Doctor Who: Loneliness and Wonder

Wednesday September 19th 2012

I vowed a long time ago not to watch Doctor Who until he regenerated as a woman. So far, the Doctor has had 11 incarnations, each with his own take on the character but none with a different gender.

However, my children, as usual, changed my mind, so here at Schloss Astrology we have watched all of the 21st century series back-to-back and now we are glued to the current one. Oh well….I guess I’ll make do with River Song.

And now, as far as I’m concerned, Matt Smith is the Doctor.  His haunted, ageless face reflects all the loneliness and wonder of the Doctor’s life.

First Episode

The Doctor is, of course, an archetypal son of Mercury – a trickster, a traveller, quick, clever, a shape-shifer – but he is also a son of Saturn, because he lives forever and travels through Saturn’s domain, time. Most of the Doctors fall into either the Saturn category (John Pertwee) or the Mercury (David Tennant), but some have managed to unite both aspects of the science fiction wizard.

I’ll leave the semiotics of the show and its reflection of UK national identity for another post. But I must point out that the shows Lunar Nodes are on the UK IC/MC axis and conjunct the UK Sun. Each generations doctor is embodiment of an aspect of the spirit of the times.

Here are the Doctors with their birth dates and Sun signs in order.

The foundation Doctor William Hartnell (8 Jan 1908)
Pioneering doctor Patrick Troughton (25 March 1920)
English Eccentric John Pertwee (7 July 1919)
Tricky Tom Baker (20 Jan 1934)
Wet Peter Davison (13 April 1951)
No no no Colin Baker (8 June 19430
Badly scripted Sylvester McCoy (20 August 1943)
Dishy Paul McGann (14 November 1959)
Butch Christopher Eccleston (16 February 1964)
Soppy David Tennant (18 April 1971)
Haunted Matt Smith (28 October 1982)
Fabulous River Song (14 Mar 1963)

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  1. Alan says:

    Look forward to the next post on this. The first two Docs could use better adjectives: waspish Hartnell, whimsical Troughton ?

  2. Christina says:

    I’ve been outed there, Alan. They are before my time. But do love the mad original music for the opening credits – Delia Derbyshire was so cool.

  3. Isy Aweigh says:

    Fascinating how the show’s chart ties in like that…

    I successfully avoided Dr. Who, and its underbudgeted special effects (the daleks? Really? Come on :)), until last summer — though I was up to my ears in other SF shows at various times. I’ve been gleefully catching up ever since.

    The imagination and verve are beyond marvelous. The combination of an almost subterranean streak of ongoing grief (especially since they destroyed Galifrey) and the zestful bouyancy bouncing around on top is irresistible to me: dark enough to meet my worst moments, energetic enough to get me out of them.

    I found Matt Smith’s relentless barrage of verbiage disconcerting after Tennant’s ability to convey twice as much in one tenth the words… But I’ve adapted, and he is doing a stellar job of carrying on the role and moving it in new directions. I have the whole Tennant series, and they wrote him from the start as overstatedly emotional (I think it was a reaction to the relentlessly butch Eccleston; they needed a metrosexual, STAT! — and that was another culturally timely decision), but over time they changed the writing to let him say less and mean more, since as an actor that’s what he’s capable of. (His Hamlet was delicious..another verbose, emotional role earthed by conviction and poise.)

    I’ve seen Tom Baker, Simon Pertwee and the feverish episode with all the doctors until Tom — good fun. I finally got to see an actress (the late Elisabeth Sladen) who made falling down and screaming almost cute and convincing, rather than sending me straight into paroxysms of rolling eyes — and also got to see her grow a little spine. A little. It was still early days.

    As for a female Doctor, your remark about the way the show reflects British culture leaps to mind. I suspect we’ll see one when Britain can finally value women equally. The gender disparity in pay is appalling for a “first-world” country, so that could be awhile, say another 50-odd years:

  4. Christina says:

    Yeah but – Britain has got a female head of state and was the first western democracy to have a female prime minister — re-elected three times. Not to mention Boadicea, Queen Elizabeth Uno, Victoria etcetera. If they could make it to the top in a man’s man’s world so can the she-doctor. In fact, how about a campaign for the she-doctor?

    Me – I could never get along with the early series either. Dreary sets and silly companions. Clearly I’m a sucker for good production values, Amy and Mr Pond….

  5. Isy Aweigh says:

    Yes, women have a role as extraordinary exceptions (that’s a bit tautological, but still..) but that itself serves as an emotional sop that makes it somehow ok to value women as a whole much less. The first to create those exceptions, but the last in the “first world” to value the rest. Exceptionalism as the enemy of fairness and justice.

    I saw the earlier shows with a friend who grew up with them, but even common courtesy couldn’t keep me from exploding with delight when every other on-screen activity came to a grinding halt as Simon Pertwee staggered through a slow, monotonous, slightly blurry bout of very English fisticuffs, with one man in an ill-fitting rubber mask, among spray-painted styrofoam rocks.

    I luuuuuuuuuv the modern production values, the solid spec.effs, the brilliantly-layered writing, the sparkling chemistry among aaaall the leads, and the delightful casting. Karen Gillan is such a find as the sparkling Amy, and I found Rory dull at first but he really grew (the companions’ boyfriends seem like scripted afterthoughts at first, then go through a period of being plot devices, then they turn into characters.) There are no duds among the numerous supporting cast.

    I absolutely love the modern show… I think I disliked your one adjective for Tennant’s Doctor, but then, I’m an Aries too: we’re not being soppy when we act like that, we’re being uncharacteristically deep 😉 xo

    • Isy Aweigh says:

      No, thank goodness.. but I’m sure Eccleston could have made that work.. without, unlike Shatner, having to suck his tummy into his spine.. /looks innocent/

    • Gilly says:

      I think you mean Jon Pertwee. The point of Doctor Who has always been about the character and the stories; the effects were as they were and of their time. Even Captain Kirk did his share of fisticuffs with Very Bad rubber monsters. And the Doctor, God bless him, never made a fetish of getting his shirt off. 🙂

  6. Isy Aweigh says:

    My point was that the Dr Who series seems to reflect the populace rather than the ruling class. That’s why a female Dr is unlikely until the populace are more equal. I realized I wasn’t too clear about that.

    On the other hand, a female Dr might apply sideways pressure on that very issue. Intriguing thought…

  7. Christina says:

    @Isy – You would make a great she-doctor.

  8. Gilly says:

    Hmmmmm. Well, my chart and the Doctor’s chart make beautiful music together, must be why I’ve been a massive fan, and hugely influenced, by the show almost all my life. I even wrote for them some years back. I’m afraid I really must take issue with some of your assessments! Five is wet?! Have you ever watched the 5th Doctor? Saving worlds al over the place; saving whole species. He gave up his life to save his companion. I assure you he’s no more wet than Tennant was soppy. As for River Song, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on her fabulousness. I’ve rarely seen so irritating a companion myself. Each to their own I suppose. As for a female doctor… your comment on Six fits my feelings exactly. 😉

    • Isy Aweigh says:

      I had a lot of trouble with that too. I became reconciled on the second or third rewatching. I still think Eccleston was a better fit for her.

    • Christina says:

      Oh I know I’m almost alone on the Tennant thing, but I just found the love story with Rose Tyler completely irritating, despite the fact that the overarching stories at that time were especially good…