As many of you guys and ladies know, I have never really taken the time to sit down and I am now exploring Dr Who. Who. I have seen an episode here and there, I have even met Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor), and a run-in with Doctor Four was crucial in the back story of one of my favorite RPG Characters. Dr. Who played a large part of my husband’s childhood. He and my mother-in-law constantly talk about their memories of watching Tom Baker right before a young Anexandros would fall asleep.
So, earlier this year, I decided I was going to watch Dr. Who (once we finished our Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Marathon). And I asked a few people where I should start. Classic Doctors or New Doctors? I asked around, and a lot of people told me to start with the New Doctors, so I’d be on the level with most of the current fan base. However, after deliberation and discussion, I decided to go with my historian’s instincts and watch the Classic Doctor first.
By “Classic Doctor,” I am watching just what is available on Netflix. My personal budget does not lend itself to purchasing/renting DVDs of the series. I am aware that this is by no means a complete Dr. Who collection and that it does not include a truly representative selection of the classic Doctor story lines. I watch it for a baseline. I want to get some sort of hint to the differences in the classic Doctors, their companions, their adventure style.
As of now, I am partway through the Tom Baker years, and thus far, I have a few impressions. Note: I’m not critiquing the episodes. I am just describing my impressions.
My mother-in-law says that one’s favorite Doctor Who is often the first one they see. Let’s test that theory.
Doctor One: Netflix only shows one storyline from the First Doctor, the Aztecs (1964). The adventure seems fairly basic. The Doctor and companions are back in time with the Aztecs, one is mistaken to be a goddess, and STUFF HAPPENS! From this story line, I see the Doctor as a romantic, but also as a man who means to be taken seriously. He understands what happens if you mess up a timeline, and warns his companions against altering history. He’s right, by the way, as it seems that the Doctor should be right: Attempt to change history, and history will try to change you. 15th century Aztecs don’t want to be told they are barbaric and their ‘primitive’ ways of human sacrifice are wrong. Barbara should have listened to the Doctor.
One note I did make: the opening music for Doctor One was amazingly forward-thinking for an early 1960s television show. With the bass riff, t sounded like music more from the later 1960s. I was kinda sad to hear it change in later episodes.
Doctor Two: My very first thought as I saw Doctor Two on screen was “Oh my god- an older guy with Beatles hair. Pandering much?” All jokes aside, the storyline available for Netflix for Doctor Two, “The Mind Robber” (1968) was enjoyable. I liked the ideas of characters being real, to this world, and the threat of becoming fictional. Doctor Two was a little less serious, a little more ‘fun’ than the first Doctor. He was still protective of his companions, encouraging them to disbelieve in creatures that were attacking them,
Honestly, there was not enough in the episode for me to “get” this version of the Doctor. I kinda wish I had more to watch for Doctor Two. I really enjoyed what I saw, and think there was some good potential in Doctor Two.
Doctor Three: This incarnation of The Doctor seems to be an interesting fellow. Netflix was gracious to include his first story-line, “Spearhead from Space” (1970). Also included in the mix was the story-line “The Three Doctors” (1972-3). Doctor Three was a sweet old man, always tinkering with the TARDIS or other objects. And he seemed obsessed with reaching Metebilis III.
It was in “The Three Doctors” (1972-1973) where some interaction between the three showed me the real differences in their personalities. The First Doctor thought of his replacements as “a dandy and a clown.” The Second Doctor apparently played a recorder? (I would never had known this if if my only source of knowledge was Netflix) and apparently they could communicate via telepathy with one another.
I’m only partway through the Tom Baker years now, halfway through the episodes Netflix has avaliable for “The Key to Time.” Doctor Four is very flamboyant: his wardrobe, his attitude, his demeanor. Tom Baker emotes well, especially when the Doctor is in pain of any way. He gives candy to strangers. He is also younger in appearance than previous incarnations. Unlike Doctor Three, who was stuck to earth, and did not get to travel much due to some sort of restrictions (unexplained by Netflix- I only ‘get it’ because of looking into other sources), Doctor Four has no such restrictions, and much like a teenager who first has his driver’s license, he seems determined to get into as much trouble as possible without getting caught.
In “The Key To Time,” the series I am currently watching, it seems like the Doctor is petulant, whining when he’s “assigned” the duty of finding the keys, angry that he has to have a partner, intimidated by Romana, and just a little silly.
How bad is it that I like K-9 more than I do Doc 4?
Well, those are my impressions as of now. I’m still interested to see how it all plays out.