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In 1970, Paramount Studios released Doctor Who to theatres, with actor Marlon Brando as the "Doctor", a humanoid, renegade alien from a species called the Time Lords from the planet Galifrey that has sworn himself to protect the Earth from alien and time related threats. The first enemy that the Doctor faces becomes one of the most feared Doctor Who villains of all time, the warlike alien Daleks that have only one emotion; hate.
First TV Show
The movie was a moderate success, and it convinced American Television (ATV) to invest in a full series of the TV show, starting in Fall 1971. Marlon Brando reprised his role as the Doctor for two seasons, but difficulties between the crew and an increasingly ill Brando lead to the decision to replace him with William Shatner. Instead of simply replacing him or rebooting the show, writer and future producer Brian Mulroney came up with the idea of "regeneration", where Time Lords can cheat death when severally injured or sick by taking new faces and personalities. The surprise change was well received, and the "Shatner era" began with a bang.
Doctor Who would become one of the most popular shows in the US with Shatner playing the Doctor, a more action oriented character than Brando's more restrained portrayal. For next six years, Doctor Who would go from height to height. Two more movies would be made, in 1975 (Doctor Who and the Daleks) and 1977 (Doctor Who: Time Hero), and the first merchandise and books would be released. Despite this success, ATV would fall on hard economic times, and in 1978, they would be forced to sell the Doctor Who franchise.
Independent Broadcast Television (IBT) would buy the rights, and decided to restart the show. Shatner agreed, fearing that he had spent too much time in the role and would be typecast (and would lead him to not be involved in the show for over 20 years after). IBT named Mark Hamill as the new Doctor, and he delivered a "classic yet new performance," and played the role for six years until 1985. However, ratings began to slip in 1982-83, so an attempt at jump-starting the show with new villains and a more mature plot line. Brian Mulroney, now the producer of the show, hesitated to make these changes, but in 1984 he was fired anyway.
When Hamill's contract was over, William Sadler was signed up, but when they tried to make the show more modern for the 1980s, they went way over the top: inviting pop stars as special guests and an over-reliance on special effects and the "tale a week" format that didn't allow a lot of character development ate away at the ratings of the show. While Sadler was praised as a good actor, the "... silly plots and men in rubber suits ..." took away from his acting. The show, facing declining ratings and increasing costs, was finally cancelled in 1989.
IBT would sell the Doctor Who film rights to Assiniboian TV (ATV), who, working with the film industry in Assiniboia, announced their intention to reboot the series with a movie to gauge interest, especially in international markets. in 1997, the simply titled Doctor Who: The Movie was released with Richard Dean Anderson as the Doctor, Chris Christie as the villain, The Great Intelligence, with Bill Clinton as the director. While a moderate success, no TV show resulted from this movie as the international market didn't materialize.
Despite the lack of official movies or TV Shows, Doctor Who remained in the public consciousness with books, magazines, merchandise and audio plays, most of which was officially licensed from ATV. This helped to maintain interest in Doctor Who as attempts to revive the show continued, but ATV was unable to find an interested international partner due to Assiniboian government requirements that the government owned broadcaster must seek outside investment for major TV shows.
In 2001, rumours of a new Doctor Who series began to pick up speed with well known TV producer and writer Ed Stelmach working with ATV managed to get support from the Scottish national broadcaster RTS, RABC from Australasia and NBC from the United States for funding to restart Doctor Who for a share of any profits in syndication. RABC and NBC would drop out of the contract in 2002, but RTS remained on board to see Doctor Who restarted in 2003 with George Clooney as the Doctor, and Ed Stelmach as "show runner". As the revived series became a massive critical and fan favourite and introducing the franchise to a new generation, with new ideas including "season arcs" for story telling and Christmas specials, "Whovian Mania" swept most of the English speaking world and efforts to translate the series into other languages began in 2006, and so far as been translated into Chinese, Russian, Indian, Portuguese and Spanish for foreign markets.
George Clooney, after two years playing The Doctor, announced his retirement in 2004, and the hunt for the next doctor began. Eventually it was decided to bring in the first non-North American Doctor, and it was Scottish actor Ewan McGregor who was announced as the new Doctor. While at first many fans and critics were unsure of a Scottish actor, McGregor has sense proven himself as one of the most popular actors to ever play the role.
In 2008, Stelmach announced he was handing the reigns of show runner to Dalton McGuinty, a rising star in the North American media landscape. However, McGuinty was meet with trepidation, mostly due to his overcomplicated and at times confusing plots. Despite this backlash, McGunity was signed on in 2011 to continue Doctor Who through to the end of 2014.
Ewan McGregor announced he was stepped down from his role in the 2010 Christmas Special, and the speculation of the next doctor began. McGuinty, along with ATV and MTS kept a tight lid on who the next actor would be, including the upcoming regeneration scene being filmed separate of the rest of the show and only a couple weeks before the showed aired, so as to keep the secret. On December 25, 2010, the new Doctor was revealed to be Robert Downey Jr., one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
The Doctor, as established in the series, is a time traveling alien kown as a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. However, he is a renegade member of the species, who flaunts the Time Lords rules of non-interference in the past, present and future. Because of this, he flees in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) and ends up traveling across the Space-Time Continuum helping the people and places he arrives in, with the aid of his companions and smarts. In comparison to other popular entertainment characters of the 1970s and 80s, "The Doctor," in the words of critic George Romero, "doesn't have a gun, but a special screwdriver. No fast cars or damsels in distress, but a blue box and strong, unique companions that sometimes pulls him from a dangerous situation. Although he doesn't have weapons, he still stands up in the face of aggression and terror, but he does so with logic, love and unflinching bravery instead of brutality and destruction. He is the interplanetary healer, and that is why he is known as the Doctor."
The Marlon Brando's Doctor was an uptight, sometimes curmudgeonly grandfather character who, at an old age that was unmentioned, regenerates into the handsome, action oriented and very lighthearted William Shatner character. After absorbing a massive amount of radiation to save a companion, the Second Doctor regenerates into a young, intelligent, sometimes cold and exuberant Mark Hamill character. After being stabbed in Feudal Japan by The Master, the Third Doctor regenerates into his Forth incarnation. Sadler's portrayal was that of a world weary traveler, looking for a reason to his existence. Sadler would have his regeneration scene in the 1997 movie after the TARDIS crash lands in New York City, where Richard Dean Anderson becomes the "gentleman explorer" time traveler, which is expanded in the books, audio plays and other media.
Wen the show was rebooted in 2003, the Doctor became a different character, haunted by his actions in the mentioned, but not seen, Time War that occurs between the 1997 Movie and 2003 Revived Series. Clooney's character is that of a forced upbeat and happy guy, though suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the Sixth Doctor takes the entire force of the Time Vortex to save a companion, the Seventh is a fun loving, easy going, but at times sad and depressed, described as a "Cosmic Hobo." The Seventh Doctor, after being shot by Natso soldiers in the Confederacy in 1938, regenerates into his eighth incarnation, played by Robert Downey, Jr. Downey's character is a fashionable and vain character with a biting sarcasm, but he is also loyal and honourable to those he admires and is friends with, but also serious and at times cruel to those that he despises, especially long time enemies like the Daleks and the Master.
- First Doctor: Marlon Brando (1970 - 1973)
- Second Doctor: William Shatner (1973 - 1979)
- Third Doctor: Mark Hamill (1979 - 1985)
- Fourth Doctor: William Sadler (1985 - 1989)
- Fifth Doctor: Richard Dean Anderson (1997 TV movie)
- Sixth Doctor: George Clooney (2003 - 2005)
- Seventh Doctor: Ewan McGregor (2005 - 2010)
- Eighth Doctor: Robert Downey, Jr. (2011 - present)
One of the Doctor's greatest enemies was the Cybermen, a race of humans from a distant planet called Mondas who, in a losing war with alien threats, began to "upgrade" themselves into cyborgs. With emotions suppressed and with a cold, calculating logic, they won their war and began to expand, soon try to take over the universe.
DaleksOne of the first enemies The Doctor faces, the Daleks are a race of genetically engineered war machines. After a long thousand year war between the Dals and the Tals on the planet of Skaro, the ultimately victorious Dals were mutated beyond recognition. One evil scientist, Davros, experimented to find the "best" of the mutations. These he genetically modified to remove all emotions except for hate and aggression, and to place them in special travel pods with a single eyestalk and weapons that include something that looks like a plunger and a powerful energy weapon. Conditioned to be absolutely loyal to Davros, the Daleks are noted for following all orders of the rigid hierarchy established. As their creator and leader, Davros would lead the Dalkeks to conquer many worlds, and faced The Doctor who would often foil their plots.
A fellow Time Lord like The Doctor, the Master is insane, brutal and megalomaniacal, using manipulation and cunning to achieve his goals. Over the years, the Master's plans have grown from simply "defeating" The Doctor to taking over the world: past, present and future.
It has been established in the series that The Master was nearing the end of his life, with only a few regenerations left. This has lead him to try to find new regenerations and life cycles. When the series was revived, The Master that Bill Nye played was an earlier version, though still with the hatred of the Doctor that characterized the first series.
- Donald Sutherland (1971-1979)
- Vincent Price (1980-1985)
- Peter Boyle (1985-1989)
- Bill Nye (2003-2009)
- Antonio Banderas (2009-present)
The Great Intelligence
While only confronting the Doctor a few times since he was first seen in 1974, The Great Intelligence is perhaps one of the most fearsome and cunning of the Doctor's adversaries. A professor from a space colony of the Earth Empire in 2252 experimenting in human genetics and theoretical physics, the Second Doctor accidentally ruins an experiment when the TARDIS crashes into the laboratory, seemingly killing the professor. However, the professor actually survived, but was exposed to the Time Vortex, which gave him the full breadth and knowledge of the past, present and future, making him the smartest being in existence. This came at the cost that his physical body was destroyed, but his existence was encased in a gold medallion that, when it comes into contact with someone, would allow him to take over that person. The Great Intelligence's sole purpose in his immortal life now is to get revenge on The Doctor, and to use the Time Lords regeneration ability to create a new body for himself.
Cold, calculating and ruthless, intelligent beyond comprehension and capable of hypnosis and telekensis, The Great Intelligence is perhaps the most interesting character created for Doctor Who. His back story, with the Doctor himself being the cause of his creation, added another layer to the conflict between the two, and shows that The Doctor, despite his pacifism, has caused death and destruction. Usually the actor that portrays The Great Intelligence is a non-American, with the exception of Chris Christie in 1997.
- John Malcom Fraser (1974)
- Jiang Zemin (1983)
- Chris Christie (1997)
- Mikhail Gorbachev (2003)
- Jenny Shipley (2011)