As I have stated earlier, my knowledge of the good Doctor is limited, my exposure to him moreso. I know that he is a Time Lord who regenerates into new bodies (actors). Originally he was an old man having historical adventures. Peter Cushing played him in a movie. It was a low-budget children's show originally.

 

I saw some of Tom Baker's run. For better or worse, he's my image of the Doctor. And I have some of the Marvel comics from that time. I know about the TARDIS and the Daleks. Wasn't there a robot-dog? And the Doctor always has an attractive companion!

 

Are there other Time Lords?

 

Does he work independently or is he someone's agent?

 

Does he remember his past incarnations? Has he ever been reunited with past companions?

 

Beyond regeneration, does he have any other special abilities?

 

I know he's never referred to as "Doctor Who", usually it's the Doctor but does he have a proper name?

 

Is he fully sane, mostly sane or somewhat sane?

 

And where would you start to watch him now?

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Tom Baker's Doctor (#4) was also my first encounter with the wily timelord, & the one I measure all the others afterwards against. Granted, each has their own charm, but it was Mr. Baker's portrayal in Genesis of the Daleks who inspired my mother to knit me a 17ft 9in long, 10 in. wide muilticolored wool scarf that I still have today, 25+years later. And even now, when I show it off at some sci-fi cons I go to, I convey the compliments back to my mom.

I would reccomend checking TARDIS, the Dr. Who wiki for just about all your answers.

Yes, there was a robot-dog, named K-9. He has his own page on TARDIS.

Yes, there are other Timelords, but as of the Time War, they are locked away fighting the Daleks in a separate slice of space-time, in order to protect the universe.

There were times when The Doctor was the unwilling agent of many a 'superior' entity, but he mostly acts independently.

Every Timelord remembers their past incarnations, & in the case of the Doctor (in The Three Doctors, & The Five Doctors) they do meet. Sometimes the Companions of each also meet.

As far as an ability beyond his Gallefreyan ability to regenerate, it depends on which Doctor (no pun intended).

It's been said the he uses the title "The Doctor" because his Gallefreyan name is unpronouncible by human vocal chords, & it's just easier. He has used the name "Dr. Smith" in the past (as Doctor #3) & infrequently does still.

Each Doctor is different, as each regeneration has a different personality & style. I would say the Doctor is not only sane, he genuinely cares, which can be a little maddening at times.

As for where to start watching, you have the option of starting at the very begining with the first Doctor (William Hartnel), or start with the first episode of the Tom Baker run.

Good luck, welcome to the fandom, & enjoy the jelly-babies. ;)
I'd say start with the first episosde of the new series ie Chris Eccleston's first outing in 2005. Exciting cracking mostly done-in-one episodes that were specifically designed to 'lure in' budding fanpeople like Philip.

The new series was written and produced in a very fannish way, by fans, so it addresses all your questions as it goes, and tries to be faithful to all the past history, but eases you in gradually. The 4th Doctor is more or less 'my' Doctor, as well. He's probably the one that you have least problem imagining is actually an alien! Still, Eccleston might just about be my second fave. He's a heavyweight actor.

Also, there's not a huge amount to get through. These 5 series only have 13 episodes each, whereas there's a lot to get through if you start with one of the earlier Doctors.

Also, someone like yourself Philip mightn't enjoy the new series if you watch it after all the early ones, because you'll keep spotting all the ways it doesn't accord with 'Continuity/ Canon', and that would be a pity!

And the Doctor doesn't always have an attractive companion. Looks aren't everything. Catherine Tate is a highly regarded comedienne, and Bonnie Langford.... can ... er... tap-dance. And Rory....ah... anyone?
Throughout the run of the original series the stories were serials, lasting varying numbers of episodes. Usually the episodes ran about 25 minutes. Those from season 22 were instead 45 minutes long.

For its first six seasons the show was made in B&W, and ran most weeks of the year. William Hartnell was replaced by Patrick Troughton in the role of the Doctor early in the fourth season. A number of episodes from these seasons are missing, especially from Hartnell’s final season and Troughton’s first two. Audio recordings of all the missing episodes survive.

Initially the show alternated historical and SF stories, but the historicals were dropped after Troughton’s second story. During Troughton’s tenure the series became more horror-oriented.

The next Doctor was Jon Pertwee, who stayed for five seasons. The show now had a more adult tone and better production values. From the seventh season the seasons were usually 25 or 26 episodes long until the tenure of the sixth Doctor.

Pertwee’s Doctor was more of an action hero than his predecessors. For his first three seasons he was portrayed as trapped on Earth and working as the scientific adviser of a military organisation called UNIT that was tasked with protecting Earth against an alien invasion. He regained his mobility at the start of the tenth season, but UNIT remained part of the series into Tom Baker’s second season.

Tom Baker played the role for seven seasons. His first three seasons, mostly overseen by producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes, were his best. During this period the show had considerable horror content and intensity. Subsequently the horror element was toned down, the material became more variable, some stories had a jokey element, and Baker’s portrayal became more self-indulgent.

Peter Davison played the role for nearly three seasons. He was a blander Doctor, but likeable. The stories became cheaper and less exciting, but the material was played straight.

Colin Baker’s first full season, the 45 minute one, was nastier without being as successfully dramatic and horrifying as the show had once been. The programme was then put on hiatus. When it returned the nastiness was toned down and the show was more childish. From this point the seasons consisted of 13 or 14 25 minute episodes.

Sylvester McCoy played the Doctor for the final three seasons. The stories during his run started of campy and silly and gradually took on a darker quality. His Doctor began as goofy and ended as a mysterious manipulator.

-The Daleks debuted in the second story, The Daleks (surviving). They weren’t originally intended as recurring antagonists, but they proved immediately popular, and helped make the show a success. The Peter Cushing movies were based on the first two Dalek stories. The first one is very children’s movie-ish. The second one is somewhat better.
-The Time Meddler (surviving), the last story of the second season, introduced the Meddling Monk, the first criminal member of the Doctor’s race to be seen on the show.
-The War Machines (surviving), the last story of the third season, was the first in which the Doctor fought against a fantastic menace in the present day.

-The Cybermen debuted in Hartnell’s final story, The Tenth Planet (final episode missing). Troughton’s Doctor met them more often than the Daleks.
-UNIT was introduced in The Invasion (mostly surviving), from Troughton’s third season. Its head was Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, introduced in an earlier story, The Web of Fear (mostly lost).
-The Doctor’s origins remained mysterious until The War Games (surviving), the final story of Troughton’s last season. This introduced the Time Lords. At the conclusion of the story the Time Lords put the Doctor on trial and decided to regenerate him and exile him to Earth.

-The eighth season introduced the Master, an evil Time Lord with a history with the Doctor. Charismatically played by Roger Delgado, he appeared in all that season’s stories. His debut story, Terror of the Autons, was a sequel to the first Pertwee story, Spearhead from Space.
-In The Three Doctors, the first story of the tenth season, the Doctor met his former selves (played by the original actors) and was released from his exile. However, UNIT remained part of the series into Tom Baker’s second season.

-The Deadly Assassin, from Tom Baker’s third season, was set on the Time Lords’ planet Gallifrey, and was the first to depict Time Lord society.
-K-9, the Doctor’s robot dog, was introduced in The Invisible Enemy, in Tom Baker’s fourth season. He was written out during Baker’s last. (Technically, the K-9 in Baker's last three seasons was a second model.)
-The stories of the sixteenth season were linked by a storyline involving the Doctor’s quest for the Key to Time.

-A special called K-9 and Company featuring K-9 (technically a third version) and one of Tom Baker’s companions, Sarah Jane Smith, appeared in 1981.
-The show’s twentieth anniversary saw the special The Five Doctors, in which four of the Doctors met. (Tom Baker declined to participate. Richard Hurndall stood in for the late William Hartnell.)

-In the twenty-second season the sixth Doctor met the second in The Two Doctors.
-The stories of the twenty-third season were linked and broadcast under the title The Trial of a Time Lord. This was probably the show’s worst season.
-In 1993 the surviving Doctors (three through seven) reprised their roles in a two-part charity special, Dimensions in Time.
-Paul McGann played the Doctor in a single 1996 TV movie. McCoy returned to the role of Doctor for the programme's first act.

I would recommend starting with the stories from Tom Baker's first three seasons, perhaps The Ark in Space or Pyramids of Mars.

The TARDIS, incidentally, looks like a police box, which the British police used to use. They can sometimes be seen in old movies.
Beyond regeneration, does he have any other special abilities?

As far as an ability beyond his Gallefreyan ability to regenerate, it depends on which Doctor (no pun intended).

In "The Three Doctors", the First, Second and Third Doctors were able to "link up" mentally to one another. Both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors (in "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "The Lodger", respectively) have shown some ability to do the same thing with ordinary Earth-type folks. But that's one of those tricks that gets trotted out so rarely -- In fact, off the top of my head, I can't remember any other examples -- that it ends up looking like Writer's Fiat. Like Spock's inner eyelid.

Generally best just to think of him as an extremely smart guy.

Does he remember his past incarnations?

Sometimes fondly, sometimes not. Check out this brief meeting of the Fifth and Tenth Doctors for one Doctor reminiscing about one of his earlier incarnations. For the Sixth Doctor's view of the Fifth, see here, starting about the 2:30 mark.
Philip, if you're new to the Doctor Who series, I would start with Series One from 2005 like Figs recommended. Go through all of the new episodes and, if you're really curious, take a look at some of the older stuff. The Talons of Weng Chiang, The Five Doctors, City of the Dead, and The Time Warrior are fun older episodes to get you started. If you have Netflix, many many Doctor Who episodes can to be watched instantly.
Thanks to everyone for their imput, suggestions and good wishes!

It seems that the fourth Doctor holds a special place in everyone's hearts. I watched the clip with the Tenth Doctor. Tennant is a bit...intense, isn't he? But he was mesmerizing in Hamlet!

And Figs, with fourteen different Doctors, how can there be continuity?

So for the recent Doctors, is Tennant's a good place to begin or can each Doctor be viewed independently from the others?
Philip Portelli said:
Thanks to everyone for their imput, suggestions and good wishes!

It seems that the fourth Doctor holds a special place in everyone's hearts. I watched the clip with the Tenth Doctor. Tennant is a bit...intense, isn't he? But he was mesmerizing in Hamlet!

And Figs, with fourteen different Doctors, how can there be continuity?

So for the recent Doctors, is Tennant's a good place to begin or can each Doctor be viewed independently from the others?

I would say that if you were going to start with the new series, then begin with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor - alot of storylines that get paid off in Tennant's years begin in Eccleston's stories.

Technically, there have only been eleven TV Doctors (William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith). Richard Hurndall played the "William Hartnell" Doctor in the 25th anniversary special, he wasn't meant to be a separate Doctor of his own. The Peter Cushing "movie" Doctor is not considered part of the same continuity, nor are the Doctors played by Trevor Martin and David Banks in various stage plays.

The eleven TV Doctors are considered to all be the same guy, just with different faces and personalities. They're all considered to be part of the same continuity. That said, the show - especially in the early years - didn't worry too much about strict continuity - Terrance Dicks, who worked on the show in various capacities from the 60's to the 80's, used to say "Continuity was whatever the writer could remember on a given day." The UK in those pre-DVD/VCR days was not the Land of the Perpetual Re-Runs the way the US had always been. For whatever reasons, a program would be shown once, and maybe re-run once. It then most likely would never be broadcast again. Thus, if an episode broadcast in 1980 contradicted an episode broadcast in 1965, the writer could reasonably expect that no one had seen it in 15 years, and the viewers would thus be less likely to spot the contradiction. Of course, they had not foreseen the days when people would be able to sit at home watching these things and poring over them minutely.
As for the Doctor's "powers", yeah, they tend to come and go. For example. he Fourth Doctor used what amounted to a "sonic scream" in one episode, and it was never mentioned again.
Of course, they had not foreseen the days when people would be able to sit at home watching these things and poring over them minutely.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It seems that the fourth Doctor holds a special place in everyone's hearts.

Well, Tom Baker's years were pretty much the height of the show's popularity (at least, during its original run). That was, IIRC, about when the show was first made available for US syndication. So for most US viewers, the Fourth Doctor was their first Doctor. And everyone remembers his first.
Doctor Hmmm? said:
Of course, they had not foreseen the days when people would be able to sit at home watching these things and poring over them minutely.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It seems that the fourth Doctor holds a special place in everyone's hearts.

Well, Tom Baker's years were pretty much the height of the show's popularity (at least, during its original run). That was, IIRC, about when the show was first made available for US syndication. So for most US viewers, the Fourth Doctor was their first Doctor. And everyone remembers his first.

Tom Baker was a celebrity on the back of Dr Who in the UK, and stories about him would appear in the tabloid newspapers. He was a kind of local Brad Pitt of his day. My mother knew more about his doings than I did back in the 70's. Strange that the series only took off to that level of popularity after it had been on the air for 15 years.
Speaking of The Doctor, it looks like this year's Christmas special will actually be airing on Christmas day here in the States.

http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/bbc-america-t...


KSwolf said:
Speaking of The Doctor, it looks like this year's Christmas special will actually be airing on Christmas day here in the States.

http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/bbc-america-t...


Yay!

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