Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doctor Who, from childhood to present...

My Uncle Adam has been an incredible influence on my life. Through him I've been introduced to masterful music from centuries past, brilliant, sophisticated British comedy, titanic films, enchanting novels, and the best of classic Science-Fiction.

The one item he injected into my life, from my very early childhood when my sister and I would spend our days at our grandparent's house, he a teenager, myself around three or four, and my sister a year or two younger, was the sensational series Doctor Who. I have so many fond memories of all those quirky, heroic British men running around in their unique garb, besting the terrors of the universe. The sound of the TARDIS materializing is almost as old for me as the sound of my mother's voice, no exaggeration there. Together we'd watch William Hartnell, the old gentleman renegade from Gallifrey, and granddaughter Susan, Patrick Troughton with his entertaining, slightly mad take on the great Timelord, John Pertwee with his action packed, mostly Earthbound, Doctor, the unforgettable Tom Baker with flowing scarf and beaming grin, Peter Davison with celery and cricket clothes, Colin Baker and his loud outfit, and even Sylvester McCoy with the adorable Ace, and their much too zany adventures. In the first few years of my life I was privileged enough to see what most British folk saw over the span of twenty odd years.

Then we come to the present. As soon as talk arose of the new series, in the early, early years of the 21st Century, I had found something related to Doctor Who to thrill over again, though with great caution until I could sample the first story and see what's become of the old man and his box. This was a natural hesitancy due to the bastard of a job Fox did with Paul McGann's unfortunate, though for the character himself, entertaining Doctor. When it finally did air I scrabbled to see it which I did after a few months, though not being in Britain this was a considerable feat. Christopher Eccleston wasn't bad, but the feel of the show was different. Here was a Doctor that had lost a bit of his early joy, being much more rough, after losing his people to an age old enemy, the Daleks. His look was strikingly different compared to the actors before him, and his behavior took a while to grow on me. I kept up with the series seeing what there was for the future, if the show had one. Eccleston bowed out early, taking with him another slot in the Doctor's thirteen regeneration cycles. This caused some panic because the show was just starting up again and here we've lost another Doctor. Then came David Tennant. In his tenure on the series David Tennant managed to not only capture the character, and pay fantastic homage to the previous actors, but to also take the universe of Doctor Who to new heights. I've not seen an actor pull in as much new interest in a series as Tennant did in his time. As amazing as his Doctor was to watch, with his wit, classy attire, and chemistry with the peoples he encountered, it was that hard to watch him go, but sadly he did.

Now we're in the midst of the Fifth Series, our Doctor now is the remarkable Matt Smith, decked in tweed coat and bow tie, and the series charges on. Smith's Doctor has not only made up for the mournful departure of David Tennant, but has taken the show in yet another incredible direction, making the role of spectator even more exciting. So now, every Saturday night, my wife and I gratefully continue to watch the ever magnificent adventures of the great Doctor Who.

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