Monday, September 6, 2010

The Eighth Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

Paul McGann played the Eight Doctor in 1996.

Ten years after Doctor Who was officially canceled in 1989, the Fox Network and the BBC teamed up in an effort to bring the show back, this time to American shores. They produced a TV movie starring McGann, which also served as a pilot episode. Unfortunately the ratings weren’t high enough to warrant a series. I think the whole Doctor Who concept is just too weird for mainstream America.

The TV movie did quite well in England and has been available on DVD there for years. Legal hassles have prevented it from ever being released in the States, although I hear that everything was recently ironed out, and the DVD will finally be available here in America sometime in 2010.

Even though Doctor #8 appeared onscreen only one time, the BBC has stated that he's an official Doctor and part of the continuity. There were even glimpses of him in a couple of the Tenth Doctor’s episodes.

McGann has continued to portray the Eighth Doctor in a series of BBC radio dramas over the years. In fact, if you count the radio dramas, he’s played the Doctor longer than any other actor, including Tom Baker!

There’ve also been many books and even a comic book series starring Doctor #8.

Many elements in the newly revived series got their start in the TV movie. The theme song got an impressive orchestral arrangement as opposed to the old school synthesizer theme, something that's carried over into the modern series.

Also, for the first time since the First Doctor, the TV movie's opening didn't feature the Doctor's face. The modern series continues the faceless opening tradition.

The increased budget finally allowed the producers to build an impressive Tardis interior. The Tardis is the Doctor's space/time machine, and is bigger on the inside than the outside. In fact, it contains a nearly infinite amount of space and rooms inside. In the original series, the Tardis control room was never all that impressive. Technically it was larger than the outside of the Tardis, but not by much. It was about the size of the average living room.

This new Tardis interior was huge, and looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel, full of Victorian and steampunk style. I wish they'd have kept this look for the new series.

I haven't seen the TV movie in years, but I remember liking it for the most part. There were a few stumbles though.

The Master, the Doctor's eternal nemesis, returned to plague him in the TV movie. This time the Master was played by Eric Roberts, who gave an outrageous and let's say... flamboyant performance. The Master has always been a theatrical villain, but Robert's portrayal was way over the top.

Also, in the TV movie the Eighth Doctor revealed that he's half human on his mother's side. This was definitely news to the fans, and did not go over well at all. Why the creative team went that particular route, I have no idea. Maybe it was to help explain the Doctor's obsession with Earth, or to make his attraction to his new human companion more believable. Fortunately the producers of the new series have chosen to ignore that little tidbit of info.

Doctor #8 was the first of the so-called “romantic” Doctors. Up to this time, the Doctor was always seen as a father figure or a mentor to his companions. Their relationship with him was strictly platonic; they never had any romantic or sexual interest in him, and vice versa.

That all changed with Paul McGann’s Doctor. His companion, Dr. Grace Holloway, went all mushy and gaga over him, and at one point they even kissed. It was pretty controversial at the time, and fans were divided over the issue.

In the new series this is pretty much par for the course. Rose Tyler fell hard for the Tenth Doctor, and though he tried to play it cool, the feeling was mutual. His next companion, Martha Jones, had an unrequited crush on the Doctor. In the 2007 Christmas Special Voyage of the Damned, Astrid Peth met and definitely developed feelings for the Doctor all in one episode.

The romance seems to have cooled somewhat with the Eleventh Doctor, which is probably not a bad thing.

The Eighth Doctor is the first since Doctor #4 to not feature a question mark motif in his costume, something for which I am eternally grateful. It's something I always found cringe-worthy. Doctor Who is the name of the show, not the character's name. He's always been known simply as "The Doctor." Wearing a question mark as a nod to the show's title always seemed a little too cutesy to me, and every time I saw it it would yank me right out of the story. Thankfully Doctors Eight through Eleven have been question mark free.

Please forgive the ugly watermark on the illustration. I swore I would never add one to my art, because I know that 99.99% of my readers would never even think of stealing it. But earlier this year I had a run-in with an art thief who was not only stealing my work, but selling it as her own! Hence the watermarks. This is why we can't have nice things.

Doctor #8 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

Stay tuned for Doctors #9 through #11!

Here's the original sketch of the Eighth Doctor. I tried to get his sleepy-eyed look right, but I'm not sure I captured it.

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