There are many TV shows, movies and books that are considered the “standard” by which all others are compared. There are many that try to lay claim to that title in the realm of science fiction, fantasy and adventure genre. Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Star Wars are among the top contenders for those top spots. To me, none can compare to what I consider “the standard” and that is Doctor Who.
The Doctor crosses multiple genres and reflects the heart and soul, the good and the bad, of humanity in its stories, characters and vision from it’s conception in the 60’s to today. Though he’s a 2000-year-old Timelord from Gallifrey, his time among humans allows him to tell us when we’re right and when we’re wrong. That’s what makes him something beyond time and space. In one sentence, he can cross that boundary with such little effort or ease.
“I hate to read about good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.” — River Song
It’s sentiments like that, simple yet profound, which shows the range of Doctor Who writers. They can tell his story throughout our history in a single sentence. That’s powerful. And yet, at the same time, the words of the Doctor can still the night air, take your breath away and bring armies to their knees.
“Great men are forged in fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.” — War Doctor
Those words were spoken by the late John Hurt. Though he only played the Doctor once, in that short time, he embodied the spirit of the Timelord perfectly like all those actors who portrayed the Doctor before him. That says something about the actors picked to portray him but also to the writers who have created stories from original mythology as well as moments in history. The Doctor has been present at the destruction of Pompeii, with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, and he’s saved the Kings and Queens od England on more than one occasion.
One of the best Doctor Who stories was “The Girl in the Fireplace” from 2006. Take Madame De Popmpadour and have a living spaceship break through the time/space continuum to get her brain to run the ship. As crazy as it sounds, this episode showed the romantic, loving side of the Doctor. Here was a woman who took “the slower path” just to see him again. The chemistry between the Doctor and Reinette is so real, you can’t help but fall in love. There’s also a point, like so many in the series 50 year history, where you understand why the Doctor is feared as much as he is loved.
Young Reinette: “Monsieur, be careful!”
The Doctor: “It’s just a nightmare, Reinette, don’t worry, everyone has nightmares. Even monsters under the bed have nightmares!”
Young Reinette: “What do monsters have nightmares about?”
The Doctor: “Me!”
And now, Peter Capaldi, the latest incarnation of the Doctor, is ending his run at the end of this season. So now the question begs to be asked, who will take his place? Who will step into the mantle and become part of history. My vote is for Haley Atwell of Agent Carter. Just to see the “girl banter” between her and Missy (Michelle Gomez) would be priceless.
The Doctor is,without a doubt, one of the greatest characters ever created. He is in books, television, movies, cartoons, comic books and more. You can find pictures of the Tardis (Time and Relative Dimension in Space for the non-initiated) on practically every continent. He is a part of the many cultures around the world. That’s what makes Doctor Who an undeniable part of history, which is exactly where he (or she) belongs.
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.