55 plus 37: Who? Ah, Who… (Part 5)

Posted: 23 September 2019 in 55 plus, Doctor Who, television
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(Previously: part 1; part 2; part 3, part 4.)

As you really should have expected by now, this final post in this series on Doctor Who left far too much to sensibly write about in a single post, so a longer one today… and one additional post on Wednesday that’s not about the individual Doctors, so not really part of this run. Another ‘½’ post, if you will.

The Twelfth (?) Doctor – Peter Capaldi
Twelfth Doctor - Peter CapaldiSometimes, in the course of a long running drama, whether it’s told in comics, on movies, or on television, the continuity gets a bit wobbly. Whether or not that bothers you is a personal thing. Me? I’m less worried about the strict following of continuity until or unless it affects a story or a thing that I particularly like. Yes, it’s’ entirely arbitrary and perhaps a bit hypocritical, but hey ho.

An inevitable consequence of the wobbly continuity though is when a writer puts something in that then becomes rigid, an unshakeable part of the series long storyline… which buggers it up for future writers.

There’s no way, when the writers of The Deadly Assassin stuck in the rule that Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, that they ever expected Doctor Who to last long enough to ever need number twelve. And, in a way, they were right, as the series ended in 1986. Before, well, you know.

And that’s leaving aside whether it was thirteen lives or just twelve.

But in strict continuity, you already had a problem: Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker, Davison, Baker, McCoy, McGann, Eccleston, Hurt, Tennant, Tennant again (don’t ask) Smith: no more regenerations left.

So how could you have another Doctor? It meant that when Peter Capaldi was cast, everyone knew the writers would have to come up with something. And they did, nicking an old throwaway idea from way back, that the Time Lords could grant a new regeneration cycle, as they had once done for the Master.

So, is he the twelfth or the thirteenth? (Well, before you say it’s an obvious answer, how many Presidents of the United States have their been? everyone regards Trump as the forty-fifth president… but Grover Cleveland was President twice, separated by Benjamin Harrison and is counted twice, as the 2nd and the 24th Presidents…)

It’s a moot point; he’s The Doctor, just as Daniel Craig is James Bond, not the [insert whatever the hell number he is}-th Bond

Huh; that got away from me a bit. Anyways, as it’s useful to say in such circumstances, Capaldi was the Doctor. Back to the older character, back to being very alien, back to being torn between admiration for the human race and disgust at it. But still, very much Earth’s protector. I said yesterday that i had no idea what kind of Doctor he’d be, and that after the first few episodes, I still didn’t.

A brave move by the producers and writers to treat the first of his seasons as very much a ‘let’s try him out, take him for a spin, see what we end up with’.

The problem was that by the end of the first season, we still didn’t know. Capaldi’s Doctor – and I loved his portrayal in the role -never quite settled into a character you could sum up in the same way you could with previous incarnations. The Doctor could be silly, funny, furious, sensible, irrational… whatever the story demanded, and the character was made to fit into that.

It never quite worked; you didn’t know which Doctor you’d be getting… right up until the final season when he began to come into focus a bit: fiercely intelligent, utterly ruthless, selfish – oh, extraordinarily so – arrogant, but once he’d decided he was ‘right’, then he’d fight hell itself for the cause.

To steal a line, nothing so became him as the manger of his leaving.

I was sorry to see Capaldi’s Doctor go; I’d have liked to have seen far more of this darker, more manipulative, more secretive Doctor. But that’s just me, and as I said about Eccleston, when an actor wants to go, it’s probably for the best.

But before he left, the wonder, the joy, the sheer fun of Twice Upon A Time, with the return of the First Doctor, in a cracking story, bubbling with fun, with a horrible dark subplot running through it.

Some additional bullet points.

  1. I loved how they tied up the River Song story; the Christmas Special was fun, and celebratory and just a little bit sad at the end. A perfect christmas special.

  2. I wasn’t sorry to see Clara go, although I utterly loved Masie Williams’ guest spots in the season.

  3. Missy was fun, and dangerous and it was great having her as a character in the show. (I guessed who she was precisely ten seconds before the reveal, which is of course the perfect time to guess a plot twist.) And thank you thank you thank you for finally giving us a multi-Master story. It’s been needed for far too long.

  4. I was a huge fan of Nardol in the series. A good foil for the Doctor, and the implication that he’s been the Doctor’s companion for a very, very long time before we meet him again.

  5. I liked Bill, a lot, but feel that she was wasted in the stories that season. Terrible ostensible end, in every sense, to her story, and I hope we see her again at some point.

The Current Doctor – Jodie Whittaker
Current Doctor - Jodie WhittakerYeah, I’m sticking with my earlier point. No need for the numbers right now. So, apparently some people had an issue with a woman being cast? Idiots. The concept that a Time Lord can be either man or woman after regeneration had been set ages again in the series, and made explicit during both Matt Smith’s run and in Capaldi’s. Was it ‘time’ for The Doctor to be a woman? Dunno, to be honest.

Was I pleased that the Doctor was a woman this time? Kind of, to be honest, but more pleased at who was cast. I was aware of Whittaker both from Broadhurst – in which she acted with… you were expecting me to say David Tennant, weren’t you? Weren’t you? well, yes, ok, she acted with Tennant but also – more interesting to me – she was married to Andrew Buchan, the same Andrew Buchan who played Matt Smith’s brother in Political Animals. That pleased me enormously for no reason whatsoever.

(I was also delighted by the casting of Bradley Walsh. I’d been a fan of him as an actor since Law & Order: UK where he took the ‘Lennie Briscoe’ role and absolutely nailed it.)

I was ok about the introductory episode. Seemed too little about The Doctor and too much about everything else, but I never once doubted her as The Doctor, and I did like the whole ‘creating a sonic screwdriver from scratch’.

As for the rest of her first season, I give it an 8. Out of 10. No, I didn’t like 8 of the episodes but I don’t expect to like every episode. For every episode I loved (The Ghost Monument, Demons Of The Punjab) there was an episode I really didn’t like (Kerblam!, the Witchfinders). BUT, more importantly, I liked her in the role, never once doubted – once the initial surprise you get with any new Doctor had passed -that she was, that she is, the Doctor. She didn’t’ need to tell me she was the Doctor. She showed me.

If only the writers had had her confidence. If there’s one problem with thsis year’s run, it’s not the actors, nor the characters, nor the casting. definitely not the set designs. (I’m not a fan of the new TARDIS interior, but it’s solely personal choice; theres notthing objectively ‘wrong’ with it.) But my heavens the writers think the audience are thick: there’s so much infodump, so much

“Doctor, what is this?”

“What, this?”

“Yes, this!”

“Ah, this. Well this is [infodump] and the reason it’s important is [infodump] because [infodump]”

“But wait, Doctor!”

“What?”

“Look at THIS, Doctor!”

“Look at THAT?”

etc, etc.

So, yeah, I like this Doctor; I just hope they give her better scripted and dialogued stories next year.

(Oh, and I bloody love her outfit.)

So, that’s it, all the Doctors? Hardly…

The Movie Doctor – Peter Cushing
Movie Doctor - Peter CushingI’ve got a soft spot for the movies’ Doctor, played by Peter Cushing. Completely different form the versions, which is just as it should be, I like the acting in the movies, I like the stars, and I like the comedy relief with both Roy Castle and Bernard Cribbins, the latter reasonably more so than the former. (And yes, I love that they got Cribbins into Tennant’s run, as – admittedly sadly – another character.) But there’s little to dislike about the movies. So I don’t dislike them.

Ther have been various attempts to put the movies – and the Cushing Doctor -into continuity, without breaking the tv continuity, and it’s always been done thourgh love for, and enjoyment of, the movies. Steven Moffat put him into one of the recent novelisations, suggesting that the movies were of the Doctor’s adventures and the Doctor even lent him his coat. Tony Lee went another direction, suggesting he was a separate character inspired by the Doctor. Both work for me.

The other Doctors

The Curse of Fatal Death
Curse of Fatal DeathI put the video into Saturday’s Smile and there’s nothing to say about it other than it’s enormous fun and I recommend rewatching on a regular basis just for twenty minutes of quiet enjoyment. As with the movies, I don’t care that they’re ‘out of continuity’; they’re fun.

And Jonathan Price is a superb Master, just superb. Add in the sheer fun everyone’s having playing their roles, the in-jokes for the fans of the show, the delightfully nonsensical playing with time travel, it’s a joy from start to finish.

Scream Of the Shalka – Richard E Grant
Shalka Doctor - Richard E GrantNever got around to watching it, I’m afraid, not in full. But the parts I saw? I didn’t enjoy them at all. Which is probably why I’ve never made an effort to see the rest of it. I kind of liked the idea and the design of the Doctor, but everything else? No. Sorry. The dialogue – again, that I heard, anyway – was hokey, the designs other than the Doctor weren’t to my taste and the.. just the whole thing, No.

Just… no.

So, moving on.

Unbound
Third Dictor, Unboiund - David WarnerFrom 2003 to 2008, Big Finish made a series of Doctor Who Unbound, in which they reasonable asked What If…? And had some fun with changing some continuity. They were all pretty good, but David Warner as an alternative Third Doctor was fat out fantastic, and Michael Jayston as The Valayard (again) was just wonderful. I recommend them without hesitation.

Anyway, to reward you for making it through it all today, here are two videos.

To start with, a new way for the TARDIS to dematerialise and materialise… I love this concept…

And the opening sequences to Doctor Who through the years.

Anyway, something else, finally, tomorrow.

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