Join 3,516 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Genesis of Doctor Who
November 19, 2008 2:15 PM   Subscribe

"A frail old man lost in space and time. They give him this name because they don't know who he is. He seems not to remember where he has come from; he is suspicious and capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined energy; he is searching for something as well as fleeing from something. He has a 'machine' which enables them to travel together through time, through space, and through matter." The Genesis of Doctor Who.
posted by Knappster (49 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's amazing what bits of ephemera they held onto. If only the pack-rat tendencies would have manifested with the meticulous archiving of episodes.
posted by ktrey at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2008


"A [youthful] [energetic] man [not] lost in space and time. They give him this name because [he won't tell them] who he is. He seems not to remember [all too well] where he has come from; he is [not at all] suspicious [or] capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined energy; he is [not] searching for [anything] as well as [not] fleeing from something. He has a 'machine' which enables them to travel together through time, through space, and through matter."

Yeah, they really stuck with that.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wil Wheaton thinks "this is the best thing, evar"
posted by cjorgensen at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2008


A few nights ago, I came home and my wife was two episodes into a Tom Baker serial. I said, "What's going on?" She said, "The Doctor and the companion landed somewhere and weird shit's going on." Then she paused and said, "You can use that summary for other episodes too."
posted by roll truck roll at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2008 [21 favorites]


Wil Wheaton thinks "this is the best thing, evar"

Wil Weaton says that about something three times before breakfast. Every day.
posted by rokusan at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think they stuck to it remarkably well, considering nearly two generations have past since the show started. The sixth doctor seemed particularly suspicious and capable of sudden malignance, as did the 10th (the one before the current one).

Dr. Who is the only television show I watched as a child that I will sit for if it comes on. what a brilliant show, and what an inspiring character.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2008


Thanks for the reminder, cjorgensen. I neglected to give Wil his hat tip.
posted by Knappster at 2:39 PM on November 19, 2008


I discovered Dr. Who when I was in England for a year in 1978, and then they started playing it, much to my excitement, on American television the year I returned. I spent sixth grade obsessively drawing pictures of Tom Baker as the Doctor. In all of my drawings, Tom Baker was engaged in a violent battle against the various villains from the series. I was especially good at drawing Cybermen and Daleks. In my pictures, there were hundreds of tanks and military men, and monsters, and the doctor was in the middle of all of it, and there was SO MUCH BLOOD. I drew it in crayon, and must have gone through dozens of red crayons every week or so.

Then, when I had a dozen such drawings, I would put them all in an envelope and send them off the the BBC. A few weeks later, I would inevitably get an email back from Tom Baker's assistant thanking me for the pictures and including a signed photograph of Mr. Baker.

In retrospect, I'm not sure of what Tom Baker must have made of receiving hundreds and hundreds of impossibly violent illustrations from an American kid over the course of a year or two. He might have thought I was insane.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2008 [30 favorites]


Isn't that the same dictionary entry used for Merlin the Magician?
posted by Brocktoon at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2008


Even in my own imagination, I am always the (Third character), never the HANDSOME YOUNG MAN HERO, or the HANDSOME WELLDRESSED HEROINE AGED ABOUT 30. Poop.
posted by steef at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2008


"A frail old man lost in space and time...He seems not to remember where he has come from; he is suspicious and capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined energy; he is searching for something as well as fleeing from something..."

Sounds like John McCain at the town hall debate.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2008 [11 favorites]


"...also he is space Jesus"
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie : You should try that again.

Of course, when I was a kid they didn't have no email.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:56 PM on November 19, 2008


You should just imagine Tom Baker really liking the pictures, and maybe having a big booming laugh about them down the pub with Brian Blessed.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2008


"Yeah, they really stuck with [the original description of the Doctor]."
posted by blue_beetle at 8:30 AM on November 20

In defence of the many, many writers who have written for the show over the 45 years it has existed for, this description does aptly dexcribe the First Doctor. As any Whovian worth their salt knows, however, the attitude, personality and memories of the Doctor change with each regeneration. The Sixth Doctor, for example, suffered from amesia for a very long time following his troubled regeneration, as did the Tenth Doctor (for a briefer period following his regeneration). Each Doctor also seems to have had differing levels of how much he wanted to interact with the Time Lords. For example, the Seventh Doctor was more willing to interact with them than the Fourth Doctor, whereas I imagine that the Ninth and Tenth Doctors would give anything just to see another Time Lord again.

Also, given that the character of The Doctor is meant to have aged about 450 years since the time of the First Doctor to the Tenth Doctor (the First Doctor says his age is around 400 to 450 years, the Fourth says he is about 750 and the Tenth says he is 903), it is entirely likely that he is bound to have remembered where he comes from and learned much about himself, his people and the Universe at large, not least because he's visited his homeworld numerous times since his first incarnation.

It makes sense, therefore, that the decription of The Doctor that they came up with in the series beginnings is bound to be very different to The Doctor we see today.

Also; Plate. Of. Beans.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie : He might have thought I was insane.

Happily for us, the thought to question your sanity has never been an issue. We've all known you were red crayon exhausting crazy from day one.

My obsession with Doctor Who centered squarely around K-9 and my desire to fit my dachshund into a dog shaped box so that he could be my robot companion.

Sadly, all it ever did was make wander around crashing into things. Apparently the radar ears I made from spoons were not sufficiently advanced enough to allow him to use them for navigation purposes.
posted by quin at 3:04 PM on November 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


He might have thought I was insane.

AZ, are you joking? Read Tom's book 'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs' and then tell me he didn't just use your pictographic gore parade as inspiration. Seriously, the end of that book is bent.
posted by FatherDagon at 3:08 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never heard of that book before today, FatherDragon.

Now I wonder if Baker might have framed some of my illustrations and hanged them around his house.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2008


HANDSOME YOUNG MAN HERO,

It recently came as a bit of shock to realise that not only have I left my companion years far behind me, I've already well 'older' than the fifth doctor was...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2008


You have to be a girl these days, or at least someone the Doctor might plausibly shag.

Poor old Mickey didn't count apparently, at least according to all the PR they put out about Martha Jones as teh first black companion.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on November 19, 2008


He might have thought I was insane.

Try reading his biography some time... he's totally bonkers himself
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2008


"An anthropomorphic stuffed tiger lost in space and time. They give him this name because he embodies self-interested cooperation. He seems not to remember where he has come from; he is suspicious and capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined energy; he is searching for something as well as fleeing from something. He has a flying time machine/transmogrifier which enables them to travel together through time, through space, and through matter." The Genesis of Hobbes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


he is [not at all] suspicious [or] capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined energy; he is [not] searching for [anything] as well as [not] fleeing from something.

No way! If we're talking about the newest incarnations, 9 and 10 are absolutely suspicious and capable of sudden malignance... Tennant's scenery chewing, anyone? Also, I think they've done a decent job with the 'last of the time lords' thing, that being what everyone is fleeing from/searching for.

The show usually being completely annoying is another matter entirely.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:38 PM on November 19, 2008


I discovered Dr. Who when I was in England for a year in 1978

I too was an American kid living in England in the late sixties / early seventies. When I got back to states I would try to explain this Doctor Who thing to my American friends. As well as Monty Python. They thought it all sounded faggy.

One Halloween I made a Dalek costume out of cardboard and a garbage can with a roller skate as my base. It was actually pretty awesome. But. There were a couple flaws in my design. I actually thought I could use the cardboard tube eye stalk to see through. Which couldn't. And it rolled ALLOT faster that I thought it was going to.

AND every kid in a thousand miles came and threw rocks at me creating these loud concussive shockwaves inside the thing.

'What the hell are YOU! A garbage can robot? Hahaha..."

[muted by costume]"No I'm Dalek you mo..!"

BONK!

[muted by costume]"Who threw that? Pete!? C'mon you guys knock the fuck off!"

BONK!

[muted by costume]"Aaaaaah I'm gonna go deaf in here you assh..!"

BONK! BONK! DANK!

[muted by costume]"Aaaaaah FUUUUUUUCK!"

This explosive sonic torture, and the occasional gang of teenagers that would push me into the road at about thirty miles an hour until I upended in the ditch, went on all night and I was helpless to stop it. I had inisted my dad duct tape me into my costume so it would stay together.

For three days after my mom kept telling me to stop yelling.

"WHAT? I DON'T HAVE ANY SPELLING. WHAT?"
posted by tkchrist at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2008 [23 favorites]


You should have kept it real by shouting "My vision is impaired, I cannot see... My vision is impaired, I cannot see... "
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


tkchrist: I bet you wish you could have EXTERMINATED them.
posted by ktrey at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2008


oh well, here's Victor Lewis Smith's TV Offal to ruin your childhood memories.
posted by mandal at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2008


For yet more of the detailed world created for Doctor Who see The Doctor Who Technical Manual, the rediscovery of which on Scribd today as a result of this FPP has caused my day to improve by 5,000%.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was never that interested in Dr. Who.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2008


A quarter past five on Saturday 23 November 1963 -- you just had to be there, man!

The Radio Times listing says it was followed by the Telegoons (the Goons as puppets, what a concept), but I don't think I can have sat still for that as I don't recall ever having heard of it.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:58 PM on November 19, 2008


I discovered Dr. Who from a pinball machine. Srsly.
posted by Eideteker at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2008


OMG that technical manual. Scribd is a time machine, itself.
posted by everichon at 7:14 PM on November 19, 2008


This historical reenactment of the show's origins made it sound rather different: The Pitch of Fear.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2008


Eideteker: Me too! It was at a hotel my family used to stay at every year during Fall break. I spent so much money on that thing. I also still, to this day (including seeing this post), have the electronic Dr. Who theme song from the machine stuck in my head whenever I hear about the Doctor.
posted by niles at 7:56 PM on November 19, 2008


♥♥
posted by crataegus at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2008


Can anyone recommend the best place to locate copies of the Original Series(es)? I watched Dr. Who when I was very young (ie... around 3 or 4) and thus have very hazy recollections of stuff that frightened me. Now, I want to see it as I am probably better equipped to at least view the shows for an extended period of time.
posted by Severian at 8:40 PM on November 19, 2008


Severian, lots of episodes are on DVD now. If you can remember what year/s you saw the show as a kid, you can find episodes with the same doctor/s you saw.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:47 PM on November 19, 2008


Like Severian, I have vague memories of Dr. Who from when I was young. All I remember are the Daleks and the Scarf (and if you think that the 4th Doctor's scarf was not a character, you're wrong). But that was enough to make me jump for joy when they started the new series (which I love).
posted by Hactar at 9:59 PM on November 19, 2008


Severian, there are also episodes on Apple TV. I'm a casual Whovian, but my serious Who-loving friends tell me some of what's on Apple TV isn't available on DVD.
posted by immlass at 10:03 PM on November 19, 2008


Theres 2 epsiodes of it a week on PBS, usually from the Tom Baker era.
posted by Artw at 12:31 AM on November 20, 2008


Tom Baker was my era of Dr Who. The scariest part by far was the kaleidoscope effect tunnel during the opening titles. My sister would threaten to throw me down it. The daleks were easy by comparison.
posted by vbfg at 1:26 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


My Dad used to work for the BBC, at the recording studios in Maida Vale, London, also home to the Radiophonic Workshop. He managed the cafeteria (so, yes, in some way, he was responsible for the infamous BBC cafeteria food that stars who have recorded there speak of in such glowing terms), so eventually he came to know just about everyone who worked there, including the staff of the aforementioned Radiophonic Workshop.

And so that was how I came to get the personal, behind-the-scenes tour of the Workshop from (I think) either Brian Hodgson or Paddy Kingsland. When we entered one of the studios, there was the frame of a small piano propped up against one wall, and, knowing a little about the origin myths of the TARDIS materialization/dematerialization sound effect, I asked if by any chance that was THE piano whose strings had been used to make the noise. My tour guide smiled brightly and said "Yes" and, fishing a bunch of keys from his pocket added, "and THIS is the key I used to make the sound!".
posted by kcds at 5:22 AM on November 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


Netflix has a bunch of the old Doctor Whos in their on-demand service (and probably on DVD too).
posted by Laen at 3:30 PM on November 20, 2008


The 45 Coolest Moments In Doctor Who's History - some fun stuff and some good moment, even if it basically looks like someone was going to do a blog entry but ran out of time, so posted their notes instead.
posted by Artw at 9:14 PM on November 24, 2008


Doctor Nutjob!
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2008


Picture the scene: The other fuckin' week there, doin' the fuckin' Gallifrey with Romana, playing hyper-pool. I'm playing like Paul-Fuckin'-Newman by the way. Givin' the time-lord here the tannin' of a lifetime. So it comes to there, during the last shot, the deciding ball of the whole tournament. I'm on the black and she's sittin' in the corner looking all fuckin' biscuit-arsed. When this hard dalek comes in. Obviously fuckin' fancied himself, like. Starts staring at me. Lookin' at me, right fuckin' at me, as if to say, "Come ahead, square go." You ken me, I'm not the type of cunt that goes looking for fuckin' bother, like, but at the end of the day I'm the cunt with a sonic pool cue and the dalek can get the fat end in his eye-stalk any time he fucking wanted like. So I squares up, casual like. What does the hard dalek do? Or the so-called hard dalek? Shites it. Puts down his drink with plunger, turns, and gets the fuck off to Skaro there. And after that, well, the game was mine.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:27 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"That lassie got exterminated and no cunt leaves here 'til we find out what cunt did it!"
"Who the fuck are you?"
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everyone in this TARDIS needs a fucken glassing.

Also, can you believe I defeated an entire army of cybermen with a fuckin replica sonic screwdriver? A fucking REPLICA!
posted by Eideteker at 6:05 PM on December 4, 2008


Apparently he just signed up for some shitty Stargate spin-off, so no Doctor Nutjob for us!
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on December 15, 2008


« Older Dallas Mavericks owner, celebrity dancer, Dairy Qu...  |  APIC is dedicated to promoting... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments