Doctor Who: history and stories of all the doctors of the classic series

Doctor Who: history and stories of all the doctors of the classic series

Doctor Who

On November 23, 1963, the very first episode of Doctor Who, one of the longest-running TV series ever, aired. Aired since the 1960s, the British TV show is divided into two major narrative strands, the classic series (from 1963 to 1989 with a 1996 film) and the new series (from 2005 to today) (in our previous article dedicated to the Doctor Who, you can find all the info on where to see the new series). Until 1989 we had the pleasure of meeting seven doctors in the classic series, the eighth Doctor made his appearance in the 1996 film, while in the new series we followed the story of the doctor from the ninth to the thirteenth regeneration.

There are so many questions and curiosities regarding the various regenerations that the Doctor has undergone over the course of half a century, so we will go to sift through the maze of space and time to pull the strings of a very broad discourse trying to make our journey as fun as possible.

Alons-y !!!

Doctor Who and regeneration

Thirteen of them have taken place on the small screen over the years different doctors, this is possible because the Doctor can avoid death by regenerating his cells. Belonging to the alien species of the Time Lords, the doctor has a very different biology from ours, even if the outward appearance of him is human. Indeed, he has two hearts and this physical characteristic allows him to regenerate. To escape death, the Doctor can only regenerate if one of his two hearts still beats and, after the regeneration, in addition to the appearance he can also change in character and sex.

We also know that regeneration if it happened in dangerous circumstances, it could even dictate the Doctor's death. This is because if during the process he is killed, and therefore also the second heart stops beating, the regeneration would stop and death would be inexorable.

The Doctor's regenerations are not, however, infinite. We know that, both in the macro narrative The Deadly Assassins of 1976, and in the film of 1996, the Doctor declares to have available only twelve regenerations that correspond to thirteen incarnations. The Eleventh Doctor also confirms this thesis while declaring that the Master has managed to evade this sacred rule several times. The Doctor may also not choose to regenerate and, therefore, allow himself to die. Regenerations usually occur after traumatic events that cause the Doctor to report fatal wounds. This did not happen for the first two Doctors who, instead, died of old age.

After each regeneration the Doctor faces a somewhat difficult period of time due to the enormous amount of energy released during the process. He often loses his memory or his nature is totally different from that of the previous incarnation. It happened, for example, that the Sixth Doctor was about to kill his traveling companion, that the Ninth Doctor forgot all the actions performed in the shoes of the previous reincarnation, that of the War Doctor. The Eleventh Doctor, on the other hand, was particularly hungry, and avid fans will remember the first meal after regeneration, the one based on fish fingers dipped in a delicious custard.

Regeneration is a very theme. discussed, especially among fans of the series. The information we have about the actual number of regenerations is clear, but at the same time we cannot predict what will be after the thirteenth incarnation. The series could end definitively, or, the Lord of Time will delight us with another surprising twist, perhaps declaring true the words of the Eleventh Doctor when he confided to Sarah Jane that he could regenerate five hundred and seven times.

The Lord of Time on the small screen

The classic series, as already mentioned, runs from 1963 to 1989, followed by a series of specials, until 1993, and a 1996 film and starring the Doctor from the first to the eighth incarnation. Some narrative strands of the first and second incarnations of the Doctor have been inexorably lost, destroyed, while others are nowhere to be found and for this reason we cannot talk about them. You will find cited in this article those narrative strands and those episodes that can be found on DVD.

The Time Lords are an alien race with human features, much more evolved at an intellectual and moral level . The morality of the Time Lords is much debated and often leads them to make choices that are not entirely orthodox, even if in view of a greater purpose, a good far greater than contingency. The peculiarity of this alien race is to have discovered the processes that regulate the relationship between space and time and are able to flex these curves, incomprehensible to humans, at their will (or at the will of the TARDIS) based on some knots from melt into the past or future of the Universe.

Reflecting again on regeneration, we can say that the Lords of Time somehow manage to deceive death precisely because of their broad understanding of the non-linearity of time. Thanks to the superhuman understanding of the Universe, they have managed over time to equip themselves with a very advanced technology of which the T.A.R.D.I.S. is the summa. This is an exceptional vehicle that allows the Doctor and all other members of his race to bend space-time to their liking.

The First Doctor, the exile

Emblematic is the face of the First Doctor, played by the British actor (the actors who over the years have dressed as the Doctor are all British ed) William Hartnell. This first incarnation of the Doctor shows us the face of a very old man, tried by the passage of time, even if indecipherable for him. It seems wise, a sort of sci-fi Bertrand Russell that plows through space-time defining himself with one of the most philosophical adjectives that can exist, exile.

Both he and his niece Susan travel with the T.A.R.D.I.S. through the past and future centuries and in indefinite spaces if not from the imagination. Both exiles, they are far from their mysterious homeland that they will not be able to reach, missing it every day. Over time, however, that figure of an elderly and wise man will be replaced by a slightly more mainstream concept, the First Doctor will seem more and more like a good dear grandfather, a sort of mix between the Wizard of Oz and Santa Claus as the same. Hartnell described his character.

In all the stories that have the First Doctor as protagonist, we always have the impression that these are of the didactic genre. This assumption is confirmed by the production that saw in this new TV show the possibility of teaching viewers something. In fact, episodes set in the past alternate, to explain and show historical contexts and real events, and in the future, to explain science and technology. Many of the episodes of these first seasons have been lost, such as the narrative vein dedicated to Marco Polo. Interesting, however, is the one dedicated to the doctor's bitter enemies, the Daleks who make their first appearance in December 1963.

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The Second Doctor, the pacifist

Two wars mark the beginning and the end of the Second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton. The first, the one against the Cybermans, marks the end of the First Doctor and the birth of the Second. This second incarnation is certainly different from the first, at times less complex, more linear in terms of personality. Indeed, the Second Doctor is a good man, has a nice and clear character and does not disdain comedy.

It must be said that over the years the Doctor Who show has become very adapted to the changing tastes of viewers who in the sixties and seventies of the last century did not disdain disruptive comedy. With the Second Doctor there began to be fewer educational episodes in favor of a narrative more dedicated to action. In fact, precisely in the final narrative called The War Games we have a leap into the past, in the First World War, but with a lot of action, and above all with a narrative that is not didactic but aimed at impressing the public.

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The Third Doctor, the terrestrial

The Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, after the narrative cycle that concludes the experience of the Second, was forced to stay on Earth. The experience of the Third Doctor on TV goes from 1970 to 1974. In these four years we see a doctor who is really very different from the previous ones. He is ironic, shrewd, and above all almost always aboard a canary yellow car (the stories of the Third Doctor were the first to be broadcast in color).

The Lords of Time they force him to stay on Earth but he does not seem overwhelmed by this, he never defines himself as an exile, like the First Doctor and therefore does not show the other side of the coin, that is, a conflicted personality. In short, the Third Doctor is the son of his time, of those seventies full of contradictions and beautiful hopes.

However, his relationship with his nemesis The Master is very interesting. A kind of love and hate that will give the story the right sprint.

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The Fourth Doctor, the beloved

The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker is, in all likelihood, the most beloved ever. His close rival is the Tenth Doctor of the new series. Baker has definitively given a face, a soul and a scarf to the Doctor Who character. There are one hundred and seventy-two episodes starring the Fourth Doctor, all these episodes range from the twelfth to the nineteenth season, aired from 1974 to 1981.

If we think of a definition to give to an alien, we think of the fourth incarnation of the doctor, because this is the most unpredictable and moves on the screen as if it were really something out of the most strictly human understanding. From this incarnation we discover the emotional attachment that the Doctor has for humans and for Planet Earth, especially in the narrative The Ark in Space. His travel companions will be defined as best friends and we clearly see the affection that the Fourth Doctor has for his companions.

His travel companion par excellence is Sarah Jane, which will then also have its own spin-off television series. Sarah Jane is the perfect travel companion for the Fourth Doctor, nice, carefree and vital, she will be able to reconcile and reconcile perfectly with Baker. She will not miss a kind of romanticism, always hidden, that the Fourth Doctor will nurture for Sarah Jane. We see, therefore, a very different narrative than the previous incarnations of the Doctor. A more human characterization of the characters that will make these seasons truly wonderful between comedy and horror with gothic hues.

The narrative vein dedicated to the Daleks is interesting. The Fourth Doctor will have the opportunity to counter the birth of his bitter enemies… but what price will he have to pay? He will therefore decide not to hinder their birth on the planet Skaro but will assume the right to face them.

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The Fifth Doctor, the undecided

Peter Davison plays the Fifth Doctor, totally at the antipodes of the Fourth Doctor, both in physicality and in personality. This fifth incarnation of the Doctor shows us a reserved Time Lord, who cannot make concrete decisions, often relying on fate dictated by the toss of a coin.

The difficulty in making decisions it will be a very important feature throughout the narrative and the evolution of the character. This trait of his personality will make him particularly unaware of violence, but also unprepared for action.

We have, therefore, another shift in the focus of the character that puts aside the tastes of the public for a moment to create some new features. A tormented Doctor who will put aside physical confrontation in favor of ingenuity and that pinch of fate and luck that, like it or not, characterizes every human action.

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The Sixth Doctor, the Riddler

From 1984 to 1986 Colin Baker will play the role of Doctor Who, appearing for three seasons. The beginning and the end of the Sixth Doctor are very particular because at the beginning, due to the regeneration, he tries to strangle Peri, his traveling companion, while the reasons for his subsequent regeneration are not very clear.

This incarnation of the Doctor is really very enigmatic, starting with the question marks placed in plain sight on the collar of his shirt, worn under a multicolored jacket. With the Sixth Doctor we will visit a devastated Earth that has even lost its name by calling itself Ravalox, and we will see him grappling with a process called by the same Time Lords of which he himself is a part.

A Time Lord fought against and sui generis, which should certainly be re-evaluated.

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The Seventh Doctor, who?

It's really hard to tell who Sylvester is the Seventh Doctor McCoy. This is because many episodes of which he was supposed to be the protagonist and which were truly politically incorrect were canceled. All this has contributed to show the most comical vein of the Doctor, while concealing the most bitter secrets linked to the origins and the Lords of Time.

Furthermore, the Seventh Doctor is the last of the classic series, will accompany us in the adventures until 1986, after the series will be canceled, only to be resumed by a film in 1996. The cancellation has unfortunately had a horrendous practical response, that is to create even more enigmas about the fate of the Doctor. Some aspects are only hinted at and never fully clarified except with the new series

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The Eighth Doctor, the mysterious

Played by Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor appears in a 1996 film. He is the protagonist of the last war of time against the Daleks, hell. Strange is also the regeneration of him, which is not a real regeneration but more a possession. In Seventh Doctor, in the hospital at the end of his life, he is embodied in a doctor while the Master tries to drain the energy of the T.A.R.D.I.S. to prevent further regenerations of the Doctor.

The personality of the Eighth Doctor is controversial. He is not a warmonger but a realist, he knows he has to do the right thing at the right time, even if it will lead to pain. That is why he is the War Doctor, the Warlord.

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