Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who's the Best...Dr. Who??

Karen: I know absolutely nothing about the topic, but I suspect there must be some Dr. Who fans out there among BAB-dom, especially in our British brethren. So state your case for your favorite Doctor!


david_b said...

Wow and wow. This is quite a surprise.., Doug.

I mentioned an idea about this back when Liz Sladen passed on. She as Sarah Jane was the consummate Doctor Who companion... The 'Gold Standard' for all Whovians. I will admit I cried the first few times I watched the ending of 'School Reunion' with David Tennant. Just a glorious tear-jerker.

Best of the Who's..? I'd agree with most UK polls and say Tennant and Tom Baker. I'm a big Peter Davison fan as well, just wishing his stories were better, "Earthshock" is probably the best of 'em.

Tom was the pinnacle of Who's followed close by Pertwee. Just actors who broke the mold, really added personality and eccentric charm to the roles, and kept an ear to what the kids wanted to see.

When the late-70s post-StarWars movies were getting more and more expensive spending millions on effects, and really not much substance, I found Tom Baker's early Who episodes as really clever gothic/sci-fi stories, done at times 'embarrassingly cheaply' yet there laid it's quintessential charm. Under producer Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, the series became darker and more adult than previously, with a gothic atmosphere influenced by the horror films produced by Hammer Films.

Since then, the BBC invested more budget into the series in the '80s and '90s (and now), but to me the charm was always making due with less, yet still producing chilling stories.

I wasn't really an Eccleston fan when the series came back, the leather coat and mean expressions were a bit much for me at first, but David Tennant really, REALLY shined with his sparkling personality and quick line delivery... A great short for everyone to recall is 'Timecrash', where two of my fav Doctors meet up in the timestream for a funny 7-min short...:

I'm sure folks here will add their Tom Baker/Pertwee memories, but most non-fans, I'd recommend David Tennant's 'Runaway Bride'.., it's a hoot.

Doug said...

David, I know and probably care less about Dr. Who than does Karen (the poster of today's topic). I stumbled across it once when I was an early teen -- had I known about the influence of mushrooms then, I'd have probably assumed one would have to be under the influence of such fungi to "get" Dr. Who. My first and only impression...

But just to show you that we are sensitive to the Dr. Who needs of our consumers, we did run a Discuss on the good Doctors about 18 months ago:

We care here at the BAB.


HannibalCat said...

Tom Baker is my Doctor; I have more of his adventures on DVD than any other Doc. He's definitely simultaneously the most alien and English of all the Doctors. It helps that Tom Baker is certifiably bonkers.

david_b said...

Oh, I remember.., I just didn't mention it. That's why I was surprised at another column.

My apologies for the mistaken kudo, Karen.., busy day today. I just wanted to post a meager comment before the work day started.. :)

Doug said...

HannibalCat --

Loving that avatar! And at the same time, I'm feeling an allergy attack coming on!!



Anonymous said...

Crikey! I never expected this! My earliest memories go back to about 1970 (aged 4) and watching Star Trek, Scooby Doo and Doctor Who. I watched it all through the '70s with Pertwee then Tom Baker but lost interest in the '80s. David is right to say it could look embarassingly cheap but there was always a real air of menace about it.In my opinion the original run went on far too long and it should have been cancelled in 1979 rather than 1989.David, I don't know if this is of any interest to you but last Saturday ( Sep 14 ) there was a programme called "Celluloid Beatles" on BBC Radio 4 at 10.30 am. If you have the BBC iplayer app you could listen to it, but only till Saturday when it disappears.

Humanbelly said...

OMG,OMG,OMG-- what a timely post! Doctor Who is currently a major bonding element for HBGirl & myself! HBWife was out of town a couple of weeks ago (@ a conference in Phoenix, Karen-- should have had her say "hi". . .), and the daught & I took the opportunity that Saturday to watch the entirety of the current Series 5 w/ Matt Smith. The show is hugely popular w/ a LOT of her crowd- girls in particular- and we started watching it w/ Eccleston's series one. Therefore, she's claimed Chris as "her" doctor (as tradition demands). She's not terribly interested in the previous Doctor's, but we did watch the Paul McGann movie, and she staunchly defends him as being her third favorite, behind Eccleston & Tennant. And I'm actually not too far behind her in that assesment.

Myself, I'm going to also go w/ David Tennant as a solid #1-- but it's in a sea of Doctors where I really do like all of them. There's not a one that I flat-out didn't like-- even ol' reviled Colin Baker (companion Peri, however, may be another matter entirely. . .). But the vast, layered, deeply conflicted and passionate inner life that Tennant brings to the role is a stunning piece of broadcast art.

Then, sure, give me Tom Baker ("my" doctor) as number two-- but he's worn on me a bit over the years-- his later tendencies toward loopy self-indulgence do tend to put me off.

I think Eccleston, Pertwee, and Matt Smith are all tied for #3 for me. I think Eccleston really was great in a role that many thought he couldn't pull off (including his own agent), and probably the only reason he doesn't sit well with current fans is because of his (artsy/ego-driven) staunch insistance on disassociating himself with the role, the show, the fans, and anything with the words "Doctor" or "Who" in them (practically). But honestly, I thought he was great, wonderfully atypical, and exactly the right breath of fresh air needed to relaunch the franchise.

I also can't believe how regularly this series has made me cry (which does aggravate poor HBGirl no end). I'm a ridiculous soft-touch, no question-- but still- when they manage to successfully make the death of the last surviving Dalek (late in Series one) an emotional, tear-jerking moment? Yeesh-- even my girl was unable to speak for a couple of minutes. . .


Karen said...

You know I searched our tags for Dr. Who because I was certain we'd run something before and I came up with nada, so I ran this post. But lo and behold we did do a post on this subject before. Argh. I am beginning to feel like there's very little left to cover, at least that I can think of.

Doug said...

Minutiae, Karen.

Tomorrow's post will discuss the merits of those little rubber superheros with the parachutes attached to them.

Just kidding -- I don't think we're there yet!


david_b said...

HB..? Tear-jerking..? My worst moments were:

1) Tennant's Doctor leaving Rose,

2) 'School Reunion', brilliant, funny and sad, with the 'quasi-original' K9 dying at the end (Liz Sladen stole the show easily..)..,

3) Sarah leaving Tom Baker, and

4) Ok, ok, no tears, but Adric dying in "Earthshock" was a shocker.. I actually am among the minority of those who liked him, as uneven as his character was written for...

Peri..? Always controversial, but count me in for having a crush.. Not in her Colin Baker episodes, just the Davison tenure.. I've barely watched perhaps two Colin episodes.

Humanbelly said...


My deceptively hilarious wife has a great take on Peri:

"Why, Peri got hired because she has. . . " (and here my wife throws her shoulders back as far as she's able-), ". . . ACTING ability-!"



Anonymous said...

I have never seen even a minute of an episode of Dr. Who. .. one day I will have to correct that.

david_b said...

LOL.... I love it.

In all actuality, she didn't really show anymore than Leela perhaps.., but Peter Davison DID bestow them both 'honorable mention' in his commentary for his final scenes in 'Caves of Adrozani'.

And for all you Who nay-sayers.., who can NOT love those creepy-voiced Daleks..???


david_b said...

Dead Ringers anyone..? HB, I always love this one..

Hilarious and so spot-on..

Humanbelly said...

Ooh, talking of Peri gives me the opportunity to ask a question of our Britain-based friends, here. What's the deal w/ the BBC and not ever hiring American actors to play American roles?? (At least in the old days?) Poor Nicola Bryant struggled mightily (and painfully obviously) with it forever, but she certainly wasn't alone. At least half the time when American character appears, my girl & I laugh our heads off after the first sentence, shouting "where are you from?? WHERE are you FROM???"

I got to the point where I assumed it was some sort of regulation-- that a role couldn't be filled by a foreign visitor if a suitable native Brit were available.

Or is it just retribution for Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS?

HB yet again-

david_b said...

HB, I'd believe it's more for the production company dealings than any gov't regulation, I would suspect.

My reasoning's based on Space:1999, which in midst it's first season, canvassed financing from both ITC Entertainment and RAI (Italy's Public Broadcasting Company..); in exchange, the Andersons agreed to feature prominant Italian guest leads in their later Season 1 episodes..

As with most business decisions, money talks.

Anonymous said...

HB, I've wondered why so many U.S. shows have British actors playing Americans? Like Hugh Laurie or Dominic West in "The Wire". In earlier days perhaps there just weren't many American actors in Britain so British actors played Americans. There's an early Dr. Who called " The Gunfighters" where the fake U.S. accents are truly dire apparently ( I've never seen it ).By the way , a strange but true fact about Dr. Who : the very first episode was broadcast on November 23rd 1963, the day after the JFK assassination. That first episode had to be delayed for a half-hour or so due to extended news coverage of the assassination's consequences.

Pat Henry said...

Gotta agree with david_b, that it's Tennant followed by Baker. Budget and writing help, and I don't think the stroytelling was ever more scintillating and fresh than during the Tennant run.

"Blink." "Midnight." "Silence in the Library." These are just monster classics. "Human Nature," probably the most emotionally resonant Dr. Who ever.

So Tennant had a good run.

Usually the Doctor you start with is the standard for others. For me, that was Pertwee.

J.A. Morris said...

I didn't really get into the early incarnation of "The Doctor" because it was never aired for more than a few episodes in my area. I saw a few random Tom Baker episodes as a kid,I enjoyed them, but then I wouldn't see one for 6 months when they reappeared on the local PBS station.

I'd say Eccleston is "my Doctor" since he was the first. He's also much more believable than Tennant when he goes into "angry Doctor" mode. When Eccleston screams about how he's going to kill every Dalek, you know he means it.

So my favorites would be Eccleston, Tennant,Baker.

Doc Savage said...

Never seen him in action but I find Tom Baker to be visually the most appealing and distinctive. Saw a couple of latter-day Whos with these young hipster doctors but I just don't get the appeal of them or the show.

MattComix said...

I'm more of a casual viewer of Doctor Who but I would say that in terms of "best" that honor would have to go to Tom Baker.

Out of the modern Doctors I like Matt Smith but every modern Doctors era (save for Eccelston because he only has one season) is usually marred for me in some way but what I refer to as "Waters of Mars" moments (or episodes or seasons) where the shows writers want to beat you over the head with the idea that the Doctor is a dangerous fuck-up ruining peoples lives while simultaneously exalting him as this wonderful heroic wizard of space and time.

For me when they are heavily hammering the former it makes it more difficult to enjoy the latter. I get not wanting to make him perfect and all but..

Steve Does Comics said...

Favourite Doctor? I'm going to commit heresy and say Christopher Eccleston. I agree with J.A. Morris; he brought a level of intensity to the role we'd never seen before. Him going ballistic at the dalek in "Dalek" and his, "Rose, I'm coming to get you," Speech in "Bad Wolf," are brilliant.

Second favourite is of course Tom Baker, followed by Patrick Troughton.

Tear-jerking moments? My fave has to be the climax of, "Human Nature/Family of Blood," with the World War One scenes and then the switch to the present-day memorial service. I thought it beautifully distilled the difference between the world as experienced by time-travellers, and the world as experienced by the rest of us.

As for why there were so many British actors doing bad American accents in old TV shows. It's simply that there were hardly any American actors in Britain at the time because most American actors head west to Hollywood, not east to Britain.

That's why every American male on British TV in the 1970s seemed to be played by Ed (Commander Straker) Bishop.

Pat Henry said...


“the idea that the Doctor is a dangerous fuck-up ruining peoples lives while simultaneously exalting him as this wonderful heroic wizard of space and time.”

Well, I think the Doctor is both, and always has been. In particular, when he is the sole arbiter of what events in the timeline are immutable and cannot be revised or revisited.

I think the Doctor is always at his most enjoyable when the “zany madcap” is part of an overall strategem to put friends and opponents off their game, rather than a central component of his “persona.” That’s why Colin Baker and his nutty clownsuit and Pixy-Stix sugar-high failed to endear, and to a certain extent Sylvester McCoy for the similar reasons.

Matt Smith suffered this misperception, too, and on to that was layered this all-too-precious conceit, “I never solve anything until the very last possible second and therefore I shan’t spend a moment until that very last second thinking about it.” It’s all a little too wink-&-nod, too knowing of its own stuffy riffs.

Eccleston provided some refreshing re-set gravitas, and I think you can see some of that thinking in the portrayal by Paul McGann, but at the expensive of some of the playfulness that is core to the concept of the Doctor. Neither wore that playfulness with ease. Tennant did, fusing the crazy with the serious.

Rip Jagger said...

I give the nod to Tom Baker, but I have to say I enjoy Jon Pertwee immensely.

Of the new guys, I found Christopher Eccelston to top my list. All of them are about the same to me, but he has a darker edge than most.

I just saw a few weeks ago the American movie starring Paul McGann and I was most impressed by him.

But for me, the Doctor will always be first and foremost Tom Baker.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

I don't claim that Tom Baker was the best, but he was the first one that I ever saw, so he's "my" Doctor. (And Rathbone is Sherlock holmes, Jock Mahoney is Tarzan, and Connery is Bond, for the same reason.) Re: British actors playing Americans, they always seem to sound like Archie Bunker or Ralph Kramden. I remember Emma Thompson doing a New York or New Jersey accent in an episode of "Ellen," although the character was supposed to be from Ohio. And Peter Ustinov was a guest on Merv Griffin's talk show, and was asked to give his impression of how Americans talk. He put on a baseball cap and said, "I sawr da bool game last week." I guess that's how we sound to the Brits. But then, when Americans imitate British (especially English) accents, they usually sound like a bumbling P.G. Wodehouse character.

Anonymous said...

Ah, leave it to the Brits to come up with a show about a quirky time traveller whose machine is a London phone booth!

Yes, like many people my first brush with Doctor Who was seeing Tom Baker in some 70s reruns; His mop of brown curly hair and that really long multicouloured scarf were what set him apart visually. Although I never watched it religiously, you could tell this show had a cult following. I loved the Daleks too - it's great to see talking trashcans as villains!

- Mike 'TARDIS envy' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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