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“He’s like fire and ice and rage, he’s like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun, he’s ancient and forever, he burns at the center of time and can see the turn of the universe, and… he’s wonderful.”

Timothy Latimer, regarding the Doctor

 

Doctor Who – The Basics

The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler

For those not in the know, Doctor WHO is one of the most popular, and longest running science fiction shows to ever have appeared on television. From 1963 to 1989, Doctor WHO captivated television audiences worldwide. A product of the BBC, those of us in the states weren’t treated to the Doctor’s adventures until the late-seventies, where the show promptly developed a huge cult following.

Due to declining ratings, the BBC ended the series in 1989, and closed down the production office. For the next six years, rumors of big budget films and TV reunions flourished, often spread by the nascent internet, and the torch of the series was largely carried by the Virgin paperback novels, which greatly expanded upon the show’s themes and characters. In 1996, fans were treated to what was intended to be a revival of the series in the form of a 2-hour FOX TV-movie, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. However, low American TV ratings made it a one-off showing (despite a very strong showing in the UK), and the good Doctor was once again absent from our TV-screens. The fans would wait once again, for another 8 years.

The Tenth Doctor and Christina

And then in 2004, the time was finally right. Producer/writer/director Russell T. Davies and the BBC revived the show in grand fashion, with a big budget, and the well-respected actor, Christopher Eccleston playing the Ninth Doctor. Aired in 2005, the renewed series was a smashing success, as the old fans returned in droves, and millions of new fans were born overnight. When the talented David Tennant took over for Eccleston at the end of series one, many were concerned, but they soon found such concerns unwarranted. The show hit the ground running again as it went from strength to strength, becoming even more popular with Tennant’s Tenth Doctor at the TARDIS console as he delivered one memorable performance after another. In December of 2009, David Tennant’s brilliant tenure as the Doctor ended, and his departure made way for the then 26-year old newcomer Matt Smith, who would take over as the Eleventh Doctor. The changes didn’t end there, as the Tennant era also signaled the end of the Davies era, and the producer stepped aside to allow the award-winning writer Steven Moffat to helm the show, and to take it in a new direction.

Series 5 brought with it a different way of looking at the Doctor: less a hard sci-fi figure, and instead more of a fantastic, almost fairy-tale legend. A seeming madman with an almost magical blue box, larger within than without, able to take you anywhere and anywhen. Despite initial concerns about Matt’s age, he proved himself to many, giving us (as Moffat said) a “proper, bonkers Doctor”, in a series of quirky performances that served to remind us that the Doctor is not human, but an alien, with different ways of thinking and seeing. The season proved to be very successful, and this year brings us Series 6, with the production team and cast dedicated to further broadening the appeal of the show beyond its home in the UK. With this goal in mind, Doctor Who would film first-unit sequences with the main cast in the United States for the very first time in its long history. Its premiere on BBC America would bring that station its highest ratings ever, thus starting the new season off on the right foot, and whetting our appetites for the adventures to come.

After all these years, and in the face of so many changes, we’re still running with the Doctor today.

 

Who Is The Doctor?

“Doctor WHO” is not a name, but a question to which were still learning to answer. We do know that the being who calls himself the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. Hundreds of years old, clownish, brilliant and wise, he travels through time and space in his TARDIS, a ship, which looks like a British Police call box on the outside but is almost infinitely large within. Together with companions from Earth and other planets, the Doctor wanders the cosmos, fighting oppression, outwitting nasty aliens, megalomaniacal computers, and killer robots, and generally making the Universe a more interesting place.

From the Doctor WHO card set, series one Copyright © 1994 Cornerstone Communications, Inc.

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