Most entry-level nerds known a little about Doctor Who. Some can quote chapter and verse, knowing about Tennant and Baker and Smith and Capaldi and the other Baker. But sometimes, in time-travel, things can get weird. Welcome to Ten Things!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and Theta Signma, Gallifrey Class ’63, Presents:
TEN ALTERNATE DOCTORS!
10) THE ‘TV COMICS’ DOCTOR
A stellar example of the wackiness of licensed properties, the adventures of The Doctor began appearing in ‘TV Comic’ starting in 1964. Rather than traveling with his TV companions Ian, Barbara and Susan, The First Doctor was accompanied by John and Gillian, identified as his young grandchildren. John and Gillian continued as companions for several years, even after the Doctor regenerated to his Second incarnation, who eventually enrolled them in “galactic university”, causing the duo to leave the strip. Running weekly for YEARS, this incarnation of The Doctor was generally well-drawn, but often acted wildly out of character, and the strip did not end until the Fourth Doctor’s era, circa 1979!
9) THE ‘FULL FATHOM FIVE’ DOCTOR
Part of the ‘Doctor Who:Unbound’ series of (non-canonical) audio adventures from Big Finish Productions, this Doctor was a pragmatic sort, who believed that the end justified the means in all cases. A much harsher and more sinister figure than our classic Doctor, this incarnation was eventually brought down by his own hubris, when his companion discovered that The Doctor had killed her father. When last seen, he lay paralyzed from a broken neck, while his companion swore to watch him regenerate until none of his lives were left. His grisly (but arguably deserved fate) is made even more unnerving by character similarities to the Tenth Doctor’s own breakdown during the events of ‘The Waters Of Mars.’
8) THE DREAM LORD
A psychic manifestation of the Doctor’s own darkest impulses, The Dream Lord targeted the Eleventh Doctor and his companions Rory and Amy. Manipulating their minds, The Dream Lord tried to break Eleven and The Ponds, but his charade was brought down when The Doctor realized that no one could hate him more than he hated himself. A dark mirror of the young, carefree Eleven, he wasn’t so much ‘defeated’ as he was subsumed back into the Doctor’s consciousness, thanks in large part to the psychological resiliency of Amy Pond.
7) THE ‘CURSE OF FATAL DEATH’ DOCTOR(S)
Beginning with the adventures of an alternate Ninth Doctor (of which there are several, as we’ll see later on in this very list), ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’ is a loving parody of Doctor Who, then in its dormant phase after the Eighth Doctor’s sole movie adventure. Playing on all the tropes of the Doctor’s long life, ‘Curse’ features a Ninth Doctor (portrayed by Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson) facing down The Master, leading to his death and regeneration… and death and regeneration… and you get the gist. Burning through incarnations, The Doctor is played by Richard Grant, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant before saving the day by regenerating into a female Thirteenth Doctor played by Joanna Lumley, who once and for all resolves her rivalry with the Master by agreeing to marry him and travel together. It’s a clever conceit (especially given the amount of subtext of the Doctor/Master rivalry) and even if it’s not canonical, it’s a fine Doctor Who story nonetheless.
6) THE ‘EXILE’ DOCTOR
Speaking of female Doctors, the theory that a Time Lord could change gender during a regeneration was a popular one for years among DW fandom, but was not made explicitly canonical until the Eleventh Doctor tale, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ in 2011! Though ‘Curse of Fatal Death’ had a female Doctor first, the Big Finish audio story ‘Exile’ features a down-and-out Doctor on the run from the Time Lords, hiding out on Earth as a woman called ‘Susan Foreman.’ Another of the ‘Doctor Who: Unbound’ series, the Exile Doctor spends most of her adventure drinking and running from the disapproving voices of her past selves before finally (maybe) escaping her sentence. It’s another strong story that helps to identify what makes the character of The Doctor work, with an uncertain ending worthy of The Twilight Zone.
5) THE BURNER DOCTOR
In an alternate reality, The First Doctor fled Gallifrey not out of boredom, but in defiance of iron-fisted Time Lords who insisted it was their right to alter history as they see fit. By his Sixth incarnation, he has returned home and works as the President of Gallifrey’s personal assassin, “burning” people from history through temporal manipulation. It’s no secret that Colin Baker is one of my favorite Docs (and highly underrated by nearly everyone), and this incarnation of Ol’ Sixie is a terrifying version of the bright and blustery Doctor that we know, and Colin Baker plays him to the hilt. If you’ve ever wondered why anyone would love the Sixth Doctor, this is one of the stories I would recommend you ingest.
4) THE ‘ULTIMATE ADVENTURE’ DOCTOR
In the far-flung year 1989, Third Doctor Jon Pertwee agreed to revisit his most famous non-scarecrow role, and portray The Doctor on stage in a play called ‘Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure.’ Though still spry, Pertwee was a man of 70, and during the play’s run, he fell unexpedly ill, necessitating that some performances be done by his understudy, a young man named David Banks. Wearing a contemporary suit with a cool hat over a Greenpeace t-shirt, this alternate Doctor may be the least-seen of all, appearing twice on stage and making one fleeting appearance in the Doctor Who prose novel line. His look precedes the canonical Tenth Doctor and his more casual look, making the ‘Greenpeace Doctor’ one of the neatest weird bits of lost-DW lore. (Also of note: After Pertwee left the role, the play was rewritten for a run with Colin Baker reprising his role as the Sixth Doctor.)
3)THE SHALKA DOCTOR
The “wilderness years” of Doctor Who are a strange and varied lot, with fans around the world desperately clinging to their novels, audio adventures and the ever-present rumors of a revival. The light at the end of the tunnel came when the BBC announced the casting of their official Ninth Doctor…
…Richard Grant! For all of you who just said “Christopher Eccleston”, welcome to the world of DW weirdness! In 2002/2003, BBC Productions took on the job of creating the first Ninth Doctor, in a webcast called ‘Scream Of The Shalka’, with Grant playing a serious (and somewhat First-Doctor-inspired) new take on the character. His status as “official” was short-lived, as the announcement of the TV revival landed shortly afterwards, but for one brief, shining moment, our honest-and-for-true Real Doctor looked kind of like Count Chocula…
2) DR. WHO
Perhaps the best-known alternate version of our Doctor, this version was an eccentric inventor/scientist named Who, not an alien at all, who created the TARDIS himself on 20th Century Earth. Along with his granddaughter Susan and Barbara, as well as Barbara’s boyfriend Ian, he traveled in time and encountered the eeeeevil alien Daleks, defeating them with a stiff upper-lip and entirely human cleverness. His adventures even got a sequel movie, during which Earth was devastated by the effects of a Dalek attack. Peter Cushing, who played Dr. Who, was known to float a theory that his portrayal was canon, that Dr. Who is a future incarnation captured by the Celestial Toymaker and left on Earth after a memory wipe, but still managed to be a hero in his own right.
Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, that story is really cool, and is as canon as any other. (With that chin, I figure he’s an alternate version of Eleven.)
1) THE NTH DOCTOR
Since this whole thing is at least partly a celebration of The Doctor in comics, and we started this list with comics, we’re gonna wrap ‘er all up with comics as well. The long-running ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ has long featured a short Doctor Who comic adventure in every issue, and many of them feature clever moments that no one saw coming, such as the planet Marinus BECOMING the planet Mondas, the eight-Doctor crossover battle against the Beige Guardian and shape-shifting penguin companion Frobisher. But one of the most interesting moments in the Doctor’s history is the story of his friend Bonjaxx’s birthday party. It’s a tale that we see from The Seventh Doctor’s point of view, with both the Fourth and Sixth Doctors crossing through, and the fascinating appearance of an unseen FUTURE incarnation of The Doctor! This Doctor is visually based on Nicholas Briggs, a huge Whovian and superfan who produced a number of unauthorized bits of Who lore in the Wilderness Years before becoming an official producer of the audio plays in recent years. Another alternate Ninth Doctor, this version passes the time at the party, enjoying himself in the company of his Seventh self, with a lovely ending that proves that The Doctor is always The Doctor, no matter the whys, wherefores or the face involved. (The fact that he sort of looks like the canonical Ninth Doctor’s actor, Christopher Eccleston, is just icing on the cake for me.)
Feel free to follow along (@MightyKingCobra) for more Ten Things madness on Twitter! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, but since it’s Doctor Who and there is no “OFFICIAL CANON”, the only thing that matters is whether you loved the story or not. Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering![signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]