YOU CAN READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
A group of contributors to Doctor Who TV are collaborating on a feature intended to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. All of the writers taking part will contribute a segment that briefly details their favourite incarnation of the show’s titular Time Lord, as well as their favourite episode/serial. The article will be completed, I understand, on the 9th of November, and will go up in multiple parts as we get closer to “The Day of the Doctor”. My part has been finished and sent to the person orchestrating this, but for those who visit this here blog (which are very few, I admit), I’ve decided to put it up in advance of the actual article’s completion.
Favourite Doctor: The First (William Hartnell)
William Hartnell’s First Doctor was an amoral enigma. He was ignobly aloof, and he was a crotchety, callous old man; perniciously self-preserving, and perilously intrepid. His attempt to execute a wounded pursuer during “An Unearthly Child” with a jagged piece of stone was an exemplar of this; underlining his patent disregard for what he considered to be the lesser lives of human beings. Successive incarnations have had their morals greyed in various circumstances, but there has always been an angle of heroism to embellish it – whereas, the First Doctor’s actions were synonymous of the inherent elitism of Time Lords in general, and were thoroughly unprincipled at their core. Bill really obtruded the “alien” quality of the First Doctor through his emphasis on traits that were exhibitive of some degree of inhumanity.
This was further enforced through the gradual, evolutionary humanisation of his character. Ian and Barbara’s companionship taught him of the merit of human beings’, and the appreciable impression this left was firmly highlighted with their departure in “The Chase” evoking such obvious melancholy from the abandoned Doctor – somewhat veiled as ever by his outwardly staid demeanour. The progressive course of the First Doctor remains the most substantial, consistent and satisfying of any incarnation. His portrayal encompassed the connotations of the words ‘Doctor Who’ through the complexities and ambiguity of his initial characterisation, which eventually flourished into the template we now know and love, creating the mantle for all the others to pick up.
Favourite Story: “The God Complex”
“The God Complex”, quite apart from everything else, serves as the most acute analogy for certain elements of the Doctor’s characterisation. The Minotaur, a godly being succumbed to its base instinct – i.e. it transports the faithful aboard its vessel so as to convert their various faiths into a form of energy it can consume – mirrors the Doctor’s compulsion to entrance human beings into the TARDIS, and how in doing so, most of his companions are irrevocably changed. Whithouse toys with the notion that the Doctor cannot restrain his exigency for the accompaniment of humans, and like the Minotaur earlier in the episode, has him acknowledge this during one of his communes with Rita, in which he draws parallels between the wonders of time and space and the allure of sweets to a small child. In effect, the sweets are soured, just like the exerted worship of the Minotaur, and those he offers them to would do well to turn them down.
Amelia’s near fateful constancy to the Doctor is the clearest example of the detrimental effects his impression on people can have, and is the crux of the narrative’s resolution, with her faith in him dispelled upon the Doctor’s revelation that in her he sought only adoration. Once again alluding to the fact that the Doctor *needs* this brand of devoted companionship, just like the Minotaur requires it for sustenance. The equivalences are numerous beyond this, though: the labyrinthine hotel is analogous of the TARDIS’ illimitably convoluted interior; the divinity of the Minotaur reflective of the Doctor’s almost deific standing as the last of the Time Lords; the rooms comprised of nightmares representative of the horrors the Doctor’s travels subject his companions to, and the faith these cause the Minotaur’s victims to fall back on comparative to the Doctor’s associates relying on his rescue from whatever predicaments transpire during their misadventures.
It’s difficult to do “The God Complex” the justice it really deserves in such a short segment, so I’ve chosen to focus on its homology to aspects of the Doctor’s character, since I believe it to be the most defining element. But this episode flourishes in all regards – in particular, with the eerie claustrophobia of Hurran’s direction, creating an otherworldly ambience, despite the seeming normality of the hotel’s décor. I’ll simply finish by saying it is quintessential Doctor Who, in every respect.