Traveling companions

A few weeks back, I embedded a YouTube video which showed all of the regeneration scenes in the history of “Doctor Who.” I also noted that the series would soon begin a new season, which would be the end of the road for the Doctor’s current traveling companions, Amy and Rory (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill).

Well, since then the exact date of the season premiere has been announced – Sept. 1. I’ll be covering the Celebration that night, but I’ll DVR the episode. Anyway, since the big news this time around is Amy and Rory’s departure, I thought it would be appropriate to post this, which may have been done by the same person as the compilation I referred to above. It’s a showcase of all of the Doctor’s traveling companions, with some semi-regular guest stars thrown in for good measure.

I was a little sad when I saw Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Courtney passed away some months back, and the show slipped in a lovely tribute last season by having the time-traveling Doctor place a call to the Brigadier seeking help or advice during a time of crisis. We don’t hear the other end of the conversation, but the Doctor suddenly looks crestfallen and then gives his condolences. A lovely little moment.

Like many “Who” geeks of my generation, I discovered the show in the post-“Star Wars” era, when everyone was in a mad rush for anything science fiction-related. Many public TV stations began running the Tom Baker episodes of “Doctor Who.” I watched every night on the public TV station in Tulsa while I was at college in the early 1980s, and when I came home on break I discovered that my father and my brother Michael had discovered the show on the public station here in Middle Tennessee, which ran it on Saturday nights. The timing of the show’s arrival in the U.S. explains why, prior to the 2005 relaunch, Baker was most Americans’ vision of what the Doctor looked like.

I also got to see the Doctor just prior to Baker, Jon Pertwee, when he made a personal appearance in Nashville in the mid-1980s to promote the show and the local public TV station. I recall him scoffing at the show’s best-known villains, the Daleks, saying that a flight of stairs could stop them. (CGI special effects have remedied that in the relaunched version.)

Next year will be the show’s 50th anniversary, and among fans – and in British pop culture, where the show is as familiar and newsworthy as Superman is in the U.S. – there’s a lot of speculation about how that anniversary will be celebrated. The producers, and current star Matt Smith, have hinted that it will be something big.