The Case of Time and Space Part 2

Hello Cassettes and Whovians alike, and welcome to the second installment of our Doctor Who series! This week we went further into space and talked about the reboot, the newer doctors, and of course the show’s most notorious villains.

Doctor Who 2

The history of the reboot

  • As we said last week, the show was officially cancelled in 1989. But, Doctor Who never truly disappeared. According to a Digital Spy article by Morgan Jeffery, there were 7 different attempts to bring Doctor Who back! This included a possible American version with Stephen Spielburg in 1994.
    • When the show was cancelled, a producer named Phillip Segal tried to relaunch the show with the BBC. Although he was initially unsuccessful, he was the executive producer that brought Doctor Who back in 1996 with a movie starring Paul McGann
    • The film was originally going to be a remake done by Universal, until a writer named Matthew Jacobs suggested continuing the show instead of re-making it.
    • Although the US release of the movie had low ratings, the UK release a few days later had 9 million viewers. Critics seemed to enjoy the darker tone of the movie, with a more “grown up” feel, drifting from the somewhat silly serial format of the old show
    • When the movie did not lead to a show, the rights returned to the BBC. The man in charge of continuing drama there, Mal Young, decided to try to reboot the show. When he was looking for a writer, the name Russell T Davies was suggested. Although it took a few more years, Davies became an integral part in reviving the show.
  • Novels
    • Various novels in the Whoniverse have been published, though they are widely considered as non-canon
    • “Damaged Goods” (1996) A Doctor Who novel written by Russel T Davies by Virgin Books
  • Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death
    • For their 1999 broadcast of Red Nose Day (an event meant to raise money to help people in underserved communities) The BBC aired a Doctor Who parody special written by Stephen Moffat (the future showrunner of the series)
    • This program starred Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Joanna Lumley; all as incarnations of The Doctor
    • This first introduced the idea of regeneration across gender lines
  • Audio dramas
    • Before the official return of the show, there were audio dramas produced by the company “Big Finish.” These dramas featured past doctors Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvestor McCoy from the original series and were a more serious continuation of the show
  • Scream of the Shalka
    • Before the announcement of the new show, BBC Online created a new animated version of the show, starring Richard E Grant (who played an incarnation of the doctor on red nose day)
    • Scream of Shalka was accepted as an official continuation of the series and Grant was known as the 9th Doctor UNTIL the announcement of the new series with Christopher Eccleston

The New Show

  • It happened again just as it had before, BBC was in need of a new drama for Saturdays. So, BBC controller Lorraine Heggessey and the head of drama commissioning Jane Trantor ordered a new season of the show with Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, and Mal Young at the helm
    • Now, Davies was a well-known script writer from shows like Queer As Folk (1999) and he had already participated in the Whoniverse. Heggessey and Trantor trusted him so much, they didn’t even ask for a formal proposal before green-lighting the first season
    • The BBC and Doctor Who showrunners used the data from the previous seasons to determine that the new show had to be different, as the show in the 80s didn’t have a large enough audience to keep it on the air. They needed to attract new viewers, rebrand the show, but not betray its origins.
    • In a pitch document, Davies described the new Doctor as, “Your best friend. Someone you want to be with all the time. He’s wise and funny, fast and sarky, cheeky and brave. And considering he’s an alien, he’s more human than the best human you could imagine. So full of compassion, his heart could burst and his head’s jam-packed with science and art and history.”
    • Davies made the decision to ignore a lot of continuity from the old series, which in turn helps solve the issue of the lack of mystery
      • The series doesn’t start with a regeneration, establishing Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor immediately. This helped the new audience unfamiliar with the show get introduced to its universe, there wasn’t a lot of reference that a new fan wouldn’t understand. It was easy to digest.
      • Davies changed the format of the show. It was no longer the serial show from the past, but more like a full 45-minute program with its own new story each week. He also added a hook at the end of each episode to bring the audience back, but did away with the weekly cliffhanger.
    • Mal Young, one of the producers, suggested actor Christopher Eccleston to play the ninth doctor, and Davies felt that he fit the role perfectly.
      • The idea was that they wanted to leave behind the “Neutered, posh” doctor for someone “immediate and tactile”
    • One of the biggest changes that Davies made, was destroying The Time Lords
      • What was once a large part of the show’s plot, Davies wrote in that The Doctor’s planet of Gallifrey had been destroyed and with it, all other time lords. Why? Well, being the only Time Lord emphasizes The Doctor’s loneliness. It makes him seem unique and impossible, and most importantly it would ensure that no other time lords would pop up in the show (until later of course)
      • Davies also decided that the show would mostly involve human stories, or story-lines that involved humans in some way. He thought this would help capture a wider audience
      • The show was a success! ITV even attempted to topple series 1 by running blockbuster films simultaneously to Doctor Who. One of which was Star Wars Episode 1. Doctor Who’s ratings beat a film from the very franchise that had created unrealistic expectations of Science Fiction TV. Remember Michael Grade and his comparison of Doctor Who to Star Wars?
  • On March 26th, 2005, the world was introduced to the new Doctor Who and his young companion Rose Tyler. The episode included call-backs to the old show, including it’s villain being the Nestene Consciousness and its plastic Autons; it even re-created a famous scene when shop dummies come to life

The New Doctors & Their Companions

  • Christopher Eccelston (2005)
    • What he did for the show and why he left
    • The Ninth incarnation of The Doctor was crucial in the reinvention of the series.  It was a chance to begin fresh. His portrayal was different than all the other Doctors before, and arguably all since.  Far from the Dandy look of all his past selves, he takes on a rougher look with a leather jacket, boots, and black trousers.  He ditched all the accessories and went simple.
    • Davies’ decision to make the Doctor the last of the Timelords brought another side to the NInth Doctor’s performance.  An anger and guilt at being the sole survivor.
      • Protective of Rose
    • When asked about why he left he said “My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered. They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them … Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity. They employed somebody who was not a natural light comedian. Billie, who we know was and is brilliant, was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. So, you had that, and then you had me. Very, very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.”
    • Fantastic!
  • Billie Piper
    • The New Doctor was obviously an important part of the puzzle when creating a successful show. However, almost as important is the companion!
    • Billie Piper was 23 when she was cast as Rose, a young shoppe clerk who gets whisked away and eventually falls in love with The Doctor. Rose was the perfect vehicle for the new audience to discover The Doctor. She maintained the curiosity and wit of past companions with an edge of sass and bravery.
    • BBC America ran a poll in honor of the show’s 50th anniversary. Their list held Rose as the 5th best companion
  • David Tennant (2006-2010)
    • David Tennant was working on the TV serial Casanova when Russell T Davies asked him to come around to his place and see some rough cuts of the new series before its premiere. After they watched the cuts, Davies revealed to him that he wanted him to take over the role. So, they had Tennant film the regeneration scene at the end of season 1. Tennant revealed later that he was afraid the show wouldn’t get renewed and that he would only get to play the doctor for a few seconds
    • Companions: Rose, Martha, Donna
      • Martha
        • The second companion of the new series, the show chose an older character, one with slightly more maturity than Rose. Martha is a medical doctor, incredibly intelligent and resourceful
        • Frema Agyeman was cast in the role after auditioning three different times as other parts in the show. If you pay attention, you can see her in an earlier episode before she was cast as Martha. It was the versatility she showed in these auditions that impressed the showrunners
      • Donna
        • When Catherine Tate was cast in the role of Donna Noble, it was a big secret. She was already well-known as a prominent comedian and actress, so her appearance was a great surprise. She wasn’t meant to be a recurring character on the show, just meant to be a character in a special.
        • But, Davies considered bringing her back for a season, toning down her abrasive and outspoken nature as a character
        • Donna was the oldest companion in the new show to date, in her mid-30s and a temp in Chiswick
        • Her character arch is considered to be one of the most moving, with a devastating ending
    • Things they brought to the role (catchphrase, clothing)
      • “Allons-Y!”  “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” “Welllll……”
  • Matt Smith (2010-2013)
    • Youngest to play the doctor- Only 26
    • Matt Smith’s doctor ushered in a new era for the show, the beginning of Stephen Moffat’s turn as showrunner
      • The introduction of Smith felt like a new show; it had a different look and feel, with a new Tardis after the old one crash-landed
      • An entire edition of Doctor Who: Confidential, the documentary show about the making of Doctor Who, was dedicated to revealing Matt Smith as The Doctor
    • Companions: Amy Pond and Rory Williams
      • Karen Gillan had played a character in a season 4 episode, and was brought back as Amy Pond
      • Amy is strong, curious, fiery, and a device for the audience to get to know this new version of The Doctor.
      • Rory is a foil to Amy, a more grounded and cautious companion, and the two together make up the first married couple as companions in the new series
    • Clara Oswald
      • Jenna Coleman, despite admitting to never watching the show before playing Clara, was cast as Matt Smith’s companion after the exit of Amy and Rory
        • When she was cast she only watched the few episodes that aired before hers in order to get an idea of the show; she didn’t want Amy and Rory’s interactions with the Doctor influence how she played the character
      • Clara is known as The Impossible Girl, a face that appears throughout The Doctor’s timeline in mysterious ways
      • She’s also a school teacher, bringing the show back to its origins with the first companions
      • Clara is meant to be different from Amy so that the audience can see a new side of the doctor. Stephen Moffat stated that Clara had, “a speed and wit and an unimpressed quality that makes the Doctor dance a bit harder”
    • Catchphrase: “Geronimo!” “Bow Ties are cool”
  • Peter Capaldi (2014-2017)
    • In 2013, BBC revealed that they had cast Peter Capaldi as the 12th incarnation of The Doctor
    • A total shift after Matt Smith who was the youngest to play the role, Capaldi would be the oldest to play the character, tied with William Hartnell at age 55; Until John Hurt would play a version of the character in the 50th anniversary special
    • Capaldi found out he got the part while filming another movie. He missed a call from his agent and when he returned it, they answered with “Hello, Doctor!”
    • Capaldi brought some rock-star energy to the part, playing his guitar and wearing sonic sun-glasses for a time
    • He played the doctor as a grumpy man, wise and interesting.
    • Companions: Clara Oswald
    • Bill Potts
      • A young, charismatic character that challenges The Doctor in his old ways and forces him to think differently in situations
      • Bill is the first openly gay companion on the show, she’s very young and has a curious mind. She’s cool and a great pairing with the older, rock and roll style of Peter Capaldi
      • Played by Pearl Mackie
  • Jodie Whittaker (2018-present)
    • First female Doctor! The idea of cross-gender transformation is not new to the show. The first time it happened on screen was in an episode in 2015 called “Hell Bent” and later it happened with the notorious villain “The Master” turning into “Missy”
    • With Chris Chibnall taking over the show from Stephen Moffat, came the idea of a new doctor. Jodie Whittaker played a prominent role in Chibnall’s show “Broadchurch” and was his first choice as the 13th Doctor
    • Companions: Ryan, Yasmin, and Graham

Memorable Monsters/Antagonists

    • In the old and new series
      • Dalek
        • Daleks were created by Terry Nation when he wrote the second Doctor Who serial. In “Static Shock,” the doctor and his companions first meet the Daleks on Skaro. They were radiation victims that were encased in metal machinery, equipped with weapons used for wiping out any race besides their own, and ran on static electricity.
        • Sydney Newman wanted to avoid what he called “Bug-eyed monsters” in the show; monsters that fit the low budget sci-fi B-movie stereotype. When he first saw the Daleks, he felt that’s exactly what they were, and he was upset. He was more committed to education, and didn’t see the value in the Daleks
        • But, they were deeper than they seemed, inspired by the Nazis, the Daleks were a pitiful and tortured race, small-minded and deadly. Their appearance in the show helped it get renewed for more episodes; the Daleks were a hit.
        • The Daleks returned several times throughout the series, including an episode with Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith. They meet Davros, the creator of the Dalek race.
          • There was a nuclear war happening between the Thals and the Kaleds. Davros decided he wanted to quicken the mutation of his race and place them inside a machine of his own creation.
      • Cybermen
        • Created by Dr. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
        • First appearing at the end of William Hartnell’s timeline, showrunners were hoping to find similar success to the Daleks
        • Cybermen are humans from Earth’s twin planet Mondas. As the planet began to drift into space, the race began to experiment with cybernetics in order to survive. The Cybermen were born from the fear that humans were becoming too reliant on machines
        • Cybermen are updated every time they appear in the show with the latest technology
      • Nestene Consciousness
        • Created by Robert Holmes, the Nestenes is a disembodied life form able to take control of specially manufactured plastics (it’s a hive species)
          • This plastic includes the Autons–Humanoid creatures with deadly weapons in their hands that can masquerade as mannequins
        • The Nestene originally took the form similar to an Octopus before transferring themselves into pure energy
        • Autons have the ability to look human, as later in the series with the 11th Doctor, they were able to disguise themselves as Roman soldiers without the doctor recognizing them
        • Their first appearance was in the first serial of the 7th season of Doctor Who called Spearhead From Space. This episode was the first to be in color, filmed on location, introduces Jon Pertwee as The Doctor, is the first appearance of The Master and also includes Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart from UNIT (who is often referred to in the reboot)
      • Sontarans
        • Also created by Robert Holmes, Sontarans are a warrior race characterized by their fearlessness
        • The Man who played the first Sontaran named Lynx, pronounced the name “SonTARan” even though it was supposed to be SONtaran. He reportedly declared that since he was from the place, he knew the right way to pronounce it
        • They play prominent roles in both series, they have an egg-shaped head covered by a helmet
      • Zygons
        • Metamorphic Humanoid characters that were from Zygor but seem to not want to stay there.  When in their true form they are an orangey brown color, are covered in suckers, and have a cone shaped head.
      • The Great Intelligence
        • With no physical form it is seen as a parasite.  Its main goal is to obtain a tangible body. Throughout the episodes it has inhabited the form of snow, a buddhist monk, robot yetis, and London Fog.
      • The Master
        • A recurring character known as The Doctor’s archenemy and revealed to be the only other survivor from The Last Great Time War .  He is ok with watching the world burn for fun.
        • His first team up was with the Autons.
        • Regenerates into Missy, which paves the way for the ability to regenerate Peter Capaldi into Jodie Whittaker.
    • In the new series only
      • The Weeping Angels
        • Created by Stephen Moffat for the season three episode “Blink”
        • The Angels are quantum-locked, meaning they only exist when they aren’t being observed
        • They feed on time energy, so they send you back in time and eat up your potential life in the present
      •  Adipose
        • Creatures consisting completely of fat with “children” that appear as almost cute marshmallow characters.
        • They are created by using a weight loss pill that converts a human into the children of Adipose.

 

 

      • Vashta Nerada
        • No bigger than a spec of dust, this creature is harmless in small numbers; But, in The Library, they attack the humans in large swarms and eat the flesh off their bones
        • The Doctor says that the books in the library were made from the trees in the Vashta Narada forest and they therefore see the library as their own home (Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead)
      • The Silence
        • A creature that no one can remember seeing, The Silence can pass through the world completely undetected. Anyone who sees this creature will forget them the moment they look away
        • These were meant to be the scariest villains yet, and their appearance was slightly based on “The Scream”
        • The Silence are a religious order and they attempt to make the doctor’s death in season 6 a fixed point in history, meaning it cannot be altered
  • Sources:

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