The 9th Doctor: A Remembrance
After a 16 year absence (not counting the 1996 made-for-TV movie), the Time Lord was back, along with his magical blue box, the TARDIS, as Doctor Who made its proper, triumphant return on March 26th, 2005. Christopher Eccleston, from the north of England, was tabbed to portray this newest incarnation of the recently regenerated Doctor.
We learn early on that he is the only survivor of the “Time War”, in which not only the entire Dalek race, but all of the Time Lords were killed (or so he thinks). His home planet of Gallifrey is also gone. Consequently this Doctor is quite angry and guilt-ridden, though understandably so.
In episode one, we are introduced to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), who becomes The Doctor’s newest companion. Rose’s boyfriend Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and her mum (Camille Coduri) also play prominent, recurring roles in the series. The charismatic, omni sexual, former time agent from the 51st century, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) also makes his first appearance in the episode 9.
The Doctor has to take on new adversaries in the form of the Gelth, the Slitheen and even “gasmask people”, as well as some old favorites, the Nestene and their living plastic Autons. In episode six, we learn more details about the Time War and see the reemergence of The Doctor’s oldest and perhaps deadliest enemy. I won’t spoil it but the episode’s title kind of gives it away.
Besides the fallout from the Time War, the other main story arc in series 1 is the recurrence of the phrase “Bad Wolf”, which appears in some form or another in every story throughout the series. The two-part finale sees The Doctor battling seemingly impossible odds against scores of a race we thought we had seen the last of, as well as the end of the mystery of “Bad Wolf”.
In the final episode, “The Parting of the Ways”, we must say farewell to the ninth Doctor, despite having just gotten to know him, as he has to once again regenerate, but not before saving Rose and the planet Earth, as he more-often-than-not does.
So what was on the horizon for Doctor Who? Well, I’ll just say this:
There was a storm coming…
My take: Having grown up watching the incomparable Tom Baker masterfully play the fourth Doctor, I initially panned the new show. I thought that it would just be a half-hearted attempt to cash in off a name and that it wouldn’t be true to the original concept of the show. I don’t say this often, but I was wrong. VERY, VERY WRONG. My unsubstantiated concerns were laid to rest when I finally gave the show the chance I should have given it from the beginning.
I thought Christopher Eccleston did quite an admirable job of playing The Doctor, even if he looked a bit like an Eastern European arms dealer. Executive producer Russell T. Davies, who also wrote the majority of the stories in the first series, really laid an excellent foundation for the subsequent series with some brilliant scripts. The Bad Wolf storyline was a particularly well done touch. Steven Moffat, who later became the main writer/show runner, wrote his first Doctor Who story in series 1. The development of Rose and the dynamic between her and The Doctor made for an enjoyable pairing, even if for only 13 episodes. She is able to temper some of The Doctor’s rage and they really learn from one another and are the better for having been a part of each other’s lives. Sure there were a few flat points throughout some of the stories, but all-in-all it seemed that my favorite show as a child was in good hands and was well on its way to becoming my favorite show as an adult.
Next month: A recap of the 10th Doctor’s timey-wimey exploits in Series 2, 3, and 4.
Greg “BAD WOLF” Randolph