Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I don't remember why, but the other day I had a little flash of recollection about the Doctor Whos of the 1970s. It was, I'm sure you'll agree, a golden age. The 70s started with John Pertwee playing The Doctor as an impatient dandy, all stern lectures and velvet smoking jackets, and ended with the great Tom Baker playing him as an avuncular eccentric, spontaneous and absent-minded. But what they had in common was that both Doctors possessed wisdom and gravitas, lightened with the occasional jellybaby.

Then, as I considered the Russell Davies-driven reboot of the franchise, I wondered, "Who are all these frenetic spotty youths carrying the title in the current episodes?" The wisdom and gravitas has been replaced with ADHD-inflected pseudo-messianic nonsense.

The most recent episodes are like some manifestation of Jim Carrey's id; all frantic limbs, booming music and dialogue that sounds like someone fired it out of a blunderbuss. I find myself longing for Tom Baker to sidle up to some deranged alien invader, pleasantly offer him a jellybaby, then escape from certain doom in a billow of tweed and scarf.

I suggest that when The Doctor next regenerates, instead of making him female, or gay, or black, or any combination thereof, as the uber-PC BBC probably feels constrained to do, turn him back into a cranky old white male. Let him provide the brains while the companions provide the muscle. Imagine how paradigm-busting it would be if, instead of yet another aimless disaffected yoof who needs The Doctor to lift them out of their dull, miserable life, we had a companion who was a tough, capable SAS soldier? Or a Dana Scully-style cynical government agent? Heck, even a successful journalist like Sarah-Jane Smith would be a step up from the semi-employed slobs who've been cluttering up the TARDIS of late.

We've had five seasons so New Doctor Who so far. Perhaps it's time to reboot the reboot?


Blogger TimT said...

Precisely! And also, you're right!

Ironically the 'new' Doctor Who is getting progressively more youthful at a time when the population at large is getting progressively older. Then again maybe this just reflects the aspirations of each generation of viewers - the 'old' doctor was something to aspire to for kids in front of the goggle box, the 'new' doctor is what this arthritic-alzheimer-affected generation wish they could be like.

For me the Doctor is one of the fictional father figures of my childhood so all those storylines in which he ends up pashing/sleeping with one of his companions is bloody incestuous, and pretty much a betrayal of what he used to stand for. So I've very little interest in the new series.

12:39 PM  
Blogger TimT said...

That being said I'd quite enjoy the idea of a Dr-turning-female regeneration. It's certainly no more ridiculous than the idea of regeneration itself, which is a fairly silly plot device, albeit one which allowed a good tv show to become a great one. (Indeed, a BBC parody version was made some years ago which had the Dr regenerate into a woman.)

12:44 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

Forget The Doctor turning into a woman. I say drag Rowan Atkinson (forcibly, if necessary) back into the role. A bit of Blackadderesque self-importance and some of his patented withering glares would be magnificicent.

2:07 PM  
Blogger TimT said...

And haven't the original doctors had a marvellous after career? Highlight of Pertwee's post Dr Who career: playing Spotty on 'Superted'! Highlight of Tom Baker's post Dr Who career: being the voiceover man for 'Little Britain'. (Or possibly playing 'Puddleglum' in the BBC 'Narnia' series).

3:21 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

Two things to consider:

1. If Jon Pertwee HADN'T played Doctor Who, his career highlight would have been playing Worzel Gummidge. I'm sure that thought kept him awake at night.

2. Tom Baker was also in Blackadder, and that's pretty damn impressive. Although possibly not as impressive as his voiceover work for "Ecco the Dophine: Defender of the Future".

5:16 PM  

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