Greetings from the Odinson,
Doctor Who is the longest running Sci-Fi television show in the history of the medium. Sporting one of the most recognizable theme music intros in the world, it originally aired from 1963 to 1989, had a TV movie in 1996, and is currently enjoying a renaissance with its latest run 2005-Present. The show gets its name from the main protagonist – The Doctor. The Doctor is a human-looking alien time-traveler known as a Time Lord. He is super humanly intelligent and has an unparalleled love for the human condition. He will do anything to save a life, even give up his own.
The Doctor is hundreds of years old. He achieves this feat through regeneration. When the Doctor dies, his body regenerates into a new Doctor. Upon regeneration he retains all of his past knowledge and experience but he is reformed into a new and different looking body. These new bodies also bring with them slight changes to his personality. This is an ingenious plot point by the creators. This way the show can remain fresh and have longevity. With regeneration written into the mythology, it explains why there are different actors (eleven in all) playing the Doctor throughout the show’s history.
The Doctor travels the timestream aboard the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). This miracle machine looks like an old fashioned Police Box. On the out side it measures probably only 6’ x 6’ x 8’. But on the inside, the TARDIS is a sprawling complex and super high tech mobile base of operations. In the recent episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Stardust), the relationship between the Doctor and the TARDIS is explored from a never before seen angle. Needless to say the Doctor and the TARDIS are as tied together and inseparable as Batman and Robin.
The Doctor has saved planet Earth dozens of times. He has liberated far off alien worlds. And he has prevented the utter annihilation of the space/time continuum on several occasions. To say that he is a hero is an understatement. But he does not accomplish these Herculean feats alone. Over the years, the Doctor has had many companions ranging from humans to aliens. Even former enemies have been known to come to the Doctor’s aide. Much like Goku, the Doctor just has a way about him of making friends and influencing others. There’s Susan Foreman (First Doctor) the Doctor’s granddaughter. Grace Holloway (Eighth Doctor) is the only companion, until recently, to have a romantic interlude with The Doctor. Sarah Jane Smith and the robotic K-9 actually spun-off and had their own TV series. Martha Jones (Tenth Doctor) left The Doctor’s side to join the ranks of Torchwood, a paranormal investigative organization and another spin-off TV series. There is the beautiful Amy Pond (Eleventh Doctor), lovingly referred to by The Doctor as “The Girl Who Waits,” and her husband Rory Williams, the Last Centurion. As a time-traveler it should come as no surprise that the Doctor has met many prominent figures in history. He even has strong friendships with Winston Churchill and Vincent Van Gogh.
Then there is River Song. She is a fellow time-traveler from The Doctor’s future. Her adventures with The Doctor occur out-of-sync, so she always knows more about him than he does about her. She probably has more high-tech gadgets at her disposal than The Doctor, including lipstick that erases memory. She is always packing heat, something The Doctor would never do. River is mysterious and is currently serving time in prison – a prison she can and does escape from any time she wants - for the murder of a “good man.” The identity of this man has not been revealed, but River’s relationship to The Doctor and his current companions was revealed in the cliffhanger of the episode “A Good Man Goes to War!” There have been many companions over the years and The Doctor has made many, many allies. Sometimes, much like the Avengers, he even assembles a small army of his allies to tackle situations no single hero can stand against alone.
The Doctor, unfortunately, also has many, many powerful enemies. These are Omega Level Threats that put a lot of the Rogues Galleries out there to shame. There are the Cybermen, a race of emotionless cyborgs that have set out across the galaxy to assimilate all life forms. Their numbers are legion. There’s The Master, a renegade Time Lord who also has the power of regeneration and a super human intellect to match The Doctor’s own. The Master is Moriarty to The Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes. There’s the Odinson’s personal favorite, the Weeping Angels. These winged aliens appear to be granite statues of angelic figures when you are looking at them but in just the fraction of a second it takes you to blink they can murder you. They are easily one of the scariest enemies in The Doctor’s Rogues Gallery. There is also The Silence. These primordial beasts have walked among us since the dawn of mankind. They have secretly manipulated events throughout history. They do this with the greatest defense mechanism ever. As soon as someone is not looking at them that person completely forgets the Silence ever existed. Viewers have asked, “If The Silence has been stalking the Earth forever then why hasn’t The Doctor ever seen them before?” The creators matter-of-factly answer, “He has…he just doesn’t remember.” How scary is that? Then, of course, there are the Daleks. The Daleks are small in number but great in destructive power. They are The Doctor’s oldest and quite possibly his most tenacious adversary ever. Created by the mad scientist Davros, the Daleks are mutants encased in nigh indestructible armor hell-bent on exterminating all other life forms that are inferior to the Daleks. Unfortunately for the rest of the cosmos, Daleks believe everything is inferior to them. There are many, many other great villains; these are some of my favorites.
Going up against deadly foes like these, The Doctor constantly finds himself caught in jam after jam. Luckily for him, he has the perfect tool for fixing just about any problem – the Sonic Screwdriver. This handheld multifunctional tool can pick any lock, conventional or electronic. It can be used as a medical scan and to remote control other electronic devices. The Sonic Screwdriver can also track alien life forms helping The Doctor to see through illusions and shape-shifting as well.
Growing up in the eighties, for me, Doctor Who was a charming low budget sci-fi show that came on late at night on PBS. The low budget Special FX added to the show’s charm. I remember Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) but the Doctor of my youth was Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor). Baker was a funny guy and his appearance is easily distinct from other Doctors by his instantly recognizable long flowing scarf. I remember actually seeing a Tom Baker Doctor Who movie shown in a local dollar theatre. In the 90s, I all but forgot about the show. Then a few years ago I heard it had returned. So I checked out a few episodes to see if the show held up to my fond memories. I was only able to catch a few episodes of Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor). But the few I saw were really good. Then, David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) took over. Though I have not seen all of Tennant’s run, I have enjoyed it. Stand out moments have to be the Cybermen/Daleks war and the introduction of the Weeping Angels. For many, Tennant is the definitive Doctor Who, but for the Odinson, Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) is my Doctor.
I jokingly tease my fellow co-workers, also big Doctor Who fans, that the best scene from David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who is the scene where he turns into Matt Smith. Everyone has their favorite Doctor, mine is Smith. He’s funny, charming, and on a dime menacing. From his signature bow tie to his constant experimentation with headwear the Eleventh Doctor is absolutely kinetic and thrilling to watch. Smith has also given us instant classic lines like “bow ties are cool” and “Geronimo.” But what really strikes a cord with me about Matt Smith is the way he plays the Doctor. The way he works out problems and his obvious affection for life, all life, and the way he sounds is the way I hear voices of characters like Reed Richards or Hank Pym in my head when I am reading their adventures. Matt Smith’s portrayal of The Doctor is a living, breathing version of Mister Fantastic.
Here’s a description of the opening scene to the episode “A Good Man Goes to War!”
A group of Cybermen is standing on the bridge of their starship. Through the glass behind them the viewer can see the hundreds of ships that make up the Cybermen’s fleet. Suddenly an intruder alert rings out. Security is obviously having a problem stopping the intruder. Then the door to the bridge slides open to reveal Rory, dressed in his Centurion gear. He looks at the assembled Cybermen clearly unafraid and says, “I have a question and The Doctor has a message.” As he speaks, Rory circles around the robotic group so that the glass showing the fleet outside is at his back. He asks “Where is my wife?” As seemingly shaken as an unemotional Cyberman can possibly appear, the metallic leader asks “And what is the Doctor’s message?” It is at this moment, the Cybermen and the viewer watching at home see every single starship in the Cybermen’s fleet explode behind Rory. Without even acknowledging this Rory says “Would you like me to repeat the question?”
LOL. I’m paraphrasing the scene, of course, but that’s just good stuff. And to think, that’s only in the first five minutes of the episode. I still don’t know how the creators of the show are going to top Season 5’s finale “The Big Bang” but after seeing the first half of Season 6, I have all the confidence in the world.
Doctor Who is easily one of the best sci-fi TV series ever. The current run of the show is top notch stuff for sure. The Odinson holds the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures up in as high regards as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. The writing, the acting, the plot twists, the action, the drama, the music – it’s all just so delicious. If you’ve never watched a single episode or if you haven’t tried the new Doctor out yet, I cannot recommend this series enough.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell