Thursday, March 24, 2011

Best of/Worst of 5, part 1

Best of/Worst of 5
Kevin Scott Bolinger

   Greetings and salutations. Welcome to what will be my first real deviation from my usual format of presenting the best of a subject followed by the worst. I am about to embark on what will probably be a multiple part blog on the subject I have chosen. As we near the fifty year anniversary of this fantastic show, I feel the need to delve into the realm of Doctor Who.
    Fear not, however, I am not going to do one of those blogs saying , so and so was a better Doctor. Those really are not fair. The whole point to the character of the Doctor is change. As he regenerates into a new person, he has new quirks. Some come off as stuffy and proper, others as manic, and yet others as being a complete fish out of water, which is the true essence of the character. What I will do here, over the next few weeks, is present information on the show, it’s rich history, and each of the actors to portray the Doctor, and what they each brought to the character. In the end, I will leave it to those who read this to make up their own minds as to who is the best…Who.

   The main problem with doing a best Doctor type blog is simple. There is a huge chasm in the fan base. On one side, you have fans who were watching the show as children, and grew up with the older shows. On the other side, we have the next generation fans, those who have only experienced the last three incarnations of The Doctor. Many on the New Who side have freely admitted to not watching the Classic Who at all. To them I say this, until you get off your duff and actually watch at least a few episodes from all eleven portrayals of the Doctor, your opinion does not hold much weight with me. I am sorry, but a show that has been around since 1963 deserve the proper respect it has earned. You cannot just throw out lines like “David Tennant is the best Doctor.” then follow that with “I have never seen the old episodes.” That is just plain rubbish. You do not judge a book by reading only the last three chapters, now do you?

     So, there we were, the year 1963, and the BBC aired the very first episode of a show called Doctor Who. The show in question, “An Unearthly Child”, an episode that laid the groundwork for those that would follow. As the show went on, more is learned about the titular character, who demanded to be called just The Doctor. He was an alien, from the planet Gallifrey, a rather large and distant world where his kind, a race know as Time Lords had technology that allowed them to traverse space and time. They possessed ships, known as TARDIS , which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, that were thousands of times larger on the inside then they appeared on the outside.
The Beautiful Blue Box!

    The Doctor’s TARDIS was, as we learn, stolen by him. We also learn that all TARDIS are equipped with a chameleon circuit, which is supposed to disguise the ship as a common object relative to the time and place upon which it lands. Unfortunately for The Doctor, the chameleon circuit on his ship is broken, leaving the ship stuck in the last form it took, an old English Police Box from the 1950’s. Attempts to repair it were made, with disastrous results, including the TARDIS taking the form of a pipe organ.  TARDIS’ are grown, they are partially alive. There are times where the ship takes the Doctor not where he wants to go, but where he needs to be.

    Time Lord’s themselves are a quirky bunch. They have laws they must all obey, the main one being non interference in the natural flow of events on any world. They have a binary vascular system, or two hearts. Another interesting aspect is that they can regenerate to stave off death. This was actually written into the show when the original actor to portray the character, William Hartnell, was suffering health issues and had to quit the show. It was a brilliant move on the producers part. This simple act, changing every cell in a time lords body, becoming in essence a new being altogether, was what has kept the show fresh and exciting.

      As I said, the Doctor stole his TARDIS, and was considered a renegade amongst his people. He would routinely defy them, and ultimately, in the end, he was destined to destroy them, for they had become corrupt in such a way that he was left with no option. He has had many companions that would travel with him over the long years of his life, he being over nine hundred years old. Some stood by him to the bitter end, others were killed, either through his action, or inactions. Others simply moved on, growing weary of the constant danger and adventure. Ultimately the Doctor is doomed to roam the universe alone, the last of his kind.

   He has faced many foes over the long years, the most famous being The Daleks, the race his people had battled across time itself. The Daleks started as mutants from the planet Skaro, created by the insane genius Davros. They were an armored shell, with deadly weapons and a single eye stalk. Inside, was a small tentacled being, one full of hatred for anything not Dalek. Emotions such as love, compassion, sympathy, had all been removed from them. Their goal, exterminate all life that was not pure, not Dalek. It was the war with them that caused Gallifrey to burn, and the Time Lords to become all but extinct.
Is this a pepper shaker? Nope, just a Dalek.

   The next well known foe has to be, the Cybermen. Robots with human brains inside their heads. Originally possessing a weakness to gold, in recent years, a new form has been created, using human technology. The first Cybermen to menace the Doctor came from Earth’s twin planet, Mondas, which was destroyed at one point during the early run of the show. They also want to make the universe in their image.
Cybermen through the years

      The Sontarans should be next, a clone race of warrior, fighting a never ending war. In early stories they would run experiments on humans. One even gave firearm technology to middle age man. They are short, with a very potato like appearance. They live for war, and no race is better at fighting war then the Sontaran.

   The Icemen of Mars were an early thorn in the Doctors side, as were the vervoids, deadly plants that could wipe out all animal life on a planet if given the chance. The list of classic enemies goes on and on. But there was one, one who would tax the Doctor to the limit. He was his polar opposite, and the only other Time Lord to escape the Last Great Time War. He was simply known as, The Master.

    The Master started life as a friend of the Doctors, long before they were know by the names they now use. But his mind was twisted by the untempered schism, a rift in time and space that all Time Lord must look into at an early age. Some would see all of time, others would run in fear, and a few, would go insane. For the Doctor, he ran, and never stopped. For the Master, insanity was his lot, an insanity that would drive him to time and again attempt to destroy The Doctor. He was always outwitted, and on a few rare occasions, even came to the Doctors aid. In the end, he sacrificed himself to undo a great treachery the Time Lords were trying to bring to the universe.
The different faces of The Master

   So, we have our background established, now it will be time to explore each incarnation of The Doctor. I shall present a brief description of the Doctor, starting with his first life. I will try and present both pros and cons about the portrayal. I will not rate each one, though some may get more love then others. No, I have not seen every classic episode of Doctor Who, however, I have watched many from all eleven Doctors. I am slowly getting through them all, but nearly fifty years of programming is a lot to sit through. I feel each actors performance gave the character something new, yet each still had a gleam of those that had come before. So, let us begin, shall we?

    I am going to stop there, due to the fact that to properly look at each actor in turn, I feel a separate blog will be in order. So, next week, I will present part two of this  look at Doctor Who, starting with William Hartnell. I hope you stick around through this little project of mine. Till then, we are all simply the universe, trying to find it's voice, we are one.

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