Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seriesly: Doctor Who

Self-proclaimed Queen of the Abandoned Features is back with another brand-new blogging series about (drum roll please) TV series. Serials, shows, whichever word you may choose. The first lucky production to be featured is a show that has enthralled British and international audiences for half a century, celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall.

The last of his kind, alien "The Doctor" travels through time and space in a blue box, saving whatever there is to be saved, whilst having as much fun as possible.

My main reason for starting to watch Doctor Who was that I couldn't stand listening to two of my classmates rambling about it on an on any longer. Most of their chats sounded like rubbish to me; odd words and names such as The Master, Oods, sonic screwdriver, TARDIS, the vortex - you get the general idea. So I asked them what the show was about, expecting the latest Dr. House/ Grey's Anatomy/ Scrubs hospital series. I couldn't have got it any less right.
Believe me, the tagline sounded as insanely crazy to me as it must to you who haven't seen the show yet. Aliens have never been "my thing", it was always fantasy that I was intrigued by and that I followed and worshipped in form of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series, as well as many other books and movies. However, two of my last excursions to the land of sci-fi - reading classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth and watching classic 2001: A Space Odyssey - had proven to surprise me in a positive way, and thereby challenged my presumption of not liking sci-fi much. Long story short: I simply started watching. And I continued watching although the first episodes weren't exactly the best thing I had ever seen. And that's how it all started...

For those who have little to no knowledge of the show, Doctor Who started broadcasting the 23rd November of 1963 at 17:16:20 GMT on the much known BBC. The Doctor was then played by William Hartnell and he had no colours. Apparently 'Classic Who', which is a term for the series from 1963 to 1996, was supposed to be seen one set of episodes at a time, and you could watch it more or less non-chronologically - not the case with New Who, but we'll get to that later. I personally haven't seen Classic Who, as there are more than 20 seasons and a movie, but perhaps I'll tune in on it some time in the future. Classic Who stopped production in 1989 and plans of reviving the series with a feature film in 1996 failed. Well, the film was produced, but it wasn't well received. However, in 2005 somebody (Russel T Davies I'm guessing) decided to give it another try with a whole new Doctor in Christopher Eccleston.
In case I haven't mentioned this yet: The Doctor can regenerate when badly injured, which is why there have been so many of him. Until now there have been 11 Doctors, three of them in New Who, which is currently in its seventh season. For further information on the many riddles of the series you can find it all online, but I suggest you simply start watching the series because A) it's awesome and B) it's much more fun to find out yourself. 

There's a thing about Whovians (the presumably official name for people whose lives revolve around Doctor Who) that everyone somehow has "their" Doctor. It's not necessarily your "favourite" Doctor but the one you feel you have a special connection to (no need to remind me that he's a fictional character). I have a feeling that "my" Doctor may very well be his tenth incarnation as played by David Tennant, but on the other hand Matt Smith is a very strong contender. Also, Christopher Eccleston was the one who brought the "madman in a blue box" back to life, and being my "first" Doctor, I still feel a nostalgic prickle whenever I see little clips of his portrayal of the ninth Doctor.

Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston

Trademarks: glistening blue eyes, leather coat, Northern accent, always goofy and smiling
There has been much ado about Eccleston portraying The Doctor in his ninth incarnation, both before this man revived the Series and afterwards. Apparently Eccleston has been stating that the crew didn't like him much and that he'd rather play more serious characters, as he did before (i.e. G. I. Joe and the upcoming Thor: The Dark World). I don't know which level of truth these rumours are based on and I don't care because that's none of my business. Fact is: Eccleston did a great job at stepping into the Doctor's worn out shoes and giving them a dose of brand-new polish. And he was gloriously funny. Especially one scene comes to mind, in which Rose (his companion) notes that the words "Bad Wolf" have been following them for a long time, as they keep showing up everywhere they go. At first the Doctor looks seriously worried, an alarming background musics starts playing - and then he just shrugs, flashing his broad British smile, saying "Ah, it's probably nothing". There are many of those moments of very well-executed situational comedy in the 1st season of New Who.

Always in search of trouble ("The End of the World" is a synonym for "Come Join the Party" for this fella), the ninth Doctor is certainly a more determined and much less clumsy Doctor than the latest two. He's not an introvert and he does talk a lot compared to normal people (aka non-Time Lords) but he's far from being as much of a blabbermouth as Tennant and Smith. The ninth Doctor is more into doing things than talking about them, more about determinedly pressing one particular button instead of hushing around and trying to find a solution by talking and pressing various random buttons. As I said; he does talk, but most of the time he acts a lot too. His game is perhaps a tad more simple than that of the next two Doctors, as depicted in the first appearance of the Daleks (the Doctor's nemeses) in New Who - when the Dalek teases and threatens the Doctor, he merely shouts „Why don't you just DIE?“. How's that for some not-at-all human testosterone?

The ninth Doctor will remain a very special character for me, wherever the series is going to take us in the next season(s). Like (too) many people out there, my best friend (!) skipped season 1, after having seen a few episodes, because she found it too boring and had heard that the other Doctors were supposed to be better. All I have to say to people who have or are thinking of taking that road, is „Why don't you just...“ - well, er, you know the rest.

Favourite episodes: Dalek, The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances, Bad Wolf
Favourite quotes: 


Time to regenerate...

SEASON 2 - 4
Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant

Trademarks: the best meme faces in the world, classic suits paired with a long overcoat
Known to be one of Doctor Who's biggest fanboys - wikipedia claims that, „at the age of three, Tennant told his parents that he wanted to become an actor because he was a fan of Doctor Who (...) He watched almost every Doctor Who episode for years“ - a dream came true for the acclaimed actor, when he replaced Christopher Eccleston at the end of season 1 in 2005. He went on to become one of the most beloved Doctors of all time and to marry the daughter of fifth Doctor Peter Moffett, who herself had played Tennant's Doctor's daughter 4x06 The Doctor's Daughter. They married three years after that episode had aired. Having a fellow whovian on the show proved to be a good idea, as also seen with present head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (we'll get to that), with Tennant performing the hell out of his character in each episode. Sustaining the ironic, self-deprecating tone that Eccleston and producer Davies had set in season 1, Tennant gave his Doctor his own touch with deliciously amusing facial expressions and confident yet slightly clumsy body language. Oh, and "gorgeous hair", like one of his companions points out - that is, except for the 1960s episode, although it was quite authentically greased-up.

With the "arrival" of a new leading actor, there were some more major changes to the Doctor's character and the atmosphere of the series in general though. I believe that the right word to describe this change is "emo". The second season of Doctor Who is far more emo(tional) than the first, and this only increases throughout all of Tennant's three seasons - actually Matt Smith almost takes it further, although it takes a while for him to get there. The tiny glimpses of the Doctor's emotional loss - watching worlds be destroyed and seeing his best friends and family die - that were shown in season 1, become more apparent as time goes by. When season 2 ends, there's no questioning this is going to be more The Dark Knight than Batman Forever. But let's stop this before I'll spoil things for future whovians. Where were we...yes, Tennant's Doctor. Tennant's Doctor is definitely more feminine than Eccleston's. He might be the most feminine Doctor of the three new ones, also because there's a quite feminine side to Tennant - the way he looks, talks, acts. There's something rather androgynous about him. Not to mention the intolerable sexiness which sometimes does steal the show from... the show. Luckily - or sadly, depending on the angle - Davies forbid Tennant to use his adorable original Scottish accent that he had intended to use in the series. Forced to speak Estuary English, the tenth Doctor thus becomes more of a national figure instead of a regional one. Whether this takes away some of his charm or adds to it, is up to the viewer - I personally would have loved to hear Tennant say his iconic “No second chances. I’m that sort of man” in that yummy Scottish accent, but this is just the way it is.

The tenth Doctor, perhaps due to his longer "existence" in the series, was the first Doctor I truly felt connected to, and therefore he may very well be my Doctor. Having said that, I absolutely don't think that Tennant's performance was in any ways "better" than Eccleston's. It's just that he stayed in the show for much longer and thus had much more time, many more possibilities to settle in with the audience. He had more room for great quotes, heroic action and a great, great love story, so that's that.
This makes it particularly hard to cut everything down to three(-ish) favourite episodes and two favourite quotes though.

Favourite episodes: The Girl in the Fireplace, Human Nature/ The Family of Blood, Silence in the Library/ Forrest of the Dead
Favourite quotes:

Time to regenerate...

Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith

Trademarks: huge chin and ears, boyish grin, looks like he just stepped out of a Dickens novel (catchword: bow tie)
The most primarily unknown actor to portray the Doctor in New Who, and the youngest to do so in the history of the series, Matt Smith replaced David Tennant in the last episode of season 4 in 2009. Leaving behind many of the elements that had been introduced since 2005, such as all previous companions (they've not been forgotten but neither have they returned), the now familiar theme song/ introduction sequence and the TARDIS (which is restored in the first Smith episode), I didn't have the most affectionate feelings towards Matt Smith to begin with. Everything had to be new, had to be different, and I didn't like that as a fact. However, the changes that had been made soon (how about "immediately") proved to be quite effective, as the emotional chaos Tennant had left behind was, well, left behind. Some of it still lingered inside the Doctor himself of course, but in general season 5 was off to a more-or-less fresh start including a lot of fun. The new intro was tighter and more exciting than the old one, although including the main elements of it, the new TARDIS was slicker yet retro in a state-of-the-art way and that's what can be said about everything else. Doctor Who became younger in some ways, and more old-fashioned in others, and I loved the general outcome of that restoration. Which brings us to the most important part of the game: the Doctor himself. Of course the Doctor looks younger and is younger when it comes to his body, but his character also has matured in some ways. He's still a blabbermouth, clumsily brilliant and a lot of mercurial fun. But he has lost more people than ever before, which is why he sure doesn't want to lose his latest companion(s).

So the new Doctor is sort of a mixture between childish curiosity and ancient wisdom. As Smith described him, „The Doctor is excited and fascinated by the tiniest of things. By everything. By every single thing. That's what's wonderful about him as a character. It's why children like him, I think. Because he doesn't dismiss anything. He's not cynical. He's open to every single facet of the universe.“ It's wonderful to see that Smith has that kind of understanding of his character, and it shines through every part of his performance. Event though I feel he refers to Doctor Who being a family series a tad too often in interviews - he really is an innocent guy in that way. Something that hasn't been mentioned by neither him nor any other member of the crew - at least as far as I know - is that the eleventh Doctor is also a bit more ruthless than the previous ones. When the relationship between tenth and his companions included a lot of hugging, and forgiving, and smiling, the eleventh takes a while before he truly opens up. Presently we can watch this phenomena on BBC One each Saturday, 18:15 GMT, where the Doctor is on a new adventure with his latest, mysterious companion, Clara. He seems to be a little obsessed with her, but at the same time it's not a rather warm relationship (yet). Previously, when the Doctor met Amy (who was his companion throughout season 5, 6 and part of 7), he had a hard time forgiving and essentially trusting her as well.

I'm very curious to see how the eleventh Doctor is going to develop and what we're going to learn about his character in the future. So far he might be the one Doctor I relate to the most, in terms of his decisions and feelings being most similar to mine (if I ever end up in the situation of being a Time Lord/ Lady). I haven't decided whether it's both him and Tennant or just Tennant being my Doctor(s), but so far Smith is also a strong contender for most-attractive-public-person I know. You'll surely be hearing more about him in the future, as the Time and Space madness continues.

Favourite episodes: The Eleventh Hour, The Lodger, The Doctor's Wife
Favourite quotes (excluding "Bow ties are cool"): 

Spending centuries on your own, even when you're traveling time and space, obviously becomes a more or less boring task. Therefore, the Doctor travels with a companion most of the time. These can be human, alien, and yes, even tin dogs they say. So far there have been four "major" companions in New Who - all female - along with three "minor" male ones and one "minor" female. And then there's the new companion but we'll get to that...

Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper

The first new Doctor Who episode being entitled "Rose", it's needless to say that Rose is one of the most important companions - one of the most important characters - in the new series. Although she only travels with the Doctor throughout season 1 and 2, her influence goes as far as to the eleventh Doctor and she's been announced to appear in the 50th Anniversary episode. Rose seems to be from a more or less "under class" area of London, and to be honest: the clothes I could stand, but the accent annoyed the hell out of me at times. It's hard to dislike her though, because her relationship with the Doctor is quite extraordinary. Surely it's a typical tragic love story in many ways, which may be the reason why the new series is loved by females mainly. Nevertheless Rose is a lovely character not only because of the Doctor, but also for her witty and ironic humour, her determinedness and her warmth. We can forgive her for being stupid at times then (when the Doctor says "Whatever you do, DON'T...", you just DON'T).
Favourite episodes: New Earth, Doomsday, Journey's End
Favourite quote (her part of the gif): 

Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman

When Captain Jack, a time agent from the future, first appears in season 1's The Empty Child, it's hard to determine his position on the friend-or-enemy scale. However, he soon becomes one of the Doctor's most faithful friends (if that's the right word) and we even catch a glimpse of the glorious future that lies ahead of him. Apart from several charming and exciting appearances in the series, Captain Jack was the first Doctor Who character to get a spin-off, the successful "Torchwood" that was first aired in 2006. I just watched season 1 and am becoming more and more addicted to and fascinated by the (in comparison) brutal series. Jack was the reason I started watching it, so I was excited to see him again - sadly he hasn't been visiting the Eleventh Doctor yet. What most people love about Jack are his excellent manners, his flirtatiousness and the fact that he just seems like the nicest person in the world. Having seen Torchwood, I learned that he's quite a ruthless person in many ways, but probably fair in the end. He's the kind of person who would (and has) sacrifice(d) one life for the sake of many.
Favourite episode(s): The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances
Favourite quote (the one at the bottom): 

Mickey Smith, played by Noel Clarke

Starting out with the small role of Rose's left-behind boyfriend in season 1, there's much more to the character of Mickey Smith, who becomes a more independent character as time goes by, and finally follows his own path in season 2. Although he's a bit un-spectacular at the beginning, especially compared to the big adventures Rose and the Doctor go through, Mickey is a very sympathetic person. He's, well, left-behind and naturally can't compare to the madman in the blue box, and he's always sort of a second (or even third) string. At times it's hard to watch how sweet and nice he remains although Rose has played with his feelings so much. So it's interesting to see his character evolve - finally - when he gets the chance to do more with his life. And I love the "ending" his character gets: from zero to hero!
Favourite episodes: School Reunion, Rise of the Cybermen/ The Age of Steel, Journey's End
Favourite quote: 

Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman

After a heartrending season 2 finale, Martha Jones had a hard time winning me over in season 3. She still remains my least favourite companion, but not only because of her luckless entrance. There are good sides to her: she has humour, she's pretty and she does have some kick-ass episodes. She is however one of the least self-reliant characters in the series, in my opinion. Not that screaming "DOOCTOOOOR!" in despair is an unusual thing for companions to do, but I have the feeling Martha is the companion who did so the most. I did feel bad for her a lot of times, though, as the Doctor clearly doesn't know about her feelings at all.
Favourite episodes: The Shakespeare Code, Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of the Daleks, The Stolen Earth/ Journey's End
Favourite quote: 

Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate

Another argument for Martha not just being "in the wrong place at the wrong time" is that it was in fact Donna who was the first new person to play a major role in Doctor Who after the season 2 finale, appearing for one episode only to begin with. Admittedly, her entry was much more spectacular than Martha's - but so was her character! In fact, she reminded me of Bridget Jones a little, what with all her impulsive actions and white lies. She's an ordinary person, and overly extraordinary at the same time - the most important in the universe in the end. I also loved how her relationship with the Doctor had nothing at all to do with anything else than friendship. It can be argued that neither did Amy's, but first of all she came after Donna, and secondly there were some erotic undertones at the beginning of her journey with the Doctor. Whereas Donna makes sure she's not attracted by the Doctor whatsoever right in her first episode. She's also very determined in many other ways and that's wonderful, in comparison to the previous companions' dependance on the Doctor. Surely, Donna depends on the Doctor too - as does the whole universe in some ways - but she has her own opinions and ideas, and she's the dominant part in many of her episodes. Aside from Rory Williams, Donna is my favourite companion - and I'm not alone in that club.
Favourite episodes: The Runaway Bride, Partners in Crime, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Turn Left
Favourite quotes:

SEASON 5 - 7
Amy Pond/ Williams, played by Karen Gillian

"The Girl Who Waited" - Amy Pond played a huge role in the Matt Smith episodes until the second half of season 7 (but no spoilers here). It was never actually much about the Doctor, but about Amy. Now I just read an interesting essay on her, saying that it wasn't about her but about Rory, as Amy doesn't have any personal dreams or characteristics, and that we know close to nothing about her. I think that's a bit unfair to say. Yes, we don't learn a lot about Amy - but it's not much less than most other characters. The biggest lack here is that we don't get to know her family much, but that's because she had no family most of the time. And yes, she's often defined by Rory - but Rory is defined by Amy too. They're both defined by each other, they're an entity so to say, and that's what makes them so special as the Doctor's companions. And I think what makes out their characters isn't hobbies (although we do learn that Amy likes art) but the way they interact with each other and other people. In that regard, Amy is a very impulsive, smart and fun-loving character. She's not as caring and sweet-natured as Rory, and she doesn't open up to many other characters, but that's just the way she is. In my opinion, Amy Pond is also the sexiest character that ever appeared in Doctor Who - aside from River Song. 
Favourite episodes: The Eleventh Hour, Vicent and the Doctor, The Girl Who Waited
Favourite quote: 
„I remember you raggedy man, and you are late for my wedding!“

River Song played by Alex Kingston

As I said: sexy as hell. Like Donna, she's one of the more mature women that play a bigger role in the series, which is wonderful (this comes from an 18-year old). The Doctor is often very bossy with his companions and Donna and River are a counter-pole to that. Most of the time she's in the series, River acts like some sort of "teacher" for the Doctor, always in possession of more knowledge than him - "Spoilers!" being her trademark excuse for not always telling him everything. She plays with him, and Matt Smith actually looking a tad younger than her enhances that atmosphere even more. I don't want to say much more about River here, because it's really all just SPOILERS when you talk about her (which is also why I didn't mention her second name). Anyway, River kicks ass and you can't help but love her for that.
Favourite episodes: Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead, The Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon, The Wedding of River Song
Favourite quote: 

SEASON 5 - 7
Rory Williams, played by Arthur Darvill

When you feel attracted by this man standing beside Matt Smith, you can be sure that either this is a great actor or he plays a great character. In Rory/ Arthur's case, both are true. Funnily, I didn't really notice Rory at all in his first episode, the first episode of season 5. It never occurred to me that he might play an important role later on and when I was told he would, I wasn't exactly over-enthusiastic about that. But the Amy-Rory-Doctor trio turned out to be so much cooler than the Amy-Doctor duo. Rory is another example of the from-zero-to-hero Doctor Who phenomena, another tin dog, yet he masters it so much better than Mickey. He's sort of helpless and clumsy, but at the same time such a strong character - doing everything for the people he loves. I also like his concurrence with the Doctor, and later on their friendship. Some times Amy treated both very badly, I mean SPOILER Rory waited 2000 years for her and when she has to wait 20 or so, she freaks out SPOILER END. In that manner, Rory reminded me a lot of Ron Weasley - rather dependent on his friends but lovable and funny. Actually these words don't describe him well enough. He's more than lovable. He's my favourite Doctor Who companion aside from Donna. He's awesome.
Favourite episodes: Vampires of Venice, The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, A Good Man Goes to War
Favourite quotes: 

Clara Oswald/ Oswin/ ?, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman

The latest companion remains mysterious, having appeared in 5 episodes until now. Apparently she "pops up" in different times after dying in the previous time, and right now the Doctor is traveling with a "now" version of her (how typical). Clara is a very motherly figure, having a passion for baking souffl├ęs and working as a nanny in many of her... lives. She has a very young face and is quite short, which makes her cute and sweet too - an interesting opposite to her motherly side. And then she's sexy and smart as well. A perfect companion in many ways. But as I said, we don't know much about her yet and I'm excited to see where the story goes.

. . .

So this was a very long yet still imperfect ramble about one of my favourite series of all time. It took me about three months to watch the whole thing, which explains my lack of movie watching lately - it's a curse and a blessing. I certainly think the series is getting better and better, especially regarding the technical aspects, but also in terms of intelligence and connection between episodes, even seasons. Nevertheless, it's a particularly emotionally disturbing series, as we connect to the characters so much, knowing we'll have to leave them behind at some point - often very abruptly. But it pays off. It's worth the whole thing, all of the tears, the sweat and the bitten nails. 
You'll be hearing more as the Doctor travels on, especially as November approaches... 

I'm ending this post with the truest thing anyone has ever said about Doctor Who:
* from another tv show, fittingly


  1. Haha awesome. I liked Eccleston, but yeah, waayyy bigger fan of Tennant and Smith, but then that's the kind of person I am.

    I was surprised at how much I ended up loving Tennant, seeing how Smith is my be all and end all. Like I had to keep reminding myself when he was regenerating that this isn't in fact the end of the world.

    Smith 4eva <3 Eleven is definitely my Doctor. His youth and his wisdom are such a wonderful mix, and I too think he's wayyyy darker than the other 2.

    God I want an episode with Jack Harness and River Song in it.

    I kind of hated Mickey. Mickey and Jackie were the most annoying characters for me.

    I love Amy. Even though Rory ended up being my favourite, she was my first companion and I adore her relationships with both him and the Doctor.

    Don't particularly like linking to my own posts in comments, but this was a list I had made on Amy and Rory-

    1. Yay, thanks!
      I know - most people love Tennant Smith more. And so do I.
      However, I'd say what you said about them in reverse - I was very surprised to end up loving Smith/ Eleven so much. Everything changed with him and I was like "No, why are they changing stuff", but then another voice in my head said "Yeah, but the changes are pretty cool".
      Jack Harkness and River Song! Perfect match! Although my TV would probably melt from their sexiness ;).
      Yeah, Jackie was a bit annoying but I did like Mickey in the end.
      It's all right, I like getting links I'm just bad at actually visiting them. But I will - as soon as I get home from sports!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you!! I knew you and Nikh would be the first (and perhaps only) ones to comment here, it's so great to have some fellow Whovian bloggers. Spread the love :)

  3. Great post! As someone who has watched the Dr my entire life (44 years) and married a Whovian, the Dr. feels almost like a family member, he's always been there. I was totally thrilled when it came back on TV and I was able to share him with my 10 year old son. The Dr seems to be a bit of a underdog here in North America but when you meet a fan theres always a friendly discussion. People are always relieved they're "not the only one". Recently I was standing in line at the Post Office when the phone of the guy standing behind me started ringing, "exterminate, exterminate". Whovians are everywhere.

    Torchwood gets better and better every single season, enjoy! Ok the last one is questionable. The USAification of it hurts like hell to watch but hope springs eternal that Davies will return to ressurrect these loved characters.

    Welcome to the world of Dr Who.

  4. haha, everyone has a bit of a snit fit when the Dr dies, every single time it seems. I vivdly remember my husband saying he would "never watch the new guy" after Christopher's Dr regenerated into Tenant. The bitterness (and yes I think bitterness is the right word) never lasts long ;) I have loved every single one of them, even Paul McGann.

    1. Hi CoffeeQueen, thank you for commenting and welcome around!
      That sounds so cool! As I said I haven't seen Classic Who yet but perhaps I'll watch a few, like the most poppular episodes, but I don't know yet. However I admire people who have grown up with Doctor Who, it's very interesting. Also it must be great to be married to a Whovian ;)
      Yeah I guess there are a lot of Whovians around, three or four of my friends are Whovians... but mainly I have contact to the fanbase online.

      I'm very excited for season 3 of Torchwood, but yes, I've heard mixed opinions on season 4.

      I didn't want to watch the Matt Smith episodes after Tennant - good thing I did.


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