Doctor Who: The Doctor Always Knows How to Make a Grand Entrance
We look at the Doctors' first moments on Doctor Who and how their grand entrances define their characters. Well... most of the time, anyway.
One of the hallmarks of Doctor Who is that our hero loves a grand entrance… all of them do. The Doctor is such a drama queen. That's what the latest BBC compilation video insists on.
First Entrances Make First Impressions
It's not a complete list of all the Doctors' first appearances, just the most obvious ones. The First Doctor's (William Hartnell) entrance is absent from this compilation. The Second Doctor's (Patrick Troughton) first moments are literally lost in Time because the BBC erased the master tape of that episode in their infinite wisdom. The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) first appearance just fell unconscious out the door of the TARDIS. We get the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), fresh from his regeneration, trying to sneak out of UNIT headquarters and getting caught by Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) and goofing around with the straight-laced doctor, establishing the rapport that Baker and Marter shared. Baker and Marter became good friends and even wrote a Doctor Who movie together that they tried to get off the ground.
The Low-Key Doctor
The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) had the most rambling first appearance. He wandered around the TARDIS confused and disoriented, trying to find the Zero Room in which to stabilize his regeneration and stop being so confused. The Fifth was the most anodyne and mild after the extravagant personality of the Fourth, his stories were often the most convoluted, and we confess that we barely remember any of them even though we watched them all.
Doctor Who's Most Psychotic Moment
Has anyone ever talked about how weird, creepy, and utterly messed up the Sixth Doctor's (Colin Baker) first moments with Peri (Nicola Bryant) was? He was cruel, taunting, psychotic, and tried to strangle her! And yet she continued to travel with him after that. They had an abusive relationship, yet fans had their blinkers on and forgave him as she did. For most people, strangulation tends to be the dealbreaker in any relationship, yet not Peri. The Sixth was the angriest and most violent of all the Doctors in the darkest era of the show that expressed everything wrong with producer John Nathan-Turner's run.
The Seventh's Indifferent First Moments
The Seventh Doctor's (Sylvester McCoy) first moments were a mess: confused and amnesiac while being menaced by the Rani (Kate O'Mara), possibly the most generic villain the show ever had, enlivened only by Kate O'Mara's diva-like glamour. McCoy was flailing a bit, relying on his training as a clown as he tried to find his character in an utterly generic placeholder script for which even new script editor Andrew Cartmel had no enthusiasm.
The Eight Doctor (Paul McGann) doesn't get a look-in here, so the Ninth (Christopher Eccleston) was the first new Doctor to appear in nine years. Russell T. Davies excels at big entrances, and here he is, the one who pops up seemingly out of nowhere to pull Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) out of danger before blithely waltzing back into the fray, talking quickly and quirky to hide his own fear as he puts himself at risk. That Davies knew to make the Ninth's first moments define his character is a mark of his skill as a writer. The Tenth's (David Tennant) first big moment in action was a refinement of the character into a gleeful swashbuckler that helped establish Tennant as the most popular Doctor of the modern era.
The Children's Friend
We have the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his night with young Amelia Pond trying to find what he likes to eat and settling on fish fingers and custard, which established (Caitlin Blackwood, younger cousin of adult Amy Pond actor Karen Gillen) the Doctor as every child's imaginary friend and protector. Steven Moffat was the showrunner who pushed the Doctor as a children's character more than any of his predecessors.
The Prickly Madman
The Twelfth Doctor had the most chaotic first moment in Peter Capaldi's entrance. Moffat wrote him a near-Shakespearean opening monologue of incoherent madness just for Capaldi to show his acting chops and emotional range.
Jodie Whittaker's Coolest Entrance
Chris Chibnall's run may have a lot of flaws, but he got the Thirteenth Doctor's entrance down perfectly. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) literally crashed into the lives of Graham (Bradley Walsh), Grace (Sharon D. Clarke), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gil) just in time to fend off an alien with minimum fuss and immediately established her personality as an unflappable goofball. If only Chibnall had taken the Doctor's personality deeper from there.
Now we just have ten months before Ncuti Gatwa makes his entrance and first moments, where Davies will probably write something grand.