A Retrospective: Part Five
Welcome back! Did you miss me? I missed you. In our last visit we had our fourth look at DOCTOR WHO the long-running British science fiction series produced by the BBC. Known as The Doctor within the show itself he is an alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through time and space in a blue box having wild adventures. As an alien his people have the ability to regenerate themselves when they die. This has enabled The Doctor to be portrayed by no less than 14 actors during its 57 years run. In part one of this retrospective we examined Doctor’s one, two, and three. The second time around we examined Doctors four, five, and six. For our third journey we talked about Doctors seven, eight, and nine. Last time we took a look at Doctors ten, eleven, and the War Doctor. Now for our last trip together we check out the last two – Doctors twelve and thirteen. Are you ready? I hope so. Let’s go!
Peter Capaldi played the twelfth Doctor. He made his first extremely brief appearance, actually it was his eyes that made the appearance, in the fiftieth anniversary special THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR as one of the incarnations of the Doctor who help save Gallifrey from destruction. His official first appearance was at the end of the Christmas special THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR.
The twelfth Doctor was a departure from the two previous Doctors. Doctors ten and eleven cared about people and tried to understand them. Not this one. This Doctor doesn’t understand people and doesn’t care if he has their approval. He is not someone looking to be your friend and can even be abrupt and rude. He is less human and more alien. Or perhaps alien isn’t quite the right word. He is more non-human than ever before. He certainly doesn’t care if he is seen as a hero. He is prickly, curt, and no-nonsense. Not to mention unemotional and ruthless especially in making tough decisions.
It is interesting to note that Peter Capaldi was the same age as William Hartnell when he played the Doctor making him older than the previous Doctors as well as trickier and in some ways more intense and aggressive. Because he doesn’t worry about your approval he seems unreliable and when he says he will be back your not sure if he will. But within all that he is still passionate, forceful, brave, joyful, and funny. In other words he is still the Doctor. Did I mention that he plays the guitar?
The twelfth Doctor’s wardrobe consisted of a black short Crombie-style (J&J Crombie Ltd. In Britain makes clothing and are most famous for their coats) coat with a red lining, black pants, a white shirt with a long collar and no tie, and a black cardigan or waistcoat and boots. His shirt changed from episode to episode. A navy blue shirt, a purple shirt, and a black shirt with white polka dots all made appearances.
The Twelfth Doctor’s tenure comes to an end with the Christmas special TWICE UPON A TIME. Having gone through too much and having been mortally injured he refuses to regenerate and wishes to end his existence. Ironically the latest incarnation of the Doctor meets the first incarnation of the Doctor this time played by David Bradley.
Well-known actor David Bradley (Harry Potter series, Game of Thrones, The Strain, Captain America: The First Avenger, and more) portrayed William Hartnell in the biographical drama AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME that was part of the DOCTOR WHO 50th anniversary celebration. This led to his playing the first Doctor not only on the show but in a series of audio books as well.
In TWICE UPON A TIME, the twelfth Doctor refuses to regenerate and meets the first Doctor who feels the same and is also refusing to regenerate. The two Doctors share an adventure, reflect on their lives together, and both decide to move on to their next incarnations. And so we bid a sad farewell to the twelfth Doctor.
Peter Capaldi played the Doctor for four years and three seasons. The discrepancy is because the years 2014 and 2015 gave us series eight and nine but 2016 only gave us the Christmas special THE RETURN OF DOCTOR MYSTERIO. Then 2017 gave us series ten.
The thirteenth Doctor, and the current Doctor, is played by the ever-delightful Jodie Whitaker. For the first time the Doctor is played by a woman. Naturally this makes her physically a prominent departure from the previous Doctor. But she is also different from the twelfth Doctor in that she is full of life, warm, energetic, and funny. Like previous Doctors, most notably Matt Smith, she is the best friend you could have and just the person you want leading you around all of time and space. She speaks a at a hundred miles an hour, has a passion for making things, places a high value on her friendships, and strives for non-violent solutions to her problems. The thirteenth Doctor is arguably the most pacifistic Doctor.
The thirteenth Doctor’s fashion statement consists of blue high-waisted culottes with yellow suspenders, a navy blue shirt with a rainbow across it, a blue coat, brown boots, and blue socks. She kind of looks like Robin Williams in MORK & MINDY.
Thus far we have only had one season of the thirteenth Doctor. Great pains have been taken to prove to us that she is still the same old Doctor including a run-in with fan favorite villains the Daleks. One thing has to be said. The Doctor has always traveled with companions. The companions are important and they can make or break the show. Most of the time it has been one special person although that is not always true. This time around she is saddled with three companions. At first I was a bit put off by her having an entourage and felt it showed a lack of confidence in Jodie Whittaker. As if to say that because she is a woman she needs more help than a man. I am happy to say I was wrong. The thirteenth Doctor is every bit the Doctor and as much as any of them. The three superb characters they have given her as companions add enormously to the show and I am glad they are there.
I hope the present Doctor and her companions have a long run and judging from the ratings the fans feel the same way. Bravo!
That is it for my retrospective on DOCTOR WHO. I hope you have enjoyed it and I certainly enjoyed sharing The Doctor with you. DOCTOR WHO is my favorite sci-fi space opera! Now don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of both STAR TREK and STAR WARS. I am old enough to remember STAR TREK when it first came out and I have watched with eager anticipation each subsequent STAR TREK series up to and including STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. And don’t get me started on STAR WARS. My heart still beats faster every time I hear the theme music. And I have loved STARGATE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE, and the list goes on. But DOCTOR WHO is still my favorite and always will be. There is something about a guy (or girl) called The Doctor who runs around helping people in a little blue box using a sonic screwdriver and for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do that magically appeals to me. And I hope it appeals to you too.