Splash Page Issue 2: Doctor Who
Splash Page 2: Doctor Who
by Mike W Lunsford
For our second installment of the splash page, we dive into a TV series that has been a science fiction mainstay for over 50 years; Doctor Who. This one will be a bit different as Doctor Who has many passionate fans so it's not something like Guardians of the Galaxy where many people are unfamiliar with it. With such a long history, it's difficult for those who want to know about the series to just jump in. To remedy this, I asked the best experts I know, fans of the show, to give me a beginners guide to Doctor Who. My interviewees are Kimberly Winfrey, Dani Mal, Megan Buckley, and the precocious 12 year old, Chaylea Monahan.
Doctor Who has been around for over 50 years now and it’s often times intimidating for those who aren’t already into the show to get into it. If you could give me a one or two sentence description of what Doctor Who is all about, what would you say?
Kim: I would describe it as about an alien who goes on adventure with people who help him enjoy the universe more
So a little bit like Hitchhikers Guide then?
Kim: No Hitchhiker's is more absurdist where Doctor Who is more of a fairy tale
OK, I see what you’re saying. Dani, what would you say?
Dani: It's a family friendly show about exploring the universe and standing up for the little guy. The cool thing for parents is that there tends to be a moral you can find in each story. The doctor travels around through time and space looking for anomalies and fixing them. For people who are intimidated with Doctor Who, there's nothing wrong with skipping the classics and starting with the 9th doctor, when the show was brought back to BBC.
When was that?
Dani: 2005 I think. They're usually easy to tell on Netflix because they look newer. That was series one episode one, and he was the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston).
When they brought it back, was it a reboot like every other series/movie recently or was it like Star Trek the Next Generation where it picks up later on?
Dani: More like Star Trek. It's respectful and they nod back to the classics often
Megan, what can you tell me about Doctor Who that might be surprising?
Megan: I think people would be surprised at the people who are huge Doctor Who fans and who've written/worked on the show! It's kinda like Law and Order for British actors. SO MANY people have been on there!
How would you describe Doctor Who, Chaylea?
Chaylea: Okay Mr. Mike (how cute is that? She called me Mr. Mike), so Doctor Who is about a timelord (Timelords are a race of human-like creatures who travel through time to help other races but was almost completely wiped out due to the "Great Time War") who travels through time with companions to help save the universe.
Tell me a little bit about the bad guys of the series.
Megan: Can we also talk about the Daleks?! I LOVE THEM. They are meant to be the scariest thing in the universe and SO NOT. But I love how they want to EXTERMINATE everything. It's hilarious.
Haha, ok. So what is a Dalek?
Chaylea: Daleks... these are aliens who put themselves into metal casings with lasers, weaponry, and pure hatred.
Kim: They want to kill anything that is different from them. Think Nazis during WWII
Dani: Yeah, they believe they should kill everything. They pop up from time to time but they were supposed to have been killed off by the Doctor's people in a war in another galaxy.
oh, the robot things. So they're the main bad guys of the series?
Kim: Pretty much, the Doctor has many bad guys there really isn't just a main one
Who else do we run across?
Kim: The Master
Who is the Master?
Dani: Think of the Master almost like Lex Luthor: He and the Doctor were friends on Gallifrey (the home planet) as children but the Master went crazy and now shows up from time to time as an evil mastermind kind of thing. He wants to rule the Universe.
How did he go crazy?
Kim: All Time Lords are taken before this giant rift in Space Time at the age of 8 as an initiation. Some Time Lords are inspired while some lose their minds; he went crazy looking at it and constantly hears drum beats in his head ("the drums of war"). When the Great Time War began, instead of fighting, the Master uses a Chameleon Arch that stores his Time Lord nature and memories in a pocket watch and allows him to become biologically human—and hid at the end of the universe. He forgot he was a Time Lord and called himself Professor Yana. The professor was still plagued by the constant drumbeat in his head
OK, so is he stuck like that or does he become the Master again?
Dani: The Doctor meets the Professor at the end of the Universe, and a discussion of Time Lords and related issues causes Yana to recall his Time Lord essence. The drumming in his head starts getting more intense and Professor Yana opens the watch and become the Master again. So, he flips script, becomes totally evil but he is wounded when his companion Chantho shoots him after he fatally injured her.Time Lords can regenerate when they're injured, but when they do, their appearance changes. He regenerates, looks much younger and then steals the Doctor's TARDIS and escapes, but the Doctor sabotages the TARDIS using his sonic screwdriver so that the Master is only able to travel between present-day Earth and the year 100 trillion.
So that explains why the Doctors look different all the time
Dani: Yes. The time lords are not immortal. Whenever their body takes too much damage, all that radiation in their systems comes to the surface to heal. That kind of healing triggers regeneration. A little like a starfish; new face, new likes, new brain…New actor.
OK, so we'll come back to the regeneration thing is just a second...anything else we need to know about the Master?
Kim: Oh yeah, after the Doctor sabotages the TARDIS and the Master can only go between present-day and the year 100 trillion, he tricks the British people into electing him Prime Minister of England and tries to take over the World.
Woah...this guy sounds like he's bad news.
Kim: Yeah, he is but we don't want to spoil too much for people.
Let's talk more about this regeneration thing: essentially it means we get a different actor every few years to play the Doctor. Do you like that they change Doctors or do you find yourself getting attached?
Kim: The fact that they change Doctors makes the show more interesting I think because each doctor has their own personality
Dani: Both. You get really attached but it's fun to get to know the new one.
Chaylea: Don't ya think that someone else needs to get a turn?
Haha, that is a really good point Chaylea. What about memories? Do those get wiped?
Dani: No. Memories are collective so it's not like they forget everything.
So what exactly is a TARDIS?
Dani: TARDIS is an acronym. It means time and relative dimension in space. Basically it's his ship, camouflaged as a police box.
Kim: It has a chameleon device that can turn it into anything in any time but it short circuited in the 1950's leaving it as a Police Box from England.
OK, so the TARDIS is his phone booth that is like infinitely big on the inside but it’s his spaceship/time machine…
Dani: Yes. Sorry. Police box is the Brit term.
Yeah, no worries I knew what you meant. Lift= elevator. Crisps=chips. Chips=fries
Dani: Haha, yeah.
Is the sonic screwdriver essentially Batman's utility belt: it can do pretty much anything?
Dani: Kind of, yeah. The sonic looks for the speed at which the molecules move to manipulate materials.
Chaylea: A sonic screwdriver can do many things, some examples are: Unlock things, Lock things, Increase Cell Phone range, and do brief medical scans.
Anything else we should know?
Chaylea: THE WEEPING ANGELS!
Megan: Yeah, they are a good example of the difference between the tenth Doctor and the eleventh Doctor episodes. The first episode where they show up is called Blink. It's one of the best episodes hands down. What's even more impressive about that is the fact that the Doctor is barely even in the episode! IT'S SO CREEPY AND SCARY.
Chaylea: Weeping angels have been seen or talked about in various episodes, they are fast but they cannot move if someone is looking at them, they put their hands over their eyes to prevent looking at another of their kind, for if they do they will crumble. The only way to kill an angel is to use the sonic screwdriver. Angels are so fast that even if you blink while looking at them they can get you. Angels kill you by sending you back in time (I do not know why or how that kills you) but in one of the episodes they killed three soldiers by snapping their necks so they could use them as puppets.
Kim: they send you back in time and you have to live the rest of your life in the past
That is truly frightening. So they sneak up on you if you're not looking or even if you blink?
Dani: They can. That's where all the "don't blink" memorabilia comes from... Also, for anyone who is intimidated they could easily just pick it up when it starts again in the fall. It's a brand new doctor. They might feel cheated though because they missed a LOT in the fiftieth anniversary special and the Christmas episodes.
So if they watched the special and the Christmas episode, they may get caught up before the new season starts?
Dani: Oh! Christmas episodes stand independently but they still tie in with the seasons. One season (series) usually starts fall, takes winter hiatus, begins again in spring. The fiftieth throws a lot at you, but it's with a relatively new companion, so it may be ok. Newbies probably wouldn't be all crying like the rest of us.
Last question ladies: You've all pointed at it at some point but I still want to know, which one of the Doctors is your favorite?
Megan: -It feels so cliche but it has to be the tenth Doctor. I just love David Tennant. He's so perfect. He's manic but also grounded. Serious but also so joyful. With saying that, I've really come to love Matt Smith's Doctor. It took me a LONG time. I just felt he was trying waaaaay too hard at first, but he grew on me.
Kim: I got very attached to the 10th doctor (David Tennant). I thought he was amazing.
Dani: Tennant. Not gonna lie, the episodes where they regenerate are usually tearjerkers. I got so attached to 10 it took me a few episodes to even like 11…and now 11 is gone, too.
Chaylea: I love the 10th Doctor buy my mom's favorite is 11. She loves Matt Smith.
So what did we learn today? Even with 50 plus years of history, one does not have to watch all of the old episodes to catch up. As Dani told me, that is the purpose of the companions that travel with the Doctor.
"They're really good about explaining all of the aliens and whatnot as they pop up. That's part of why the companions change every so often. The companions are the "uninformed viewer". It keeps the writers from getting too inside jokey."
The show is often very family friendly and has a lot of good morals in each story. There are evil murder bots, a psychopathic adversary who has a history with the Doctor and lots of space and time travel. What isn't to like? And if you want to join in the fun, Doctor Who returns with it's new season and a new Doctor on August 23rd on BBC One.