Our Doctor Countdown 3 : Matt Smith

Matt Smith, The Eleventh Doctor

SmithMatt Smith is the current Doctor, having started his era in 2010 after David Tennant left he is due to bow out at Christmas.

Now I could rabbit on about Eleven all day long if you gave me a chance! He is by far my favourite incarnation post-2005, he is climbing in my estimation all the time and for me ranks equal with C.Baker, Troughton and Pertwee at the number 1 spot in my heart. Yes those four men are perfection for me.

Why do we like Eleven so much?

Smith has a ability to say a million words with a look, he can go from playful and eccentric to one solitary teary look and break your heart in seconds. His timing is perfect and his expressions are wonderful.

I couldn’t even tell you how much I love him without just listing perfect moments. I won’t do that, there would be no point in it.

I didn’t love the Tennant years, I’ve said it before and I’ll keep harping on about it, I didn’t dislike Tennants Doctor I just didn’t like it. I didn’t have high hopes for Smith when I first heard the casting but he changed my mind in seconds of his first episode, he was just perfectly Doctorish for me. I loved how alien he seemed, he was childish and manic but his eyes looked like they belonged to an old, worn out man when he wanted them to. He is the master of the subtle moments, the half spoken words, the looks that tell you the whole story better then any blurb could. It is something I never imagined he’d be able to do but he does it perfectly.

It helps that I love Steven Moffats writing, and I am one of what seems a very small group in places of people that think A Christmas Carol was one of the best episodes we’ll ever see. I hate saying it now because people take it the wrong way and use it in a negative sense but I love the magic you feel when Matt is on screen and that episode was so magical and just made my Christmas feel special. I don’t mean its all Harry Potter and all that stuff, not that I think that is a decent insult as the Harry Potter series is a great one, Doctor Who should feel magical in the way that it should transport you into a fictional world and make you feel apart of it, Matt’s era has done that and a lot of it is down to Matt.

I was saying in my random blubbing on my own blog that Matt will be the first of my Doctors that I’ve been alive to see regenerate, I wasn’t born till 1989 and even though I felt emotional about the others regenerating it didn’t have as much of a impact as this one will have, I’ll be there at the end with my Doctor.

Selfishly it isn’t enough, I want 100 more episodes with him, I don’t want him to leave, his Doctor means the world to me and the way he plays it is just beautiful, losing him will break my heart (that isn’t a negative against Capaldi he’ll do a wonderful job and I’ll probably love him just as much) he was just so perfectly Doctorish and I’ll miss him.

The raggedy Doctor.

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Our Doctor Countdown 4 : William Hartnell

William Hartnell, the First Doctor

HartnellIn 1963 William Hartnell was cast in a little show called Doctor Who. The first episode, written by Antony Coburn, An Unearthly Child was broadcast on November 23rd 1963, he left the show in 1966 after starring in 134 episodes.

The First Doctor, where it all started.

We haven’t really seen much of Hartnell’s era, we can’t really say why either. What we have seen has been excellent and we can see why back then it was a hit, then again we can see why it should have been a hit when it wasn’t… Fans hey?

Anything I write today will be with the shadow of An Adventure in Space and Time hanging over it, to write this like I hadn’t seen that wonderful drama is difficult as before now I really hadn’t seen much or thought much about Hartnell or the First Doctor. He was just there. I love An Unearthly Child, adore The Daleks and after last night (well the night before technically) I am in love with The Romans, his era of the show is brilliant, it really captures the imagination, but for some reason I’ve just not seen much of it.

I love how the Doctor slowly mellows towards Ian and Barbara and how they grow fond of the old man and his funny ways, his love of Susan and his thirst to see everything, know everything and stick his nose in makes me laugh. He just loved having adventures and I think I love that about his incarnation the most, it didn’t matter where or why, he just loved going and doing.

Without him we wouldn’t have the show… Well as Amanda pointed out we don’t really know that! We could have had the show but it wouldn’t have been the same without him, he made his character his own just like every Doctor and I like to think he was the perfect man for the job.

I’m going to make it my task next year to see as much of his era as I can possibly watch as I believe he’d personally be higher for me if I’d seen more of him.

As it is we love him enough to put him at 4. What a wonderful Doctor.

An Adventure in Space and Time Review

On BBC Two we were able to relive the early years of this little show called Doctor Who, a show that is celebrating its 50th year on television. The drama was written by Mark Gatiss and starred David Bradley as William Hartnell, Jessica Raine as Variety Lambert, Brian Cox as Sydney Newman and was riddled with cameo’s from companions… (I say riddled… not quite that many but lots!)

What did I think?

I thought it was a lovely bit of TV, just the perfect piece of drama to celebrate the shows origins, it had fact and fiction muddled together but you could really get behind Lambert and her team who believed in the show and did everything they could to make it work, and no matter how crotchety he could be Hartnell’s story was one that brought tears to my eyes. It was heartbreaking but also brought a smile to my face as they fought to keep the show alive.

Don’t read on if you haven’t read it and don’t want anything to be spoilt!

The acting was top class, I thought David Bradley was wonderful as Hartnell, a few tiny little moments where he didn’t say a word but the look on the face was enough. The realization that people were leaving and everything was changing, it happened so quick in the drama too. First Weirs was off, then Carol-Anne Ford and after Variety was left it was like no one even knew what they were doing. For me it gave the story through his eyes, you could see that he didn’t mean to be abrasive or difficult to work with, he had a hard outer shell that he didn’t let people past but he just loved the show, he loved what he was doing and he loved the Doctor and he wanted it to be right. The look he gave Variety at her leaving do was just beautiful. He brought so much to the part.

The story was interesting, even if it wasn’t all factual it made me feel proud to be a fan of this show that has lasted for so long. The struggle to get it done, to keep it on air, the well deserved praise when it did well and the struggle for Hartnell to the point that no matter how much he loved the show and being the Doctor he had to leave. It made you wish that Hartnell could see the success that it still is right now, 50 years later. He believed in the show, and his belief was right.

And that brings me to my personal moment of the show.

Matt Smiths cameo.

Now I know it took you out of the drama, of course it would, having Matt there in his tweed. But the point it was making was something I loved, I like these little moments in drama, Hartnell believed in this show and just as he was leaving it he got a glimpse of that silly old man (played by a much younger man I must admit) still running through space and time, still making kids happy, stil successful and wonderful and unique and weird and above all still Doctor Who 50 years later. That for me was a special moment. Some people say that having Troughton there was enough, but Troughton was only one era after him, this was 50 years on and if anything a moment planted at the perfect time to make fans really think about it.

For me before tonight Hartnell’s serials were so far in the past, I wasn’t born to watch them I haven’t even seen many of them now, that little moment stuck out for me. Every era is so different and I rarely think about them as a whole, as one evolving beast, from Hartnell we go to Troughton, then onto the Pertwee UNIT years. From there you get the always wonderful Tom Baker years followed by the much less eccentric Davison era. Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and now Matt Smith. Every era different, each Doctor unique, fans of all ages, shapes and sizes each with a different Doctor. It is all the same but at the same time so very different. Next month will be the end of another era and we’ll be onto the Capaldi years, new fans will come who might take years to even watch a Hartnell serial let alone really think how that grumpy old man is the same as whatever Capaldi’s Doctor will be like.

Then again we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for him.

Mark Gatiss has done himself proud, a wonderful tale that made Anna (Awerka) speechless. Read her review HERE .

Doctor Who Review : The Romans

So we all settled down to watch The Romans at the end of our “Hartnell appreciation days”.

How did it go down on the forum?

It got a very positive review from everyone, an interesting story split into two parts. It proved the strength of having such a large TARDIS team as well.

The story was set just before Nero burnt down Rome, the TARDIS tumbles off a cliff and the TARDIS crew take a holiday in Rome. Well not quite in Rome… The Doctor and Vicki get split up from Ian and Barbara and all of them have a quite different adventure.

Whilst The Doctor and Vicki have it pretty easy, pretending to be would-be assassins (without knowing) and a world class lyre player. Their adventure is quite light hearted and fun.

On the other side of the coin Ian and Barbara are taken captives, Ian is to be a Gladiator and Barbara ends up as Nero’s wife’s slave. In a fit of coincidence the two of them are reunited before being able to escape Nero’s plans on murdering the both.

The two stories are very different, the darker story of Ian and Barbara is quite nicely combined with the much lighter Doctor’s story. The two balance each other out so that the story didn’t become too dark or too light. Not only that it gave the story much more time to show the two sides of ancient Rome. The slaves/Gladiators vs the royalty and upper classes. The way Nero acts to each character speaks a million words more then anything else. The four different stories are interesting to follow and the story ends up turning into something quite wonderful.

The biggest enjoyment of the whole episode was the relationship between Ian and Barbara, it is nice to have two people just be friends, they made the story and worked wonderful as companions. They didn’t just follow the Doctors every word and they both managed to get out of their predicament without anyone else having to save them.Β  Their stories are two that are told everywhere, the Roman slaves and Gladiators but it wasn’t downplayed, OK it made light of and didn’t go into depth to what would have usually happened to someone like Barbara but it worked in its own way.

We also enjoyed the wonderful comic acting of Derek Francis as Nero, his timing was perfect and brought so much life to those little moments that would have been lost with anyone with a face with less character. Him and his wife Poppaea were wonderful characters, even if Nero played to the comedy and Poppaea to the darker side of the story it showed how little regard to life they had and how their ego’s were more important then anyone else.

It is hard to watch any Doctor and not compare them, I loved the dark humour of Hartnell, having a chuckle in the face of danger and not really letting the plot upset him. He just went from one random situation to the other, for him it was like reading a book, he was never really a part of it so none of the terrible things could happen to him. He didn’t mind upsetting Nero, didn’t run when told he was faced with the Arena… He just laughed it off and went along with it so that he could see history working. Vicki was the perfect companion for him on his quest.

None of us had really seen much of Hartnell so we were very much surprised at how much he’d mellowed out from the original stories where he was just rude and abrasive most of the time. Now, he still is a grumpy old man and still has his moments, he very much is in charge and wants everyone to know that, but he is much softer with Ian and Barbara, treating them more like his children then his prisoners. His relationship with Vicki is much like it was with Susan.

We all enjoyed the episode so much we went straight to watching another Hartnell serial that we hadn’t really seen (some of us had it tucked away for Christmas, others borrowed them off of friends) and it gave us a greater appreciation of the man who started it all.

Our Doctor Countdown 5 : Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor

EcclestonWhen Doctor Who came back in 2005 Christopher Eccleston played the Time Lord and introduced him to a whole new generation. He only played the Doctor for a solitary series in 2005 but he made it up to 5th in our countdown.

Why?

Maybe it is as simple as loving Eccleston himself anyway. He brought a lot of what we love about him to the Doctor, his wit, his goofiness but also his darker side.

His series wasn’t to all of our tastes but one thing we do usually agree with is that what we did enjoy was his portrayal. He was an interesting choice for the Doctor especially bringing the show back, he’s quite a big star without being massive and is also a very Marmite actor at times. His relationship with Rose was probably what made the show as popular as it was, the series for the first time really was about the journey of his companion and not the Doctor so new fans were able to see the Doctor through someone else’s eyes instead of alongside the Doctor and it worked. Even if Eccleston didn’t stay around for long.

What did we like about the Ninth Doctor?

It is hard to say, in his one and only series we have a little more to talk about then Paul McGann but at the same time it seems very little. His face when they shoot the pig-man-thing is one moment that I’ll always remember, it reminded me how great Eccleston can be when he wants to be.

Unlike Tennant for me his relationship with Rose didn’t make me want to cringe inwardly, it was quite sweet, the only time I had a problem with him was his over reaction to Adam, not that I liked Adam (he bloody annoyed me!) but at the same time it was unneeded, especially as Rose wasn’t quite as perfect as he seemed to think she was (and what was with her stupid face during the whole of the taking Adam home crap?) It was bearable.

I’d love to see the return of the Ninth Doctor as I feel we had so much more to see of him. It is a shame that he only got the one series, but even with farting aliens the series didn’t suffer (I quite liked the Slitheen to be honest!) and we got a new, new Doctor who went on to be one of the most popular ever in David Tennant.

You can’t forget just how important Chris is though, his Doctor was the one that made us love the Doctor again.

Our Doctor Countdown 6 : Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor

TroughtonAfter Hartnell left instead of end the series they cast Patrick Troughton as the Second incarnation of the Doctor, he started work in October 1966 and left in June 1969 in the War Games.

The heart breaking truth of it is that seeing we weren’t alive back then to see his episodes live unfortunately there has of yet been little to no chance of seeing most of the Second Doctors tenure as the episodes have been lost to us after the BBC wiped them. Thankfully, slowly, his episodes are being found and with rumours that the last two serials to be returned (Enemy of the World and Web of Fear) not being the only episodes found we could broaden our Troughton viewing in years to come.

But for now he sits at number 6.

He is a well loved Doctor for each of us, we all love his incarnation a lot. We love the wackiness he brings to it but also the ability to switch it on and off like a tap. HE can be deadly serious, pull a funny face, then scare you to the bone. The Second Doctor is the one that we constantly compare the Eleventh too, their comedy is much more physical then most of the other Doctors but they have such a deadly side to them that it usually a good disguse, play up to the funny side of yourself then let rip with a quite terrifying darker side.

The biggest strength his series had was a long standing companion in Jamie. He was with the Second Doctor throughout most of his tenure, he wasn’t the smartest of companions, coming from the 18th century and not knowing anything about gadgets of any kind he was the companion that needed to be taught, but at the same time he would call the Doctor out whenever he was getting too big for his boots.

It is a great shame that there is so many missing episodes from his time as the Doctor because what we have got is magic, and the find of Enemy just proved this. In Enemy he plays both the Doctor and Salamander (the bad guy) and does it perfectly, both characters don’t feel similar at all even with the same face and you are easily able to forget it is the same man playing both characters. Salamander can’t be any different from the Doctor if you tried, he is the complete opposite and it is wonderful to see him play the part, it showed how straight he could act given the time to do it, but I’m happy that he played his Doctor with more humour.

For a Doctor that we don’t know much about at times he makes the biggest impact on people. Such a wonderful Doctor. And if anything he had one of the hardest roles to play in the series, if people didn’t believe he was the Doctor then the show would have ended with him and would probably be mocked as “that show that tried to change the face of their main character once” instead it worked wonderfully to the point that we’re making this countdown on the 50th anniversary of the show that he gave so much heart to.

Our Doctor Countdown 7 : Colin Baker

Colin Baker, The Sixth Doctor

C.Baker

I’m sad I couldn’t boost Colin higher as Six is my Doctor, but 7th is better then I’d thought he’d get.

The Sixth Doctor was portrayed by Colin Baker between March 1984 and December 1986. Β His iconic rainbow coloured coat makes him stand out from the rest of his counterparts, but also his fiery temper!

His era isn’t seen with a lot of love but for us there is a lot to love about Six and his adventures with Peri. Even the Trial of the Timelord series wasn’t half as bad (for us) as others think. I quite enjoy Sixies back and forth with the other characters, especially his childish insults to The Valeyard.

I enjoyed his volatile side, the fact that he was egotistical and knew what he was doing. He had a loving side though which came out in Trial so well. Being aware of how great he is wasn’t a problem for me, and having a bad temper is nowhere near as terrible as people seem to think.

I never found any of his stories boring and loved watching him and Peri go from journey to journey.

You do have to give Colin a lot of praise, he played the Doctor in a way that wasn’t going to be popular, a polar opposite of what Peter Davison did with Five. It was a brave, if futile attempt to shake up the format and the character, but after being mellowed out for Trial of the Timelord his Doctor had quite a nice balance that could have worked if given another series.

Sometimes it feels like it is the “popular” thing to do to hate on Six whether you watched his series or not, and also whether you really liked it or not. I’m not saying that it is something everyone does but sometimes people just like to hate on poor Six for no reason, personally I think he was the most endearing Doctor of the lot of them. I enjoyed his incarnation the most.

His highlight?

The Two Doctors, him and Troughton were a wonderful pairing. Peri and Jamie were pretty funny together to, plus we have a load of Sontarans.

We have big love for Six. Plus I met him once, what a wonderfully lovely man Colin Baker is!

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