Sci-Fi TV Series overviews #5: Doctor Who ***REWRITTEN***

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by stolid_agnostic, May 13, 2007.

  1. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    This is truly my favorite show of alltime. I began watching it at my grandmother's house when I was about seven years old. I have been immensely influenced by this show, the characters, the role models. A lot of how I view the world comes from this place.



    The new logo (2005):
    [​IMG]

    An older one (1973):
    [​IMG]




    History behind the series:

    This show was begun in 1963 on the BBC. It was originally conceived as an educational series for children in which a group of school teachers move around through various points of Earth history along with an alien (the entertainment) to teach about various moments of history. This quickly changed, however, and the series morphed into a true sci-fi series.

    The show ran from late November of 1963 until 1989, when it was finally canceled after 26 years of continuous play. A few years after, a made-for-tv movie was made that took place immediately after the last episode. Fast forward to 2005, the series is resurrected and is continuing to this day.


    The Premise:

    A time traveler who calls himself "The Doctor" moves through space and time in his ship called the TARDIS along with various companions he meets on the way in various planets and times. He really is just interested in traveling and exploring the universe. In his travels, he encounters bad situations and always gets involved to help those he meets.



    The Races:

    Time Lord:

    The Doctor is from a race of people called the Galifreyans, from a planet called Galifrey. Their society is modeled roughly on the British aristocracy: there are commoners, aristocracy and a sort of royalty. Those in the top echelons of the society are those who have completed a rigorous training through the planet's academy and score well-enough on their exams to earn the title, Time Lord. These people are more or less licensed to travel through time and space and to an extent, to dispense justice as necessary. They have a non-interference directive much like the Prime Directive in Star Trek, except that it is much stricter. The Time Lords, being of the oldest civilizations in existence as their species was one of the first to evolve in the universe, have very few equals and for this reason interact very rarely with other species. It is also punishable to interfere and travel outside the planet must be authorized.

    For most of the series, the word "Time Lord" is used to refer to anyone from the planet Galifrey. I only show the distinction for informational purposes and to explain the nature of the character. From this point on, I will say Time Lord to mean both someone from the planet Galifrey as well as someone from the upper classes, which is how the series does it.

    The Time Lords have a unique physiognomy, they have a bilateral vascular system (two hearts), and a genetic code that is their secret to time travel. Their technology is designed in such a way that one of their race must be present to prime one of their machines so that it can operate. Once primed, it will continue to operate. Although there is some vacillation in the canon about this, the Time Lords have the ability to regenerate. Essentially, each cell of the body remakes itself so that the person does not die. Ideally, this happens when the body grows very old, but can also happen to heal from an injury. The problem is that when the person regenerates, their body and personality change into that of a new person, essentially a new life altogether with only the truly important underlying personality remaining. That is to say, when a Time Lord regenerates, they become a new person externally and in personality, but deep down and in the most important ways, they are still the same. This was created as a trick to keep the series going as the original actor became sick and later died after leaving the show. The intercanonical debate regarding regeneration is that in a very early episode, the Doctor states that they can live forever without accident, while in later episodes, the canon becomes that they can regenerate only 12 times. In the new series, they seem to move back to the idea that regeneration is unlimited.

    The Daleks:

    [​IMG]

    The Daleks are the first 'bad guys' that we see, from episode #2. They have survived throughout the series and even have played in the most recent season of the show in 2007.

    The Daleks are the result of a nuclear war on the planet Skaros between two races, the Kaleds and the [will insert name later when I remember it]. The Kaleds mutated heavily as a result of generations of exposure to the heavy radiation and to survive, had to move into a sort of life support unit.

    Through many years of story evolution, we learn that the Daleks are not naturally mutated this way, but rather one of their scientists forced the mutation further to his own ends, stripped their emotions away, and made them hateful of anything not Dalek. For this reason, they only wish to destroy and dominate all other life.

    The Daleks do acquire time travel technology, but it is not as sophisticated as that created by the Time Lords.

    The appearance of the Daleks really has not changed whatsoever in 44 years, with the exception of color once the show was filmed in color. This cannot be said for other characters that were redesigned throughout the years. For children in the UK, this was probably one of the most iconic images in existence. Their catch phrase is the word "exterminate", which they generally repeat over and over before killing someone.

    The Cybermen:

    Their first appearance in 1963
    [​IMG]

    their appearance in the new series in 2006
    [​IMG]

    There is a very similar idea to the Daleks, but came later in the series. They retreat into mechanical bodies (think Borg) to improve themselves (perfection), strip away emotions, fear and pain, and wish to dominate the universe. Their one weakness is that gold is destructive to their systems.


    Humans

    'nuff said. It seems that Earth is the Doctor's favorite planet to visit.





    Important Characters:

    There are too many characters that come and go over the years. Here, I will identify some important ones that recur throughout:


    The Doctor:

    A Time Lord, the Doctor is one who grows tired of living eternally on Galifrey, separated from the rest of the universe. His largest mistake, in the eyes of his people, is that he spends time with common people when he should be doing what is proper for his position in society.

    This being said, the Doctor steals a TARDIS and flees his planet. He continually breaks the laws of the Time Lords by interfering with others' problems, makes friends, and explores the universe.

    The Doctor, including the made-for-tv movie, which is considered part of the canon, has had 10 regenerations. In order with actors' names:

    William Hartnell (the grouchy grandpa type)
    [​IMG]

    Patrick Troughton (the amicable uncle, fuddy-duddy, 3-stooges type)
    [​IMG]

    Jon Pertwee (James Bond style gadget guy)
    [​IMG]

    Tom Baker (idiosyncratic, unconventional)
    [​IMG]

    Peter Davidson (young and vulnerable)
    [​IMG]

    Colin Baker (regeneration went wrong, he's crazy)
    [​IMG]

    Sylverster McCoy (sort of like a vaudeville actor)
    [​IMG]

    Paul McGann (can't really tell, only one time we see him - but a bit odd)
    [​IMG]

    Christopher Eccleston (invisible guy from heroes, friendly but distant)
    [​IMG]

    David Tennant (our current Doctor, no comment yet)
    [​IMG]




    The TARDIS:

    The exterior:
    [​IMG]

    Console room from an old episode:
    [​IMG]
    Near the end of the old series:
    [​IMG]
    The new series:
    [​IMG]

    The TARDIS is the Doctor's ship. The words is an acronym of Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.

    Essentially, this is a form of time capsule that the Time Lords use for exploration and scientific expeditions, although such trips are rare and authorized. At some point in time, the Doctor decides to flee his planet and finds this TARDIS and steals it. The problem is that it is incredibly old and was about to be demolished, so it doesn't work all that well. Additionally, it is intended to be operated by 6 Time Lords, so the Doctor does well to operate it solo.

    The TARDIS is larger on the inside than on the outside. Essentially, the interior is infinite, subject to architectural configurations from the console room as necessary.

    The TARDIS is meant to blend into its environment, but on the Doctor's first trip, he landed in 1960's England and it took on the shape of a Police Box and has been stuck that way ever since. Police Boxes were used through Britain in the 40s and 50s, before portable radios, as a method for the police to communicate with their headquarters. It had a telephone and a small space inside where and officer could lock somebody up until help arrived.

    By the time we arrive to the new series, the TARDIS no longer has any of the original controls, only bits and pieces that the Doctor has jury rigged to make the ship work. This is why it is very eclectic in appearance.

    One more important part about the TARDIS (this is why I put it in the character section) is that it's alive. The Doctor often calls it "she". The level of consciousness it possesses is unclear, but it's not like Moya in Farscape, in which the ship has a direct consciousness with which you can communicate. The TARDIS creates a psychic field and interacts with the Time Lords, but apparently not with other species. It does, however, get inside people's heads and translates language for them so that they can go anywhere and read any writing or understand and communicate with anyone.

    The Master:

    Another Time Lord, the Doctor's nemesis. He goes around causing havoc and killing people. Also has a TARDIS that works well, so can usually get away easily.




    Knowing everything I just said here, you should be able to watch any episode from any year in the series and understand what is happening. The companions change, the TARDIS always looks different from year to year, but in reality the individual histories of no characters are important to understanding an individual eposide, they are really written in such a way that knowing the basic concepts of the show are enough to watch and enjoy it.

    Please let me know if you have questions, also see my "edited on" dates for updates as I think of things to add or have time to make changes.

    Let me know of errors you see or additions you think should be here. As it is, I just spent about 2.5 hours so I'm done for today. :big grin:

    Enjoy!

    Edit: just rehosted everything

    Edit: hosted again, yay!
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2007
  2. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    also I have literally seen every episode (I've watched the show since I was about 7) and all except the third season of the new series so I can probably answer questions anyone has

    I tried to give general cliffs that didn't talk about specifics of storyline, etc
     
  3. Hiero

    Hiero New Member

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    How do you compare the new series to the old series?
     
  4. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    The interesting thing is that it is obviously written and produced by people who grew up with the series. That being said, they have tried to stay very true to the original spirit of the show.

    There are some things that annoy me, though. In the original series, the viewer revelled in the fact that he was entertained by a being that, although he looks human, is something beyond. Many times the character would react in ways that were unexpected. Sarah Jane Smith, one of his companions from the early to mid 70s, once said "I almost think you're not-", "HUMAN?" interrupted the Doctor. We are to believe that he is above-humanity.

    In the new series, the Doctor is less supra-human and more super-human. We see him revelling in a particular location "This is a great year!". Why should the Doctor care so much of a particular time on one planet in the middle of nowhere? He has access to all time and space from the begining until the end. One planet shouldn't matter so much to him. This is augmented by the fact that he knows everything about the customs of the locations on Earth that they visit. Again, in my opinion, he should be a person who is able to interract with people in any place and time, but not be OF that place and time.

    Another part of the original series is that it had the same budget as the soap operas of the time. They had to do all of the special effects using a tiny budget, and most of them were mixed into the video live, on set. With the advent of CG, they can do almost anything in post production. In reality, it was the story line and the cheap effects that gave the series its golden moments. In the new series, they can do anything. I think that the producers have become a bit lost in the technology that is available and put perhaps a little less emphasis on the story than they should.
     
  5. mechagrover

    mechagrover Trek geek OT Supporter

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    You mention 'original series' and 'new series' which may confuse people. The current episodes are using a new numbering system for the episodes, but it is a direct continuation of the previous episodes (BTW Brit nomenclature is to use the word series where we use season) with the US TV movie in the middle (yes it is considered canon).

    We are currently seeing the Doctor's tenth incarnation. The first Doctor was played by several different actors, including Peter Cushing on the big screen.
     
  6. Variant

    Variant Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty.

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    wow, you're an excellent resource! :eek3:

    which doctors are your favorites and why?
     
  7. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    I have my favorite things about each one

    generally, peoples' favorite in the US is Tom Baker. in 1979 (?) the BBC sold a 100-some episodes to PBS, all of them Baker's. He is the one with the curly hair, the big smile, and the long scarf

    the first doctor, william hartnell, tended to be the crotchety old geezer

    the second doctor, Patrick Troughton, tended to be the kind old man that was more grandfatherly

    the third doctor, jon pertwee, was sort of a mix between macguyver and the gadget guy from james bond

    the fourth doctor, tom baker, focused on his extra-terrestriality and easy going nature

    the fifth doctor, peter davidson, was the vulnerable, younger man

    the sixth doctor, collin baker, was unstable and nearly insande

    the seventh doctor, sylvester mccoy, tended to be a vaudeville-like character



    also, thanks for the compliment :wavey:
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2007
  8. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    I was trying to avoid that, honestly

    in the BBC, series means both the show as a whole as well as what in the US is called a season. when I say series, I mean either the run from 1963 on or the run from 2005 on

    if you accept that the shows are directly related, you would have to say that it is the 11th incarnation, since sylvester mccoy appeared in the tv movie was promptly shot in a drive-by in LA, and then replaced by Paul McGann. the new show would take place sometime after that.


    in my mind, the series are not directly related, except in the idea of the TARDIS and the Doctor. there are 3 or so links from the original show (tie-ins to create authenticity), the Daleks, the first bad guys from 1963, k-9, a mechanical robot dog he had for many years, and Sarah Jane Smith, the most popular sidekick of the old show.

    I haven't watched the 3rd season (series) of the new show yet, so I can't comment on those - I have been patient to wait for them to appear on tv rather than torrent them
     
  9. mechagrover

    mechagrover Trek geek OT Supporter

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    How are you getting 11?

    McCoy=7
    McGann=8
    Eccleston=9
    Tennant=10

    I'm not sure why you're not seeing the series isn't a continuation, since you're disagreeing with the BBC and Guinness, but hey whatever floats your boat ;)
     
  10. duke_raoul

    duke_raoul :ugh: Member

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    EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

    Ha, I used to watch that show on PBS all the time when I was a kid.
     
  11. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    1) william hartnell 1963 - 1966
    2) peter cushing (spinoff movie, remake of episode 2) 1965, another movie in 1966
    3) patrick troughton 1966 - 1969
    4) jon pertwee 1970 - 1974
    5) tom baker 1974 - 1981
    6) peter davidson 1981 - 1984
    7) collin baker 1984 - 1986
    8) sylvester mccoy 1987 - 1989
    9) paul mcgann (made-for-tv movie) 1996
    10) christopher eccleston 2005
    11) david tennant 2005 - present

    there are probably 20 - 25 people who have played him in total, mostly as voice actors, 'future selves', one-time tv spin-offs, stage, and replacements for the original actors who died during later specials

    when I say that it isn't a continuation, it's because it's not a direct, literal continuation. the production team is different, writers, etc. (this is to be expected). also, the feel of the show is much different than it used to be for the reasons I put in my first response above

    not sure why this should worry you? :dunno:
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2007
  12. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    :werd:

    i live in seattle, and the pbs is station here is one of 3 in the US that is showing the old episodes as we speak - it's really nice to see them again after so many years!
     
  13. mechagrover

    mechagrover Trek geek OT Supporter

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    Peter Cushing and William Hartnell were two different actors but it wasn't a regeneration. They both played The Doctor in his first body (just like Dick York/Dick Sargent in Bewitched).

    You opinion doesn't 'worry' me, I'm just trying to help by pointing out your mistakes since you presented this thread as cliffs on the show, and you're mixing up your personal opinions as fact. The current epsiodes are indeed a direct, literal continuation. You may want to head over to http://www.gallifreyone.com/ and read up.
     
  14. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    my intent was to give a long-term viewer's commentary on the show, rather than worry about specifics

    anyone can get that information, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents on things that you really have to watch the show long-term to understand
     
  15. redlxn

    redlxn New Member

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    If you've really avoided this series. You're gonna love it. I read some speculation on the wiki but it was great seeing it. I like watching it with torrents and then again on sci fi. I'm guess you don't own the dvds?
     
  16. Joe_Cool

    Joe_Cool Never trust a woman or a government. Moderator

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    If you don't mind, I'm going to add this to the Scifi overviews threads. Good synopsis, and made me want to start watching it.
     
  17. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    thanks, Joe.....I am really happy that I could contribute!


    Edit: gosh, I need to come by here more often!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2007
  18. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    Joe_Cool give me some time and I will rework my first post to be in the same format as the others! :h5:
     
  19. mondaynightmike

    mondaynightmike New Member

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    doctor who ftw.

    only just started watching it this series, but the old ones are always shown on tv over here so i can catch up that way
     
  20. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    i remember watching it on pbs back in the 80's... the 3 episodes i've watched of the current version are well done... but i love the oldschool version better.
     
  21. Hiero

    Hiero New Member

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    Whoa whoa whoa..this series started out on PBS?
     
  22. mechagrover

    mechagrover Trek geek OT Supporter

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    No its a BBC series which started in '63, but starting in the 70s in the US it was almost exclusively shown on PBS stations until the hiatus. Now its on the Sci-Fi channel and BBCAmerica.

    (BTW the link in my previous post might have been overlooked. Dr. Who holds the record for the longest running sci-fi TV series: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/5390372.stm )
     
  23. Joe_Cool

    Joe_Cool Never trust a woman or a government. Moderator

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    :werd: I used to watch it with my grandma back in the 70s when I was a little kid.

    I never understood it though. :o
     
  24. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    sometimes it was confusing, but for a childunit... it was just campy enough, to keep me coming back for more.
     
  25. stolid_agnostic

    stolid_agnostic One who is both stolid and agnostic. Get a diction

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    you really have to see a lot of it to REALLY know what's going on

    ask questions here... :big grin:
     

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