Sunday, February 12, 2012

Discuss: Dr. Who


Steve Does Comics said...

Hooray! Dr Who!

The earliest memory I have that I can put a date to is watching Patrick Troughton's first adventure as the Doctor, way back when I was two and a half.

When I was growing up, in the 60s and 70s, it seemed like everyone you met watched it and it was embedded in the national consciousness like no other show ever seemed to be. I've no doubt at all that the only reason there's still a defunct police call box standing outside my local town hall is thanks to the show.

It's had its ups and downs and I've not always liked the direction the show's taken in the last couple of seasons but it's still Dr Who and I'll never be able to resist watching it.

Rip Jagger said...

I didn't see a Dr.Who show until I caught a few of the Tom Baker episodes (one with a Sontaran warrior) which was being syndicated. Later I moved close to Cincinnati and the local PBS station ran full-length stories each weekend. I made a habit of checking them out and got fairly up to date on the lore.

I think after it's all said, I prefer Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, with Baker coming in a close second. Other Doctors have their charms, but they always seem to be doing riffs on these two to my mind. Troughton and Hartnell excepted of course.

I find the new episodes interesting, but the utter hipness which has overcome the most recent series has me keeping it at a distance despite its clear charms. The series has almost become so self-aware that it hurts the forward motion of the stories.

Rip Off

J.A. Morris said...

This may be a sacrilege to some, but my introduction to the Doctor was in Marvel Premiere, not the TV show.

Shortly thereafter, I saw a few episodes of the Baker years on PBS, but I never lived in a market that carried the show on a regular basis. Plus, in the post-Star Wars world, it was hard for me to get too excited about the clunky sets and rubber monsters. Now I enjoy watching the 60s-70s episodes.

So I didn't become a full-fledged fan until the Eccleston series. I'd say he's my favorite Doctor, followed by Baker and Tennant. But I just got done watching the early episodes that featured the first appearance of the Daleks, so in a few months I may have a new "favorite Doctor".

david_b said...

Count me among the enlighed souls who caught Mr. Baker in '78 on a local PBS station, one dreary Saturday afternoon.

Post-Star Wars, I was slowing getting quite fed up with all the HUGE budget scifi shows rolling out, yet the integral flavor of intelligence and originality was being sapped by Hollywood needing more SW clones. I grew to love Galactica once they started adding more secondary characters, but where was cool, imaginative scifi..?

Enter the 4th Doctor. Savoring the interesting story-telling, the laughible low-budget effects. Tom Baker had such a screen presence, he was hard to ignore.

As we all know, DW created quite a stir in the scifi community here in answer to all the Buck Rogers type shows made here.

Flying in a small box that could go anywhere in space and time, with coordinate controls that well, didn't really work all that consistently..? A big booster was Harlan Ellison, whose intro in all those DW paperbacks calling all SW and Trek fans nitwits, DW was 'his hero'.

I kept most of my love for DW with Tom Baker and Davison years. It took my nephew to introduce me to David Tennant, and I fell in love all over again with 'School Reunion', a fun romp with Elizabeth Sladen returning as the beloved 4th Doctor companion Sarah Jane along with K9. I cried at the ending the first several times I watched it.

I haven't followed it much since Tennant left, but that's alright. Loved Tennant's short episode 'Timecrash' with Peter Davison, it summed up my love for both Doctors.., and finally gave Peter Davison his due. Look it up on Youtube.

"All my love to long ago.."


Inkstained Wretch said...

I first got into Doctor Who by reading one of the novelizations, which was in my school library. I then discovered that the original episodes were being broadcast late on the local public broadcasting station. I was soon staying up late every Saturday night to watch them.

What hooked me was that it was so different from Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or anything else I that I was used to. In many ways it was worse: The special effects and cheap sets were often laughable. Some of storylines suffered from too much padding. But it had a scruffy charm all its own. It was witty, irreverent, off-beat and so very British.

How could I not love a series where the universe-saving hero was so eccentric and unassuming? Where he usually won not with his fists or a raygun but by using his wits?

I was introduced to the series with the Tom Baker Doctor and he remains definitive for me. I thought the Jon Pertwee and Patrick Throughton Doctors were fine too, but none of the ones that followed Baker did it for me. Peter Davison was ok, but a little too bland. Colin Baker was just awful: Smug and annoying. Sylvester McCoy was meh.

I haven't watched it since then. What is the consensus of the Bronze Age Babies commenters? Am I missing out?

Lemnoc said...

Agreed with the comment that current incarnations are a bit too self-aware. You have the Doctor proclaiming that, as he never figures anything out until the last second, he shan't give the matter a thought until the last second remains. A bit too cute.

I also stumbled on to the Pertwee era in reruns on late night TV in the 80s. A good entry point to ease in, as the bulk of his stories unfolded in a modern day setting with a regular supporting cast. Pertwee brought a gravitas to the character, playing the Doctor as the straight man as few have.

Probably my least favorite Doctor was Colin Baker, but primarily for the clownish production decisions made in that period.

All this said, I think the best episode--hands down--was Tennant's "Midnight," a taut hour built around a very intriguing premise: What if, for once, the Doctor was *not* assumed to be in charge or the smartest man in the room? From the standpoint of writing, the Tennant run was a high point.

Weird WWII said...

Never liked it and I was forced to watch a bunch of them back in college. Agonizing and just plain bad.

I'll pass on the Doctor and his adventures,

ChrisPV said...

I first came into the show during the Tennant years. I was staying up late one night in college for no real reason (as a collegian is wont to do) and happened to catch the tail end of The Runaway Bride followed up immediately by Smith and Jones on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was fun and all, but nothing huge. Thought it was a good show, but wasn't planning on making time for it or anything. Then, a few weeks later I happened to be flipping channels just when The Family of Blood two parter started. I was hooked most thoroughly.

Since then, I've been grabbing up a bunch of the old stuff to go with all the new stuff, and I love the vast majority of it wholeheartedly. Tennant will always be my favorite for being my first, and then it's Pertwee. There's something to be said for beating up bad guys with alien kung fu whilst wearing valour jackets and fluffy shirts. Awesome.

I have a healthy appreciation for all of the Doctors, but those two are my favorites, although Matt Smith is gaining. He reminds me of Troughton, and that's always a good thing. I don't really have anything bad to say about any of the leads over the years, because I think all of the "lesser" Doctors are really good Doctors trapped in horrible scripts. Tom Baker is brilliant, but not even he could make The Twin Dilemma tolerable.

In the end, I think Craig Ferguson summed up the appeal of the show best. "It's all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism." Best summation ever.

ChrisPV said...

Also: Lemnoc? Is that a Lost in Space reference? 'Cause if so, you may be my new best friend.

david_b said...

I will contend that the BEST Tom Baker years were the early gothic horror adventures by producer Hinchcliffe. Once Tom got a bit full of himself, it sank into a bit too much humor and became the 'Tom Baker' show during the Key to Time storyline..

The Nathan-Turner approach was conceived as a good idea, returning to a more serious sci-fi approach, but as with most series when turning to a lighter tone..: Once you go there, coming back to more dramatic, sober shows become unpopular (as with Man from UNCLE's last season..).

As a result, despite dropping both Romana and K9 (having two timelords and a robot dog in the TARDIS didn't allow for much danger and suspense), I didn't like Nathan-Turner's approach as it turned out, and it significantly weakened Davison's tenure as well.

MattComix said...

I was introduced to Dr.Who by a friend of mine showing me some Tom Baker episodes. Not more than maybe 3 weeks later the new series started up.

Tom Baker remains a favorite, I also like John Pertwee. I like all the modern Doctors in terms of their characters, but I haven't liked all their seasons.

William Preston said...

My first exposure was when I was in elementary school, early '70s. My parents had guests, so I'd gone upstairs to the attic room (mine for a brief while until my grandparents pointed out the absence of any escape route) where we had this giant black and white seated-on-the-floor TV and another bed. I flipped on the TV and watched a Pertwee episode in which everyone at the army station was turned into a werewolf. I think he was on a slow scooter, driving across a ridge, while pursued by a loping humanoid. I was terrified and captivated at once. Later a jerk-friend revealed how big a fan he was; he had Dr. Who novels (and, later, all the Python albums). I only saw it intermittently on PBS, mostly the Baker stuff, but also much of the Davison. Little of Baker (loved the sidekick). Then PBS stopped showing it. I rewatched Baker eps with my oldest daughter, who loved them.

On DVD, I watched Eccleston with my youngest (he was terrific) and some Tennant. It does get tiresome rather quickly.

Anthony said...

My introduction to Dr. Who was when I lived in New York. If I remember correctly it was back in the 70s and some TV station was running some of the Tom Baker shows on Saturday morning. I found the show interesting but only watched a few episodes.

I did pick up an issue of Marvel Premiere featuring the Doctor. I think those were reprints from some of Marvel's U.K. comics.

I was still intrigued by the concept of a Timelord traveling around time and space in a TARDIS.
I knew a good part of the backstory of the show; the different Doctors and companions, K-9, Daleks, Cybermen, the Master etc. When the new series started I decided to give it a shot. I loved it. The writing and acting was great. It quickly became my favorite show. When I found out that Eccleston was leaving after one season I was disappointed. Until I saw David Tennant. Total opposite of Eccleston and still great. That's one of the wonderful things about the character and his regeneration. Each actor gets to play a different facet of the Doctor. Different but still the Doctor. When it was announced that Tennant was leaving I was again disappointed. Until I watched the new season with Matt Smith and Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill and I fell in love with the show all over again. I stand by what I said about each actor getting to play the Doctor differently but you still have to pick the right actor and so far they have.

Companions are an important part of the show too. I wouldn't want to leave out a great supporting cast that have also made the show so enjoyable. Despite all the changes and perhaps because of them including different producer and writers the show remains consistently fresh and entertaining.

I can't wait for this :

Dougie said...

Like Steve of Steve Does Comics, my earliest memories of Doctor Who begin with Troughton- in the 1967 Dr. Who Annual. Also like Steve, I'm not overly enamoured of the current version (although Matt Smith's portrayal is charming).
I am still enjoying some of the Big Finish audios but I think the most fervent period of my fandom was in my thirties, with the Virgin New Adventures and the Eighth Doctor BBC books.
However, I'm very happy that it's so popular again.My love of the show and its characters is so deeply engrained that I shivered on seeing the police box again in Glasgow's Buchanan Street yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to send big love to all the Americans here for the kind & thoughtful words. As Steve alludes, Dr Who is more an institution than a TV show in the UK. If, at any point in the last 40 years, you described someone as having the charm of Dalek, no-one, literally NO ONE would ask what a Dalek was. For us Brits, ‘who is your Doctor?’ is a question that kind of assumes that the Doctor you started with is the one that you regard as THE Doctor. Strangely, it’s not the same with James can quite happily prefer a later or earlier Bond to whoever was the incumbent when you first watched, but somehow your first Doctor is THE Doctor. It probably compares more to Bonanza or Gunsmoke than to any US sci-fi series, purely for its longevity and its place in the national consciousness.

Thus, I always wondered how Dr. Who....with its cardboard sets and papier mache villains... played in the States, where one special effect from Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica probably cost more than an entire series of Dr. Who. But, of course, I’m playing to stereotypes there, and of course, you guys judge it on character, plot, writing & style more than effects. So good on you ! And I have to confess, it does spoil it for me when, for example, the Doctor is supposed to be imprisoned, yet it’s pretty clear he could just kick the cell to pieces in two seconds....but it’s no worse than William Shatner crushing an invincible alien beneath a huge rock that is clearly polystyrene.

David_B I agree about the Gothic ones. Was I just young, or was the Brain of Morbius a truly nasty one?

One thing I do love about the new ones is that as kids, when people (esp. BBC producers & Michael Grade) said that Dr Who was rubbish, we always said ‘that’s because you never spend any bloody money on it. With a decent budget, it would be excellent’. And we were right.

Now if we could just get Ace of Wands and Sapphire & Steel recommissioned....


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