July 31, 2013
a guest post by Carly Ledbetter
There isn’t anything quite like waiting for the announcement of the next Doctor. The closest comparison Americans have is who will be the newest lead on one of our CSIs. We don’t have a cultural phenomenon in our country like Doctor Who is for England. Waiting on bated-breath for the announcement of a new TV show lead is as foreign to us as the accents spoken in Doctor Who.
There are a lot of factors that play into who the next Doctor will be, but the number one stipulation is, obviously, that he be British. After all, this is a British show and it’s not like we hire British actors to play the leads in our weekly dramas (apologies to Hugh Laurie). But what if the Doctor were American? What if the popularity of the show across the pond prompted Steven Moffat to go outside the (blue telephone) box and make the Doctor an American? Who would be the best fit? Let’s first look at the factors that make the Doctor the Doctor.
The Doctor has to have the “good guy” look: No beady rat-eyes, no witch nose and no shifty smile. I know this is a possible point of contention since this pretty much just says “make him good-looking,” but there is more to a good guy look than attraction. He should have a calm demeanor about him. This might be a nice smile, kind eyes, or a soothing voice. Classic doctors gave off a wise, Sherlock Holmes presence. Modern Doctors have embraced the “stylish outsider” look, while still maintaining the look of a good guy.
The Doctor has to be able to rock a fashion item: Speaking of the “stylish outsider look,” the BBC dissected the Doctor’s clothing choices in a manner highlighting the pros and cons to each piece. However, what the American Doctor would need is a fashion item that would stand out as much as his heritage. Bowties and sweater vests have been done, but what hasn’t been done is a headpiece. He shouldn’t don a backwards baseball cap, but a classic derby hat, or maybe a driving cap would pair well with previous Doctor’s fashion choices.
The Doctor needs be someone you would want to follow: More than his companion, the Doctor needs to be able to make an impression on the people (aliens?) he meets in each episode. The doctor must be assertive enough to lead everyone through the perils of time and space, but also approachable enough that his presence doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of the universe.
No Ultra-famous picks: David Tennant and Matt Smith had enough previous acting jobs to merit the title of Doctor, but they were not big-name talents. It would be easy to cast Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, or Leonardo DiCaprio in the role, as they are well-established actors. However, the idea of them as the next Doctor doesn’t fit with recent choices. No trendy picks either. This means the go-to geek stars are out. No Neil Patrick Harris, no Wil Wheaton and no Jim Parsons. If they are currently a geeky or pop culture star on TV, they are out as well.
Make him the right age: Averaging the last five Doctors ages (27, 34, 41, 36, 44) comes to 36.4. Taking out the astoundingly young Matt Smith (the youngest Doctor ever at 27) and the average is almost 39. Being young doesn’t preclude someone from being the Doctor, but traditionally an age of over 35 is the norm. The doctor is someone that needs to lead. Just as there are few military generals under the age of 40, the Doctor can’t be too young either.
So after debating these topics I have come to my conclusion.
The first American Doctor is:
Alan has some recognizable roles on his resume without being in the “too big” category. At 42 he falls perfectly in range with the average age of Doctors. Reviewing his television and movie work, there is a boyish charm in his actions and smile, giving him the “good guy” look. He would also break another Doctor tradition by being the first Doctor with red hair.
Tudyk is probably best known for his role in the Firefly series. Further enhancing this choice, it shows that he can carry a sci-fi franchise on his shoulders, which any Doctor needs to do. And since Firefly was a Joss Whedon show, it also proves that Alan can handle the wit, comedy and occasional action the Doctor must have.
It would be an interesting twist if the BBC ever decided to have a non-British Doctor. There would be a lot of arguments on both sides, but if Steven Moffat deviated from tradition, Alan Tudyk is the best choice.
Posted by Graeme on Wednesday, July 31 at 1:58 pm
July 30, 2013
Many fans look back at 1989 with a bittersweet feeling because although it was a good year for the show in terms of its output, it was, for a long time, the last year that Doctor Who was a regularly-made television series and certainly was the last year for the classic series. Yet things weren’t quite so bittersweet at the time. Following on from a very positive end to the 25th Anniversary year of 1988, the first few months of 1989 still felt like the show was in its ascendancy. The broadcast of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy part 4 in the first week of 1989 brought the show past the 6 million mark for just the second time after the hiatus, and at 6.6 million, left Season 25 (and the show in general since the hiatus) on a ratings high. This feel-good story was only added to with the news that the 3rd Doctor, Jon Pertwee, was to resume the role on stage for The Ultimate Adventure. After a few months in the role on stage, Colin Baker took over from Jon Pertwee - another feel-good story as Colin got to play the role again sooner than anyone had expected after his unceremonious sacking by Michael Grade & Jonathan Powell (in fact, at the time nobody was really sure that Colin would ever be able to play the role again, save for a 30th Anniversary “7 Doctors” special if the show continued to run that long of course). For UK fans at least, it meant that there were 3 different actors starring regularly as the Doctor in 1989. Film rumours were heating up this year as production on a film by Coast-to-Coast was promised numerous times, but never materialized - and still haven’t to this day (regardless of what company has had the rights to do it).
As the summer of 1989 wore on, the lack of a confirmation of a Season 27 for 1990 began to loom more and more. Rumours and news began to circulate that there would be no Doctor Who in 1990 - the first year since the show began that there would be no new episodes broadcast. This was confirmed by the end of the summer. As the future storm clouds grew ominously, by September fans were able to enjoy another 14 episode season of the Doctor Who with Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. It was a season that would be very influential for the future of Doctor Who, even though (or perhaps, because of the fact) it would turn out to be the last one for some time. Many fans certainly savoured the 26th season, particularly those worried that it would be the last for some time - even longer than the 1 year gap that had been suggested. They would be right - but that doesn’t stop Season 26 helping to make 1989 another good year for Doctor Who.
Posted by Luca on Tuesday, July 30 at 9:55 pm
July 20, 2013
For those of us who were fans at the time, it’s tough to believe that Season 25 and Doctor Who‘s 25th Anniversary was now 25 years ago. In this 50th Anniversary year, 1988 only gets you halfway there.
Although the 25th Anniversary was probably a more low-key affair than the 20th Anniversary (in part because the BBC were now making much less Doctor Who per year than normal, in part because BBC management now wanted to kill the show off, but also in part due to there being no single anniversary special that fandom and the public could focus on), Doctor Who still enjoyed a fine birthday celebration. The show enjoyed a higher profile in the UK than it had since the 1985 hiatus, which partly resulted in the 25th season getting the best ratings of the four post-hiatus seasons (a delayed start in broadcasting to October, rather than September, also likely helped). The show itself, with script-editor Andrew Cartmel & 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy now much more assured in their respective roles in 2nd runs in the show, is generally considered to have improved upon Season 24 (granted, many would also claim that this isn’t saying much). Popular companion Ace was now also on-board for the full season. After the turbulent events of the previous few years, it did at the time - for one year at least - seem like the show was stable once again and set to run for some time longer. And the improved ratings and reception to the Season 25 episodes created a sense of optimism for the future that was perhaps missing since the BBC had threatened (or tried) to wield its axe in 1985. Usually Anniversaries are all about looking back and while there was some of that (particularly with season opener Remembrance of the Daleks, there was a palpable sense of looking forward to a bright future as 1988 ended.
That bright future was delayed, but we got there in the end.
Posted by Luca on Saturday, July 20 at 11:28 pm
July 12, 2013
Its 1987 and once again its arguably better to be a Doctor Who fan in North America than in the UK. While there was much division (and in some cases derision) over the debut season of Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, in North America things were just getting better all the time. After being two years behind on the latest episodes from when they were broadcast in the UK, by March of 1987 when The Trial of a Time Lord was shown in this patch of North America, it meant that we were watching the latest episodes only 6 months behind the UK! You young whippersnappers reading this out there getting your new Doctor Who episodes about 6 hours after the UK broadcast don’t know how good you have it - moving to within a 6 month-lag time behing the UK was considered heaven back in 1987. And the amazing thing is that the broadcast of The Trial of a Time Lord interrupted a run of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton stories that were being broadcast in the area for the first time (with the exception of a handful of Hartnells that had been shown on the CBC over 20 years earlier that most of us had never seen). From November 1st 1986 through to June of 1987, it was one “brand-new” Doctor Who story every Saturday (except for a two-week break when PBS Buffalo did their annual “Great TV Auction” which suspended almost all programming for the sake of raising funds) showing all of the 1st, 2nd & 6th Doctor stories that existed in the BBC archives at that time.
A lot of fans complain that Season 24 (broadcast in the UK this year) was the worst ever season of Doctor Who. Maybe it was - but who cares! 1987 was a fantastic year to be a fan anyway.
Posted by Luca on Friday, July 12 at 3:06 pm
July 10, 2013
Produced by Graeme Burk (former editor of Enlightenment and co-author of Who is the Doctor) and Alex Kennard (Telos AM) Reality Bomb is a magazine-style Doctor Who podcast by fans for fans, that looks at the hot topics interesting Doctor Who fans right now in fresh and exciting ways.
The debut episode is now available and features interviews with fans about whether or not it’s time for a female Doctor, a conversation about the new rumour regarding missing episodes an audio essay that looks at the long history of the Doctor’s corpse and more.
Posted by Mike on Wednesday, July 10 at 4:52 pm
July 01, 2013
1986 could be seen in a number of ways for Doctor Who fans. The year the show came back from the hiatus. The year the show was reduced to just 14 25-minute episodes a year. The year the Colin Baker era came to an abrupt and premature end. The year that the Eric Saward era came to an end. The year we lost Robert Holmes.
All of the above statements are true, before you enter into the realm of opinion of that season’s sole story, The Trial of a Time Lord, the longest Doctor Who story of all time at 14 episodes, although fan opinion on it should really count as four stories rather than one is divided to this day, despite what the actual titles of the episodes as broadcast state. Certainly fans publicly moaning in the UK about the show reached a new level this year (which is a shame, considering what an awesome story it was), so let’s not dwell on that and talk about how great things were for fans in North America. After nearly two years of waiting, fans finally to a chance to see Colin Baker as the Doctor - at least some of us did, with his episodes beginning broadcasting in my neck of the woods on Saturday November 1st, 1986. Within 6 weeks, on December 13th, the first 7 Colin Baker adventures had been shown (one full story each successive Saturday) culminating with the broadcast of Revelation of the Daleks on PBS starting at 12:30pm. This was followed by the broadcast of the PBS documentary Doctor Who’s Who’s Who, and then finally by the broadcast of An Unearthly Child for the first time in this area of the world in over 20 years. With pledge breaks the Doctor Who marathon stretched out for the entire afternoon, and then as soon as it was over TVOntario’s broadcast of an episode of Resurrection of the Daleks occurred, making this about 7 straight hours of Doctor Who for a fan to watch, including the earliest and what was the most recent episode we could ever have. In those days, with far fewer channels on cable than today and before the advent of specialty networks doing marathon broadcasts of specific shows on holiday weekends, this was unheard of. And An Unearthly Child! I often forget how impossible that seemed at the time. While the near-two year wait between The Caves of Androzani and The Twin Dilemma seemed agonizingly long at the time, it was always anticipated that we would get the Colin Baker episodes. But the original black and white episodes of Doctor Who did not seem inevitable at all. 1986 was a truly wondrous times to be a Doctor Who fan for both new and old episodes of the show.
Posted by Luca on Monday, July 1 at 8:07 am
June 20, 2013
I know what some of you are thinking - 1985 wasn’t a glorious year for Doctor Who because the hiatus happened - a body blow against the show in which a BBC management that was anti-thetical to the show tried to cancel it resulting in a public knocking of the show and a loss of confidence by the British public, which ultimately led to the show being effectively cancelled after 1989.
It’s true that this happened in 1985 but it was still a glorious year for Doctor Who. First there was the content of the programme itself. Season 22 was Colin Baker’s first full year as the Doctor and the first season for the show to be made exclusively in 45-minute episodes, featuring the return of the Cybermen, the Daleks, the Sontarans and the 2nd Doctor and Jamie! A deeper foray into black humour than we’d ever seen before, contrary to what the reappearance of so many classic monsters and characters might suggest, the show was definitely breaking new ground 22 seasons in, which is no mean feat!
It was also a glorious year to be a 12 or 13 year old fan, at least in North America. We were still getting new Peter Davison episodes in my area in 1985 (the final “new” one not being The Caves of Androzani, but rather long-delayed The Five Doctors which the BBC always charged more for. With TVO unable or unwilling to purchase it and my local PBS station seemingly unable to afford the extra price tag, there was a time when I thought I’d never ever seen The Five Doctors. That might have been over 30 years since I thought that, but I still remember that feeling and don’t take it for granted today. A bunch of “new” Jon Pertwee’s were also shown in my area for the first time in 1985 - stories that for various reasons (much to do with not existing fully or at all in colour at the time) hadn’t been included in previous Pertwee packages. Target novels continued to flow into bookstores and then into fan’s hands after they purchased them. All in all, the notion of Tom Baker being the “only” or “main” Doctor had dissipated at this time amongst fans given the success Pertwee and Davison’s episodes during this time. The show was entering into a troublesome period in the UK, but in North America its popularity truly was at an all time high (and so was DWIN’s membership). On the verge of breaking into the mainstream, a shrewd BBC management would have tried to cultivate that, but that isn’t what the BBC had at the time in relation to Doctor Who. Still, this is a celebration, so the less said about that, the better. 1985 was still a great time to be a Doctor Who fan.
Posted by Luca on Thursday, June 20 at 8:01 pm
June 10, 2013
There’s a tendency to think that the celebrations for Doctor Who‘s 20th Anniversary ended with the broadcast of The Five Doctors in November 1983. But that wasn’t really the case. Just over a month later another season of Doctor Who began broadcasting, the 21st in total, which effectively kept the celebrations going. Another 22 episodes of Peter Davison as the Doctor, and then suddenly in March of 1984, there was a 6th Doctor - Colin Baker, who got a whole story to himself at the end of the 21st season. On screen the changes came fast and furious - three stories in a row (Resurrection of the Daleks, Planet of Fire and The Caves of Androzani) a regular cast member left, while two different ones joined. Fans and viewers said goodby rapidly to Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Peter Davison - and in fact they said hello to Nicola Bryant as Peri at the same time as saying goodbye to Turlough.
While ratings held steady in the UK, the show just got more and more popular in North America. In my particular corner of the world, Doctor Who was now being broadcast a remarkable 8 times every 7 days. This was long before the idea of a specialty cable channel doing a “marathon” of episodes of one particular tv series became fashionable. There were still not that many channels available on regular cable (even if “pay tv” was now making inroads) in comparison to today (although we had a lot more than the 4 regular channels that the UK was now “up” to). The local PBS station broadcast one episode every weekday at 6pm while also showing an entire Doctor Who “movie” (ie. all episodes from a story edited together) on Saturday afternoons, usually starting at 4pm. They would end at 5:30, then you’d have a couple hours off before TVOntario broadcast another episode on early Saturday evening, which they would repeat Thursday evenings (which meant on Thursday nights you had even a shorter break between episodes). Target novels were now starting to proliferate like never before - if I missed a Saturday broadcast of an entire story that I hadn’t seen before, I could walk down the street to my local convenience store and buy the target novel of the new Peter Davison story that I had missed (note, I did this for both Snakedance and Enlightenment - my family did not get a VCR until late summer 1985). Heck, that’s something that I can’t do today (even substituting Target novels for DVD releases).
1984 was the first year that I discovered and bought Target books, and actually the first time I owned a piece of Doctor Who merchandise - all inspired from seeing a PBS pledge break during Mawdryn Undead where one of the gifts that you could receive in return for your pledge was the novelization of that very story. It seemed so incredible to someone about to turn 12 - if I was to go out and buy a novelization of a Doctor Who story, I could re-read it again and again and again and re-live the experience of the story again and again and again. Nothing seemed so exciting! By the time the story had finished broadcast that Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1984, Doctor Who had become my favourite show and I knew that it was always going to be. And that’s why for this Doctor Who fan, 1984 was perhaps the best year ever to be a fan of Doctor Who.
Posted by Luca on Monday, June 10 at 9:51 pm
June 03, 2013
This was a post I was hoping not to have to write for a good many years…..it just seems like yesterday since Matt Smith was cast as the 11th Doctor. But as he has announced his departure in the role and it is likely that the 12th Doctor has either already been cast or will be cast very soon, we haven’t got much time to make our picks for the new 12th Doctor. Here are mine.
1. Stephen Mangan
Many feel the star of the BBC’s tv adaptation of the Dirk Gently novels by Douglas Adams probably took himself out of the running by having taken a Doctor-like role in the past couple of years. They say he’s too obvious a choice. But barely anyone (comparative to Doctor Who) has even seen the Dirk Gently series (broadcast on BBC4 and ran for just 4 episodes), particularly in North America, a market very much in mind for the people making Doctor Who these days. What his performance as Dirk Gently proved is that he is suited to the role. He’s gotten a lot of press recently having tweeted a pic himself with a Tom Baker scarf the day before Smith’s departure was announced with a cryptic Doctor Who comment in the tweet. But I should point out that I’m not jumping on any bandwagon - when we did our picks for the 11th Doctor five years ago, he was one of my top choices then as well - in fact, if you search back to November 4th 2008, he was actually the first person I suggested in our “Who I’d Like to Be Who” series of posts. I haven’t changed my mind since then.
2. Peter Serafinowicz
Why? Because if he became the Doctor, we could get rid of the psychic paper and cut down on the sonic screwdriver usage as the 12th Doctor would be the first incarnation to defeat the enemy or gain entry to some place by doing Paul McCartney impressions. Or Ringo Starr impressions. Or Michael Caine impressions. Or just about any kind of impression.
3. Ben Wishaw
Probably a better choice for Doctor #13. The new Q from James Bond looks younger than Matt Smith but is a year or so older. However, I think they should go about 10 years older at least. If not, Ben could be the man
4. John Bradley-West
There’s been much talk that the next Doctor should be black, or that the next Doctor should be a woman, or that the next Doctor should be a blind, crippled, Guatemalan Lesbian, all because we have never had one in the role before therefore we delilberately need to have one now. In the spirit of affirmative action in fiction, I think the next Doctor should be a short, bearded, pudgy guy with a high pitched voice, because we’ve never had one of those in the role before either. And what better actor than John Bradley-West, who plays Sam in HBO’s Game of Thrones?
For what it is worth, it is the opinion of this blog writer that the next Doctor “should” not be anything other than the best actor for the role.
More choices to come - while there’s still time.
Posted by Luca on Monday, June 3 at 10:14 pm
June 02, 2013
1983 is turning out to share a lot of characteristics with 2013. It was the biggest anniversary celebration the show had done (it remains to be seen whether the 50th will top it), featuring fewer regular number of episodes in the season itself (in 1983 it was 22, rather than the typical 26), a multi-Doctor anniversary special in November, with the public announcement that there will be a new Doctor taking place in the summer months after the filming on the anniversary special had been done in the spring but before the broadcast in November (that’s when Peter Davison announced his departure - summer of 1983. A shame that Matt Smith has now down the same in the summer of 2013).
Of course, the 22 episodes were planned to be a full run but another BBC strike put paid to the production of the final four episodes, so the return of the Daleks planned for that season was postponed until the 21st season in 1984 (much different from whatever the reasons are for the fewer number of episodes in 2013). Despite that disappointment, 1983 was for many fans the happiest time to be a fan during the classic series days. Huge conventions and events were now happening on either side of the Atlantic (in places like Chicago and Longleat in the UK). Who Merchandise was being produced at increasingly higher levels (this year saw the publication of the first of the large Hardbound Peter Haining books on the show, A Celebration (which proved to be so successful that they published a similar HB large book every year for the next 5 years even when they were without a significant anniversary to celebrate), as well as the first story to be released on home video - Revenge of the Cybermen - picked as the first choice because of how overwhelmingly popular the Cybermen now were following the broadcast of Earthshock). The 90 minute special The Five Doctors had such an incredible amount of hype for it, probably the most for any Doctor Who story to date, making it virtually impossible not to be swept up in the excitement. It was a tremendous celebration that was enjoyed by Who fans all over the world in 1983. A glorious year indeed!
Posted by Luca on Sunday, June 2 at 6:28 am
The Doctor Who Blog's mission is to provide witty and insightful commentary on the world of Doctor Who in all its various forms. And to make several bad puns and references to jokes Tom Baker once made.
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- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 39 - 2001
- Happy 50th Anniversary
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 38 - 2000
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 37 - 1999
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 36 - 1998
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 35 - 1997
- Keep your hair on…...but more missing episodes have been found!
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 34 - 1996
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 33 - 1995
- Sydney Newman interviewed by CBC in 1966
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 32 - 1994
- YouTubing It #33
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 31 - 1993
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 30 - 1992