Saturday, 27 October 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Ninth Doctor

As Doctor Who, the best television show on the planet (I'm famous for my impartial attitude), reaches its fiftieth year very soon, I'm dedicating a post to each Doctor every month. Just this once, let's go back seven years and remind ourselves of the no-nonsense and Northern Ninth Doctor.

'The ground beneath our feet is spinnin' at 1,000 miles an hour and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're fallin' through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... That's who I am.'
                                                           The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

In 2005, after sixteen years off the air, Doctor Who needed to remind viewers why it had been loved by so many in the original run. The best way to do this; have an excellent incarnation of the Doctor as your lead. And, they certainly got that, in Christopher Eccleston. The Ninth Doctor's success can be measured by how well his short but magnificent era was received: with unanimous love. His Doctor reflected the change the show itself had gone under since its own regeneration. a much more melancholy, brooding version of the Doctor although with all his perenial quirks and sense of humour, the show was different but it was still quintessially Doctor Who. In his own words, the Ninth Doctor is, undoubtedly, fantastic.

The Ninth Doctor immediately sets himself apart from other Doctors. While every other incarnation wears a tie, a shirt and an eccentric article of clothing (a bow tie or a long scarf or a ... stick of celery), the Ninth is usually clad in a jumper and leather jacket that suits his close-cropped hair, again in sharp contrast with, say, his predecessor's Byronic locks. All this fits his character; a Doctor who's stripped down to basics; his love of life, and seeing it protected, is there as much as ever but its rawer, somehow. This Doctor has been born out of a terrible war from which he was the only survivor; and he is determined to stop such tragedies that he witnessed - and took part in  - happening ever again. However, he still always possessed his kindness and love of laughs such as when he entertained a group of homeless children in World War Two with his jokes and teased Captain Jack about bananas.In fact, just like the very first Doctor was a prickly, sometimes harsh character who gradually mellowed, the Ninth Doctor, the first Doctor of the revived series, did too. Mostly, thanks to a rather special friend...

More than ever before, the Ninth Doctor, now the last of his kind, needed a companion to travel the universe with. Thankfully, when investigating an Auton invasion of London, he found one in shop girl Rose Tyler, desperate for more than just her boring, everyday life. The Doctor and Rose quickly became the best of friends, closer perhaps than any of the TARDIS teams seen before. In Rose, the Doctor found almost a role model to remind him of a kinder, more human way to see the universe. For instance, in their early travels, the Doctor encounters a lone Dalek, perhaps the only creatures he truly hates, and ruthlessly tortures it. Later, however, after many adventures with Rose, the Doctor denies the egging on of the Dalek Emperor and decides not to destroy the Daleks, and proclaims himself a coward.

The inseparable pair were also joined by others on the journeys such as Captain Jack Harkness, the flirty former Time Agent turned conman, and, very briefly, whizzkid Adam Mitchell who was dropped off back home for bad behaviour. Also, considering how this Doctor hated this 'domestic', he regularly met with Rose's family, her mouthy but endearing mother Jackie and her ersatz boyfriend Mickey, who the Doctor would often tease calling him 'Ricky' or 'Mickey the Idiot'. However it was Rose who was with him in all his adventures. Right to the end, when the Doctor made the greatest sacrifice...

The Ones to Watch:


The episode that relaunched the series after sixteen years in the wilderness is a an excellent example of the Russell T Davies series'  quickened pace and the mix between science fiction and domestic drama. Eccleston and Billie Piper shine in their roles immediately as the series' leads while the inclusion of the Autons from the
show's pasts cements this as proper Doctor Who.

The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances

Steven Moffat's first writing credit for the show is one of his best. Publicly known as one of the scariest Who stories ever - and rightly so, the child and his gas mask zombies are chilling creations - it also features some of the sharpest lines in Doctor Who ever. A supreme episode.

Bad Wolf/ Parting of the Ways

Even though we've had several other series finales since, this two-parter still packs a punch when watched today. Not only a grand culmination of the mystery of the Bad Wolf with a ton of Daleks, it's also a fun parody of Television's obsession with game and reality shows. I still don't even mind the deux ex machina ending too much either.

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