November 23, 2011

Happy 48th Birthday, "Doctor Who"!

For those who don't know, today is a day that a lot of people hold dear to their hearts. Well, if you're British and/or a geek at any rate. 48 years ago today was the day Doctor Who debuted on television. So I decided that in celebration, I'm going to describe the personality of each the -as of this writing- 11 Doctors, accompanied by pictures of each of them. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then join we'll begin. After the jump, that is.

The First Doctor was played by William Hartnell from 1963-1966. He was initially a very cantankerous old man, much more interested in saving himself than the universe. He also thought himself above humanity until he was about to kill a caveman in cold blood. He was stopped by Ian Chesterton, a schoolteacher of his granddaughter Susan's whom he had kidnapped along with fellow teacher Barbara Wright because they were investigating where Susan came from and happened upon the TARDIS. Without Ian's quick thinking, the Doctor wouldn't have become a much more compassionate figure. He regenerated for the first time after he had pushed his first body to the limit following his first battle with the Cybermen.

The Second Doctor was played by Patrick Troughton from 1966-1969. He was outwardly a much warmer and kinder individual, as well as had the appearance of being buffoonish. Inwardly, this incarnation of the Doctor was a bit darker and more cunning. He tended to tended to keep that part of himself hidden so as to better carry out his plans. After awhile, the Time Lords put him on trial for breaking their "Non-Interference Policy". He made the argument that he had to, because there were clever enemies out there who needed an equally clever opponent to stop them. The Time Lords partially agreed, and exiled him to Earth and forced him to regenerate.

The Third Doctor was played by Jon Pertwee from 1970-1974. He was the most physical of the Doctors, as he tended to fight back with force rather than try to negotiate with his assailant. He was also very adept at technology, developing all kinds of gadgets to help UNIT in combating alien threats during his exile. He also harbored a grudging respect for the Brigadier, as well as for his nemesis the Master. It was also towards the end of this incarnation's life that he met Sarah Jane Smith, who would become a very important companion in later years. He regenerated after being exposed to severe radiation from the planet Metebilius III and battling the Eight Legs.

The Fourth Doctor was played by Tom Baker from 1974-1981, making him the longest serving Doctor in terms of televised stories. This incarnation was a bit more eccentric that his predecessors, and his constant costume changes reflect that, especially that ridiculously long scarf and off-the-wall personality. The creative team at the time likened him to a Bohemian wanderer. It was also during this time that Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy creator Douglas Adams was a writer and a producer for the show. He was also the face of Doctor Who for American fans at that time. My own mother considers him her Doctor.

The Fifth Doctor was played by Peter Davison from 1981-1984. At the time, he had the distinction of being the youngest man to play the Doctor at 29 years of age. In terms of personality, he was the most human and vulnerable of any Doctor past and present. He had an intuitive approach to solving problems, as well openly expressed his fears and hopes with his companions. His youthful appearance was reflected in his companions, who he treated as members of the team as opposed to merely subordinates. The death of one of his companions in particular affected him very deeply.

The Sixth Doctor was played by Colin Baker (no relation to Tom) from 1984-1986. For a time, this Doctor bore the brunt of the blame in the show's drop in quality for some fans, but their opinions around after listening to his audio dramas from Big Finish. His personality was rather volatile at times, ranging from a petulant egoist to portentous and arrogant. His outfit, which Baker described as "an explosion in a rainbow factory", reflected this unpredictability. However, he mellowed out considerably once he took Evelyn Smythe on as a traveling companion in the aforementioned audio dramas. His abrasiveness also masked a strong determination to put things right.

The Seventh Doctor was played by Sylvester McCoy from 1987-1989, with this incarnation truly meeting its end in a TV movie released in 1996. He started out a bit light-hearted and was prone to clownish behavior, masking his intellect and courage. However, he eventually matured into a darker and more manipulative personality, which is what eventually defined him. Despite how manipulative he was, he did care for his companions. He particularly had a paternal affection for his companion Ace, which eventually soured when she couldn't cope with how cold he had become. He also tended to use words to solve problems instead of violence.

The Eighth Doctor was played by Paul McGann in the aforementioned TV movie in 1996 as his only televised story. However, he has continued to play the role in audio dramas commissioned by Big Finish Productions to this day. This Doctor is a unique case in that most of his characterization is explored in the expanded universe media like novels, comics, etc. He's also the first Doctor to express romantic affection, something that some fans took umbrage with. He possessed the humanity of his 5th incarnation, but was more quietly amused by its quirks and failings compared to the exasperation from some of his predecessors. As of this writing, his current companion in the audios is Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.

The Ninth Doctor was played by Christopher Eccleston for the first season of the show's revival in 2005. This Doctor was a shell-shocked veteran of the Last Great Time War. He hid his sorrow behind a facade of manic energy and had a sharp, offbeat wit. While the things he did in the Time War made this incarnation full of sorrow and anger, it also made him more appreciative of the wonders of the universe, as well as instilled in him a much fiercer desire to protect it from harm. He was more adept than his predecessors at seeing humanity's flaws and cared deeply for his companion Rose Tyler.

The Tenth Doctor was played by David Tennant from 2005-2010. His first story was "The Christmas Invasion",  which aired in 2005, his last being the second part of "The End of Time", which aired on New Year's Day 2010. This incarnation was pretty cheerful and charismatic, but underneath that he still had some of the anger and survivor's guilt of his predecessor. He was also very forgiving. He also tried to keep his companions close, as a way for them to keep him from going over the edge. He also attempted to resolve situations without killing as much as possible, even refusing to pick up a gun. He's also my Doctor.

The Eleventh Doctor has been played by Matt Smith since 2010. A lively and very energetic man, he is also brash and eccentric, appearing very alien. Extremely resourceful and quick-thinking, he is able to spin things to his point of view. When things look bleak, he encourages those around him to focus on the positives in the situation, even if there are very few. He also has a tendency to block out all outside distractions when thinking out a problem, even going so far as to tell those around him to shut up if necessary. He has resolved much of the survivor's guilt his previous two incarnations had. However, he has implied he still feels it on occasion. He is also very selfless, willing to sacrifice himself for friends or the greater good. As this incarnation is still ongoing, there is still much to be seen, and I look forward to it.


  1. This is the first time I have read your blog, very well written and thought-out. I've been a fan since 1974 and I love Doctor Who. I look forward to reading more of your work.
    Happy Holidays,
    Stu Berman from Las Vegas, Nevada USA

  2. Thanks, Stu. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I started watching during Tennant's time, and have continued onward from there, as well as backwards to see the previous incarnations. I got most of my info for this entry from the TARDIS Wikia. :)