Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Trouble with Ranking Doctors

I thought it would make sense, in my first entry, to list my favorite incarnations of the Doctor in descending order, to give readers an idea where I'm coming from as a fan. However, that proved to be more complicated than I expected. My initial list looked like this:

  1. Third
  2. Tenth
  3. Fourth
  4. Ninth
  5. Seventh
  6. Second
  7. Fifth
  8. First
  9. Eighth
  10. Sixth
But the problem is, I kept reordering the four at the top, and then putting them back and rearranging them again. So I'm definitely sure that my four favorite doctors are Jon Pertwee, David Tennant, Tom Baker, and Chris Eccleston, but I have a hard time picking between the four of them. I suspect there are three reasons for this:

First of all, the differences between the old series and the new are at least partly to blame. There was so little character development in the 1970's that usually the only hints we got into the Doctor's emotions came from the expression in the actors' eyes (something that Pertwee and Baker were both particularly good at). The more recent Doctors, on the other hand, spill their innermost thoughts and feeling all over the screen (which really has more to do with the writers than the actors, obviously, although Tennant and Eccleston both handle it well).

Secondly, as much as I love Tom Baker when he's on his game, he was pretty inconsistent over the course of his long run. In some of his episodes, he just seems like he really doesn't want to be there, whereas I've yet to see a Pertwee episode where he's less than enthusiastic about what papier-mâché creature he'll be running from that week (the fact that he gets to hold Jo's hand while he runs probably doesn't hurt, but that's a topic for another post).

And finally, there the Christoper Eccleston problem. I really liked the Ninth Doctor a lot, but he just wasn't around for long enough to make much of an impression. I feel like if he'd hung on for three seasons, I might like him a lot more than Tennant, but with only 13 episodes to go on, it's hard to say.

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