Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Doctor Who: Longest-Running Science Fiction Series

This is an interesting starting point. I can only equate launching into Doctor Who, Season Twelve, Episode 75 to picking up Marvel's Fantastic Four Issue #232 as envisioned through the art and writing of one John Byrne.

As a youngster there were certain artists I simply sought out. John Byrne was one of those people. He put his stamp on a strong run in Fantastic Four, The Uncanny X-Men [before Marvel destroyed the company with eighteen variations of a title] and Alpha Flight [Byrne's creation]. John Byrne has aged a bit over the years and certainly isn't what he used to be [are any of us?], but I still have such admiration and fondness for his work. George Perez and Walt Simonson are other fine examples. These are artists who leave their own indelible mark on a comic book project. Many of you may not remember the days when Marvel had one X-Men title, one Spider-Man title, etc., but they existed. There weren't multiple options on books. You weren't bankrupted at the local comic shop. In fact, a single dollar could buy you four quality books, before that six to ten books.

In much the same way Fantastic Four has been one of Marvel's longest-running comic book titles, Doctor Who is one of the world's longest-running science fiction TV series. In fact, it is the longest-running, non-consecutive science fiction series according to the Guinness Book Of World Records [See photo for details]. Along the way, I became a fan of Doctor Who based upon the antics of the one and only actor Tom Baker and partner actress Elisabeth Sladen. Those two actors were my introduction to the franchise and upon catching the show on my local PBS access [always carrying the very best in British television imports] I was hooked. I quickly hustled home from school, traversing a treacherous path of schoolyard bullies through what seemed an endless forest and precarious river beds just in time to drop the old school books, grab some cookies and hear the lure of that opening theme song. For me, Tom Baker was, is and always will be Doctor Who and I'm not sure companions ever got much better than Elisabeth Sladen although Louise Jameson as Leela was a close second for me.

Having said all that, I'm very excited about the possibility of finding time to invest into the reboot of Doctor Who featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. My initial reaction to the television-budgeted, CGI production values from one episode I caught kind of threw me a bit. I feel I may not have given the new series a fair shake. I will need to respectfully give it a go. Afterall, if I can get by bubblewrap for special effects I should be able to overcome decent CGI.

In the meantime, Tom Baker made such a huge impact as Doctor Who. He is my personal favorite to date, though David Tennant looks like he might win me over. Granted I've never actually seen any of the other doctors in all fairness. There are eleven [including the new guy in production]. I also realize I know very little about the mythology or history of the Time Lords. I know nothing as a matter of fact, but I'm very interested in learning more. My memory fails me on anything I might have acquired watching the show years ago. To bring it full circle, for me, Tom Baker is to Doctor Who what John Byrne was to Fantastic Four and with that I shall begin with Season Twelve of Doctor Who in the same way I began with Fantastic Four long after a number of other artists and writers helmed the book. My hope is to drop well into the series without needing to have seen the previous eleven seasons [the first three doctors] in the same way I had missed many of the initial 231 issues of Fantastic Four though I had many of those issues on my floor along the way.

So, stay tuned for more on my exploration of Doctor Who.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the glimpese of your childhood :),I Loved it !!!!,like I said you do have a way with words !!!I don't think I can remember afavorite TV show,butmy Mom was always watching TV when I came home from school and we only had one TV :) and it was a black and white TV lol :),I was and still am a huge Marvel fan !!!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks. Yeah, it took great skill to outwit guys twice my size and do it day after day. I was generally quite successful. " )

Anonymous said...

Great,it reminds me of my favorite Christmas movie "A Christmas Story" poor Ralphy finally had enough though,lol :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Isn't that one the best! I can watch that all day long on TBS. Ralphy! That's right he tried to hold back but they pushed him too far. HA!