While Batman is now a global phenomenon, Doctor Who is reaching that same apex. Although there was an American co-produced television movie in 1996, and while Doctor Who aired on PBS throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it was not until Russel T. Davies launched Christopher Eccelston as the Doctor in a new BBC series that the program took hold in the U.S.A.
There are many, many, many well-written articles out there describing all manner of Doctor Who-ness, so fans of the modern Who who (owl?) want to investigate the older series have a significant amount of resources to choose from. I just want to take a brief moment to highlight two unsung Doctors whom I believe people should take the time to watch.
Sylvester McCoy may be my favorite Doctor, not in terms of story arcs but just for personality. He was like Tom Baker's Doctor merged with Mr. Bean. Although his Doctor was the last one of the original run, that was not his fault; the BBC heads were trying to axe the show years before McCoy came on. By all accounts, the show's final season was one of its best and McCoy's Doctor was cut off prematurely. I will talk about him more in my next post, but for now, for today, let's talk about the second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton.
While William Hartnell was a stern grandfatherly figure and Jon Pewtree was James Bond with a Liberace wardrobe, the Doctor between those two was the cosmic hobo, a friendly yet wickedly clever time lord who allowed for humor and the "I know nothing but really everything" elements in the story. American audiences saw some of that with Peter Falk as Columbo. In many regards, Troughton's Doctor was the spiritual predecessor to McCoy's.
Unfortunately, a bad heart took Troughton too early (at the age of 67) and the BBC intentionally recorded over many of the early Who episodes, but we are left with an outstanding legacy, and some surviving arcs as well. One of the best is "The Tomb of the Cybermen," which also features the longest on air companion, Jamie the Scotsman (featured alongside the fourth Doctor in Viz Comics' "Doctor Poo"). We are also treated to the amazing (albeit brief) "Space Adventure" suite by Martin Slavin, played during the dramatic Cybermen scenes. It manages to evoke both electronica and the classic alien invasion scores of the 50s.
Anyway, presented below is the complete Tomb of the Cybermaen, which originally aired 46 years ago this month. Without question, it holds up and remains one of the top ten Who story arcs.