The Fourth Doctor Returns — to Comic Books!

The Fourth Doctor returns to comics with his greatest companion, the intrepid Sarah Jane Smith, in an all-new five-part miniseries from Titan Comics, Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor.

Set in Victorian England, “Gaze of the Medusa” is written by Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby and illustrated by Brian Williamson. According to the synopsis: “A mysterious woman commands a hidden army in a house of the blind. Scryclops stalk the streets… and something alien and terrible screams from prehistory — with a hunger that cannot be satisfied!”

Tom Baker played the Fourth Doctor onscreen from 1974-’81, while Sarah Jane was portrayed by the late Elisabeth Sladen.

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 will be released in March 2016.

The Fourth Doctor Is Joining the Star Wars Universe

TomBakerScarfTom Baker, already am unrivaled genre legend for portraying the Fourth (and arguably most famous) Doctor on DOCTOR WHO, is about to join the Star Wars universe in an as-yet undefined capacity.

While signing autographs at the Day Of The Doctors convention in Slough, England, last week, Baker said:

“I’m going to be in this new Star Wars thing, you know? I’m going down to record some voices for this new character they’ve created for me, very soon.”

It sounds like his character will either be for an animated property, such as Star Wars Rebels, or it could be a computer-generated character for one of the main movies or the innumerable live-action spin-offs planned.

Whatever his role, it’s sure to be epic!

The 13 Doctors (Really) Save Gallifrey

I was thrilled when the Doctor called in his past (and future) incarnations to help save Gallifrey in the DOCTOR WHO 50th anniversary story “The Day of the Doctor,” but I was also disappointed that the sequence was so brief. Well, that problem has been solved by enterprising an enterprising YouTuber.

Yes, thanks to some clever splicing and re-editing, we have a meatier sequence of the Doctor helping himself! GALLIFREY FALLS NO MORE!

Tom Baker Open to Guesting on DOCTOR WHO!

4thdalekWhile promoting the launch of 30 episodes of classic DOCTOR WHO on Britain’s Horror Channel, erstwhile Fourth Doctor Tom Baker revealed he is interested in returning to the series — and wouldn’t mind appearing with other incarnations of the Doctor!

This cosmos-rattling change of heart came as he was being interviewed by the Horror Channel:

“I turned down ‘The Five Doctors’ because it wasn’t long since I’d left — I had left DOCTOR WHO because I think I’d run my course. I didn’t want to play 20 percent of the part. I didn’t fancy being a feed for other Doctors — in fact, it filled me with horror! Now, of course, if someone asked me to do a scene with some other Doctors, I think, if they let me tamper with the script, it would probably be quite droll. I would think about that, yes.”

And Baker even said he would like to appear alongside the current 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out. If it was a nice part, with some good lines, I might deign to appear! I greatly admire Capaldi; he’s lovely, and apparently he’s a great fan of DOCTOR WHO — he might ask for me!”

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New Doctor, New Direction: Darker

pccostumeIt may not be surprising to learn that — at least initially — series eight of DOCTOR WHO is taking a decidedly darker turn; after all, the first two, template-setting episodes are being directed by Ben Wheatley, who is probably best known for the black-and-white horror film A Field in England.

However, the change in tone is not his fault; the darkness was always there, he insists, telling io9:

“DOCTOR WHO is pretty dark, I think. Generally it’s dark; it’s always been dark, even in the more modern ones. If you look at the Tom Baker stuff, it’s especially dark. When he leaves Leela — who’s a very beloved assistant — he just laughs after it. There’s none of the [breaking down and crying]. He just laughs, and “on to the next one,” you know. It’s a bonkers show. It’s a monster. To have a unity that runs eight years [of the new series]… it’s pretty crazy. They’ve done everything, they’ve tried all sorts of stuff. It seems to me the episodes that we’re doing now seem more like classic Who. We’re going back to that style.”

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12th Doctor Will Be ‘Mad and Dangerous’

peterconsoleTurns out that DOCTOR WHO executive producer Steven Moffat had something quite specific in mind when he cast Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor — a Time Lord who is definitely not a playful and dashing young man like predecessors Matt Smith and David Tennant, but one who is more “mad,” like Tom Baker!

Moffat told the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine:

“There would be little point in making as radical a change as we’ve made unless you’re going to go quite different with the Doctor. The last two Doctors have been brilliant, and have been your ‘good boyfriend’ Doctors. But the Doctor isn’t always like that. There is the sort of Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston end of the spectrum, where he is mad and dangerous and difficult.”
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Former Companion Told ‘Keep the Days Free’

leela_Classic DOCTOR WHO companion Louise Jameson (Leela) said something very interesting recently on Twitter — something that was almost what we’ve been waiting to hear!

Responding to a Tweet from a fan who suggested s/he would cry if the 5oth anniversary doesn’t include at least one past Doctor, Jameson typed:

“None of us knows yet what’s going on, just told to keep the days free.”

“Keep the days free?” For what — filming? And filming what — a new multi-Doctor story or some kind of documentarry? Who’s “us”? What does her Doctor, Tom Baker, know (if anything)?

It makes perfect sense that old companions would accompany previous Doctors — and with Steven Moffat reportedly writing the anniversary story right now, it’s no biggie that the erstwhile Leela has no real idea what’s happening. But the wording of what she Tweeted implied very strongly that more than one of the Doctor’s old assistants have been contacted and told to sit tight — and be available.

Now, game-playing is all well and good for the Celestial Toymaker and BBC executives, but fans are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the reticence of The-Powers-That-Be because 96 percent of the rumors online are disappointing and pointing toward an underwhelming celebratory year. But I continue to hold out hope that the Beeb knows what a treasure it has in DOCTOR WHO and won’t risk alienating fans by hand-waving 50 years of loyalty.

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011)

Elisabeth Sladen, who has played the most popular, most enduring companion in the history of DOCTOR WHO, the irrepressible Sarah Jane Smith, on and off since 1973, has died at age 63, following a battle with cancer.

There’s a saying in DOCTOR WHO fandom that the first Doctor you ever saw was “your Doctor.” Well, by that measure, Sladen’s plucky Sarah Jane was “my companion.” She and the well-meaning but bumbling Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) were the companions for Genesis of the Daleks,” the very first DOCTOR WHO story I remember seeing, way back in the primitive days of late 1970s syndication. Back then, WWOR Channel 9 out of New York City purchased a bloc of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor stories, and introduced them to a benighted America that had previously never known the Time Lord. I vividly recall her in that yellow rain slicker and blue knit cap, clambering over the rocks.
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DOCTOR WHO: a germ of an idea…

Apparently, it’s never too late for a major revelation about the Doctor’s Gallifreyan physiognomy on DOCTOR WHO.

In the latest episode to air in the USA, “Cold Blood,” the Doctor (Matt Smith) was subjected to a decontamination process by the Silurian scientist Dr. Malokeh. The Time Lord writhed in pain as the procedure was explained to him. “Removal of human germs will remove half the things keeping me alive!” the Doctor cried.

Really? Since when? Well…since now.

I am not suggesting that it is impossible for the Doctor to require “germs” to keep him alive. We humans use lots of helpful bacteria in our bodies. And I assume that the Time Lord needs human germs in particular because he is, as the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) revealed in the 1996 TV movie, “I’m half-human on my mother’s side.” Further, the Master (Eric Roberts) echoes the assertion, stating, “The Doctor is half-human.” (The fact that he is a hybrid must account for why those germs are “half” the things keeping him alive.) The Doctor has undergone decontamination procedures before, but perhaps not processes designed to so specifically wipe out all “ape-based” germs. Indeed, the very word “germs” is often colloquial for “microscopic organisms” in general, though I would hardly expect a medical specialist like Dr. Malokeh to be so imprecise with scientific terminology.

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R.I.P. Barry Letts (1925-2009)

I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of former DOCTOR WHO producer/director/writer Barry Letts on Friday, Oct. 9. With his passing, another important link to the series’ formative years is gone forever. Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman, Barry Letts… (not to mention the Doctors we’ve lost…)

Letts started working on the show during Patrick Troughton‘s tenure, and took over as producer during Jon Pertwee‘s first season. Chief among his accomplishments were the creation of arguably the greatest companion ever, Sarah Jane Smith (Lis Sladen in “The Time Warrior”), and the casting of Tom Baker as the highly influential fourth incarnation of the Doctor! (I’m not looking to start a fight over the relative merits of companions; I’m just saying it can be argued that Sarah is the best.)

I did a little research into Letts’ contributions to the series, I discovered that some well-regarded serials bore his fingerprints. For example, he directed “Terror of the Autons” (which introduced new companion Jo Grant, opposite number the Master and UNIT sidekick Mike Yates) and Pertwee’s swan song, “Planet of the Spiders.” (He also helmed “Enemy of the World,” “Carnival of Monsters” and much of “The Android Invasion.”) His last story as producer was “Robot,” Baker’s first. By the time of Baker’s final tale, “Logopolis,” Letts had become executive producer, and was widely viewed as a shadow producer, looking over newbie John Nathan-Turner‘s shoulder.

Terror of the Autons

Terror of the Autons

The Third Doctor was never my favorite incarnation, but that’s no reflection on Letts. I know my opinion is in the minority, and that lots of people consider Pertwee’s James Bond-inspired persona to be just…dandy. But to me, the Earth-bound era was just not as exciting. For me, much of the appeal of DOCTOR WHO lies in the limitless storytelling canvas. The Doctor can literally go anywhere and anywhen. It’s hard to conceive of a more open-ended story premise, and I like tales that take maximum advantage of the show’s possibilities. And for me, confining the Doctor to Earth, where he primarily defended London, seemed to hobble to creators. Of course a couple of the most-loved tales on the “classic” era came from here, under Letts’ tenure. And, like most people, I love “Inferno” and “The Daemons” (which he co-wrote with Robert Sloman) “Spearhead from Space,” and I can appreciate how 1970s audiences would have been terrified by the Autons. And where would we be without the Master? But despite my biases, Letts’ stories were always well-made. (Okay, okay, not “Invasion of the Dinosaurs,” but the budget constraints were not Letts’ fault. And let’s see you make a clay dinosaur appear more realistic, especially with primitive chromakey technology!) He used the resources available to make the best serials he could.

So rest in peace, Barry Letts.