Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Iconic Characters #1: The Doctor

The Doctor (true name unknown) was born (exact date unknown) to a race of extraterrestrial Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. A race that wanders through time and space in an internally vast time machine called the Time And Relative Dimension/ Dimensions In Space or TARDIS for short. Very little is known about The Doctor's early life.

Although Time Lords resemble humans, their physiology differs in some key respects; like other members of his race, the Doctor has two hearts, a "respiratory bypass system" that allows him to go without air for some while, an internal body temperature of 15–16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit), and on occasion he exhibits a super-human level of stamina. He has shown a resistance to temporal effects, as well as some limited telepathic abilities. The Doctor also exhibits some weaknesses uncommon to humans; for instance claiming at one point that a tablet of aspirin could kill him.

Time Lords can live forever, "barring accidents." When "accidents" do occur, Time Lords can usually regenerate into new bodies, resulting in extremely long life-spans (The Doctor is known to have had at least 10 regenerations). Throughout his regenerations, the Doctor's personality has retained a number of consistent traits. Its most notable aspect is an unpredictable, affable and even clownish exterior concealing a well of great age, wisdom, seriousness and even darkness. While the Doctor can appear childlike and jocular, when the stakes rise, he will often become cold, driven and even callous. The Doctor is a fervent pacifist and is dedicated to the preservation of sentient life, human or otherwise, over violence and war, even going so far as to doubt the morality of destroying his worst enemies, the Daleks, when he had the chance to do so. The Doctor has a deep sense of right and wrong, and a conviction that it is right to intervene when injustice occurs, which sets him apart from his own people, the Time Lords, and their strict ethic of nonintervention.

The First Doctor was an impish, grandfatherly figure

The Second Doctor (first known regeneration) was a superficially warm and bumbling character hiding a deeply calculating mind.

The Third Doctor made the best of his Earth exile as a swashbuckling dandy.

The Fourth Doctor basked in freedom with his more bohemian manner.

The Fifth Doctor was vulnerable and sensitive.

The Sixth asserted himself as a flamboyant blowhard. He had absolutely no fashion sense.

The Seventh Doctor was at first clownish, then later darker and more manipulative.

The Eighth was more of a Byronesque figure, possessed of an infectious enthusiasm about the universe.

The Ninth Doctor was an enigmatic figure, impulsive and almost manic on the surface yet hiding a deep sadness and loneliness. He had a colder, less forgiving personality, perhaps hardened by the Time War that destroyed Gallifrey and left him the last of the Time Lords.

Thus far, the Tenth Doctor is lighter and more easygoing than his predecessor, both flippant and energetic, but still quick to anger when he perceives an injustice.

Due to time travel, it is possible for the Doctor's various incarnations to encounter and interact with each other, although this is supposed to be prohibited by the First Law of Time or permitted only in the "gravest of emergencies". Such encounters have been seen on three occasions.

For the most part — often due to the age and unreliability of the TARDIS's navigation system — the Doctor explores the universe at random, using his extensive knowledge of science and technology to avert whatever crises he encounters. The Doctor generally travels with one or more companions (he is known to have traveled with at least 30 companions). Most of these choose to travel with him, while others are accidental passengers. In the end, though, the Doctor has always seemed quite content to remain a renegade and an exile. By the time of his ninth incarnation, the Doctor finds himself the last known surviving Time Lord following a time war.

The Doctor and Jo Grant

Sarah Jane Smith


The Doctor and Rose Tyler

As a time traveller, the Doctor has been present at or directly involved in countless major historical events on the planet Earth and elsewhere — sometimes more than once. The Ninth Doctor for instance was instrumental in preventing a family from boarding the Titanic prior to her fateful voyage. He has also encountered many historical figures in his travels including Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare (the first folio of the latter's Hamlet was transcribed by the Doctor himself), H. G. Wells, Albert Einstein, Richard the Lionheart, Wyatt Earp and Marco Polo. More recently, the Doctor has shared adventures with Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria and Madame de Pompadour.

It is this penchant for becoming "involved" with the universe - in direct violation of official Time Lord policy - that has caused the Doctor to be labelled a renegade by the Time Lords. Most of the time, however, his actions are tolerated, especially given that he has saved not just Gallifrey, but the universe, several times over.

Well respected for such heroic deeds The Time Lords are also partial to sending him on missions when deniability or expendability is needed. The Doctor's standing in Time Lord society has waxed and waned over the years, from being a hunted man to being appointed Lord President of the High Council (an office he did not assume for very long, and eventually was removed from in his absence.)

It's also the same heroic deeds wich have earned The Doctor a long list of enemies including The Daleks, The Black Guardian, The Cybermen but none are so vile and arch as the Master, a renagade Time Lord obsessed with ruling the universe and destroying The Doctor the only other force to stand between the Master and his ultimate goal. The Master was last seen in 1996 and his current whereabouts are unknown, some claim he is dead while other's claim the Master is still out there somewhere in the universe planning his ultimate revenge against The Doctor.

The Doctor's current whereabouts are unknown, having lost his most recent companion Rose Tyler in an alternate dimension he is left to travel the corridors of space and time alone once again...but as long as he's out there we can all rest easy knowing he will keep the universe safe from harm.


Scurvy said...

Best doctor ever... #4.

Dr. Zaius said...

You have done a very good overview of all of the incarnations of Dr. Who. I must admit that I never liked the doctor much, I always tuned in to see if the aliens-of-the-week were very interesting. I was always fond of the Daleks, who had that neat hurbly-burbly voice. I always thought that they looked kind of like mechanical refugees from the bomb disposal squad, with those long pole arms and all. There were also two film versions [ 1, 2 ] that were both awful, but they did star the very cool Peter Cushing! I saw those films on "Creature Features" when I was a kid, my first introduction to the good doctor.

SamuraiFrog said...

William Hartnell: first and still the best.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I applaud you. That was fabulous.

Becca said...

Tom Baker was great. My favorite was always John Pertwee #3 but after seeing these most recent episodes I really liked Christopher Eccelston #9. He was just so spirited!

Dr. Zaius-
The Daleks were and still are awesome. I have no idea how a garbage can on wheels can be so damn scary! Dr. Who did always have excellent villians however, one shots or regulars. The writing was usally so good (at least in the early doctors and then again more recently) they could make anything scary.

And I've not seen those Peter Cushing movies. I have avoided them on the advice of many that they were terrible and boring. Still Peter Cushing is great isn't he.

If you enjoy science fiction you should give the new Dr. Who a chance. I myself was really impressed.

I always loved William Hartnell's look, simple, understated yet still grand.


smallerdemon said...

Ah, the 3rd Doctor. A dandy, yes, but the first Doctor I ever watched. Plus, his Doctor is when we are introduced to The Master.

Tom Baker was, of course, wonderful. After that it's certainly Eccleston. It's almost tragic we didn't get more of him.

Thanks for the wondeful look back at the iconic Doctor.

Becca said...

Pertwee had the best outfit! It's all about the cape man.

And yes it's so tragic about Eccelston, damn his low tollerance for hard, stressful work. Still he was great.

Thwacko said...

Yeah, I know this is way late, but great work on this article.
I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, and though Tom Baker is my favorite, Pertwee and Troughtan are tied for a close second.

Becca said...

Better late than never.

Tom Baker was pretty damn cool but I've never seen a Troughtan episode. Hopefully more episodes will be coming to DVD soon.