Wednesday, 14 June 2017

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ICE WARRIORS - APPENDIX A

So, Empress of Mars came out this week. I greatly enjoyed it. Not just because I felt it was a strong story, but also because we finally got a story where we see the Ice Warriors on their own home planet. We learnt all kinds interesting things about their culture and history that other stories only lightly touched upon. 

As I actually said at the end of my essay on the Ice Warrior Timeline, this new episode was going to prompt an appendix (a similar thing happened when we got a Dalek story in Series 9). This new installment in the Great Martian Saga actually requires me to revise some of what I've previously written. I'm also going to help solve a potential continuity glitch that the story has created. 

But first, you should probably take a look at my previous essay regarding Ice Warrior History. Here it is: 

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2017/02/chronologies-and-timelines-brief.html


STORY ORDER

Before this latest episode, it is my belief that the Ice Warriors stories happened in the following order:

Cold War
Seeds of Death
The Ice Warriors
Curse of Peladon
Monster of Peladon

In some cases, specific dates or timescales were cited in the stories to make this chronology easier to establish. Admittedly, though, there's also a fair amount of guesswork involved.

So where does our newest tale fit in with all this? Well, they made it easy for us. The Doctor explicitly states that it is 1881 when they arrive on Mars to investigate the "God Save the Queen" message. With this knowledge, we can now place Empress of Mars as being the first story in our timeline. Taking place about a century before Cold War.

That part was easy. But some waters have gotten muddied, here. Events transpire in this episode that flatly contradict some of the theories I put forward in my last Ice Warrior essay. Also, Seeds of Death becomes a trickier story to get to fit in. So we'll start with some revision and then tackle the continuity problem.



AFTER THE SECOND GREAT CATACLYSM

After Skaldak's failed expedition, I felt there was a need to introduce a disaster into Martian culture. Otherwise, their astronaut program would've continued developing and they would've become a space-faring race far sooner than I felt they should. I needed to halt their evolution for a bit so I decided that the War of the Osirians took a tremendous toll on the planet. The inhabitants of Mars had to focus on re-building their society for a millennia or two before they re-embarked on exploring the Universe. Eventually, however, they start building spaceships again. At this point Varga is sent off on an early mission. Like Skaldak, he never returns. These expeditions continue, however, and Mars does develop a spacefleet. A ship from that fleet will pick up Skaldak at the end of the events of Cold War. This all made good sense at the time.

However, we learn in Empress of Mars that the entire race went into mass hibernation. And that they slept for about 5 000 years. This requires me to legitimately change my theories of what happened between Skaldak's departure from Mars and his discovery by humans in the 1980s.

I still say that the Osirians came along and devastated the planet shortly after Skaldak disappeared. But now I believe the devastation wasn't quite as catastrophic. Perhaps only a century or so went by before the Martians would re-embark upon the space exploration program. They send up Varga and he doesn't return.


SOME SERIOUS REVISION

We now have to toss out some of my more substantial ideas about Martian evolution during this era. I believed that, even after the loss of Varga, they became successful with their astronaut program and created a substantial spacefleet. The Honorable Faction go out into the galaxy while the Less Honorable favor staying on the homeworld. Eventually, the Honorable will pick up Skaldak when he sends out his distress beacon from Earth. They continue expanding out into the Universe and discovering new planets to colonize. The Less Honorable will try to invade the Earth in the late 21st Century. Everything seems to flow well with this theory in place.

But now we have to change that. Information stated in Empress of Mars makes it difficult for this timeline work. So, let's pretend all that I said in that particular part of my essay didn't happen.

Perhaps, after Varga's failure, a few more ships go out into the cosmos and they also don't come back.The Martians had been hoping to flee their doomed world by finding new planets to colonize but they were just having too much trouble with their spaceship technology. They needed to come up with an alternative solution. Their biosphere could not support the full population for much longer.

So they opt for mass hibernation. The population puts itself into suspended animation. Several hibernation centers are established throughout the planet. They are referred to as "Hives". Significant leaders are put in charge of the Hives with a set of special controls that are built right into their hibernation unit. The whole hibernator/control unit vaguely resembles a tomb. The largest of all the Hives is looked after by the Ice Queen, herself. A leader we have only recently learnt about. But she seems even more important than the Ice Lords.

Occasionally, small groups of technicians and warriors are set to re-awaken and work on space faring technology. Launches occur from time-to-time but the astronauts never return. Until this problem can be solved - most of Mars will sleep.



ALWAYS PROBLEMS WITH MASS HIBERNATION

If there's one thing we've learnt in the Doctor Who Universe, it's that trying to get a large group of people to stay cryogenicaly sealed never seems to go well. The Silurians had endless problems with it. The Andromedans also make a mess of things during their Ravalox Strategem. Even the humans on Nerva Beacon experienced technical issues.  The Cybermen, at least, don't even try to have a specific "wake up time" in mind on Telos. They're just waiting for nosy humans to do the job for them. Once they do start waking up, though, there's a lot of problems with Rogue Cybermen. The only time it ever seemed to work half decently was when Davros or the Daleks did it. Even then, the Doctor appears to have permanently frozen the Daleks on Spiridon. And Davros' plan on Necros only goes as well as it does because he was converting the sleepers into Daleks or food!

Naturally enough, the Martian Hives malfunction too. They end up oversleeping. We don't know exactly how long they had intended to stay in hibernation, but the Ice Queen definitely seems upset when Friday tells her they've been hibernating for 5 000 years.

I pre-suppose that Friday was supposed to be part of a team that would occasionally re-awaken to work on space travel. He was in a special chamber near the surface of the planet. The team goes in and out of hibernation on a regular basis because they are working with certain natural resources that are exhaustible and need periods of time in which they are not being used so they can replenish themselves'.   Sometime during the 1880s, the malfunctioning hibernation equipment not only causes the space exploration team to oversleep - it kills the bulk of them. Friday is the only one that revives. He knows he must inform his Queen of these developments so they can make a proper decision on how to handle the malfunctions. But he can't reach her on his own. She is buried too deep within the planet.

Friday takes note that the population on Earth is starting to develop sufficient technology that they may actually be of help to him. At the very least, they can provide him with a workforce to dig into the crust of the planet. So he builds a small spacecraft that gets him to Earth. The ship only functions so well and crashes. But a small group of humans assist Friday in rebuilding it and he takes them back to Mars to help him unearth the rest of the Hive.


A CONTINUITY PROBLEM PRESENTS ITSELF

From this point, the events of Empress of Mars ensue. We all squeal with delight as Ysanne Churchman returns to voice the Alpha Centauran that contacts the Martians near the end of the story. Is this the same Alpha Centauri that we will see in the Peladon stories? We can't say for sure. The species may have a crazy-long lifespan.

Whatever the case, it would appear as though the Martian Golden Age is about to begin. The Ice Warriors will finally be able to leave Mars and explore the galaxy. The moment they make contact with Alpha Centauri will lead to the Martians we see several thousand years later in Curse and Monster of Peladon.

The Ice Warriors' problems with space travel will, more than likely, be solved by the generosity of the Alpha Centaurans. They will help them to build a fleet that will get them off Mars. This links in nicely with Cold War, too. A ship from that fleet just happens to be nearby a century later and will receive Skaldak's message from Earth and come rescue him. All the continuity ducks seem to be lining up nicely in a row.

Except for one problem: if the Ice Warriors are being helped off Mars by the Alpha Centaurans, why do they attempt to invade the Earth in Seeds of Death? It's explicitly stated that they are attacking from Mars. Almost two centuries earlier, a mass evacuation seems about to take place at the end of Empress of Mars. So why would the Ice Warriors suddenly be attacking from Mars again?


A CONTINUITY SOLUTION PRESENTS ITSELF

To fix this, we need to go back to my theory on the two Ice Warrior factions: the Honorable and Less Honorable. These two groups have hated each other forever and have probably even fought quite a few times over the years. I'm going to even pre-suppose that the Honorable schism is considerably larger than the Less Honorable. The Less Honorable has only stayed intact because they always fight dirty. The Honorable survive the underhanded tactics employed against them because they are substantially larger in number and can sustain high casualties.

It would stand to reason that these two factions would set up separate Hives from each other. The Ice Queen's behavior would seem to indicate that she is in charge of the Honorable Martians. So it is an Honorable Hive that is re-awakened in Empress Of Mars. Chances are there are a few other Honorable Hives strewn about on the planet. And then, elsewhere, we can find some Less Honorable Hives.

As mass evacuation ensues, the Honorable Faction decide not to revive their rivals (no doubt, all the hibernation chambers had problems and everyone overslept). As dishonorable as such an action may seem, they decided to just let the Less Honorable Faction fend for itself.They will wake up when they wake up (if they wake up at all) and handle their problem of still being stuck on Mars in whatever way they chose to.

The Less Honorable Ice Warriors do revive several years later and are shocked to find that their enemy is gone. They have Mars to themselves' - for what it's worth. They do develop a fleet of their own but it's only good for short-range travel. They need to colonize a nearby planet soon. Mars is dying.

So they direct their attention to Earth. It will be a very suitable planet for them to take over. They just need to wipe out the humans that are infesting it. A scheme is hatched by Lord Slaar involving biological warfare.

From here, Seeds of Death can proceed with no problem.

You're welcome.



Okay then, the Appendix is becoming almost as long as the original essay - so I'll wrap things up. No doubt, how Empress of Mars fits into my own timeline has been eating away at you, too. Right? That's why I delivered this essay as quickly as I could. You can sleep, now. 








Friday, 26 May 2017

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES - QUICK FIXES 4: SERIES 8 SPECIAL

In an effort to brace myself for the departure of Doctor Twelve, I cracked open the DVDs I have from his era. I even purposely re-watched Time of the Doctor just to observe his first few seconds of life at the end of the story. 

At the time of writing this, I just wrapped up Series 8. I couldn't help but notice a couple of plotholes that end up presenting themselves' over the course of the twelve episodes. I thought I'd take a shot at trying to explain some of them. 



WHAT HAPPENED TO ORSON?

This is probably the biggest one of the season. Listen is all about travelling up and down the timeline of Danny Pink to discover things about his past and future. As we get to the latter part of the episode, it's heavily implied that Danny and Clara will get together and have kids. Those kids will, in turn, have kids of their own. After a few more generations, one of those descendants will be Orson Pink -an astronaut in a time travel experiment that the Doctor and Clara will rescue when he's caught in the far-flung future.

All this is quite pretty until we get to the end of Series 8 and discover that Danny Pink dies. A season later, Clara also passes on (sort of). So how can they have descendants when both are dead without actually procreating before they went?

The simplest answer would be that this is another branch of the Pink family. That Danny and Clara never have kids but some other people with the last name Pink, do. This theory only holds together so well, though. Orson definitely looks to be related to Danny but Danny grew up an orphan. There seemed no indication that he had siblings or any sort of immediate family that he knew about. The heirloom that Orson has kept shoots down the idea even more. Why would he have it unless he was directly descended from Danny Pink?

Another theory might be that we have not seen the full story of Clara and Danny. Clara has been extracted from just before her death and is now travelling around with Me in a stolen TARDIS. Perhaps she finds some way to finally get Danny back and they have a family. Again, the idea only works so well. It is difficult to believe that a woman who no longer has a pulse would still be capable of becoming pregnant.

The most likely explanation is that Orson Pink is now an aborted timeline. The Doctor did say he'd shut off the TARDIS' safeguards. Perhaps this enabled the ship to explore possible futures rather than true ones. Particularly since she was being steered through the telepathic circuits. When Clara plugged herself into the console, she was going to marry Danny and have kids. So the TARDIS followed that eventuality. But as her and Danny's timelines actually progressed, things took a more tragic turn. There would be no Orson Pink, after all. Another astronaut would be recruited for the mission because the Pink family line was cut off when Danny died.

So the future Clara saw during Listen only existed during that particular moment. The TARDIS doesn't usually travel through time in such a manner. But with safeguards off and telepathic circuits in control, these things can happen.


ANNABEL? WHAT?!

I will be the first to admit, In the Forest of the Night is far from being one of my favorite Doctor Who stories. Most of fandom seems to agree with the sentiment. One of its biggest problems, of course, is the sudden re-appearance of Maebh's sister, Annabel, at the end of the episode. Annabel had gone missing but is, suddenly, returned to Maebh and her mother. Apparently, she'd been hiding behind some bushes the whole time!

How does this happen?

Much of In the Forest of the Night is highly subjective and not a lot of clear answers are given about anything. The bit with Annabel, however, is a bit too unexplained. So let's see if we can come up with something.

The story seems to imply that there has been an ancient race or energy or intelligence that has existed on the Earth since the dawn of its creation. This race protects the Earth from certain natural disasters from time-to-time. In the case of extreme solar flares, it can cause trees to rapidly grow and use the oxygen those trees produce to deflect the harmful rays of the sun. My guess is that the race can control energy to such an extent that they can use it to re-form matter. Hence, their ability to produce and remove forests at a moment's notice.

Since Maebh helped out significantly during the whole crisis, the ancient race decides to reward her. They see that her greatest desire is to get her sister back. So they re-create Annabel. The original was probably abducted and met some kind of untimely end. The body was never found. But the copy is probably instilled with the memories Annabel had up to the moment where she was taken. She re-joins her family and they pick up where they left off.

And everyone lives happily ever after....


WHAT CAME FIRST? THE GIANT SPACE CHICKEN OR THE MOON EGG?

This one seemed to almost outrage fans. They seemed convinced in Kill the Moon that it was an impossibility of physics and/or biology that a giant alien can suddenly leave behind a new egg in its place immediately after it has just hatched from its own egg.

I'm not entirely sure why this is so upsetting as it doesn't seem particularly impossible to me. This is an alien we're talking about so its life-cycle can be very different from ours. I do see the explanation given in the episode as a bit of an over-simplification. I've come up with something a bit more specific. My science might still be just as wonky - so I apologize in advance if it still offends you.

I'd like to think that, as the creature was nearing its hatching, a sort of mitosis occurred. A second much younger creature was formed from it and started gestating in the egg with it. When it was time for the older space-chicken to finally emerge into the Universe, it broke through its shell but then quickly re-wove it around the younger embryo so it could continue to gestate (Erato was seen to do something similar in Creature from the Pit to create a spaceship for himself).

Of course, as this younger embryo in the re-sealed egg nears maturity, it will go through a similar process. The mitosis will happen inside the egg again and the mature creature will hastily re-assemble the shell after it hatches to keep the younger embryo alive. This just how the species survives in this particular alien race.

That's how I see it, at least. It seems slightly more plausible, this way.


That's my take on some of the bigger problems of Series 8. It would like to emphasize that, even with the plotholes, I think the season is particularly brilliant. I've been very happy with the Twelfth Doctor era and I will be very upset to see him go. I'm also quite sad that Moff is leaving, too. Chris Chibnall has some big shoes to fill...



Enjoying "Quick Fixes"? Here's another one: The original, you might say!
http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/08/fixing-continuity-glitches-quick-fixes.html

Friday, 19 May 2017

ANALYTICAL: MISSIONS FOR THE TIME LORDS

At the time of writing this, the Doctor undertaking missions for his people is strictly a Classic Series Thing. It could be entirely possible that we will see this phenomenon taking place at some point in the New Series - but it hasn't happened, yet. It doesn't help that, during most of the New Who Era, the Time Lords were believed to be extinct. It's hard to receive missions from a civilization that you think has been destroyed! But now that they seem to have returned to our Universe - the Time Lords may start dispatching him again. In fact, it's entirely possible that whatever is in that mysterious Vault might have something to do with a favor that Gallifrey needs him to do. We'll find out soon enough, of course. But, at this point, when we speak of Time Lord Missions - it will relate to stories strictly from the Classic Series. 


PROTOCOLS AND MOTIVES

With the exception of a few flashback sequences, the whole of the Doctor Who series concerns adventures that have transpired since the Doctor left his home planet and became a renegade. For the first six seasons, he appears to be flying completely under the radar of his people. When they do finally catch up with him - the Doctor is given his freedom at a price. Even during his exile on Earth, he is allowed some travelling privileges if he's willing to accomplish certain tasks on their behalf. After his full mobility is restored in The Three Doctors, the High Council (or, perhaps, the CIA - it's difficult to ascertain) continue to give the Doctor missions. A bargain seems to have been struck after the First Omega Crisis where he is allowed to break one of the greatest laws of his people but only if they can use him from time to time for their own purposes. We see him accomplish a few missions for the Time Lords during his Fourth Incarnation and one more time during his Sixth.

From the viewpoint of the audience, these missions for the Time Lords appear to start for the Third Doctor and carry through to the Sixth. The Fifth Doctor never seems to have to do any jobs for them and the work seems to finally completely peter out during his seventh incarnation. But, if we look a bit deeper, we see that this special arrangement between the Doctor and his people extends much further than first realized.

Another important point that I will try to raise is that these missions all seem to have a certain pattern to them. The Time Lords go about recruiting the Doctor in a certain manner and only engage him for very specific reasons. Essentially, his missions all have a certain set of protocols and motives within them. We'll break all of this down into very specific categories as the pretentious essay progresses. But first, let us define what a mission for the Time Lords actually is:


DEFINITION:

As usual, one of the best ways to define my point is to state what it isn't (if that makes any sense!). There are any number of occasions where the Doctor interacts with Time Lords and even goes about trying to accomplish something with them - but this does not constitute a specific mission given to him. In Deadly Assassin, for instance, the Doctor decides he must discover who the true killer of the former Lord President is. But it is a mission he chooses to undertake rather than one that is handed to him. That scene in Terror of the Autons where a Time Lord meets with him briefly on the radio tower to tell him that the Master is at work on Earth, very much, feels like he's being assigned a mission. But, technically, he's just receiving a warning. There's a difference.

To be more specific: a mission from the Time Lords is when the Doctor goes out on an adventure that his people want him to have. Certain things will be accomplished in that adventure that will advance an agenda of some sort for the inhabitants of Gallifrey. Oftentimes, (but not always) the Doctor is actually being told that he's on a mission. That he's doing some sort of handiwork for them.

As he points out in The Two Doctors, using a renegade to accomplish such tasks allows the Time Lords to maintain their stance of non-intervention. If the Doctor's true identity is ever discovered, his people will deny that they even sent him. Officially, he's there quite unofficially.


THE FIRST MISSION: ODD MAN OUT

Okay, now that we have the definition in place - let's get into some serious analysis. As I have already stated, these missions seem to follow a very specific set of patterns. The one exception to this pattern is the very first mission that he undertakes.

To all intents and purposes, the very first mission the Doctor is given seems to take place in Colony In Space. It is only in later stories that we learn there were other adventures where the Doctor was working on the Time Lords' behalf. We need to take a bit more of a retro-active stance to truly identify his first mission.

Strictly as the chronometer flies, the Doctor's first true mission for the Time Lords takes place way back in his first incarnation. At the behest of the Lord President, the First Doctor is brought forward in his own timeline to help his second and third incarnation deal with a Black Hole that is draining all power on Gallifrey. It's safe to say, then, that the next time the Doctor is sent on a mission for the Time Lords would be in his second incarnation. I would guess that it would happen sometime before the conclusion of Season 6. Again, the recruitment process is done in the same way. He's plucked from the proper place in his timestream and brought forward to assist his third incarnation.

When both incarnations are brought back to their proper location in time and space, it is most likely that they forget the whole incident. It may be that the Time Lords erased their memory or it may be because this just naturally happens when too many versions of the same person start meeting up (as is mentioned in Day of the Doctor). Whatever the case, the Doctor's first true mission for the Time Lords will only be remembered after it has happened to the Third Doctor.

It is interesting to note that the High Council explain to the Master during The Five Doctors that they could not find the Doctor in any of his incarnations. It seems likely that the whole trouble with the Death Zone was going to be another mission for the Doctor. That, because power on Gallifrey was being drained again, they might have been observing similar protocols to the ones they had used during the First Omega Crisis. They may have been considering using multiple incarnations of the Doctor to solve the problem, again. Otherwise, why would they look into locating all of the different versions of him? Silly postulation, of course. But still entirely possible.

For more silly postulation about memory issues during The Three Doctors, check out this entry:
http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/06/fixing-continuity-glitches-double.html



AFTER THE THREE DOCTORS

So, if we keep things linear in a weird retro-active manner, the next mission the Doctor goes on that we are able to see is in The Two Doctors. Most fans see this adventure as taking place in what is commonly referred to as Season 6b. This is believed to be a series of adventures that were, hitherto, unseen by the audience until Season 20. The basic premise is that the Second Doctor was snatched away from his trial during The War Games just before he could regenerate. He was secretly granted his freedom to travel in his TARDIS - provided he would occasionally perform secret missions for his people. It's a theory fandom came up with so that certain continuity glitches that occur in The Two and Five Doctors will make sense. I know it's a bit weird to have to look at continuity in such a weird wibbly wobbly manner - but it's something that the show does from time-to-time. Just look at what happened during the 50th Anniversary when we were asked to accept a whole new incarnation that we never knew existed! Doctor Who just likes to re-write it's own history now and again.

For all the confusion it creates, The Two Doctors does follow the patterns that all other Time Lord missions move along. So, from this point onwards, anytime the Time Lords enlist the Doctor's aid - we will see a certain level of consistency to how things operate.

Just so we're clear, here are all the stories that fit into this pattern:

The Two Doctors
Colony In Space
Curse of Peladon
The Mutants
Genesis of the Daleks
Brain of Morbius
Attack of the Cybermen


PROTOCOLS:

The first pattern we'll point out is how the Doctor is actually recruited to perform these missions. Aside from the weird way in which he is plucked out of his timestream in The Three Doctors, the Time Lords always seem to respect Gallifreyan Mean Time. They approach the Doctor in the most current position of his timeline and enlist his aid. The actual recruitment, however, occurs in one of two distinct manners:

Overt:

We see this approach in The Two Doctors, Genesis of the Daleks and, to a large extent, The Mutants. The Time Lords make it very clear to the Doctor that the next adventure he is about to have is on their behalf. The best example of this is in Genesis of the Daleks - where a Time Lord briefly appears to the Doctor to explain to him that they want him to interfere with the early development of his greatest foe. The Doctor is under no illusion that this is not some random landing that he's having - the Time Lords are revealing to him that they have guided him to this point and they specifically want him to accomplish something for them. It's made even more clear that the Doctor is on a mission in Genesis because he doesn't even get to take his TARDIS there. The transmat beam he was travelling along was intercepted and he's brought to Skaro. It could not be made any clearer that he's working for his people in this story.

In the other two stories I've listed, the recruitment process is still overt. The Doctor still knows he's doing a job for the Time Lords. But it's not quite as clearly implied. At the beginning of The Two Doctors, we assume he's just had a similar confrontation to the one we saw in Genesis of the Daleks - it just didn't happen onscreen. But from the dialogue he has with Jamie, we can see that he knows he's undertaking a mission. So we assume a Time Lord communicated directly with him in some sort of manner to tell him what he had to do.

In The Mutants, a pod appears to the Doctor from out of nowhere. The Doctor immediately recognizes its purpose and knows he's about to embark on another mission for the Time Lords. This is why I consider this another Overt dispatch. He's been made clearly aware of the purpose of his next journey. The fact that he knows what the pod represents indicates to me that he has dealt with them before. Perhaps he's been assigned these pods during an unseen adventure or two in Season 6b. 

Covert

This is the most frequently-used method for assigning the Doctor his missions. Right in the first few minutes of Colony In Space, we see a group of Time Lords discussing the need to employ the Doctor to stop the Master on Uxarieus. But they suspect the Doctor is too bitter from his exile and is unlikely to cooperate if they approach him directly about it. They just choose to manipulate the situation so the Doctor believes he's arriving at his next destination by his own free will. In some cases, like Curse of Peladon or Attack of the Cybermen, the Doctor works out the truth as the adventure proceeds.

During Brain of Morbius, he immediately suspects his people are interfering with his travels. He does, later, admit to Maren that he's not entirely sure that it wasn't just a technical fault that landed him on Karn. But, from other clues that we see, this probably was a mission from the Time Lords.

Although it's never stated onscreen, we do guess that the Doctor works out that Colony In Space was a Time Lord mission. When he sees that his TARDIS no longer works once the Master has been thwarted, he probably puts Two and Two together. Which is probably what helps him make the educated guess that he leaps to at the end Curse of Peladon. He now recognizes the pattern of Covert Recruitment since he's seen it done to him once before. This may also be why his next few missions are Overt. The Time Lords realize he won't fall for their tricks, anymore.



MOTIVES:

The reasons why the Time Lords decide to use the Doctor to break The Laws of Non-Intervention also follow some pretty distinct patterns. Once more, The Three Doctors is the one exception to the rule. The Black Hole that Omega is using seems to be a threat that really only affects Gallifrey (Omega does start talking about destroying the Universe in later episodes but the Time Lords aren't, necessarily aware of this). Aside from this one story, the Time Lords always enlist the Doctor's help for one of three reasons:

Massive Threat To The Universe

In terms of the Doctor's personal timeline, this one was displayed for the first time in The Two Doctors. The Doctor is sent to Dastari to discuss the suspension of the Kartz and Reimer time experiments. The Time Lords are sure that this particular branch of time travel technology will punch a very dangerous hole in the Universe and, quite possibly, snuff it out of existence.

In terms of how we've been watching the show, the first time we see this motive being employed is in Genesis of the Daleks. The Time Lords foresee a time when the Daleks will succeed in controlling the entire Universe. So they send the Doctor to the Dawn of their Creation to alter this timeline.

Finally, the damage the Cybermen would do to the timelines by preventing the destruction of Mondas in Attack of the Cybermen would be catastrophic. He is covertly maneuvered into preventing the catastrophe


Cleaning Up Their Messes

This problem occurs a few times with the Time Lords. While the Doctor chose to leave Gallifrey for benevolent reasons, other defectors didn't have the noblest of intentions. Sometimes, these evil renegades develop a plan so nasty that the Doctor's course must be specifically diverted to deal with them.

Colony In Space is the first time we see this. The Master has stolen some secret information that the Time Lords were safeguarding about a Doomsday Weapon on the planet Uxareius. Should he actually get his hands on the weapon, it could prove devastating for all civilizations in the Universe. So they temporarily free the Doctor from his Exile to deal with it.

The other time we see this motive is in Brain of Morbius. Certain that the former Lord President has survived his execution on Karn, the Time Lords re-direct the Doctor's TARDIS to take him there and deal with it.

Intergalactic Politics

This one is, perhaps, the most mysterious of all the motives. Every now and again, the Time Lords seem to see certain political moves that need to be made to keep the Universe the way they want it to be. We have no idea, exactly, why these things must happen the way they do. We just know that it's important to the Time Lords that they occur.

For whatever reason, the Time Lords deemed it necessary for the planet Peladon to join the Intergalactic Federation (Curse of Peladon). Just as they needed the Solonians to truly break free of the exploitation of the Earth Empire (The Mutants). We can hypothesize all we want for why these changes needed to be instituted, but we'll never know for sure.


OTHER MISSIONS?

Of course, these are the stories where it was made clear to us that the Doctor was being dispatched by his people to handle certain problems. But we know that the Time Lords can be very covert in the way they manipulate his travels.

Ever noticed how it seems almost too coincidental that the Doctor shows up at certain places and certain times to right certain wrongs? Could it be that there have been other missions that he has been sent on where the Time Lords were manipulating him so deftly that even he couldn't tell?

They might just be the only race in the Universe who could outwit him to the point where they could use him without him knowing. And they understand better than most how moral of a creature he is. They don't need to tell him to interfere and influence things for the better. They just need to plop him down in the proper environment and he'll initiate the necessary changes without any prompting. Perhaps my definition can be broadened. Perhaps the Doctor has been on far more missions for his people than any of us can know.

Points to ponder...











Thursday, 23 March 2017

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: THE COMPLEX HISTORY OF PROFESSOR RIVER SONG

Technically, this essay is another special request. Quite some time ago, someone (and I can't remember who she was - if you're reading this, please come forward and make yourself known!) requested that I work out a chronological history of River Song's appearances on the show. 

It's a pretty big task. So I stalled for as long as possible! But, recently, Doctor Who Magazine made an attempt of their own to arrange River's timeline in a proper order. I only agreed with some of it and felt it wasn't comprehensive enough.

This, of course, spurred me on to finally meet with the request of this sadly-forgotten fan. I just had to do it right. Rather than let that article in DWM stand as the definitive attempt to sort out River Song's life! 



THE COMPLEX HISTORY OF RIVER SONG

No one has a more twisted and confusing timeline than our favorite futuristic archaeologist. This has, of course, made her all the more interesting of a character. Steven Moffat, however, does appear to have her timeline worked out in his own head. If we're watching closely enough, we can see that. Having viewed all of her stories in the order that I believe they should flow, I can see this actual timeline working quite nicely. I'm not entirely sure, of course, if my timeline is the same one that Moff envisioned. But, nonetheless, here goes:



WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN?

Okay, if we want to be as precise as possible, then we have to actually take some sort of stance in a long, ongoing debate between the Right to Life and Pro Choice camps. Truth be told, I'd rather not reveal what my real position is on this argument. But, just for the sake of pedantry, let's go all the way back to River's point of conception.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when Rory and Amy performed the deed. It could have happened between The Big Bang and A Christmas Carol. Or it could have occurred between A Christmas Carol and The Impossible Astronaut. As the Doctor, himself, has said: "It's not like they send up a balloon or something!". But, sometime during that period, River Song was conceived.

Which means that, if we want to take a certain stance on a delicate issue, life began for River Song sometime between Series 5 and Series 6. If we want to continue taking that stance, then she exists in her first form throughout The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Doctor's Wife and The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People. In all of those stories, she is gestating in Amy's womb. We don't know this, of course, until it's truly revealed at the end of The Almost People. Where we learn that Amy has been a flesh avatar the whole time and, in truth, has been in some kind of special incubation chamber. Lots of hints are given that this is going on - but most of us didn't truly clue in to this until those last few shocking minutes of Almost People 

So, throughout all of those stories, we are actually witnessing River's first timeline (if we want to be super-specific and slightly political). Naturally enough, we'll be returning to Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon several more times.


YOUNG RIVER (AKA: MELS)

Okay, let's now step up to what many of a different viewpoint would consider to be River's true first story. Just a short while before A Good Man Goes To War, River is born. She is only about a month old when we see her in this story. Of course, some more trickery is done with a flesh avatar and "infant River" is whisked off at the end of the story to begin her mental conditioning to become the Doctor's assassin. A Good Man Goes To War is another story where multiple versions of River exist. So, we'll be returning here again, too.

But first, we go back to Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon where we see a second version (or, possibly, a first - depending on your own personal beliefs on what constitutes life) of River Song. At this stage of the game - she appears to be just a little girl. Probably no older than Twelve. Most likely, younger. The Silence have begun trying to integrate her into her special astronaut suit that she will be wearing when she kills the Doctor. In Day of the Moon, she appears to break free of the suit. This does not seem to concern the Silence much. They allow her to escape - even though re-capturing her shouldn't be that hard.

It's my guess that the Kovarian Schism of the Silence just needed to prime the suit in some way. That River had to spend a little bit of time in the suit so it could key in to her specific DNA (or something of that nature), When they do come back to retrieve her in her third incarnation and send her to Lake Silencio - the suit will be ready to take control of her actions. So, even though she does escape in Day of the Moon, they're fine with that. They have what they need.

At the end of our beloved two-part Series 6 Opener, we see River's first incarnation initiate a regeneration. She turns into a young woman who will come to be known as Mels. Somehow, Mels seems capable of suspending her aging process. She induces the regeneration in New York in the late 60s and makes her way to Leadworth where she grows up with Rory and Amy in the 90s.

We see through a series of flashbacks in Let's Kill Hitler what Mels was like growing up. She is very violent and reckless. This is, most likely, a side effect of whatever mental conditioning was done to her during her first incarnation. It's also likely that the conditioning drove her to find Rory and Amy as children. She knew they would, eventually, lead her to the Doctor.

Another regeneration is induced fairly early on in Let's Kill Hitler and we see the version of River we know best. A very solid attempt is made on the Doctor's life that ends up failing. River is informed of her true destiny and uses up her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor (however many those may be - we don't know for sure since she is only half Time Lord - so, maybe, she had only half the number of regenerations a Time Lord is allotted). 

It is, at this point, that the Doctor gifts River with a diary. She will be able to use it from hereon in to work out where she is in relation to the Doctor's personal timeline. It will become an invaluable tool for her.




THE SECOND ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT:

We now get to the big moment: a path River is forced to take that will have a huge bearing on her personal freedom for a considerable period of time.

There is a nice coda to Let's Kill Hitler that shows River starting her studies at a university to become an archaeologist. We see her, again, at that university during a second coda in Closing Time. Madam Kovarian shows up while River is actually studying the Doctor's life and forces her back into the astronaut suit and places her at the bottom of Lake Silencio.

Temporally speaking, things get pretty complicated at this point. We see the full assassination during the opening of The Impossible Astronaut. A third (or, possibly, only second) version of River in this story emerges from the bottom of Lake Silencio and kills the Doctor. To all intents and purposes, this second assassination attempt is successful. The Silence is smart enough to make the whole event a fixed point in time (or a still point in time - not sure if there's a difference). So there is no way for the Doctor to avoid it.

There is, of course, a huge digression that happens during that moment in The Impossible Astronaut that we see play out in The Wedding of River Song. River attempts to resist killing the Doctor and creates a whole alternative timeline for a brief period. The Doctor, of course, eventually reveals that she doesn't actually murder him. But, rather, a teselecta version of him stands in his place for that fateful moment. Once she learns the truth of things, she allows the events of the Doctor's deadly assassination to resume.

To the Universe, in general, the Doctor is dead. River is incarcerated for his murder at the Stormcage Containment Facility.



RIVER'S PRISON SENTENCE - BEFORE SHE MUST BECOME A MYSTERY

This is, in some ways, the trickiest part of sorting out River's timeline. We have to listen carefully for various clues that tell us which order the stories involving her period of incarceration happen in.

Knowing the Doctor didn't really die, River accepts her sentence for murder and is sent off to a maximum security prison. The Doctor, of course, starts breaking in regularly and taking her out on all sorts of magnificent dates.We hear reference to a unique birthday gift involving Stevie Wonder and the Frost Fairs of the River Thames. We will also, in a subsequent story, hear about them going to Easter Island and getting to know Jim the Fish. During all this dating, River is getting better at figuring out the security system of her prison and starts breaking out all on her own from time-to-time.

She is, of course, dating a version of the Doctor from after the events of Wedding of River Song so he knows she must not get involved in the Battle at Demon's Run. Madame Kovarian must be allowed to steal the infant version of herself so that events can flow the way they do. Plus, the Doctor just knows that River is not involved in the fight until after it's done. So he tells her that Rory will, eventually, show up at Stormcage and ask her to participate in the battle. She must refuse the go with him. He also informs her that she must visit Demon's Run at some point after the fighting has concluded to explain to him that she is Rory and Amy's daughter.

At this point in time, A Good Man Goes To War occurs for the second version of River Song that's in this story (the first was her as a baby - if you'll recall). This is a tough story to place. It could happen at almost any point in her prison sentence timeline. I place it here based purely on the idea that,when we see her in Stormcage, River appears to be having a very romantic relationship with the Doctor. Whereas the next story in this timeline makes it clear to River that, from this point onward, she and the Doctor are no longer kissing.

Some like to point out that A Good Man Goes To War should happen after The Big Bang since River does confirm to Rory at the beginning of the episode that she's met him, before. But, if you look at the way her timeline is laid out: she met Rory a long time ago. Back when she was still Mels, in fact. From Rory's standpoint, they met for the first time in Big Bang. But River has, actually, known him for ages. He's just finally caught up with her.

I have a pet theory that the first scene with River in A Good Man Goes To War is one version of her. But that we're in an entirely different point in her timeline when we see her at the end of the story. We'll get to that in a bit...

The next story in this sequence is The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. This is where we see the fourth version of River Song (or, possibly, just the third). This is the version that shoots off the Doctor's cowboy hat and then goes to Lake Silencio with him to watch his death. Somehow, between Good Man and Astronaut/Moon something might have been done to River's memory. She doesn't seem to realize that's her in the astronaut suit. This could be a long-term effect of the mental conditioning that was done to her. She knows why she's in prison - she killed the Doctor. But she can no longer remember how exactly it happened. The Silence may have seen just how unstable she was and induced a memory loss of some sort so she couldn't try to travel back in time and interfere with her second assassination attempt. The Doctor seems to believe something was done to make her forget the attack at Lake Silencio as he is speaking to her in Wedding of River Song. However, it could be entirely possible that River does actually remember all this but is pretending not to. She does quite a bit of this.

The Doctor's first kiss with her at the end of Day of the Moon becomes a brutal milestone for River. She realizes, at this point, that she's dealing with a Doctor who no longer knows the full extent of their relationship. From hereon in, she must be very careful of anything she reveals about herself. Even worse, she knows she can no longer kiss the man she loves.



RIVER'S PRISON SENTENCE - AFTER SHE MUST BECOME A MYSTERY

The chronology becomes easier to work out again from this point, onward. This is due mainly to the fact that the next few stories make direct references to each other.

The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is the next adventure that takes place. We know, of course, that it happens before Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone because River says at the end of their battle against the Weeping Angels that he will see her again, soon - when the Pandorica Opens. During Pandorica Opens, Amy talks to River about the Fall of the Byzantium. River tells her that hasn't happened to her, yet. This helps solidify the whole timeline even better. Thanks Moff for making this part easy!

So, just to be clear: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang happens next. After that, we get Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone.

Of course, we must also mention that we see a second version of River in The Wedding of River Song who appears near the end of the story. This one openly claims to have just finished climbing out of the Byzantium only moments earlier. She lets Amy and Rory know that the Doctor isn't truly dead. That they will see him again. She appears to have used her Time Agent Bracelet to make this trip. Somehow, she's keeping it hidden from the security systems of the Stormcage Containment Facility.

I also believe that, at this point, she makes another trip with her time bracelet back to Demon's Run. She arrives just after the big battle on the asteroid has concluded. Upon the Doctor's instructions during her early days of incarceration, she makes this trip to reveal to a past version of the Time Lord that she is Rory and Amy's daughter. So it is actually a third version of River that we see in her second scene of A Good Man Goes To War. One that comes from this time. I place that moment here because she is using a time bracelet to get to Demon's Run. She only acquires the device at the beginning of Pandorica Opens. So that fateful second scene of Good Man Goes To War must take place after the events of Pandorica Opens/Big Bang.

How's that for a ridiculously over-contrived attention to painstaking details?!

Shortly thereafter, the Doctor embarks on a mission to erase all records of himself from the Universe. This, of course, causes River's prison sentence to be revoked. How can she go to jail for the murder of a man who never existed?



FREE AGAIN -  BUT SOON TO DIE...

And so, River is allowed to roam the Universe, once more. She begins to get involved in all sorts of capers as she explores her career as an archaeologist. She's also managing a bit of time travel, here and there. Partly from the Time Agent's travel bracelet that she acquired and partly from secret hi-jacks of the TARDIS that the Doctor doesn't even know about.

She will, eventually, investigate the high level of time distortion going on in Manhattan during the 1930s. There, she runs into the Doctor for the first time since she's regained her freedom. The Angels Take Manhattan happens at this point. Amy gives firm instructions to her daughter to take care of the Doctor since she will never see him again. River nods affirmatively and we get the impression that the two of them do travel together for a bit in the TARDIS. But, eventually, River goes off on her own adventures, again.

At some point before she becomes entangled with King Hydroflax, River must write the Melody Malone novel that the Doctor will use in Manhattan to defeat the Weeping Angels. She will, somehow, get it to Amy in the 1930s. Amy will add an afterword and then publish it. River will, probably, get a copy of it and go back into the Doctor's timeline and slip it in the pocket of his blazer.

How River gets the manuscript to Amy isn't entirely certain. We're led to believe that the complex paradoxes surrounding the Williams' also makes it impossible for Professor Song to see her parents again. But we could be wrong. Or, perhaps, River just sent them the final draft of her book in the post.

As she accomplishes these last few tasks, River is getting nervous. She can see that the diary the Doctor gave her way back in Let's Kill Hitler is nearly full. She knows her end must be near. She has even heard rumors that her date with the Doctor at Singing Towers of Darillium will be her last one. She will die shortly, thereafter.

The Husbands of River Song happens next. Much to her surprise, she learns of a new incarnation of her husband that she didn't know existed. She also learns that nights on Darillium last twenty-four years. She and the Doctor have a protracted final date before she must leave him and face her doom.

On that date, of course, he gifts her a sonic screwdriver.



DEATH AND RE-BIRTH:

And now, at last, in that beautifully contrived way, River's first adventure becomes her last.

Sort of...

After a long rich, history with multiple incarnations, she encounters the Doctor in his Tenth Incarnation on the planet of the Library. The events of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead transpire. To all intents and purposes, River appears to be dead. Only in a last-minute epiphany, does the Doctor realize what his future self must have done with that sonic screwdriver he gave her on Darillium. He is able to save her to the Library' hard drive where she lives on as a sort of digital ghost.

That digital ghost makes one last appearance through a shared dream with Clara and the Paternoster Gang that eventually leads her to the Doctor back in his Eleventh Incarnation. The Name of the Doctor takes place at this point. They have a very touching reunion where the Doctor reveals just how deep his love goes for her. That he hasn't gone back to the Library to see her because it's just too painful for him. He even claims to see her all the time.

We can't say for sure that her timeline is truly done, yet. River points out that the Doctor still has a live feed with her. Which may have been just something to indicate that Clara is still alive even though she's plunged into the "scar" his death has left in the Time/Space Continuum. Or, it could point to something more.

That, maybe, River will appear to him again sometime in his future.

We'll have to wait and see...



I think that sorts out everything. This has, easily, proven to be the most difficult CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES essay that I have ever written. Hope it didn't give you a headache!!   











Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SECOND ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL!!!

It's hard to believe I'm still keeping this thing going on a regular basis after two solid years. But here we are: celebrating the second anniversary of Pretentious Doctor Who Essays. 

I've decided to post the second part of a series of articles I wrote for a fanzine a friend of mine was making way back in the day. It's, basically, a biographical piece that details how I first discovered the show when I was but a young lad. It discusses that most pivotal of events in a new fan's life: handling your first regeneration!  


Whocology 101:   An Introduction to the Greatest TV Show, Ever!

Episode Two:   "The times they are a-changin'..."                 

                                                                                                                       

In my continuing mission to present the Television Program "Doctor  Who" to the unschooled, I will maintain my format of simply recounting to you how I discovered the show.    For some reason, folks seem to like the "biographical edge" I'm adding to this presentation of dry facts and figures!  
         
Just in case you missed my first installment: I explained that I initially came into contact with this quirky British series when I was but a young lad of Twelve or so - growing up in the bordertown of Windsor, Ontario. I'd watched my first few episodes on a weird local channel that came out of Detroit. Having relished the deadly efficiency of a well-aimed hat in the tale: Destiny of the Daleks, I was now sold on the idea that this strange mysterious traveler known only as the Doctor might become my greatest hero.   

The biggest problem was, of course, that the Doctor really was mysterious.    Not just in the way the character was being portrayed, but the premise of the series completely boggled me, at times.   If nothing else, I really needed it explained to me how this big white gleaming control room could fit into this tiny blue telephone booth!    What was the whole science behind that?!
   
But there were greater questions than that (how the console room fits in the phone booth, by the way, never really did get properly explained!).   The Doctor was this tall, curly-haired madman with bulging eyes and a ridiculously long scarf.     But he was, very obviously, brilliant.   Far too brilliant, in fact.   I was getting the impression  that, even though he looked human, he was an alien of some sort.  What kind of alien was he?    Where did he come from?    Why had he chosen to become a sort of intergalactic crime-fighter?  These were all things I wanted to learn.... 

I was lucky to discover that this attractive blond woman he was travelling with also hailed from the same alien race. As I continued following the show on the weird Detroit channel, I learnt that both the Doctor and the attractive blond (named Romana) were known as Time Lords. And that the impossibly large phone box that they stepped in and out on a regular basis was a TARDIS. A craft capable of taking them to any point in time and space.
  
This was established to me through various bits of passing dialogue.    And though it still didn't tell me much, it was enough to keep me going.    The premise was definitely cool: advanced aliens flitting around through time and space in a really eccentric manner. As they did, they righted wrongs and defeated evil menaces wherever they went. They were also very witty and articulate about it as they did!  
            
I decided I would just keep watching the show and try to pick up odds and ends about the Doctor's background whenever it came up in throwaway dialogue.    It was the only way I could learn about the series, really.  Bear in mind, this is the early 80s. There may have been some sort of internet already floating around out there.   But, by no means, was it particularly accessible to a 12-year-old boy who wanted to learn about some cheap-looking British sci-fi series.   So I couldn't get all my questions answered with a few clicks of a mouse as we do, nowadays. 
            
Which was alright, really. Something I discovered, quite quickly, was that part of what makes Doctor Who so fun is that it has a very "shadowy" mythos behind it. Even now, there's really not all that much we know about the title character. And the more mysterious he remains, the more charm he seems to wield.   
            
So those early days of not really knowing what this Doctor fellow was all about had a unique sort of piquancy to it. Instead of trying to load us down with all kinds of ridiculous expository dialogue like a lot of other science fiction TV shows do, Doctor Who allowed its viewer to just sit back and enjoy the adventure. The facts, in many ways, were somewhat irrelevant.    Just have fun watching this zany character actor, Tom Baker, portray an eccentric alien who continuously wanders inadvertently into danger and ends up saving the day through all kinds of creative improvisations.  
            
In many ways, there is no better way to enjoy a science-fiction television program.
            
Nonetheless, the geographical location I grew up in provided me with an excellent convenience. Living in the Windsor area meant I received television signals from Ontario, Michigan and parts of Ohio.   Within a month or two of finding the series on the weird local Detroit station, I also discovered that Public Broadcasting Stations loved to show Doctor Who. It was, in fact, one of their best money-makers during pledge time.  Now, had I been living in any other area, I would've had only one PBS station servicing me. But living in Windsor meant I could watch Doctor Who from PBS stations that came from Canada and the States.   
            
Basically, this meant there was a glorious time during my adolescence when I could watch Doctor Who on four or five different stations a week!
            
By some sheer coincidence, these stations were all running, more or less, the same era of the show as I started watching it.   It was Tom Baker as the Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana (yes, that's really the name the actress used!) and their silly robot dog, K9.    Though I had found an article or two in some sci-fi magazines that talked about how old the series was, I had always assumed that this was the "basic line-up" for the show: the Doctor, Romana and K9 travelling through time and space together.            
            
And then, suddenly, the most incredible thing happened: 
            
The Doctor changed.   
            
I'm not talking a minor change, either.    That had already happened.    I had noticed that Tom Baker had radically altered both his costume and his portrayal during the last few stories I had watched (what I would, later, learn to be Season 18). I had also noticed a few other signposts that a big change was to come.    Romana and K9 had left the Doctor - and a young mathematical genius named Adric had climbed aboard.
    
But nothing could prepare me for the size of the change that had awaited me, this time. 
            
I had neglected watching one of the channels that was showing Doctor Who for a few weeks.   It was running the show on a night when I was, generally, enjoying the social life a teenage boy is meant to have (although a tremendous geek at heart, I was still blessed with the ability to inter-relate with other people who weren't into the weird "cultish things" I enjoyed!).  But it happened, one time, that my social plans during that particular night of the week were cancelled and I was stuck at home.  So I decided to see how the series was coming along on that particular channel.  
            
I could not imagine the surprise that awaited me as I tuned in that night.    
            
The story opened with Tom Baker lieing on the ground - not looking in a very good way.    Oddly enough, he didn't seem bruised or battered - but his performance seemed to insinuate that he knew he wasn't much longer for the world.   
            
"What the hell?!"   I immediately remarked to myself,  "Is the Doctor about to die?!"
            
Some people gathered around his prone figure.   I only recognized one of them. It was Adric - the mathematical boy genius.   The two women with him were unknown to me.   
            
There was some rushed dialogue between the Doctor's three friends and then Tom Baker closed his eyes for the final time.    I was now seriously freaking out.   This great sci-fi series that I had discovered had just killed off its main character.   What the hell was going on?!     
            
And then, something really amazing happened.  
            
This strange white figure appeared in the distance and walked towards Tom Baker's dead body.    One of these two women that I didn't know suddenly uttered:   "The Watcher.   He was the Doctor all the time!"    And then the white guy merged with Tom and the two of them, in some cheap 80s special effect, transformed into an entirely new person.
            
My jaw hit the floor.    
            
The Doctor was suddenly being played by a new actor. 
            
An actor who wasn't the slightest bit like Tom Baker.     Well, he was equally tall.    But that's where the similiarities ended.     This new bloke was called Peter Davison.    He had straight blond hair and looked nearly 20 years younger than Tom.   
            
It wasn't just the physical characteristics that made him different. All the mannerisms had changed too.   This new  Doctor seemed intensely neurotic and far more vulnerable than Tom ever was.    And while Tom always seemed to be the person in charge in all his scenes (even when he was busy playing the buffoon), Peter seemed to get bullied about quite easily.     Particularly by this mouthy Australian air-hostess he'd recently taken on as his companion.   
            
All this sent me into the deepest state of shock, of course.    A mental state that, apparently, all fans of the show go into when they witness this weird metabolic process that the show's format refers to as a regeneration (or, at least, that's what it calls it, these days) for the first time.  Apparently, every so often, the Doctor must induce one of these regenerations in order to prolong his existence.  Sometimes it's just due to the fact that he's growing too old.    Other times, it's because he's fatally ill from a virus or radiation poisoning.    Other times still,  he's been brutally injured from a great fall or a surgical accident that pierced his extra heart.  There was even one time he had to regenerate cause he fell off an excercise bike!  But this was another part of the show's established mythos that I was only just beginning to familiarize myself with.    And I had to admit: I was getting acquainted with it in the most brutal of ways.  
            
Had I been  a teen in Brittain, where the show is a huge cultural icon, someone else might have given me the nod and let me know that Tom Baker's Doctor was soon to die.   But living where I was meant that being a Doctor Who fan made you a bit of an island onto yourself. There weren't a whole lot of people who were even familiar with the show.    And many who were, had dismissed it as being "too silly" because of its poor budget.   
            
So I had to face my first regeneration all on my own. Completely unprepared. I had very much fallen in love with this show through the wild interpretation Tom Baker had given to the role. But that had been suddenly and harshly ripped away from me. His Doctor was gone - never to return.  And this new guy ... this Peter Davison, was the man in charge of the TARDIS. It was not going to be easy accepting him, of course. Particularly since one of the first things he did was tear up Baker's simply magnificent twenty-foot-long scarf!   
            
Fortunately, one of the pre-requisites of casting the Doctor was to hire someone positively brilliant.    And good 'ole Petey Davison was no exception to the rule.  As his first story concluded, my fierce loyalty to Tom was already being put aside.  I liked this new guy.   He had a very different sort of charm to him that made him very amiable. And it was kinda neat to see him so much more sensitive and aware of both himself and his environment than Tom had been. As Peter stuck that fateful piece of celery to his lapel and climbed into his poorly-landed TARDIS, I had decided he was as much the Doctor as Tom had been. Perhaps even more. Because this was a Doctor I would be following right from his very beginnings.    Whereas I had stepped in on Tom's reign while it had been nearing its end. I would feel all the more connected to this new Doctor because I had witnessed his birth.     In fact, I probably consider Peter more "my Doctor" than Tom because it was through his travels that I really got to know the ins and outs of the series. I might have started with Tom - but Peter was really the one who took me along on the journey.  
            
And as my initial shock subsided, I also realized another key element in the effectiveness of this television series. In any other show, a huge dependence rested on the stars of the program. They were a vital ingredient to its success.  This was particularly true of a lot of the American TV that I was watching.  I had seen any number of US shows face cancellation within weeks after a main actor was written out and the audience was not able to accept the replacement.  Some had gone on to survive, of course.  But very few.  
            
But in Doctor Who, this appeared to be a vital ingredient.    Not only did companions come and go on a regular basis (some, as I would soon find out, even died!).  But the Doctor, himself, could change in the blink of an eye.  No specific "name" could ever be all that firmly attached to the series because no specific "name" was ever allowed to stay throughout the entire course of  Doctor Who's long history. This applied to both on-camera and behind the scenes. As I would later learn, the show's various eras were, oftentimes, divided by the reigns of various producers that had worked on the series. So even the ultimate creative force behind the show was replaced on a regular basis.  
            
In the simplest of terms: in Doctor Who - the show is king.    And all the people involved with it are but its humble subjects.  Serving their ruler for a period of time and then being sent along to other projects when their presence was no longer needed. Some servants stayed on longer than others.  Some were respected and appreciated more than others. But, ultimately, the continuation of the series was the most important thing.    And one of the things that helped it stay alive was the fact that a stream of new talent was constantly being fed into the creative team while the old talent slowly but surely moved on to other things.     
            
This basic principle has always been one of the things that makes the show so much more vital and downright entertaining than most of the other stuff that's out there.    And even as a young adolescent, I recognized this quality (perhaps more subconsciously than consciously) and appreciated it enormously.  
            
Doctor Who always has been and always will be about change.    And I can see no better crux to put the central basis of your television series on. 



Want to see what Part 3 will cover? Hang around for another year! 

Want to read Part 1? Here you go: