Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodbye, Doctor. We'll miss you!


It has been said that your ‘favorite’ Doctor Who (DW) is the one that appeared in the first episodes you see. In my case that would have been Peter Cushing in the two DW movies based on the television show. Not hardly! As much as I liked Cushing as an actor his Doctor wasn’t particularly likable, as I recall. I saw those films in the theatre when I was a kid, probably as part of a double-feature with some other British horror/SF film. The Daleks looked even sillier up on the big screen, as you can imagine. It would be interesting to see them again, to see if my opinion is any different.

My ‘second’ Doctor was Jon Pertwee who starred in the first TV episodes I ever saw. This would have been in the mid-70s when his shows were being broadcast on local PBS stations. I only remember seeing a few and this older guy driving around in an old automobile didn’t really appeal to me. I thought it was a bad James Bond rip-off to be honest. It wasn’t until I was working in Westport, CT and one of the PBS stations began showing the DW program featuring Tom Baker that I finally became a fan. To me Baker was ‘my Doctor’ and the one to whom all others had to measure up. While I liked both Peter Davison and Colin Baker, I only recall seeing one installment with Sylvester McCoy so didn’t really form any sort of opinion. To be honest, I think I sort of liked the TV movie featuring Paul McGann, in his only appearance as the Eighth Doctor. An attempt to make the show more appealing to American audiences I think, but not enough apparently as the show remained in limbo for a few more years.

When BBC America began showing the new episodes, starring Christopher Eccleston I caught a couple of shows, after hearing some good things from friends. I liked Eccleston, possibly because his somewhat goofy manner reminded me of Tom Baker at his most whimsical. I was just getting into the DW habit again when another regeneration occurred and David Tennant became the Tenth Doctor. I think I liked him from the very beginning. You also could tell, from his actions in “Parting of the Ways” and the special “Christmas Invasion”. Here was a darker, Time Lord. The last of his race and although he could be light-hearted he would also take lives if it felt necessary for the ‘greater good’. As he says in one episode, “No second chances. That’s the kind of man I am.” Brrr….

Throughout his stint as The Doctor, Tennant made his incarnation into a DW we had never seen before. He was in a way ‘more human’, if you will, yet also able to portray a very superior and alien personality. The final three episodes, “Waters of Mars” and the two-part “The End of Time”, will probably go down as some of the best DW episodes in a series which has had a number of very, good ones. In both we see Tenant’s Doctor revealing a side of himself that is almost a reflection of The Master at his most smug. It’s pretty scary and revealing, as well. Sadly, we also knew from hints dropped throughout the past season (as well as stories on the Internet) that the next regeneration was not too far off.

If you haven’t watched the final two-part story, you really should. Even if you are not a big DW fan I think there is enough action and suspense to keep you interested. I’m going to really miss David Tennant and the new Doctor has a long way to go to even come close to matching what the last two Doctors (and the previous eight, to be honest) brought to the series.
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