My Doctor: How I Found Him the Long Way Around

A lot of people say that their first Doctor is “their Doctor”. That wasn’t the case for me. It took almost 25 years to find my Doctor.

When I had turned thirteen, my family moved from our home in a small town to a house in an even smaller small town. To have cable TV in the late 80s to early 90s was difficult to obtain when you were poor & living in the boonies. A small farm house in the sticks was unlikely to get that kind of luxury. So we were stuck with the Big 3 plus one – ABC, NBC, CBS (if the weather wasn’t too bad) and PBS.

My dad usually controlled the TV when he arrived from work, but Mom would take back the remote once he went to bed. She would watch the British comedy block with us on PBS, but on Friday nights at 10pm she would let my little brother & I have a treat by staying up late to watch Doctor Who. It was a ritual for us. At 10pm Jack Horkheimer Star Gazer would come on and this would signal that in five minutes time Doctor Who would start.

Unlike most UK viewers that originally watched Doctor Who when it aired, I didn’t see the Doctors in any kind of serialized order. We watched the omnibus versions of the Doctor’s adventures – which was fabulous for a kid trying to stay up two to three hours past their bedtime. I started out with Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor while he engaged the Silurians, then I would see him fight his way out of a miniscope with Jo Grant in Carnival of Monsters the following week. Next I would see William Hartnell traveling to discover the Keys of Marinus, then a week later I would watch as Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Leela do battle with a killer dummy and a rodent of unusual size. In my mind, the Doctor was just like James Bond. I didn’t know about regeneration. I knew he had different faces & it was just accepted. At the time Pertwee was my favorite of the Doctors, but I enjoyed all of them to varying degrees. I had yet to find my Doctor.

Then came Logopolis and my world was torn apart & rebuilt again.

I watched Tom Baker climb up the radio telescope. I watched him fall. I watched him die. I was shattered. Was this the end? Would there be no more stories? I sat on the floor and watched as he regenerated into the Watcher/Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison). It was astounding. It was mind-bending. It was something I had to learn more about. This was the moment I changed from a kid that enjoyed the show to a Whovian. 

I went to the library, read any book I could that had the slightest blurb about Doctor Who and checked out the novelizations of the show. I’d go to the book store and scan the sci-fi mags for any reference to the series. And I kept watching on Friday nights until the final episode of the series aired on PBS – which just so happened to be Survival

This was the beginning of the drought.

I had started to record a few episodes to re-watch when I heard about the 1989 hiatus. I would save up my lunch money to buy VHS tapes of episodes I hadn’t seen. And I would go to the rental store & rent the only episode of Doctor Who they had when I was really desperate: The Pyramids of Mars. In 1996 the TV Movie came & went. It was lovely. But it was fleeting.

By 2005, I heard the news that the Doctor was returning and I was ready. I found a way to watch Christopher Eccleston’s Nineth Doctor. I loved him, he was dynamic. He was amazing, but he wasn’t my Doctor. I watched him as he regenerated explosively into David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Again, he was flirty and nice. I enjoyed him, but he wasn’t my Doctor. And the same went for Matt Smith. He was like a fluffy, big-chinned, excitable puppy, but still… not my Doctor.

Then came The Day of the Doctor.

That was exciting. He looked very intense. I started to wonder what kind of Doctor Peter Capaldi would be?

I watched Series 8 and I enjoyed it. I began to really like his interpretation of the Twelfth Doctor. You could see that the series was setting up a long game for the character’s development. I was interested to see where it was heading. I had almost found my Doctor.

At last, Series 9 came. It was sweeping. It was epic. The stories were dynamic & I watched as Capaldi’s Doctor not only grew but blossomed into an exceptional Doctor. The character was acted in one moment with perfect stillness and subtlety and the next with an over-blown enthusiasm that tried to reach the rafters. I was so close to finding my Doctor.

Then I watched Heaven Sent. There you are! There’s my Doctor. No other previous Doctor could have pulled off that episode. It was tailor made to showcase Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. I found him! I found him at last!! 

Now that I found him, I needed to go back and re-watch Series 8. Confirm my suspicions. Confirm that I, at last, have found my Doctor. I was able to see the subtle & not-so-subtle cues he gave that informed the audience about his feelings about Clara. I watched as he struggled to find his identity. I watched as slowly, but surely Peter Capaldi stepped into the role, stretched it and made it his own. He became the Doctor.

He became my Doctor.


Carnival of Monsters // Robot of Sherwood

“They all hate him equally.” Braxiatel smiled. “Actually, that’s not quite fair. The Doctor has a growing reputation, but it was what he did with the miniscopes that impressed everyone.”

“What did he do to the miniscopes?”

“He persuaded our people to ban their use across the nine galaxies. Miniscopes were a barbaric inventionzoos of intelligent creatures, miniaturized and kept in time loops for the pleasure of other, more ‘developed’ races. The Doctor petitioned for their abolition and our people—for once in their long lives—acted.” Braxiatel shrugged. “The Doctor always was one for causing trouble.”

The Empire of Glass by Andy Lane


Beebo’s Miniscope Recap (8/8/15):

  • He’s watching Top Secret with Val Kilmer…. again. I feel like he’s mentioned this at least three times.
  • The jaw wiggle!
  • He’s got the stupidest sense of humor and he’s enjoying this movie so much wow he’s 12 my hero is 12 what have I done
  • He’s so sassy today DAMN
  • That was such a short scope.
  • I feel like sometimes he’s just sitting on the couch being bored and lonely and he turns on periscope because we’re company and that makes me happy because he likes spending time with us and he doesn’t just do it because he’s supposed to. He actually wants to. I dunno, he’s such a genuine person.
The Three Who Rule

The summer time-wasting series winds down a bit with what’s likely to be the final miniscope for a time. With New! Doctor! Who! on the horizon, The Three Who Rule look at the NuWho writing efforts of stalwart scribe Mark Gatiss, whose contributions to Doctor Who date back a couple decades. Gatiss has authored New Adventures, starred in fan videos, written for Big Finish, done Confidential voiceover work and so much more – not to mention penning a 50th anniversary special about the origins of our favourite show; it’s no hyperbole to say he was a natural to write for modern Who. Then again, it unfortunately means we talk about Victory of the Daleks. News of the week, including ICONIC casting banter, rounds out another of these things we call Radio Free Skaro. And stay tuned for our plans for the podcast’s sixth anniversary! Oh, wait. We have none. Carry on.

Whovian Feminism Reviews "Robot of Sherwood"

It’s time for a delightful romp as the Doctor and Clara head to Sherwood forest to meet the not-so-fictional Robin Hood! This was a lovely episode that showed just how good Doctor Who can be when it indulges in a bit of silly fun. I have absolutely no complaints, so this week I’m not going to do a proper review. Instead, I’m going to have a bit of fun myself and do an episode recap!

The episode starts with Clara convincing the Doctor to seek out the fictional Robin Hood, a character she has always admired. The Doctor intends to let her down easy with a brief visit to Sherwood forest, only to accidentally stumble upon the real-life Robin Hood. Of course, the very first thing that Robin Hood attempts to do is steal the Doctor’s TARDIS and challenge him to a sword fight. The Doctor chooses to fight back with a spoon. This isn’t quite as condescending as pausing in the middle of a sword fight to eat a sandwich, but I’m sure the Third Doctor would approve.

Though I have to admit, once the spoon was introduced, I was very disappointed when there were no “I’m going to cut your heart out with a spoon” references.

(Anybody? Prince of Thieves, Alan Rickman as the Sheriff? No? Right then, I’ll just sit here in the corner with my American Robin Hood.)

After a brief scene to establish the evil tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham as he plunders local towns and kills innocent villagers, we return to Sherwood forest, where the Doctor is rather desperately attempting to prove that Robin Hood and his merry men aren’t actually real. Gatiss, King of the Pertwee fans, slips in a miniscope reference (yay!). The Doctor is being grumpy about absolutely everything, and rather sweetly has no idea why Clara so steadfastly believes that impossible heroes like Robin Hood can exist.

The Doctor and Clara then accompany Robin to the Sheriff’s archery contest. Robin wins the tournament by splitting the Sheriff’s arrow, but at the most dramatic moment possible the Doctor arrives and, with a bit of cheating, manages to split Robin’s own arrow. Robin has his own “I can’t lose!” moment-

-and fires another shot, splitting the Doctor’s arrow. The Doctor and Robin take turns for a few moments, splitting each other’s arrows, until the Doctor decides he’s tired of your genre tropes and blows up the target.

The Sheriff orders them all captured, and Robin and Clara come to the Doctor’s rescue. The Doctor, of course, wanted to be captured all along, and looks about ready to murder Robin Hood when Robin unveils himself with a dramatic flourish. Still, Robin’s battle with the Sheriff’s soldiers reveals that they are robots, so Robin’s useful for something. After a bit of Venusian Aikido by the Doctor to disarm Robin (be still my fangirl heart), Robin, Clara, and the Doctor are taken to the dungeons.

It’s there that Clara finds herself in the most dangerous place in the universe: chained to two competing egomaniacs.

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Clara tries to force the boys to focus long enough to come up with an escape plan, but they compete about everything. Since she’s clearly the only one with her wits about her, she’s taken to be interrogated by the Sheriff. In her absence Robin and the Doctor cooperate long enough to knock out the guard, but they manage to lose the keys and have to lug their chains down to the blacksmith’s forge to get them removed.

Meanwhile, Clara is putting her experience dealing with the Doctor to good use by manipulating the Sheriff’s ego in order to get him to reveal his plans. Unfortunately it works a little bit too well, and the Sheriff is so impressed with her cleverness and ability to manipulate him that he decides to claim her as his wife, something Clara is clearly not interested in.

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Deep in the heart of the castle, the Doctor and Robin have stumbled upon the robots’ spaceship, where the Doctor confronts Robin with the legend of Robin Hood, attempting to force him to admit he’s a fake. Clara and the Sheriff arrive, and the Sheriff orders his robots to kill Robin. The Doctor refuses to lift a finger to help Robin, convinced he’s a fake and a tool of the Sheriff. Robin manages to hold back an existential crisis exceptionally well, then takes Clara hostage in order flee the castle. Back in camp with his merry men, he demands to know exactly what the Doctor knows about his life, and why the Doctor believes he is a myth.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is captured once again. With the help of the maid Marion, he escapes, starts a riot, frees the captive peasants, and destroys most of the robots. He confronts the Sheriff one last time, trying to convince him to abandon his plans to take over England, and even accidentally engaging in a bit of bantering (sorry Doctor, you’ve been bantering for about 2,000 years, I don’t think the habit is going to go away that quickly).

And then the Doctor tells the Sheriff that Robin is a robot created by the Sheriff in order to pacify the local population. The Sheriff basically responds with:

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It’s at that moment that our legendary hero, Robin Hood, makes his dramatic return to the castle with Clara to rescue the Doctor and face the Sheriff. Using some new moves picked up from his earlier sword fight against the Doctor, Robin knocks the Sheriff off a ledge into a giant vat of gold, Viserys Targaryen style (has Gatiss been hanging out with GRRM on the set of Game of Thrones?).

Unfortunately, some of the robots survived the Doctor’s earlier assault, and they attempt to launch their rocket, even though the engines are damaged and they’ll explode before they reach orbit, destroying half of England in the process. With a little help from Clara and the Doctor, Robin manages to fire a golden arrow into the spaceship, which somehow helps propel them into orbit, where they explode safely. England is saved and it’s a happily-ever-after ending for everyone (except Alan-a-dale, who only gets a happily-for-six-months ending).

But because even fun episodes need to be a little serious, the Doctor and Robin Hood share a moment about being heroes and the power of narrative. Both the Doctor and Robin Hood are legendary heroic figures, in their own way. Both of their stories have survived longer than anyone may have expected them to, in part because they are uniquely compelling stories about seeking out and fighting injustice. Robin Hood isn’t just a story about damsels in distress and pretty castles, it’s about fighting against abuse of power. Doctor Who isn’t just a story about time travel and aliens, it’s about rebelling against what is expected of us and fighting for justice.

And so the episode closes with a lovely moment of meta commentary, as Robin Hood leaves the Doctor with this final statement: “Perhaps others will be heroes in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end.”