Thursday, May 5, 2011

Old School Doctor Who

4th Doctor, Tom Baker, was my original Doctor Who, but with some Netflix streaming, and a still debilitating gastro-intestinal sickness, I tried taking a look at some of the other, older Doctors. First up was Spearhead from Space which is the birth of 3rd Doctor, John Pertwee. For reasons not completely explained the Timelords have stranded The Doctor on Earth; sending him in his TARDIS, but with it functioning at a very low level. His arrival catches the attention of UNIT and the Brigadier, as at the same time there was a rash of meteor strikes. The Brigadier only knew The Doctor in his second incarnation, and is understandably skeptical about this new one, going so far as to confiscate the key to the TARDIS, despite not being able to open it himself. Eventually we discover the Nestene are involved in an invasion, which the doctor helps thwart. New viewers will know the Nestene from the 11th Doctor story, "Pandorica," where Rory is transformed into a Nestene Roman soldier.

I must say, I really like Pertwee's Doctor. He reminds me of Matt Smith's Doctor a bit. The style of the show is very much like late episodes of The Avengers in their look and feel. Well worth looking for.

Next I watched The Three Doctors, which teams Pertwee up with forebears Patrick Troughton and original Doctor William Hartnell. When an extradimensional force is draining our universe's power, the Timelords need The Doctor to save the day, but the force it too great and they cannot spare him any help. What they can do, however, is bring his previous incarnations into his current time stream, breaking "the first law of time." Well, #3 and #2 (Troughton) do not care for each other, but both show respect for #1 (Hartnell). The 1st Doctor only appears on a video screen, being trapped in a "time eddy." Hartnell was obviously of fairly advanced age at this point, so certainly they were trying to fit him into the story without making it too strenuous. Ultimately they face Omega, the man responsible for the Timelords' ability to travel in time. He is revered among the Timelords, but being trapped in another dimension has driven him mad and bent on revenge.

It was hard to get a feel for Hartnell, but Troughton gets a great deal of screen time. His Doctor has a bit of the spoiled child to him, but is enjoyable. I'd have to see more of him to make a serious evaluation.

Lastly, and I have not seen it in it entirety, is the series known as "The Aztecs" featuring the 1st Doctor and a slew of companions. He has quite the entourage in this one. The TARDIS finds itself in an Aztec tomb. There is a door to go out, but no apparent way back in. Turns out they are in 15th Century Mexico, and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) is mistaken as a reincarnation of a great priest. Her perceived divinity is the one thing keeping them alive, but not all the Aztecs are thrilled to have her around. They cannot ask how to re-enter the tomb, as she should already know, so they go about finding the answers. It is an interesting story with The Doctor playing the factions against each other, and the Aztecs doing an excellent job of thwarting them; proving themselves to be as cunning as The Doctor and company.

This one is a lot of fun. It has a nice twisty plot that keeps you guessing a bit. John Ringham plays Tlotoxl, the main adversary, with a bit of Richard III to him.


T. Roger Thomas said...

I'm a bit of a SciFi/ Fantasy fan but every time I read about Dr. Who I get about two sentences in before it feels like I'm reading a different language. "Timelords", "TARDIS" I feel like the bar exam would require less studying than it would take to get up to speed on this show.

Anyway, I hope you're feeling better!

Darius Whiteplume said...

It is a little weird, as there is so much history. If you're on Netflix, Spearhead from Space is fun because it is a beginning of sorts. Think of it as the old Avengers "Cybernauts" episodes and you'll catch on.

The new Doctor Who is pretty much a reboot, to my mind. You don't have to know the oldshows much, which is likely why it has caught on so well in America.

Ultimately, I say tv is like wine. Drink what you like, not what you are told you should like.

dfordoom said...

Pertwee is awesome. He's even better when Katy Manning as Jo Grant shows up. They were one of the best ever Doctor-Companion teams.

Doctor Who trivia for the day: Katy Manning is the only Doctor Who companion to have done porn. Dalek porn. Yes, really.

JPChapleau said...

FYI all of that Time Lord stranding the Doctor on Earth is "explained" in the previous serial (Troughton's last), called "The War Games". If you look you can find it online. In short, the Time Lords condemn the Doctor because he took a TARDIS without permission. I didn't quite understand it myself until I sal War Games. Troughton is just an awesome Doctor...

@Roger -> The new series is EXTREMELY easy to get into. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

+1 to Starting to watch with "Spearhead".


Darius Whiteplume said...

@DfD - I have been watching one with Jo, "Carnival of Monsters," but I am not very far into it. I have seen the Dalek pic before :-)

@JCP - I will have to look for "War Games" - Just noticed that Traughton was in "The Omen" as Father Brennan. I knew I recognized him. :-)

Mickey Glitter said...

I liked your comment about the new Who feeling like a reboot. Pertwee forever! (And Liz Shaw and Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier!)

Sorry. I'll stop. LOL

Darius Whiteplume said...

I like the new Who, but there are some weird inconsistencies. The new Doctor lives backwards, so some day he will not remember River Song, yet he remembers SJS and K-9. Has he forgotten Rose and Donna already (or not met them yet, as it were)?

No need to stop. I am quickly converting to the Pertwee camp.

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