I loved Doctor Who long before the eleventh Doctor told Amy Pond “I am definitely a madman with a box”.
Something about that line, spoken in Smith’s opening episode The Eleventh Hour, touched a chord with me. Those eight words, from the pen of show runner and executive producer Steven Moffat, encapsulated the wondrous possibilities offered by the show.
Only a madman craving adventure and excitement would find himself in the far reaches of the universe, and only a rickety old space-time ship like the 20th century police box-shaped TARDIS could get him there.
The thing I love about Doctor Who is that literally anything is possible.
It can be a period drama one week, and a sprawling space fantasy the next.
Through the Doctor in the TARDIS we can journey to ancient Rome and meet one of the Caesars, fight alongside 18th century pirates aboard their ship, or join a 20th century Russian submarine crew. Or we can visit Earth’s distant future, the planet of the megalomaniacal Daleks or the home world of the Doctor’s own people the Time Lords.
Whatever the case, the story is usually fantastic, and can be enjoyed by all members of the family. On one level it’s a rollicking good yarn, but there’s hidden depths to the story that can be explored hours, weeks and sometimes years after first airing.
The late Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and one-time script editor of Doctor Who, had it nailed according to fifth Doctor Peter Davison.
“Adams told me once that the secret of Doctor Who is you make it simple enough for the adults to understand, and complicated enough to hold the children’s attention,” Davison said at The Lords of Time event in Auckland in 2013 organised by Big Finish Productions.
I went and wrote about it for Stuff.co.nz.
Nearly 53 years after first Doctor William Hartnell appeared on television screens on November 23, 1963, this TV legend has endured. Clever old Moffat know why: “When they made this particular hero, they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.”
That’s why stories about all 12 of the Doctors continue to enchant on screen, on the page and in audio plays.
If you agree with any of what I, Douglas Adams, Peter Davison or Steven Moffat have said about the Doctor check back here, at amadmanwithablog.com, for my views, and occasionally news, on Doctor Who and related topics.