DOCTOR WHO: A SPACE (AND TIME) ODYSSEY – PART ONE
I loved Doctor Who as a child. I am 44 years of age and STILL that child.
For a kid growing up on a Battersea council estate in the 1970s, Doctor Who was an eccentric, colourful, funny, tempestuous and brave hero who fought men, women, aliens, monsters and a plethora of villains and bullies across time and space. The Doctor is the original Guardian of the Galaxy who every Saturday (and later midweek) would travel into my home via the TARDIS and cut a blaze across the living room all to the wonderfully eerie and memorable theme tune. Moreover, he’s a sci-fi James Bond but without the testosterone, misogyny and faint whiff of STDs.
Of course he has his companions and gadgets but Doctor Who is more complex than 007 due to the plethora of fascinating concepts pertaining to temporal and spatial ideas which can brilliantly propel us to any moment in time and place from past to present to future.
Allied to this the mystery and suspense created by utopian and dystopian locations and societies; use of historical figures; incredible and fantastical aliens; and finally allegorical narratives which comment on the politics, socio-economics and scientific aspects of humanity all make Doctor Who one of the greatest dramas in televisual history.
I read someone once write that Doctor Who is a kids show adults can watch. I think it’s the other way round. Doctor Who is a scientist, an action man, an enigma, a righter-of-wrongs, moral, amoral, simple, complex, protector of children and the underdog; sometimes even a villain; but above all else an Earthly treasure and long may he continue.
My Doctor Who childhood timeline contains vague recollections of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton repeats; misty then firmer visions of John Pertwee; solid memories of my favourite – the bold, bellowing, mischievous – Tom Baker; and the young, dashing Peter Davison. I continued watching as the show as it slid down the BBC management’s pecking order.
Indeed, controller Michael Grade hated it while Colin Baker was in tenure. Thus, the nonsensical visual mess, over-synthed-80s-soundtrack and miscast Sylvester McCoy would become final nails in Doctor Who’s creative coffin. They were dark days indeed for the Timelord who went into permanent stasis.
The show was consigned to a televisual black-hole never to be seen again. So it seemed until It briefly sparked as a BBC TV movie starring the handsome and quirky Paul McGann. Yet that star burst as quickly as it arrived. Flash-forward to 2005 and Doctor Who was relaunched with Russell Davies as the showrunner and serious actor Christopher Eccleston adorned in a cool black leather jacket commandeering the TARDIS. We were ready, once again, to go boldly go where no Gallifreyan had gone before. Sorry, wrong show.
With one foot in the past I watched the Eccelston season and really enjoyed the reboot. But somewhere along the line I lost touch around 2nd season David Tennant. Thus, when one of my favourite actors, Peter Capaldi, was announced as the 12th Doctor I decided to get back on board the TARDIS and in 2014 did a massive catch-up on the show. And you know what? I loved it.
So, in appreciation of Doctor Who, circa 2005 onwards, this piece looks back in admiration at 10 years of the “new” Doctor. I’ll list my favouritest TWO (not necessarily the best) episodes of EACH SEASON; and with so many good episodes I am probably wrong! Remember it’s just the internet and my opinion so let’s do this: GERONIMO!!!
To be continued: