We feel ya, Doctor Who fans. Counting down the days until Peter Capaldi takes over as the Doctor? That day count is now quite low. I thought, as a way of looking back, that I’d take you through the first moments of each of the previous Doctors. Not the regeneration scene, mind you; that’s a sad affair. I’m talking about some of the first moments from the first stories of each Doctor, so you can see how they did. It’ll be fun, probably.
FIRST DOCTOR – An Unearthly Child
While we don’t know what happened in the Doctor’s early, early life, we do know how he was when the show began: a dick. In the very first episode of the series, the Doctor all but kidnaps his granddaughter Susan’s teachers Ian and Barbara when they become concerned about her home life. Gee, I wonder what made them so worried?
SECOND DOCTOR – The Power of the Daleks
This serial is sadly completely missing from the archives, but the Second Doctor’s beginning was as mysterious as the First’s. He neither confirms nor denies whether or not he even IS the Doctor to his very confused and worried companions, Ben and Polly, who, like the audience, had no idea what the hell was going on. The Second Doctor also refers to himself in the third person, which just makes things even more bizarre. That eventually goes away, of course, and the Second is one of the most warm and affable of the Doctor’s incarnations.
THIRD DOCTOR – Spearhead from Space
The Third Doctor was banished to Earth following a forced regeneration and spends a good portion of his first story, “Spearhead from Space,” recovering in a hospital. He wants to get up and leave and so decides to steals clothing and even a car belonging to hospital staff. He’s much more jovial in this story than he’d eventually become; perhaps it was all the people chasing him around that put him off authority figures on Planet Terra as much as it did. Plus – you get to see Jon Pertwee take a shower… Ladies?
FOURTH DOCTOR – Robot
After five seasons as UNIT’s scientific adviser, the Third Doctor succumbs to the radiation of giant spider crystals (it happens) and turns into the Fourth Doctor, who is at once much more alien, and reeeeeeeally ready to get off the planet. He attempts to prove to everyone that he’s all right, even though it comes across like he’s a crazy person. Oh, regenerations; they are fickle little things.
FIFTH DOCTOR – Castrovalva
Seven seasons of television as the same incarnation can lead to some strange internal issues when regeneration finally does occur. The Fifth Doctor was the first to deal with this level of regenerative trauma and desperately needs to make it to the Zero Room, a place in the TARDIS that cancels out all other bio-electric interference to allow for smooth transition. Trouble is, he doesn’t remember where it is, and is lost in remember bits of his past lives all the way. Good thing Adric’s there… a sentence no one has ever said.
SIXTH DOCTOR – The Twin Dilemma
Oh hey, another regenerative crisis, only this one is a bit more violent than before. After being just kind of jerk to his young companion Perpugilliam Brown, the Doctor decides she’s evil and tries to kill her. No two ways about it, this was easily the least endearing first episode of a new Doctor ever. Give me Grumpy Gus First Doctor over this psychopath any day.
SEVENTH DOCTOR – Time and the Rani
The ’80s… the decade of regenerative crises. Change the record, will ya? In the Seventh Doctor’s first story (which was also inadvertently the Sixth Doctor’s final story), the Time Lord is completely unaware that his nemesis the Rani is pretending to be his companion Mel. Once he finally DOES reunite with his actual companion, neither are sure what to make of the other. What a fun and not annoying exchange it is.
EIGHTH DOCTOR – The TV Movie
The Eighth Doctor spent a good portion of his own introductory movie not actually in it, with the Seventh Doctor’s final moments making up the bulk of the beginning. But once the new Doctor does appear, he’s confused. He’s not sure who he is (another staple) and doesn’t really remember what brought him to Earth on New Year’s Eve 1999. He eventually does remember with the help of Dr. Grace Holloway and celebrates with a little fan-angering smooching. (Couldn’t find a decent clip, unfortunately.)
NINTH DOCTOR – Rose
When we meet the Ninth Doctor (and no I’m not counting the 1/4 of a second he kind of appears in “The Day of the Doctor”), he’s already battle-weary and doing his best to thwart evil on the down-low. He comes out of nowhere to save Rose Tyler from the Auton scourge in a department store and then it’s off to the races. I mean, who WOULDN’T want to find out more about this guy if he just happened to swoop in, save you from living mannequins, and then peace out again after blowing up your place of work? He was really asking for it.
TENTH DOCTOR – The Christmas Invasion
Another one where the Doctor’s incapacitated for a good portion of the story. He wakes up for only short instances here and there, to fight off Christmas trees and killer Santas and the like, but when he finally does wake up for good and all, we get a glimpse of the kind of jibber-jabberer he’ll be for pretty much his entire run.
ELEVENTH DOCTOR – The Eleventh Hour
Which brings us to our final Doctor to have a full first episode before this Saturday’s. The first thing we see him do is talk to a scared child, which absolutely foretells his whole MO during his three-a-bit series. He’s absent-minded, definitely, but he’s also warm and caring. And he really hates most food items save his beloved fish fingers and custard. It’s actually pretty good, I suggest you try it.
So there we are, friends; all we have left to do is watch the Twelfth Doctor show us what kind of Doctor, and what kind of man, he’s going to be. Which of these episodes I’ve shown is your favorite? Which Doctor in general had the best first story? Let’s talk below!