Doctor Who is 50 goddamn years old this year. That blows my fucking mind. Doctor Who is a science fiction show that is so well known and so popular, even outside of Great Britain proper, that you can probably ask your parents if they've heard of it, and even if they've never actually seen an episode they'll tell you something like "Oh yeah, that's that very British show about some wacky guy that travels through time and has a giant scarf, right? Is that still on the air?" Doctor Who is THE MOST BRITISH THING ever put to film, but it's still universally recognized as great science fiction... And it's 50 years old and still going strong (though depending on who you ask you'll be told that it's never been as good as it was with the 4th Doctor, or anything past the 9th Doctor is pure silly crap, or that the greatest Doctor ever is the one with the hair and the chin who likes Scottish redheads and Vincent Van Gogh).
I am a relatively new fan of the Doctor ("the Doctor" being what the main character in the series calls himself) and his exploits. In the past, my older cousins and the MegaPlayboy have tried to convince me to jump on the fandom time train (my cousins first attempted when I was like 6 or 7, and the MegaPlayboy tried to push it on me again when I was in college), but the only Doctors that they introduced me to were the 4th, 5th, and 6th. I only recall thinking that the show was either way too strange, incredibly cheaply made, or just stupid, and it made me judge my family and friends' taste in fiction for quite a while.
The MegaPlayboy never gave up his cause though, and when the Doctor came back to the telly (after a 9-year break) in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th incarnation of the titular Time Lord, he started up the ol' propaganda machine again. It wasn't until the resurrected series' 5th season though that I decided to take the plunge. I had a ton of Amazon.com gift certificates to use up and saw that the entire 5th series (the first season with the 11th Doctor, keep up with me) was just out on Blu-Ray and figured "what the hell."
Series 5 had a fun introduction to the new Doctor (the only thing that I truly remembered about the premise going into it was that the time-traveling alien who looked like a human would change bodies whenever he was killed, and that his biggest enemy was a group of rolling salt-shakers with plungers attached to their torsos), and the Doctor's new travel companion — one Amy Pond — was saucy and pretty damn awesome, but the second episode left a lot to be desired (a giant space whale is fed British people for fuel, and Elizabeth X was a bossy, kind of dim monarch of New Space Britain). Then came the Crash of the Byzantium episode with my first introduction to the Angels and River Song (the Doctor's out-of-sequential-time friend/lover), and my opinion of the new Who began to greatly improve. Soon I finished up all of the 11th Doctor's stories and jumped back to the 9th's, then up to the 10th's, then I tried to get through as much of the previous classic Who that I could handle, thanks to Netflix and some borrowed DVDs.... But I digress. Let me back up and tell you a bit about the Doctor and his adventures.
What the fuck is Doctor Who about? How can there be more than one person playing the role? Is the Doctor like James Bond?
Doctor Who is all about a humanoid alien known only as "the Doctor." The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey which is located in the constellation Kasterborous. The Time Lords use TARDISes (vehicles that operate within and travel throughout Time and Relative Dimensions In Space) to go wherever and whenever they want to in the universe, and they think of themselves as self-appointed egotistical temporal policemen. The Doctor (an elderly-looking, crotchety man) sort of stole/borrowed a Tardis from Gallifrey with his granddaughter, Susan, and together they traveled to Earth (specifically to London in 1963) where they picked up some hitchhikers and began to edumacate them on history (by traveling to the past) and science (by traveling to cheaply constructed alien planets and the future). Their story became a pretty big hit, but the man playing the Doctor was getting on in years and wearing a bit thin, and he didn't feel like doing this kind of gig for the rest of his days, so on screen his character "died" and "regenerated" into another form (still an old white guy, but not quite as ancient as his first appearance). Then that 2nd Doctor jumped around space and time for a number of years in a ridiculous pair of plaid pants before the Time Lord higher-ups banished him and forced a regeneration that put him into the body of yet another old white guy who looked even older and whiter than the 2nd Doctor.
The 3rd Doctor was a frill-wearing dandy who was stuck on Earth for most of his existence (because the budget the BBC gave the show dropped substantially). Here he rode around in a yellow jalopy he called "Bessie," and he helped the British Men-In-Black organization known as UNIT save humanity from numerous extraterrestrial threats (every single menace that the Doctor ever came across was of course of alien origin in a sort of reverse Scooby Doo twist) while also answering the call from the Time Lords government to do some covert missionary work from time to time in order to keep things from getting too lame. Then he died too.
The 4th Doctor was regenerated into the form of a slightly younger white guy who had an affinity for looooooong scarves and jelly babies. He hung out with a laughably absurd-looking robot dog on wheels, a kind of dumb human woman reporter named Sarah, and a (relatively) hot British Time Lord chick. The 4th Doctor went on to experience more cheaply-made adventures than any other Doctor before or since. This Doctor is the most beloved of the old series, and it's easy to see why. He's not a stubborn old douchebag, he's not pompous or that much of a know-it-all either. He's borderline insane, dresses like a homeless person, and wears that fantastic scarf that's easy to replicate in order to cosplay as him. The 4th Doctor was fun, and his actor (one Tom Baker) was willing to hang around for a ton of storylines so that the fans really got to know him... Then he fell and died, regenerating into a cricket-loving, celery-wearing blonde guy in a white Panama hat.
The 5th Doctor was more actiony than the previous incarnations in order to try and tap into a more youthful market. He got more serious and less goofy (despite the sprig of celery on his jacket), and the long-term fans (at least the ones I've talked to) seem to agree that his reign wasn't that bad. But then he died and the 6th Doctor came around, and he started dressing like a circus clown — white 'fro, baggy yellow-striped pants, goofy technicolored waistcoat, foofy blue tie, and rainbow umbrella and all. This is when shit just got ridonkulous.
The 6th Doctor was bipolar, insane, a colorful dresser, and a total egoist... So he was fun to be around if you're the Joker. I'm not shitting you here, Who-fandom refers to Colin Baker's 6th Doctor as "the unlikable Doctor." Honestly, who the fuck came up with the idea of turning the Doctor into more of a douche than his enemies the Master and the Daleks combined? Anyway, soon the Doctor was regenned into the 7th incarnation of himself, and this is when things just went beyond shitty.
The 7th Doctor was a buffoon. Famous for his retarded quotes that he thought were too damn funny but which sounded like they were written by Downs children after four bowls of Chocolate-Covered Sugar Bombs cereal. Here's a couple of "good" ones: "Absence makes the nose grow longer!"; and "Time and tide melts the snowman."
The 7th is also notorious for his bumbling idiocy in the face of danger, and most importantly his totally unnecessary prat falls during the first part of his run. In other words he was famous for being the absolute WORST Doctor. At least the unlikable Doctor was smart and could stay out of harms way, and he saved people without looking like a doddering arse. 7 also had question marks all over his costume because.... Well, I guess because Doctor WHO? Ugh. BUT... Then things changed. The 7th Doctor did a big about-face and became quite serious after a short while and he became very good and very likable... Unfortunately it was a little too little a little too late for the good Doctor as he was the last regeneration of the series' original run. Not even his spunky and sweet teenage companion "Blow it to Hell" Ace was enough to save the good Doctor's fate from the hands of the stingy BBC. Doctor Who was originally canned in 1989.
Oh, you know what's the absolutely worst part about the 7th Doctor? The way he died. Instead of going out like a man, saving innocents, or sacrificing his life so that a friend could live on, he runs out of the Tardis in 1999 San Francisco into the middle of a gang fight and gets plugged like a little bitch. Then in the hospital while he's getting operated on he formally dies by a tube getting shoved into his 2nd heart. Goddammit, writers! You just made 7 fun and interesting and then you killed him like a second-rate villain! No heroics, just a lame accident.
After the 7th Doctor came the 8th. The 8th was only in one official (full) story: the Doctor Who tele-movie aired in the mid-nineties that tried to revive the series after the 7th Doctor got unfairly cancelled. Unfortunately this movie wasn't that big of a hit (even though Paul McGann was decent enough, and his companion, a hot surgeon named Grace, was super fucking hot), and the 8th's battle against a somehow-resurrected Master (one of the Doctor's oldest and most dastardly foes) proved to be all that audiences originally wanted from him.
Then Whovians had to wait till 2005 for more of the Doctor, this time in the form of tall, buzzcut, leather-wearing Scotsman Christopher Eccleston. This was the first Doctor for quite a few Who fans that I know. The 9th Doctor started things up again after just ending The Time War single-handedly (off screen). All we knew at the beginning of the 9th's reign was that he was responsible for killing all the Daleks and every Time Lord forever... Except for all the Daleks who kept popping up as big bads since then. 9 was more brooding and quicker to jump into action than any of the previous incarnations, but his goofy faces that he'd constantly mug just made it so that I could not take him seriously in the least. Christopher Eccleston smiles like a total goober. You can put a man in a leather jacket to make him edgy and tough, but if he looks like Snow White's Dopey when he grins there is no way to salvage that.
Anywhozals, the 9th first met Jack Harkness, Bad Wolf, and the Face of Bo (redundant?), saw the end of the Earth, and just as he started getting frisky with his companion (a young woman named Rose) he gave his life to save hers after she looked into the Time Vortex (for a convoluted plot point) and absorbed too much energy. Then he died and 10 was born.
Ah, the 10th Doctor. All the new Whovians say that he's the best one so far. He's young looking, got mussed-up hair, talks all comical about timey-wimey things, has a cool pin-striped suit and an awesome trench coat given to him by Janis Joplin herself, but he was still wracked with guilt over what he did to his own people in order to save the universe. The 10th kept traveling with Rose for a while (until she got stuck in an alternate universe), and then he jumped around with a few other companions, first met River Song (though it was one of the very last times she met him), and then fought his old nemesis the Master, along with the war-crazed Time Lords (who were trapped in some kind of time bubble, just moments before the destruction of their planet), which led the 10th to die and regenerate into the 11th Doctor.
The 11th Doctor was the youngest version of the main mad man with a blue box yet, and he loved tweed jackets with elbow patches, fish fingers and custard, and fiery Scottish redheads, as I stated before. He also thought that bow ties, fezzes, and Stetsons were cool, and he loved hanging around with reverse-time traveling companion River Song whenever he could, even if he had to break her out of space-jail to do it. The 11th's reign was one giant storyline dealing with a secret organization that's out to destroy him because of the threat to the universe that he's become. The Silence (the double-secret shadow group in question) tries to blow up the Tardis and then erase him from history so that the one great question of the universe will never be asked, or somesuch overly-dramatic nonsense like that. There's still one Christmas Special left to go before the 11th's reign ends, so hopefully show-runner Stephen Moffat will wrap this Silence shit up then before the Doctor regens into his next form, one Peter Capaldi.
But WAIT! In the 7th series' season finale we found out that *YIKES* there was another regeneration of the Doctor that took place between the known 8th and the known 9th Doctor forms! He is played by awesome actor William Hurt, and he is known only as the War Doctor (since everything he did during his time was destructive, and he was the form of the Doctor that caused the destruction of his own race in order to stop the Time War from destroying everything and everywhen). The 50th Anniversary special deals with what the War Doctor was up against, and the choices he had to make in order to stop all the casualties that the Time War was wreaking about through time and space. He lived a very difficult life, made a lot of questionable choices, but in the end it was just him alone with the ULTIMATE weapon, "the Moment," when the final decision had to be made.
And THAT is who and what the Doctor is.
...................What the fuck? Really? Jesus, did you leave anything out?
Oh yeah, I left an ass-load out, my friends. I didn't tell you about all of the Doctor's many companions, the multitude of cheap-looking, but rather imaginative (if not overly-used) monsters he would outsmart every week, his trusty Sonic Screwdriver that can not only open all doors (except wooden ones) but could also scan shit and reverse polarities of lots of things, the many times he came face to face with former and future faces of himself, all the times he messed up and lost a companion or two, the obscenely clever ways in which the Doctor would use his giant brain to save his own skin, and the Time Lord's love of everything, everyone, everywhen. To quote the Doctor when meeting a grouchy
scrote old man who told him that a person next to them was nobody important: "Nobody important? Blimey, that's amazing. You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before."
The Doctor, though quite fictional, is more real than most of the boring assholes I meet in day-to-day life. I fucking love the guy. Even though I can't watch any of the episodes featuring the first 7 Doctors without laughing my butt off or falling asleep, I still love those versions of the Doctor for who they are.
Wait a goddamn minute? So you're telling me you haven't even seen every last episode of Doctor Who ever made? Yet you're reviewing it?! What the fuck, man?!
Hardly anybody has seen every last episode of this series. First of all, champ, as of this writing there's 799 episodes of Who. Of those, several dozen are lost forever seeing as the BBC used to have a history of taping over older shows in their archives to save a cheap pound. But seriously, who the fuck has time to go through 799 episodes of anything, even if the first 7 Doctors' tales weren't told painfully cheaply, or with horrible pacing. I have seen episodes of all 12 versions of the Doctor, but the first three Doctors' stories that I bore witness to were too silly to be taken seriously. The episodes of the 4th that I saw (The City of Death plot) was absolutely boring as all fuck. There was in all seriousness one 7-minute segment dedicated to the Doctor and Romana (his companion at the time) making their way across Paris to the Louvre. 7 minutes. 7 minutes of them walking, taking a train, walking, walking some more, taking 3 other trains, etc., until they got to their destination. I wanted to blow my fucking brains out. The rest of the story was okay, but stretched out waaaaaaaaay too long too. God help me, 7 minutes...The 5th Doctor's episodes I saw were nothing spectacular, and notable only for their cheapness. The 6th Doctor I just couldn't stand, and the first few episodes that I saw of the 7th's were just dumb, and I thought that Sylvester McCoy was just a total buffoon and completely wrong for the part.
I dare any of you new Whovians (anybody who started with Eccleston, Tennant, or Smith) to take the "Early Doctor Challenge." Try to watch more than 5 episodes of any of the first 7 Doctors and see if you want to continue past that. I'm not talking about you thinking "Well, I guess I HAVE to watch more in order to be a REAL Doctor Who fan..." No. I'm saying see if you actually WANT TO continue past 5 episodes. Hell, even past 2 episodes (after the joy of first experiencing an entirely new incarnation of the character has worn off)... You will not. And you will HATE yourself for it.
Maybe I'm not a real fan of the series because I prefer Amy, Clara, Donna, Martha, Jack, and Rose to Sarah, Ace, Susan, and Romana. Maybe I'm just a poser because I think that good editing and slightly better acting than something out of a third-grade play is something that I need to keep my attention... I can get past cheap sets no problem (I absolutely LOVE Red Dwarf and its styrofoam sets), but bad pacing and over-the-top reciting of lines instead of (get this) ACTING like one is not acting put me off and totally take me out of the narrative. Hell, if you can get through that and appreciate a show that features worse theatrics than those seen in Tommy Wiseau's The Room, then go for it! Watch all the early Doctors that you can. As for me, I'll just read their synopses on Wikipedia. I can appreciate the cleverness of many of those earlier plots with great abbreviation.
No fuckin' way, my homies! The Rossman just don't get it! Who is more than just 3 (now 4) Doctors, bitches! It's about all 11 (now 12)! It's about shit-loads of history, budget restraints out the ass, and convoluted storylines that sometimes take upwards of 5-10 years to fully reveal shit!
Who is about strange costumes, including fuckin' awesome long scarves, plaid pants, and question mark umbrella handles. It's about really fucking bizarre aliens that put the Star Wars Cantina to shame! It's about Daleks, Cybermen, Martian micro-organisms, flying blue telephone boxes, dumb (but eager) human companions, talking robot dogs, going to the wrong place and time and still finding things to fix, evil Time Lords, sexy Time Lords, secret British alien tactics agencies, sonic screwdrivers that only open doors (what's with all the fucking scanning and blowing shit up with them nowadays?), lots of running towards problems, and lots of using the Doctor's brain to solve some pretty serious shit.
Who is about so much more than wild hand-waving Doctors who talk all weird and act all strange and shit. Billy Piper is about tradition, crazy, but well-thought the fuck out storytelling, and reversing the polarity of shit! Not that I hate new Who, just that I think that old Who is the better Who. Who.
Ok, so I am not looking forward to my first Doctor [Matt Smith] saying farewell at the end of this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, but the 50th anniversary special was awesome! It took you forwards, backwards, and to Gallifrey! And it brought David Tennant back (which although he's not my favorite, he's still a pretty cool Doctor)! As if that wasn't rockin enough we got to have the lovely Billie Piper back on the Who set — cracking jokes, being all mysterious, but none of Rose's complaining. Thank you, Bad Wolf girl!
Just when you think 10 and 11 are an awesome enough combo they pull a "but wait there's more!!" moment that blew my mind (that I just won't spoil for you because I'm not that kind of girl)!
I adored the back and forth and all of the who-mor! For fans old and new you will really appreciate the inside jokes and seeing all your old friends (quite a few).
It also set us up for the coming season, and while I know that it's only a matter of timey whimey before Matt's tear-jerking farewell (yes, I'm sure I'll cry) I have high hopes for 12. So whip out your sonics, Santa hats, and get ready to say "Geronimo!" one more time!