past as a Time Lord, until The Doctor accidentally discovers him. Series three of the reboot focuses on The Master as he is the main antagonist under the alias of Harold Saxon, Prime Minister of London.
The Weeping Angels are a fairly new enemy for The Doctor, having been introduced in series three of the reboot. They are a fascinating alien race that can move at impossible speeds, but only when they are not being observed. The Weeping Angels have the greatest defense of all The Doctor’s enemies, when someone is looking at a Weeping Angel, they look just like a stone statue. They are also the kindest of the enemies on Doctor Who. Most vaporize you without a second glance, but not the Weeping Angels. One touch from an Angel will send you somewhere in the past with no way back. They feed off of time energy and thrive off of the life you would’ve had. The Weeping Angels are chillingly creepy and have made me fear statues in the dark.
With less than a month to go until the premier of The Day of The Doctor we may finally know exactly who The Doctor is. The previous episode, entitled The Name of The Doctor, hinted that the name of The Doctor would be revealed in the 50th Anniversary Special. This has sent Whovians, the proper term for Doctor Who fans, into heated debates on Tumblr and other websites. Do we really want to learn what The Doctor’s name is? It has been looming over the show since its incarnation so the build up is immense. What if his name turns out to be Bob? Will the wait be worth it? No matter what the outcome is on November 23, I will still be a faithful fan of Doctor Who.
Purpose: The purpose of this essay is to explain parts of the Doctor Who television show in order to prep viewers for the 50th Anniversary Special in November.
Audience: The Audience can be a number of people including faithful fans as well as newcomers to the show.
Original Post: Allons-y! Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special!
Davies, Russel T., and Steven Moffat. “Doctor Who.” Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One, London, 23 Nov. 1963. Television.
Parker, James. “The Doctor Is In.” Atlantic Monthly (10727825) 306.4 (2010): 66-70. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.