(With “The Rescue”, we reach Part 11 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Ian: in which the Doctor Who sets out furnishing advice for Frasier and is relationship with the TARDIS’s action man goes into full bromance mode.)
This story is a notable landmark for Doctor Who as we get our first introduction of a new companion into an existing TARDIS crew. Vicki is certainly less of an unearthly character than Susan and it should be interesting to see how she develops. Will the Doctor treat her like a child? Will she provide endless plot opportunities for Barbara to bathe swollen ankles? Will she come anywhere near Susan’s most interesting moment (the scissors incident)?
In the TARDIS, we find the Doctor snoozing in, of all things, a Charles Eames chair. In the words of Trin-E and Zu-Zannah, design classic! Did he find that in the Totters Lane junkyard like coming across an Armani suit in your local charity shop? It’s a maxim of this blog that all sci-fi (even that pre-dating 1963) builds on things that Doctor Who but here we see that even the set designers of Frasier were inspired by our favourite show. What else is hiding in the depths of the TARDIS? A lamp by Le Corbusier? Something that Coco Chanel might fancy?
Will the Doctor have changed in the absence of Susan? Will he cleave closer to our two teachers? It certainly seems so. Within seconds of waking up, he pats Ian affectionately on the cheek, taking their simmering bromance to new heights and cracks possibly the funniest line of the show to date with Barbara:
BARBARA: Doctor, the trembling’s stopped.
DOCTOR: Oh, my dear, I’m so glad you’re feeling better.
BARBARA: No, not me, the ship.
There’s certainly a change in the Doctor’s character which seemed to begin with the last story. Whereas previously he would fuss around the console frowning when anything went wrong, he’s now more of a mischievous sprite, reacting gleefully to a new adventure.
He gets brought up sharp though when he forgetfully asks Susan to open the doors. Ian and Barbara react sympathetically as we’d expect them too but still no-one seems to have thought to write in their own reactions to the Doctor abandoning Susan. This is all the more surprising when you consider that they’re only in the TARDIS because of Susan. Admittedly, their urge to return to 1960s London died down some time ago but now they’ve no excuse for staying with the Doctor other than being stranded in his unpredictable TARDIS. Whereas their relationship with the Doctor was in a sense at-one-removed because of their tutorial responsibilities to Susan, now they can’t escape having a direct relationship with him (cheek patting and all).
So, how does the cheek patting (which in the 1960s was surely the equivalent of swooning into Ian’s arms) affect how the Doctor addresses our action teacher? He calls him Chesterton x 6, my boy x 5, dear boy x 1, my dear boy x 3, my dear fellow x 2, my dear Chesterton x 1 and wonder of wonders, we even get a very rare Ian x 1.
P.S. I’m aware that I accidentally left out “Reign of Terror” from this run which I’ll fix when I can bring myself to sit through the tedium of it again.
(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)