(Me wearing my Tom Baker scarf and holding an Adipose doll that I was just given for my birthday on the 15th of December.)
The Line, the Which, and the Wardrobe
It's no great secret that I'm a "Doctor Who" fan - and I've been one since I first laid eyes on Tom Baker's (the fourth Doctor) toothy grin back in the 1970s. But the time is nigh...and with Christmas Day Matt Smith bids farewell as Doctor #11 (or 12th or 13th even, according to some sources) and another regeneration will mark its place in history. For those unaware, "Doctor Who" is the longest running (altho it did take a break in filming) science fiction program in history (it marked its 50th anniversary last month)...which is quite fitting as it's really all about history...and time traveling.
While I don't profess to have the writing ability of Steven Moffat or Russell T. Davies, this is, nonetheless, a tribute to the show from my perspective throughout the abbreviated ages...sans the TARDIS. (Please note that while I watched "Doctor Who" on and off between the 4th and 10th Doctors...I didn't care for it too much for whatever reasons I had...so that is why the regenerations gap.)
A catchy catchphrase. While there have been many incarnations of "The Doctor", it seems there's only been a few catchphrases which have stood the test of time...or seem to have ingrained themselves into our collective psyche.
"Would you care for a Jelly Baby?"
Tom Baker's iconic signature question is almost as synonymous with the show as the uttering of "Doctor Who?" as a response to whomever states "I'm the Doctor." is. I'm also positive it has single-handedly propelled the sale of Jelly Babies to astronomic proportion. If it didn't, it certainly didn't hurt it any.
"A big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff."
That's the concise definition of what time is...according to David Tennant's 10th Doctor...and, if you blink, you're probably going to miss the gist of this. Yes, Doctor Who fans are understanding what I just said, even if you aren't getting it. But..."allons-y" -- in other words, let's go to the next Doctor down my list.
"Bow ties are cool."
Were they ever? Of course they were! Bill Nye always wore one and he's about as cool as they come. It took Matt Smith (11th Doctor) to step up to the plate and solidify it. And, boy were they ever. A little after the immortal line was said...the men's departments were chock full of them...mannequins without heads were sporting them...people were wearing them...and...I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. But this is all about time traveling, so I guess I can use that as an excuse.
Which is best? Or, actually "Who" is better? That's the age-old debate amongst Whovians. But...it's the same with James Bond...you always have a favourite. My theory is "You always love your first one best." And, I can't argue with myself there.
I first caught a glimpse of Tom Baker (4th Doctor) on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and his larger than life Cheshire Cat toothy grin...back in the mid 1970s. This totally captivating man with the melodious and enigmatic voice...hooked me and then reeled me right on in. I watched, glued to the television set each week...as Tom chased another Dalek off or outwitted a Cyberman. It didn't matter what he did...the fact that he was doing it...with that mop of curly hair, that grin, that style, and that voice. Did I mention the grin?
Then you have David Tennant. Swoon. Yeah, you caught me...I'm swooning. I swooned so much during the "Tennant Years" that I can't imagine myself not swooning. But...the guy was brilliant. He came on camera and you believed what he was doing...because he wasn't just acting...he was taking you on a journey. You got into that TARDIS and you were with him. And, if he told you to "Run!" - you ran. If he told you "Don't blink!" you didn't. And, when he said, "I don't want to go..." you felt his desperation...you knew he was going to be replaced...but, you were hoping the show had a change of heart. Up until the fade-in of Matt Smith's face...you were hoping...because you, like David, didn't want him to go.
And then there's Matt. What shoes to fill. Sand shoes (insert Who in-joke here). But...wow...what a tough act to follow. How do you follow the guy who resurrected the show from a steady "eh"...and propelled it into the headliner on BBC America? I'm fairly sure that Tennant also secured a lofty position over in the UK as well. But...how do you - as a relative unknown...and the youngest Doctor (26 years old) to portray the ancient Time Lord...pick up from where Tennant left off...with millions already hating you...and not willing to even give you a shot?
Well...you do whatever it was that Matt Smith did. He was quirky, he was...well there's absolutely no other adjectives to describe him. In fact, not making this up...my daughter just came out of her room and I said to her..."Quirky?" and she nodded and I said..."What?" and she said "Quirky." and then I asked her again "What?" and she said, "Matt Smith". Now...if that doesn't prove it...I'm sure the dictionary has an entry under "quirky" which reads "See Matt Smith". Honestly...that about sums it up. But...he...and his "fish fingers and custard" stepped into my living room and into my heart. And...I didn't even WANT to like him! I wanted to sit here, stewing, brooding, and lamenting over the dismal decision they had as a replacement for Tennant...and, honestly, I couldn't. So, it will be a sad day...later on today...when he makes his final bow and gets replaced by a man I really have no idea about. I have no real clue who Peter Capaldi is...and maybe that's a good thing...as I have no preconceived notions about him. You know...other than I hate him already for replacing Matt Smith.
But...as far as Doctors go. The others might have played "Doctor Who" - but, in my opinion...Tom Baker WAS "Doctor Who". He didn't have to act. I think that's who he was. I firmly believe that...and don't talk me out of it. I like believing it.
An exceedingly long scarf, a brown trench coat, a bow tie (and a fez).
What could all these things possibly have to do with each other? They are signature items. You know who they belonged to...#4, #10, and #11...respectively...and they have mass appeal.
To me, that's the deal breaker. If Tom Baker were wearing spats and a chauffeur's cap...it wouldn't have worked. The long, multi-coloured striped scarf and a Fedora...yep...that's brilliant. It perfectly framed his curly locks and toothy grin. On another guy - it would have looked silly.
A long, brown trench coat? On a super skinny tall guy with spiky hair -- worn over top of a blue, ill-fitting pinstripe suit...with sneakers, no less? Yep...that works. For Tennant.
A bow tie on a quirky guy...who also periodically dons a Fez? On anyone else? Stupid and over-the-top. On Matt Smith? Splendid indeed!
What didn't work? The wardrobe they put on practically all the Doctors...who came after Tom Baker. Especially the guy who wore the outfit that I'm sure Gary Glitter and Elton John turned down because it was too ugly and loud. The Doctor with all the "question marks" on him? Looked like a cross between "The Riddler" and that Matthew Lesko guy...the one who would scream at you in his commercials telling you to buy his book which was filled with "free money!" from the government.
In fact, the only Doctor who luckily didn't get a drunken wardrobe mistress to pick out his outfits during that time period...was Christopher Eccleston who wore a black leather coat. All those others were bad judgment calls and the poor actors were doomed from the get-go...all because their clothes were totally wrong.
So, when Capaldi walks into my living room later on today, I'll be able to tell if he's going to be a hit or not...based on what he says and what he's wearing when he says it.
I guess...only time will tell.
(All apologies to C. S. Lewis - "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
All apologies to Steven Moffat - "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe")
All apologies to Steven Moffat - "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe")