Popular Culture (TeeVee). Season Finale for Dr. Who 20100730

(9AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Many of you who read my posts know that I am a very big fan of the British TeeVee series, Dr. Who.  This is not a recent infatuation.  I have followed The Doctor since 1978, when I first discovered the series.  It was 15 years old by then.

I have written a number of posts about this series, and you can find them by examining my profile on the Kos site (I have not written on Docudharma.com or Thestarshollowgazette.com as long).  As you read those, you will find that I have a very special place in my heart for that series.

Tonight we shall examine the season finale for the current iteration.  It was good, if a bit rushed in the last episode.

Matt Smith is good as the title character.  Even from the first episode I liked him very much.  He somehow has brought the Tom Baker persona into the 21st century.  Before we continue, let us pay our respects to the previous actors who have portrayed him.

I found a really nice clip of all of the characters who have played The Doctor since 1963 (except for Matt Smith) and the opening credit theme music.  Note how it has changed over they years from a very simple electronic music to complex orchestral productions.

This next one has the Matt Smith theme, too.  I put both of them in because I liked some of the extended movements in the first one better.

William Hartnell (1908 - 1975), 55 years old when he took the role, was The Doctor from 1963 to 1966.  In the very first episode, An Unearthly Child, the chameleon circuit on the TARDIS failed, and it took its last shape, that of a British police call box.  NOTE:  there are many TARDISs, the one belonging to The Doctor being a stolen, obsolete Type 40-A.  The Master had a stolen, obsolete Type 40-B, and the dematerialization circuits are not compatible.  Ill health and a bad temper caused him to leave the show.

When he left as The Doctor, the producers thought up the regeneration thing.  Thus came Patrick Troughtonn (1920 - 1987), at 46 years when he started, an excellent Doctor.  Many of the early episodes have been lost, but recently found to some extent.  There are lots of gaps in the early days.  This Doctor is important in that he became friends with the Brigadier during his run.  

In 1970, Jon Pertwee (1919 - 1996) became The Doctor at age 51.  I always liked him very much, but he was still, like the previous two, sort of an older man.  He was a snappy dresser, though, and I loved his tuxedos as he fought for the safety of the universe.  Note that Time Lords are not restricted to just one galaxy.  The Master, his arch rival, at that time was played by Roger Delgado, and he was excellent in the part.  Unfortunately, Mr. Delgado was killed in an automobile accident and Pertwee just lost interest in the show.  He retired in 1971 and paved the way for, in my opinion, the very best Doctor of all, Tom Baker.

This was also the first time that the regeneration of a Time Lord was treated in depth.  Sarah Jane was with him as he changed (if you look closely, you can see that Elisibeth Sladen’s hair was longer after the regeneration than before, because the scenes were shot months apart).  By the way, the Sarah Jane companion character is the only one to have a spinoff series from BBC, although it did not last.

Tom Baker (1934 - present) was just great.  Starting the role in 1974 at the age of 40, he played the part longer than anyone has, until 1981.  He was all tooth and curls, and wore the scarf and fedora.  The former Mrs. Translator knitted for me, from pure wool, two knockoff scarves from the series.  I still wear them in cold weather.  Here is a picture of me wearing the multicolored one.

The Doctor with Scarf

It was also during this era that the control room of the TARDIS became rather sterile and scientific.  No clutter there, just the control panel and the indication of dematerilization and rematerilization.  Actually, I sort of like the simpler look of the control room for the TARDIS.  I find the new one to be sort of cluttered, but, on the other hand, my “control room” is extremely cluttered as well.  I guess that is a sign of a very cluttered mind, and The Doctor must have one, like I have.

The companions were excellent during Tom Baker’s reign.  Sarah Jane Smith, Adric, Leela (WHAT a HONEY!), K9, and the two Romanadvoratrelundars, not to mention the rest.

After Tom Baker, Peter Davidson (1951 - present) became the new Doctor in 1981 at the age of 29 and played the role for .  He never seemed to me to be comfortable with the part, but he was decent in it pretty much.  His companions were not very memorable, unlike Tom Baker’s.

Davison did not renewe after 1984 for typecasting reasons, and BBC replaced him with the disaster know as Colin Baker (1943 - present).  He was, hands down, the very worst actor to play The Doctor, and he doomed the program for decades.  He was 41 when he started, and there was a year and a half taping hiatus, so he really only played The Doctor for a year and a half.  BBC finally fired him not only because he was a horrible Doctor, but also because he was impossible with whom to work.

That led the way for Sylvester McCoy (1943 - present) to take the role at age 44 in 1987, the first Scot to play The Doctor.  He was OK, I guess, but by then the money was gone from the series and it sort of languished.  One thing introduced in his term was another Time Lord, The Rani, who had evil intent.  His series was sort of forgettable, but it was not his fault.  In 1989 taping was halted, seemingly forever due to lack of money and interest.  I still think that Colin Baker had a lot to do with that.

Then the series went away.

In 1996, they tried to revive it, and used McCoy for continuity.  Paul McGann (1959 - present) played The Doctor, and battled The Master for one last (?) time.  It was a one time made for TeeVee movie, but reignited interest.  By the way, McGann was 37 when he took the role.

Then the series became energized once again.  BBC decided to try again, and called on Christopher Eggleston (1964 - present) to play The Doctor.  He was a good choice at age 31 in 2005 when the series started back, because he had the rough looks of Tom Baker and also his enthusiasm.  The producers also rightly found a good companion, Rose, to stand by him.  The first episode revived one of The Doctor’s ancient enemies, the Nestines, and was quite good.  Several of the episodes were sort of silly, but all in all it was OK.  He left after only one season for reasons that are still debated.

After Eccelston decided to quit, David Tennent (1971 - present) took the job in 2005 at age 34.  He was really a pretty good Doctor, but sort of wimpy.  He told BBC that he always wanted to play The Doctor since he was little, and thus lived his dream.  Would that I could play The Doctor, but they do not want a old, Arkansas raised, American for the part.  But I could do it!

Finally, Tennent decided to quit in 2008 (although his episodes aired until 2010) and Matt Smith (1982 - present) became what is the current Doctor.  At age 27, he is the youngest actor to play the part.  He is excellent!  The producers did well in finding him.  He has enthusiasm for the role, and plays it well.  You have to remember that he is only just recently regenerated, so is irrational from time to time.

I must add that there were a couple of motion pictures in the 1960s with Peter Cushing playing a human called “Dr. Who” that was loosely based on the series, but not canonical at all.  Then one Rowan Atkinson also played The Doctor in an affectionate sendup of the series, here:

The embeddig feature was disabled, so all that I can do is give you the link.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do-wD…

Most folks talking about The Doctor focus only on the actor playing him.  This is wrong.  The ancillary characters are at least as important, if not more so.  The producers got this one just about right.  Amelia Pond (and her husband, now) is the perfect companion.  Young, attractive, extremely bright, fearless, and impulsive, she is the perfect foil for The Doctor, just at Leela and Sarah Jane were years ago.

I know that this is a long build up to the critique of the finale, but there is something important to the dogma of the story here.  Time Lords only have 12 regenerations, and Matt Smith is the eleventh Doctor.  Thus, only two are left, if one considers that birth does not count.  Added to than, in the Colin Baker series, there was The Doctor as the Valyard in his last regeneration.  I do not know how the producers will deal with that.  Thus, The Doctor is in danger of becoming extinct due to lack of regenerative ability.

I would like to see The Doctor to regenerate into a female in one of the two cycles left.  That would be an interesting twist to the series.  Why does a doctor have to be male?  Stay with me for a minute.  What female actor could play The Doctor?  Nix on Jolie or Densch, just not right. Nor Anniston or other pretty girls.  We need a female Doctor who is attractive, but not too sexually feminine.  Many of the previous male Doctors were not what folks would think of as “hunks”.

So who could play a female Doctor?  By the way, in the Tennent series, there was a child borne with some Time Lord characteristics.  Perhaps she will surface next season.  I can not think of any actresses who could play The Doctor.  Any suggestions would be welcome.  It does turn out that Katherine Zeta-Jones was considered for the Matt Smith role.

Well, I did not do what I intended with this post.  I meant to critique the season finale, and instead wrote a summary of the behind the scenes things associated with Doctor Who.  Let us get down to brass tacks now.

The finale was good.  From the observation of the wall of rock, (The Hello, Sweetie!) I knew that it would be good.  If you look very closely, The Doctor’s Greek name (Sigma Theta, or Theta Sigma, I forget the order) are the first two Greek characters after the English ones.  The producers and writers went very deep into obscure Who trivia, because that name was used in only one Tom episode in the 1970s.

The finale knitted together all of the episodes from when Matt Smith took over the role.  The crack in the universe in Amelia’s room was finally knitted together, and why she was all alone in the house was also explained.  This also explained why The Doctor was attracted to her in the first place:  she had a unique role to play in healing the universe.  It also happened to be the very day after The Doctor reappeared to Amy, now all grown up in our human timeline.  This is important because that was her wedding day.

The plot was quite twisted.  The Doctor had been drawn to first century England (under Roman occupation) because of a painting that Van Gogh had made of the TARDIS being destroyed (in the story, Van Gogh has visions), relayed to The Doctor by Winston Churchill through the mysterious River Song, who apparently will some day wed The Doctor.  They encounter the mysterious Pandorica, the prison of the most dangerous living being in the universe.  As it finally opens to release whoever is inside, all of the Doctor’s enemies materialize, and he realizes that it is to imprison him, not to release someone else.

Through some use of River’s time gauntlet, he extricates himself and puts the mortally wounded Amy in his place.  Since the Pandorica is also a time dam, she remained alive until the present day, well, a few years before the present day, on earth.  The rest of the universe had been destroyed by the rip in reality.  Only the exploding TARDIS preserved the earth and moon (a fellow Dr. Who fan reminded me today to ask why the moon is always its mirror image in Dr. Who), whilst the rest of the universe was destroyed.

The Doctor used the Pandorica’s restorative powers, along with the remnants of the Eye of Harmony (the power supply for the TARDIS), to restore the universe, at the cost of his being erased from history.  However, before he left Amelia back at her home as a child, he implanted a suggestion in her mind to remember him.

At her wedding reception, she began to remember (by the way, her parents had been restored when The Doctor repaired the universe).  Soon enough, everyone was remembering him, and the TARDIS materialized in the reception hall, and out popped The Doctor for the reception.  She basically willed him to be restored.

After the reception, he encountered River Song again, who reclaimed her time gauntlet and expressed some cryptic thoughts, like everything will be changing.  After the reception, as The Doctor was getting ready to leave, Amy and her new husband came around to tell him good-bye, or so he thought.  As it turned out, they said good-bye to everyone else and joined him in the TARDIS for who knows what adventures to come next season.

Like all good season finales, it left several questions open.  One is, now that the universe is restored, will The Doctor’s home planet, Gallifrey, be restored?  One thing that really bothers me about the new reboot of Dr. Who is that he is the last Time Lord.  We need more, and Gallifrey, back for some interesting stories.  Second, how will Amy and her husband do as a married couple traveling with The Doctor.  He has never had a married couple as companions in the history of the series, all the way back to 1963.  Third, how will his relationship with River develop?  Forth, what is the fascination of the production team with bodies of water?  River Song, Amy Pond?

Please share your thoughts about the season finale, or any other aspect of Dr. Who.  I am particularly interested in your thoughts on who your favorite companion(s), and your favorite nemesis(es) are.  I am torn between Leela, Sarah Jane, or the first Romanadvoratrelundar as my favorite companion, and between the Nestines and the Zygons as favorite nemesis.

Look for me Sunday at 9:00 PM for another installment of my science blog, Pique the Geek.

Warmest regards,

Doc

Crossposted at Thestarshollowgazette.com and at Dailykos.com

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  1. an iconic TeeVee series?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

  2. Warmest regards,

    Doc

  3. should the need arise in the future.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘Two Doctors’ episode post-reboot with Tom Baker playing the 4th Doctor at his current (Tom Baker) age?  Or, have Baker play an alternate-universe Evil Doctor who manages to save the current universe and/or Doctor?

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