The BBC released a photo of David Bradley who will be playing William Hartnell (the 1st Doctor) in BBC 2’s An Adventure in Space and Time. If you have been living in a hole for the last several years you may not know that Doctor Who has been having a bit of resurgence. So much so, that you can’t go anywhere, be it convention, comic book store or even work, without bumping into a “Whovian”. It’s crazy to say the least.
I have been watching Doctor Who since I was a kid in the eighties. My first Doctor was Tom Baker and I have watched most of the entirety of the original series… I’m still missing a few story arcs from over the years. My main concentration is in the Pertwee-McCoy era. So I remember when it was cancelled by the BBC due to high costs and low ratings. I remember watching the failed Fox TV movie/back door pilot for a series that never took off. So when the BBC and Russell T Davies brought Who back I was shocked, happy and skeptical of it. I watch a lot of genre based shows and I know the history of the Doctor, how long would this last?
Well it’s been 8 years, 7 series and a load of specials and it keeps going. There is something unbelievable to me about that. This show as I have said, was believed back in the late 80’s to be done and no one wanted to see it. It was kind of true.
Back then Who had descended into it’s own pit of despair in both story and production. Watching those episodes, you can see the wacky hijinks all around but there was a real-world nastiness that was creeping into the stories. The Doctor, who started out serious, had progressively become light hearted and comical then took a hard turn back to the serious dark tones presented by William Hartnell.
In 2005 when the series re-launched, it had what I described then as a good mix of the humour but also a very serious and dark Doctor who was dealing with PTSD after the Time War with the Daleks. As the newest Doctor, Christopher Eccleston brought that right mix of emotions required for the modern age. He’s also not bad to look at. Other than Peter Davison, all prior incarnations of the Doctor have been pretty stodgy and much older than their audience.
It could have gone the other way when Davies picked up the property but lucky for us, it didn’t. Davies and Eccleston plus the time between series helped with the re-launch. The show also seemed to have the last ingredient that helps, (no pun intended) timing. Audiences around the world were captured by this mix of drama, comedy and action. It appears to be lightening in a bottle.
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are those who don’t like the new incarnation presented by Davies. This very same group were elated when Steven Moffat took over until this year. Now, I have been seeing hate thrown at him for “killing” off the characters they like. Everyone’s a critic.
That notwithstanding, these last few years have varied from amazing, okay and terrible in the quality of episodes but that is the beast that is television. Which brings us back to David Bradley. It’s hard to believe that the Doctor is celebrating his 50th anniversary this year. The special is going to be huge, not only because David Tennant is coming back for an appearance but because it also marks one of the last appearances of Matt Smith. With BBC also doing An Adventure in Space and Time to show how the show started as part of the 50th celebration.
This series against all hope has continued to show it’s got legs and that there may always be an audience for the character. I now believe that even if it goes off the air for a period of time to be retooled and return, it won’t matter. The fans exist and will continue to well into the future.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!