I had three beginnings.
Of course I didn’t but wouldn’t it have been ever so elegant if I had? In actual fact I had five beginnings, one after the other in the space of an hour. Yes, my first experience of Dr Who was Terrence Dick’s “The Five Doctors” which is by any measure a crazy ass episode for anyone to enter the Whoniverse.
For one thing it follows none of the rules of the series as a whole, imagine watching that thing if you had no idea about the history of the show. Right, so this guy’s the Doctor and he travels to different planets in a blue box. Wait a minute, that guy’s also a Doctor, I wonder what his deal is? Oh, it’s exactly the same as the first guy’s, they haven’t even bothered to invent another back story. More questions followed: Why do those two seem to be acting in an entirely different show? Why does she keep spraining her ankle? Couldn’t she have just walked up that slope?
And yet … and yet … I was enthralled. Which meant that when in 1989 Dr Who burst (then limped) back into regular programming, I was beside myself. No behind the sofa for me, I had my face pressed up against the screen. It was ‘Ace give me one of those Nitro-9s you’re not carrying’ BOOM! and I was in love.
Will always be Sylvester McCoy. Not because he was all I knew, not because I didn’t know any better. He was just MY Doctor – dark, strange, clownish and complex. His Doctor was like nothing else on TV, not just the good guy but multi-faceted, a master-manipulator, so alien, so other when he wanted to be. I think I just instinctively knew that I wasn’t being pandered to with this one – 9 years old and something was speaking to me in all the glorious greys and half-tones of the real world. So yes, I firmly believe Dr Who had it’s own little renaissance at the fag-end of the century with stories like Remembrance, Ghostlight, and Fenric earning their place as really top-flight Who. Then came the New Adventures which went that one step further into territory I’d certainly never been before. I still remember the gist of the blurb on the back cover of one of the first novels (Timewyrm? Cat’s Cradle?) ‘Only the Doctor can save them. But the Doctor was destroyed years ago. Before time began …’ I couldn’t keep it in my head, couldn’t contain the worlds conjured up to dance before me, the ideas, the scale, the complexity of the continuum and through it all the rich seam of the McCoy Doctor – impish and strange, clever and comical – the grinning, winking tip of a cold, alien intelligence that spread out like a glacier beneath the surface.
Of course, all that said, David Tennant is beyond fantastic and the only other Doctor that convinces me the guy is operating on a completely different level to everyone else. The Doctor is not human, lest me forget, he’s not just really, really ridiculously clever – he perceives things differently to us, he can see time in the same way we can see length, width, height, volume – all that possibility, all those choices slowly solidifying around him, fixing future history in place just by his presence (and brilliantly realised and articulated in ‘Fires of Pompeii’ might I say [YES – first mention of Series 4 – and all because my colleagues have been gracious enough to wait for me to catch up, what a rotter!]). Tennant sells the hell out of the character and it is his obvious, joyous, infectious love for the role that ultimately lifts the current iteration of the show to a level that precious few programmes can match.
The last word should be left to Sylvester though in probably my favourite Dr Who quote of all time – ‘I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations – terrible places, full of lost luggage and lost souls. And then there’s unrequited love, and tyranny, and cruelty. We all have a world of our own terrors to face.’
I have loads. Apart from the McCoy classics mentioned above I would also like to give massive shout outs to City of Death, The Time Meddler, Caves of Androzani, The Green Death, Genesis of the Daleks, The Empty Child, Girl in the Fireplace and most of the latter half of Season 3. It really is a stellar time to be a Dr Who fan, isn’t it?
Oh and Dimensions in Time.
Not to be the contrarian of the group (which I am unfortunately) but I love the Daleks. They work and it’s crazy because it’s like Terry Nation just threw a load of concepts at a wall (like they were spaghetti that he wasn’t sure was quite done) and the bits that stuck he went with. The stupid wheeled design, the one eye, the plunger, the spots, the car grill, the weedy laser, the voice – it’s like the worse designed monster ever both in practicality and menace and yet when you put it together it’s a dalek and it’s ultimately cool. I was bouncing off the walls in the Ecelston episode – when the eyes flashed in the darkness. Awesome.
Also the Raston Assassin Robot thing. Take that you rubbish Cybermen idiots. You don’t like that cold steel up you, do you? Thought you were only vulnerable to gold? Well prepare to be retconned you motherf***ers coz it looks like you’ll also go down like a bitch when faced with the might of normal metal arrows. Hahahahahaha!
Which companion did you either want to be or fancy:
Peri … in the regeneration scene. No one was looking at you, Peter.
What are you looking forward to?:
I’m going to be honest here – absolutely everything. I can’t wait. But especially Moffet shenanigans.
Catherine Tate. She’s alright but I’m not a fan and she doesn’t make my heart go pitter patter like Rose did.
I should now go on and talk about episode 1 and 2 but I think I’ll leave the honour of commencing the geekathon to one of my esteemed colleagues that deserve it oh so very much more than me.
Go for your life, guys.