[This post is of a series: Doctor Who Explained. It's the second installment. Read the first here!]
Doctor Who in it’s simplest form is about a time traveling alien that guards the plant Earth from all evil in time & space. From there it winds into a complex web of rules & exceptions to the rules. But the bare facts are, The Doctor:
- is a species of alien that looks human but isn’t
- has two hearts
- has lived for close to 2000 years
- refuses to use violence to solve the dilemmas he encounters
- takes a human companion (or several) with him on his adventures
The show has it’s own unique story. It began in the 1950s as a children’s show. It continued to be aired until the 80s then was rebooted in 2005. Each season is a continuation of the prior. The character, “The Doctor” is the same one from the 1950s even though the actor has changed. Each time an actor has completed his tenure as playing the Doctor, he is killed off. But since the Doctor has two hearts, one dies while the other revives him. Presto! The Doctor regenerates into a new body, and in turn a new actor. A new actor playing the 5o year old role of the Doctor. Now take some time for all that to soak in…
That being true the Doctor that we watch has everything of the past 12 Doctors. The experiences, the knowledge, the disappointments, the victories, EVERYTHING!
No where else in literature & story have I found such a compounded & complex character.
If you feel like you are in over your head with all this, it’s because you are! And I am too! There is too much to comprehend about the show Doctor Who as well as the character of the Doctor. And that’s what draws me to it. The complexity of it all! So forge ahead with me into this wibby-wobbly-timey-wimey mess of a show. Together we’ll make as much sense of it as we can.
(This next bit will make the most sense if you have watched the first episode of Season 8. Entitled: Deep Breath. Go watch it on Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, I’ll wait for ya! SPOILERS AHEAD!)
With the start of Season 8 we are all met by a new Doctor. So when this Doctor comes on the scene with a big “SHUSH” to Strax (the potato looking alien) its a surprise to everyone. Fans & characters alike. So, when Clara, the Doctor’s companion, wishes to fix the Doctor, to “turn him back,” we all sympathize. Even the Doctor himself has remorse towards choosing “this face.” Yet he’s the first to try and figure out why he has chosen such a face (with “attack eyebrows.”) It’s a search for the true identity of the Doctor.
This theme is beautifully sewn in and out of the episode. On the surface, questions are asked of why this elderly face but under the surface questions are asked of where is the true nature of the Doctor. The Doctor has had twelve prior bodies to this one, but the same personality has come out through each of them. Clara, his friends, the world, and us the fans are all searching for what makes the Doctor, THE DOCTOR! His quirks, his mannerisms, his wittiness, his demeanor, his moral code, his drive, his essence. And it’s dizzying to watch the characters find out him out just as we are trying to find out him out.
So if the pursuit of the true identity of the Doctor is this big ball of grey, the black & white of him reveal themselves with just as much grandeur. Most notably the line of “The Doctor has taken the case” plays to the Doctor’s curiosity to get to the bottom of everything. And from there, the Doctor we all know and love comes through. With witty dialogue & mannerisms to being a couple steps ahead & also just as lost: The Doctor is back!
But even after the Doctor saves the day in his typical fashion, Clara still walks out on him. Just as she does, she receives a phone call from the Doctor. The Doctor that she knows & loves, the Doctor prior to this one. He is speaking to her from the past, urging her to help the new Doctor and not to be afraid. This scene pulls several heart strings but it’s message stands out.
We can’t remain in the past, wishing & hoping for the already gone. We must not fear. We must press on. Even if the people we have pressed on with are different.
Even with the conclusion of the episode, there is plenty more to figure out and get confused upon. Here’s a couple of questions I’m asking:
- What is Paradise?
- Did the Doctor actually push the Droid out?
- Who is Missy?
- What is this Doctor’s catch phrase? (Every Doctor has a catch phrase!)
Even watching all the episodes prior to this one, I am still asking myself these questions. And you may have many more! That is great! Doctor Who is a show of questions & impossibilities. Revel in them and hope that all will be answered.
Let me know what you thought of the first episode: Deep Breath. What questions do you have that are left unanswered? And what parts of the Doctor do you wish to know more about?