Thursday, 30 August 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Seventh Doctor

Next on our countdown through all eleven Doctors in time for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary in 2013 is that mysterious Master-Manipulator; the Seventh Doctor. You don't want to get him mad...

Think about me when you're living your life one day after another, all in a neat pattern. Think about the homeless traveller and his old police box, with his days like crazy paving.
                                                                          The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)

No other Doctor divides fans opinions quite to the extent of the Seventh Doctor. To understand why you may need to know some of the context of the time. When Sylvester McCoy took over the role, Doctor Who had hit a rough patch. Previous Doctor Colin Baker had been sacked by the BBC and the show's future was on tenterhooks. The show needed to be new, original and accessible again. And one of the most important things the show runners decided to rethink was the personality of the Doctor. Gone was the colourful, brash Sixth Doctor, in was the impish, spoons-player-turned-cosmic-chess-player Seventh Doctor. For the first time, the Doctor was not just bumbling around the universe; now he had a plan. It wasn't a change that all fans took to.
However, I don't think it can be disputed how the Seventh Doctor, with the help of fresh writing, solid support from Sophie Aldred as Ace, gave Doctor Who a new lease of life. This makes it doubly upsetting that this era, perhaps the best for many years, was deemed not successful enough by the BBC and was cruelly curtailed when the programme was taken off the screens. But, as we know, it wouldn't be forever...

Born when the evil Time Lady the Rani hijacked the Sixth Doctor's TARDIS, causing him to take a nasty tumble, the Seventh Doctor was initially a clown bumbling his way through his early adventures, and as previously mentioned, uncovering a knack for playing the spoons. Soon after he picked up his companion Ace, however, his demeanour changed into that of a mellower, quieter figure who favoured grand schemes and long games than making up his plans as he went along. Several times he duped old enemies and even close friends into his plots; during a battle with the Daleks, he even tricked them into destroying their homeworld Skaro - perhaps starting the Time War!
His change of character also impacted the clothes he wore. At first, the Seventh Doctor wore a light jacket, question-mark jumper with accompanying umbrella but as time went on his jacket was replaced with a darker one and he swapped his ordinary umbrella for one with a question-mark-shaped handle: the Seventh Doctor really liked being mysterious.

Although largely a solitary figure, the Seventh Doctor had two friends with whom he shared his adventures. Cheery and screamer par excellence Melanie Bush, also a companion of his previous persona, travelled with him until she decided to go travelling with lovable space rogue Sabalom Glitz. He wasn't alone for long, however, as in the very same adventure, the Doctor met Ace (real name Dorothy), a feisty teenager who was mysteriously whisked off to an alien world in a time storm...
As a companion from the classic series, Ace is basically unique in having an actual story arc in which her character develops and grows. During her time with the Doctor, who she affectionately calls 'Professor', she confronts issues from her past that have led to her being a hurt and distrusting young woman and dealt with them; deep-rooted fears, criminal acts, parental problems, even her true destiny. The Doctor and Ace's relationship was one of a mentor and student who taught each other about themselves and about the world but also it was one of best friends, who love travelling together.

It is common among fans to describe this Doctor as the 'Dark One.' But, actually, he was just the first Doctor to explore the darkness within himself; paving the way towards the 'Oncoming Storm' sort of the Doctor that the Ninth and Tenth Doctors occasionally became and addressed again with the Eleventh Doctor in the most recent series of the show. So, in other words, the Seventh Doctor's influence on the show stretches into the current incarnation of the programme; knowing his wily character, the Seventh Doctor probably planned that out himself.

Ones to Watch:

Remembrance of the Daleks

A real fan-pleaser but in the best possible way. It's London 1963, the birthplace of Doctor Who, and there's a Dalek Civil War going on! Oh, and a mysterious Time Lord artefact! And Davros! It really is a belter, featuring some great spectacle but also touching smaller scenes...

The Curse of Fenric

The culmination of a story arc that lasted two seasons, on the surface, Fenric tells the story of the vampiric Haemovores attack of a army base during World War Two. However, it also explores issues of faith (particularly that of the Doctor's companion, Ace) and the Seventh Doctor's penchant for master plans. Great stuff.

It's both fitting and sad that the final story of Doctor Who's original run is one of its most outstanding. Layered with great characterisation and strong thematics, it sees people from Ace's hometown being kidnapped (or should that be cat-napped?) and taken to the world of the Cheetah-people to fight to the death. It also features one of the best confrontations between the Doctor and his greatest foe, the Master ever. Just class.

In other Doctor Who news, IT'S BACK ON SATURDAY -as if you're interested in the show enough to read this blog post and you didn't know. So, everyone, please tune into your telly screeens at 7.20pm on BBC One for Steven Moffat's Asylum of the Daleks! Don't say you're not excited.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...