The Power of the Doctor: How Doctor Who Changed the Face of Television
In 1963, a new show debuted on the BBC that would change the face of television. Doctor Who follows the adventures of a Time Lord – a humanoid alien who can travel through time and space – as he battles evil forces across the universe. The show has become one of the most popular and longest-running sci-fi series in history and has introduced generations of fans to some of the most iconic characters in pop culture.
The show has undergone many changes over the years, but one of the most significant was the recent casting of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor. This decision was met with criticism from some quarters, and sadly throughout her tenure as the Doctor, Jodie has faced a fair share of abuse. I think in her defense, the problem was never with Jodie herself (IMO) but rather the stories she was given.
The show has covered a wide range of topics over the years, including US civil rights activist Rosa Parks, the partition of India, Global Warming, and the treatment of women in English witch trials. In addition, they have also provided a steady diet of alien threats for the Doctor to battle.
It felt like the writers didn’t quite know what to do with a female Doctor, and so we got some very cringy moments that just didn’t feel true to the character.
That said, I think Jodie did the best she could with what she was given and I’m glad she’s moving on to pastures new. I think she’s been an inspiration to millions of fans, both young and old, who have seen her embrace the role with enthusiasm and charm.
The Return of the Master … & the Cybermen … & the Daleks
Jodie’s final episode had a return of all of the favorite villains and also some of the more iconic companions from seasons past. It was a love letter to the fans, while at the same time a way of saying goodbye and giving Jodie the send-off she deserved.
However, while these iconic characters, both good and bad, were nice to see, the episode once again was just a bit manic. There was so much happening and so many things being introduced that it was hard to keep up. The final battle scene, while visually stunning, was also a little confusing.
The Story in a Nutshell
Once again, I’ll state up front that if you’re a fan of the Doctor and haven’t seen the episode, stop reading now. There will be spoilers ahead.
To celebrate the BBC’s 100th birthday, The Power of the Doctor was created as a 90-minute special. Several iconic actors from the 1980s and ’90s who had played the Doctor before made cameos in the film, including Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann.
Whittaker’s last episode included famous foes of the Time Lord, such as Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master. The Sacha Dhawan version of the Master was in Russia posing as Grigori Rasputin and his dastardly plot was to reincarnate himself into the Doctor (I assume to take advantage of the Doctors unlimited regenerations?) finally erasing the Doctor from existence.
Over the course of the episode, we’re introduced to a traitorous Dalek (which seems somewhat hard to believe) and the Cybermen in a Russian Doll (quite cool) who invade Unit. The underlying plan is to use the Daleks to destroy the Earth by exploding volcanoes around the world. With the Master coordinating things from 1916 as Rasputin, we probably get one of the best moments of Dr. Who in recent years with his awesome dance sequence to the most excellent Boney M track.
The Power of the Doctor harkens back to the very origins of Doctor Who, with actor David Bradley reprising his interpretation of the first Doctor William Hartnell. A cameo appearance by 97-year-old William Russell is also included. Russell starred in the 1963 debut episode of Doctor Who as Ian Chesterton, one of several teachers who are whisked away into the Tardis for a life adventure through time and space alongside Hartnell’s doctor character.
Jo Martin, who played a “fugitive” version of the Doctor from her past, made a cameo appearance, as did returning companions from the 1980s Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred). They played major roles in the story, with Katy Manning, Bradley Walsh and Bonnie Langford all also returning.
As you can see, the bulk of this story seemed to be guest stars versus the story itself as sadly they were the most important part. The Power of the Doctor had some good moments but overall was quite a forgettable adventure.
The Final Curtain & the Return of a Favorite
While Jodie’s Doctor Who was a bit tumultuous, a large part of the blame can probably be placed at the feet of outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall. Chris’ first season was plagued by poor writing, bad pacing, and a general feeling that the show was spinning its wheels.
Thankfully, Chibnall is gone and the man (the myth, the legend) Russell T Davies is back, along with David Tennant as the (surprise!) Doctor.
“I know these teeth,” Tennant said – a reference to the 10th Doctor’s first words – “New teeth… that’s weird” – back in 2005.
Tennant will join returning companions Catherine Tate and the late Bernard Cribbins for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary next year. The three had been seen filming on locations in London and Bristol, with Yasmin Finney and Neil Patrick Harris joining the cast.
Now, while Tennant, Tate and Davies could all be coming back as a means of reviving life into a dying franchise, I believe there are many more stories the Doctor still has to tell.
In the meantime, why not celebrate Doctor Who’s birthday by sharing your favourite moments with us in the comments section below?
It’s always been said that Doctor Who is more than just a television show. It’s a way of life. For over fifty years, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences all over the world with its unique mix of action, adventure, humor, and heart. It is a show that truly embodies the power of television, and long may it continue to entertain and inspire us all.