I know entirely too much about the Doctor Who franchise in general. I’ve watched all the old show and the new one, seen the animated features, listened to nearly all the audio plays (that’s over 100 now), and have read too many of the novels and comics. So when news broke this week that the Eighth Doctor, played on-screen and in dozens of full-length audio plays by Paul McGann, was getting a brand new outfit, I was so excited that I decided we had to hit the good Doctor and his different incarnations in this week’s Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. If you’ve only been watching the new show that began airing in 2005, prepare to get educated.
Who is the Doctor? Fair question. Long ago on the planet Gallifrey, the noble clans and houses of Gallifrey saw themselves as “Lords of Time.” They keept the status quo of reality and if they had to occasionally leave their planet, they would only do so from the safety of a “TT capsule”, also known as a “TARDIS” (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). Such ships could go anywhere in time and space, were “dimensionally transcendental” (bigger inside than outside), and were equipped to blend in with the surroundings, thanks to a Chameleon Circuit.
To be a Time Lord, the children of Gallifrey’s noble clans attended the Academy for over a century, learning the history of the cosmos, how to navigate the universe and the vortex of time, how to pilot a TARDIS, and how to sense the temporal currents so they could feel what events were fixed and what could handle alteration without radically altering all reality. But two special children who became friends in the Academy decided that they did not agree with Time Lord rules. They wanted to explore the universe firsthand and investigate the mysteries that their stagnant society had deemed beneath notice. After they grew up and became official Time Lords, the two friends realized they had different goals. One wished to explore for the sake of adventure and knowledge, while the other saw exploration as a means to power. Each left Gallifrey and they were labeled renegades, meaning they gave up their heritage and birthright, even their own names. Since then, they’ve only gone by the titles they chose for themselves. The Time Lord who embraced the glory of chaos and wished to dominate all life called himself the Master. The Time Lord who simply wanted to travel through space and time for the thrill of it called himself the Doctor.
The Doctor has spent centuries acting as a hero for many, roaming the universe in a broken down, “antique” TARDIS that he stole from a repair shop and whose faulty Chameleon Circuit means that its outward appearance is stuck looking like a 1960s blue police telephone box. Like all Time Lords, the Doctor was given the ability to regenerate his entire body if he receives a fatal wound or illness or if his form simply grows too old. With this ability, he has a maximum of thirteen lives. In each incarnation, his memories stay intact but his appearance and some behavioral traits alter (basically, “nurture” remains but “nature” is changed). And each incarnation of the Doctor has a distinct style of dress that has often mystified people.
So let’s take a look at this Time Lord’s ensemble, shall we? And by the way, just so we can save on time and space (see what I did there?), we will only be discussing the CLASSIC Doctors and a couple of others who preceded the new TV program that began in 2005. The modern-day Doctors can get their own column later.
FIRST DOCTOR – MYSTERIOUS GRANDFATHER
“Your ideas are too narrow, too crippled. I am a citizen of the universe. And a gentleman to boot!” - First Doctor, from “The Daleks’ Master Plan”