Impressions of the Second Doctor – A Journey Through All 695 Episodes of Classic Doctor Who

Literally my first impression of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor was he seemed stern.  I thought this long before I saw him play the Doctor or even knew his real name.  It was just my immediate reaction to the images/pictures the BBC usually chooses when they show all the Doctors.  Maybe it was the dark hair?  Maybe it was the piercing stare?  I don’t know.  But once I began my journey through Classic Doctor Who I knew I’d see if there was any truth to my uninformed first impression (my bet was there wasn’t).  And my journey’s progressing!  This is the second installment in my series of feelings/impressions upon meeting each Doctor!  Patrick Troughton’s run as the Doctor would span three series, from 5 November 1966 to 21 June 1969.

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The Second Doctor with his recorder (which I see ALL OVER THE PLACE but I never really saw on the show) and his 500 Year Diary. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

I began “The Power of the Daleks: Episode One” on Monday, 24 May and I finished “The War Games: Episode Ten” on Saturday, 3 July.  I moved through the Second Doctor’s tenure much faster than the First Doctor, in part due to the advent of summer vacation and the end of the year of pandemic teaching.  But the missing episodes were a big part of it, too.  As I learned when I began watching Classic Doctor Who, the BBC regularly taped over/destroyed old programs due to lack of physical storage space and/or rebroadcast rights as well as scarcity of materials.  As a result, of the 253 episodes comprising the first six series of Classic Doctor Who, ninety-seven are forever lost.

While this affected my experience of some of the First Doctor’s companions (I kind of knew Steven and Dodo but had no sense of Ben and Polly as characters), it really affected my experience of the Second Doctor.  Only seven episodes remain of the Second Doctor’s first series.  Only seven of thirty-five!  As a result, I didn’t see Patrick Troughton as the Doctor until the second serial of his second series.

My first experience of the Second Doctor then was animated, c/o the Doctor Who Restoration Team as BritBox had their animated restoration of “The Power of the Daleks.”  Meeting a brand new incarnation of the Doctor with two companions (Polly and Ben) who I had no relationship with through animation wasn’t idea.  I was happy it was there!  Don’t get me wrong.  But I felt a bit disconnected from the Second Doctor all the same, a feeling that lasted longer than I expected.

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The Doctor with Polly and Ben, moments after his regeneration into the Second Doctor. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

With so many episodes missing, I felt like I didn’t have much sense of who the Doctor was in this regeneration.  As a result, I found myself feeling far more connected to the Doctor’s companions.  In many ways, for me watching Series Four through Six was more about Jamie McCrimmon (Frazier Hines), Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling), and Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury) than the Doctor.  They were my anchor.  I felt I knew them better so I felt closer to them.  For this reason, I intentionally chose a featured image for this piece with Jamie, Zoe, and the Doctor instead of one of just the Second Doctor.

And OH MY GOSH LET’S TALK ABOUT JAMIE.  First, I have a thing for Highlanders.  What can I say?  They’re sexy.  But that’s the story for another post.  Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton travelled with the First Doctor for 77 episodes.  Jamie McCrimmon travelled with the Doctor for 113 episodes, the entirety of the Second Doctor’s run (save his very first serial).  At this point in my journey through Classic Doctor Who, Jamie has travelled with the Doctor more than any other companion, classic or modern!  I am more than a little in love with him, too.

The Doctor meets Jamie after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.[1]  He decides to travel with the Doctor, Polly, and Ben and continues with the Doctor after Ben and Polly opt to stay in London once they land back in 1966.[2]  As soon as I met Jamie, a Highlander who fought at Culloden, it made me think of Outlander.  But what REALLY made me think of Outlander was how Jamie was played by Frazer Hines and Outlander is about Claire Randall and Jamie Frasier.  I was sure it was a coincidence.  It had to be.  BUT THEN I READ THIS.  On her site Diana Gabaldon writes, “[I]t was a ‘Dr. Who’ episode in which [Frazer Hines] appeared that caused me to set the book in eighteenth century Scotland.”[3]  Gabaldon cites “The War Games” as, “the episode in which Frazer – er…well, Frazer’s kilt, at least (cough) – had caught my attention.”[4]  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SO DOCTOR WHO INSPIRED OUTLANDER AND THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENED IN THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL AND I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS.  The show I love more than anything else begat my all-time favorite novel series!!!  This is one more gift Doctor Who’s given me! 

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The Doctor and Jamie (oh! my heart!) / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

When the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe find themselves trapped behind British lines during WWI in “The War Games,” they try to get Major Barrington to let them go back into No Man’s Land for the TARDIS.  When the Major refuses, saying they may be spies, Jamie snaps back, “Oh look, we keep tryin’ to tell ya, ya daft sassenach…”[5]  HE SAID SASSENACH.  JAMIE ACTUALLY SAYS SASSENACH ON DOCTOR WHO!!!!!!!!  I’ve watched that thirteen second exchange about 10,000 times.  You see, sassenach translates to “outlander.”  It’s most often a pejorative term the Scottish would use for the English but in the novels it becomes a term of endearment Jamie (a Highlander) uses for Claire (and Englishwoman).  Anyway, I’m digressing.

Jamie is kind, noble, and brave.  He’s always ready to fight – jumping to defend the Doctor, Victoria, or Zoe – but never quick to fight.  Jamie’s compassionate and goofy and, while he never really loses his 1700s Highland roots (his conditioned view of women, for example, brings him into conflict with Zoe more than once), he’s always willing and open to learn from those he meets on his journeys.

Something else that affected my ability to connect with the Second Doctor was his relationship with Victoria Waterfield.  Victoria was born in 1852 and met the Doctor and Jamie in 1866, when her father found himself wrapped up in a Dalek scheme to destroy humanity.  Victoria’s father dies protecting the Doctor who, in turn, vows to care for Victoria.  Since her mother died from pneumonia when she was eleven-years-old, the Doctor essentially becomes her guardian and Victoria embarks on a life in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Jamie.[6]

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Victoria joins Jamie and the Doctor on board the TARDIS. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

And it’s SO irresponsible!!!  Victoria is fourteen-years-old!!!  Her life becomes running from Cybermen, Yetis, and Ice Warriors and masquerading around would-be-world-dictators to gather intel for the Doctor.  You could say Victoria falls into the “hysterical woman” trope as I’d bet Victoria screams more than any other companion in the history of the show.  But how else would a fourteen-year-old-orphan from the 1800s react to being dropped into the Doctor’s life with no warning or choice?!!?  To her credit, Deborah Watling doesn’t play Victoria as a “hysterical woman” but rather a young girl, frightened beyond her ability to comprehend, who forges on anyway because she has no other choice.  In her screams I don’t hear the campy screams of the commonplace “hysterical woman” of the ‘60s.  Rather, I hear a young girl truly and rightly scared for her life.  I’m an empath.  That’s one of the first things I learned about myself in therapy.  So when I see Victoria – and when I hear her screaming :/ – I just want to hug her and adopt her and help her live a normal life.  My heart goes out to her and it was hard to support the Doctor when he was “caring” for Victoria in this way.  Victoria tries to communicate her feelings, too!!

Victoria – “Doctor, why is it that we always end up in trouble?”

The Doctor – “[arms spread with enthusiasm] Well Victoria, it’s the spice of life, my dear.”

Victoria – “Oh, well I’m not so sure.  I don’t really like being scared out of my wits every second.”

The Doctor – “Is something wrong?”

Victoria – “Well, I just wish that once…oh never mind.”[7]

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This serial, “Fury from the Deep,” is another that can only be watched in its entirety c/o the Doctor Who Restoration Team. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

Deborah Watling is particularly magnificent in this scene.  Victoria’s response, her fear, her unwillingness to voice her full feelings, are all so natural.  Here is a girl who hasn’t even begun to mourn the death of her father, ripped from her life and everything she knows in the 1860’s only to find herself tossed into one terrifying adventure after another.

How can the Doctor justify his actions with Victoria?  And how can’t he see how this is affecting her?  In all their time together Jamie looks out for Victoria far more than the Doctor does.  This is so confusing to me.  I’ve seen the Doctor’s paternal side!  The show began with the Doctor travelling with his granddaughter, Susan.  The Doctor took extra sensitive care of Vicki Pallister, too, orphaned on the planet Dido in the year 2493.  The Doctor not only looked out for her in a special way amongst his companions but offered some of his grandfatherly love to Vicki. 

So where is that compassion and concern now?  Is this a difference in personality between the First and Second Doctor?  I’m not sure.  I just know I was often baffled by the Doctor’s interactions with Victoria and it made me love Jamie all the more as he was always looking out for her.

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Victoria and Jamie investigate one of the four bazillion things the Doctor asked her to do that a fourteen-year-old has no business doing. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

During the celebration after they defeat monstrous mind-controlling seaweed, Jamie notices Victoria standing alone in the corner and goes over to her.  The Doctor soon follows.

The Doctor – “What’s the matter, huh?”

Victoria – “I don’t know.  I…I’m always frightened.”

The Doctor – “Well of course.”

Victoria – “Oh, oh Doctor…[crying].”

The Doctor – “It’s alright.”

[the crowd interrupts to say the people possessed by the seaweed are ok]

The Doctor – “It’s alright.  They’re safe.  They’re safe.  Come along.  Come and see they’re safe.”[8]

The Doctor has no idea what Victoria is feeling and he’s not listening to her either.  At the celebratory dinner afterwards, it’s clear she’s unhappy.  As they talk, the Doctor asks her if she wants to stay.  While Victoria doesn’t want to leave Jamie and the Doctor, she hates their life.  Frank and Maggie Harris, a couple they met while they battled this monster seaweed, offer to take Victoria in and she accepts.  Jamie’s goodbye with Victoria is deeply emotional.  He understands this is best for her but it breaks his heart to say goodbye.  The Doctor is far more relaxed, offering a light “I was fond of her, too, you know Jamie,” to Jamie’s anguish and conflict. 

The Second Doctor seems to have a far easier time moving on than the First Doctor does.  The First Doctor let Susan go and live her life.  He let Barbara, Ian, Vicki, and Dodo do the same.  He agreed with Steven staying behind to help unify the people of a bitterly divided planet.  But you could see how deeply those losses affected him.  The Second Doctor seems to have an easier time with goodbyes.  Which, honestly, given my own issues with attachment, abandonment, and relationships, is something I envy while not really craving.  I’m far more like the First Doctor in this regard and I’m ok with that.

Jamie and the Doctor’s next adventure would land them in the 21st century, on a Space Wheel orbiting the Earth and this is where they’d meet Zoe Heriot.  Zoe is brilliant, serving as an “Astrometricist First Class” and researcher in the “Parapsychology Library” aboard the Silver Carrier.  After dispatching some pesky Cybermen, she was eager to join the Doctor and Jamie in the TARDIS to see and learn about everything she doesn’t know.[9]

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Zoe joins the fam! / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

I adore Zoe.  In fact, I love her as much as I love Jamie!  I’m irrationally angry there aren’t more Doctor Who novels about their time travelling with the Doctor XD.  I WANT MORE!!!  She is unique among the Doctor’s companions thus far for being so intelligent.  The Doctor finally has someone on the TARDIS who easily understands the scanners and fluid links and the smell of mercury leaking and why all that’s important.  Her ability to calculate probabilities and understand what’s going on around them – and what can happen – is great, too.  She brings a new dynamic to the TARDIS and all the exposition no longer falls on the Doctor.

We see several instances where Zoe proves herself smarter than the Doctor, too!  When they are trying to sneak into International Electromatics to investigate something fishy, the Doctor is twice so frustrated by the computer answering service he begins banging on the machine and throws his hands up in a defeated huff.  Once Zoe arrives, she quickly figures out how to overheat the machine and shut it down, once it’s proven unhelpful and will only slow her down.[10]  While trying to get to the bottom of who/what the mysterious Krotons are on the planet Gond, Zoe and the Doctor take an intelligence test to gain entry into the Dynatrope.  Zoe scores higher than any Gond ever has and she has to help the Doctor along as he repeatedly gets flustered and stumbles over the test.[11]

A personal favorite moment of Zoe’s brilliance on display comes while she’s speaking with UNIT control trying to figure out how to halt an invading Cyber-Fleet.  Zoe assures them, with her calculations, she can use Earth’s missiles to knockout at least ninety percent of the ships.  UNIT Command is incredulous.  She asks for thirty seconds to do what she needs to and they grant her “just thirty seconds.”  Zoe only needs seventeen seconds after picking up her clipboard and glancing at their screens before she’s handing them her calculations and saying, “Here, feed this into your computer.”  “You better be right,” the Major tells her.  “I am,” Zoe assures him confidently.  And – BOOM – Zoe is.[12]  Take that Cybermen!

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Zoe calculates how to drop the Cyber-Fleet from the sky seemingly effortlessly. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

It’s exciting to have another character around whose brilliance means everything doesn’t fall on the Doctor’s shoulders.  It allows for a different division of labor in the TARDIS which opens up different plot avenues.  And after being so empathetically drained from worrying about Victoria, it was refreshing to have Zoe there to more than look out for herself alongside the Doctor and Jamie.  She helps save the day more often than she ever requires saving.

However, it’s not all perfect and it makes my heart sad to see the inherent sexism in how her intellect is handled.  While the Doctor is celebrated for saving the day with his cleverness, Zoe is often called a “know-it-all” or a “robot” by her coworkers for her command of knowledge.  Even the Doctor and Jamie tease and dismiss her at times because of what she knows and says.  It’s so frustrating!  Especially because there’s nothing “robotic” about Zoe at all!  She is this warm, clever, compassionate, brave character who is as perfect a fit for the Doctor’s life as anyone!  Yet she is dismissed for exactly what the Doctor is celebrated for.

I will say, happily, as Zoe’s time in the TARDIS continued, we began to see less of this.  The Doctor and Jamie begin to tease her less and trust her more.  The people around her who judge her have the last word less and less, too.

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Zoe is instrumental in helping the Doctor pilot their rocket to the moon. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

Another reason I love Zoe is she was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to get a handle on who this incarnation of the Doctor is.  Series Four is lost.  Series Five was a constant worry for Victoria.  But in the Series Five finale and all of Series Six, the Doctor could be as zany or absent-minded as he wanted and I knew both Zoe and Jamie could handle themselves.  I could begin to ease into the Second Doctor’s character, seeing him for who he is as he travelled with two companions who loved and were as well suited to his life as the Doctor was.  As a result, it took me until “The Seeds of Death,” the Second Doctor’s third to last serial, for me to feel I knew him in any way.

UNPREDICTABLE.  That’s who he is!  That’s the word that best captures the Second Doctor to me!  And this is why it was such a struggle to warm to him.  To say the Doctor, as a character, is eccentric is like observing water is wet or the Earth rotates around the sun.  But the Second Doctor’s behavior felt more erratic than eccentric.  He would go from quietly compassionate to cross to deeply introspective to goofy to throwing a juvenile tantrum and back again so fast it made my head spin.  I was never ready for which mood would pop up or how long it would stay.  Once I understood this frame – the Second Doctor is the very definition of unpredictable – I began to feel as comfortable with him as a character as I did with Jamie, Victoria, and Zoe throughout the entire three series.  And it was far easier to enjoy his unpredictability when I wasn’t heartsick with worry for Victoria. 

I wish I could’ve gotten a handle on the Second Doctor sooner but c’este la vie.  And anyway, BritBox isn’t going anywhere so I’m sure I’ll revisit the Doctor’s travels with Jamie and Zoe often :).

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Don’t worry gang! I’ll be coming back to visit you quite a bit! / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

There were so many exciting firsts with the Second Doctor, too!

We have the first concrete reference to the Doctor’s age.  Jamie and Victoria ask how old the Doctor is and he tells them, “Well, if we count in Earth terms, I suppose I must be about 400, yes, about 450 years old.  Yes, well, quite.”[13]  Shortly after his regeneration, Polly and Ben see the Doctor reading a “500 Year Diary”[14] but his comment to Jamie and Victoria is the first clear, definitive reference to the Doctor’s age we get.  This means the Doctor, when he meets Rose (and when I first met the Doctor), has lived another 450 years.

The Great Intelligence – “A formless, shapeless thing, floating about in space like a cloud of mist.  Only with a mind and will.” – makes its first appearance with the Second Doctor, too.[15]  It blew my mind this foe the Eleventh Doctor faced was something he’d met before.  The Doctor’s second run-in with the Intelligence would also mark the first time they met Brigadier (well, “colonel” at the time) Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)!!![16]  I’ve heard so much about the Brigadier whenever the Doctor encounters UNIT so it was SO gratifying to meet him myself :).

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Zoe helps Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and his UNIT forces. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

When it comes to firsts, the Doctor Who Restoration Team saved the day again!  I purchased their animated rendering of “Fury from the Deep” because this is the very first time the Doctor uses their sonic screwdriver.  How could I not see that episode??  Fascinatingly, this also means there were 197 episodes of Doctor Who where the Doctor never had, used, or referenced their sonic screwdriver.  Jamie, Victoria, and the Doctor arrive on the beach and, when the Doctor can’t get  the emergency release valve’s remote control open on the natural gas pipeline coming in from the ocean, he uses his sonic screwdriver to literally turn screws.  I loved it!

Jamie – “What’s that?”

The Doctor – “It’s a sonic screwdriver.  Never fails. [sonic sound as the screws turn] There we are.  Neat, isn’t it?  All done by sound waves.  Now, what have we got here?”[17]

I also learned Jamie invents the Doctor’s “John Smith” alias!!!  That blew my mind!  After the TARDIS lands on a broken rocket floating in space, Jamie and the Doctor are taken aboard the Space Wheel for help.  Dr. Gemma Corwyn (Anne Ridler) gives Jamie a routine medical examination and she asks him his friend’s name, as the Doctor is incapacitated from a concussion.  When she tells Jamie she can’t write “the Doctor” on her chart, he looks at a piece of her medical equipment that’s stamped with “John Smith & Associates” and tells her the Doctor’s name is John Smith![18]  Gemma writes it down with a heavy eye-roll.

Arguably the biggest firsts of the Second Doctor’s tenure come with his finale, “The War Games.”  In this epic ten part serial, we finally hear the term “Time Lords”!!!![19]  Not long after, the Doctor is revealed to be a Time Lord.  During his interrogation by the War Chief (another Time Lord working with an alien race called the War Lords who’d been kidnapping human beings from throughout Earth’s history for real-life war games) it’s first revealed the Doctor is a fugitive from the Time Lords who stole the TARDIS he travels in.[20] 

As I watched, I imagined what it would’ve been like had the internet existed in 1969.  Think of the vehemently angry posts from that frustratingly familiar, small-yet-so-loud group who claim a female Doctor or the Timeless Child “ruined” the show and how she was “Not my Doctor.”  I can hear their would-be ire over how the Doctor isn’t a fugitive and was never a Time Lord and how the Doctor invented the TARDIS (something the First Doctor said several times) and didn’t steal it.  It made me happy for all involved, fans and creatives alike, the internet didn’t exist then ;).  But it’s fascinating to think Doctor Who was around for SIX YEARS before the term “Time Lord” was uttered!

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Zoe, Jamie, and the Doctor stand with two Time Lords. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

The Doctor knows he must summon the Time Lords to set right the War Lords’ damage and return all the humans to their proper time periods…but he is so fearful of them!  He’s ready to hastily abandon Zoe and Jamie just so he can get away![21]  They refuse to leave him so the Doctor summons the Time Lords…before he, Jamie, and Zoe try to escape in the TARDIS.  Once onboard, the Doctor explains his relationship with the Time Lords.

Zoe – “They’re you own people, aren’t they Doctor?”

The Doctor – “Yes, that’s right.”

Jamie – “Well, why did you run away from them in the first place?”

The Doctor – “I…I, well uh, uh…I was bored.”

Zoe – “Well what do you mean you were bored?”

The Doctor – “Well the, the Time Lords are an immensely civilized race.  We can control our own environment.  We can live forever, barring accidents.  And we have the secret of space time travel.”

Jamie – “Well what’s wrong with all that?”

The Doctor – “Well we hardly ever use our great powers!  We’re content to simply to, to observe and father knowledge.”

Zoe – “And that wasn’t enough for you?”

The Doctor – “No, of course not.  With a whole galaxy to explore?!  Millions of planets!  Eons of time!  Countless civilizations to meet!”

Jamie – “Well why do they object to you doing all that?”

The Doctor – “Uh, well it is a fact, Jamie, I, I do tend to get involved with things.”

Jamie – “Aye, you can say that again. [to Zoe] Whenever there’s any trouble, he’s in it right up to his neck.”

Zoe – “But you’ve helped people, Doctor.”

The Doctor – “Yes, yes but that’s no excuse in their eyes.”

Zoe – “But what are you going to do?”

The Doctor – “We’re going to run away!  I’ve set the controls to take us to a planet on the outer most fringes of the galaxy.”

Jamie – “Oh, in that case we’ll probably end up right in their laps.”[22]

The Time Lords easily capture the TARDIS and bring the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie back to their (still-yet-unnamed) planet.  Placing the Doctor on trial for his crimes we see the stark difference between the Doctor and the Time Lords.

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The Doctor stands trial before the Time Lords, as Jamie and Zoe look on. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

Time Lord – “You have heard the charge against you, that you have repeatedly broken our most important law of noninterference in the affairs of other planets.  What have you to say?  Do you admit to these actions?”

The Doctor – “I not only admit them, I am proud of them.  While you have been content to merely observe the evil in the galaxy, I have been fighting against it.”

Time Lord 3 – “It is not we who are on trial here, Doctor.  It is you.”

The Doctor – “No, no, of course.  You’re above criticism, aren’t you?”

Time Lord – “Do you admit that these actions were justified?”

The Doctor – “Yes, yes, of course I do!”

After naming the evils he’s faced the Doctor concludes, “All these evils I have fought while you have done nothing but observe.  True, I am guilty of interference, just as you are guilty of not using your great powers to help those in need!”

But the Time Lords aren’t swayed.  They tell the Doctor he must say goodbye to Jamie and Zoe and then they have them board a TARDIS to take them home.  The Doctor asks, “They’ll forget me, won’t they?”  Time Lord 2 says, “Not entirely.  They’ll be returned to a moment in time just before they went away with you.  They will remember their first adventure with you but nothing more.”  Do you know what my immediate emotional response was?  FUCK THEM.  AS OF THIS MOMENT I OFFICIALLY HAVE NO USE FOR THE FUCKING TIME LORDS AT ALL EVER AND I HATE THEM FOREVER AND I’M GLAD THEY’RE ALL DEAD.  I…I was a bit upset.   

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The Time Lords…or the object of MY FIERY AND UNRELENTING SCORN. It’s also interesting to note, in the credits, they are simply called (from left) Time Lord 3, Time Lord, and Time Lord 2. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

The Time Lords sentence the Doctor to be exiled on Earth for his crimes.  Granting there is evil in the galaxy, they say if he’s so interested in interfering he can protect the people of that planet…but he can’t go anywhere else.  They take “the secret of the TARDIS” from the Doctor as part of his sentence.  When the Doctor tells them people on Earth will recognize him so they can’t banish him they say, “You’ve changed your face once before,” and force a regeneration.  Again, the term “regeneration” isn’t used yet nor is the process clearly defined but, given what we know of the process now, in effect the Time Lords executed him and forced a regeneration before sending him into exile.  I say again, FUCK THEM.  But it’s interesting how different the process is!  When the Time Lords accuse him of stalling for time they say they’ll pick his new face.  The Doctor protests he should have a say in the matter and they begin the process and, with him changing, the episode ends.

What they did to the Doctor was cruel.  What they did to Jamie and Zoe was unforgivable.  We are our memories!  To take their memories from them was tantamount to stealing their very selves!  Who the hell do the Time Lords think they are?  I can’t believe how angry they made me in their first appearance!

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The Doctor says goodbye to Jamie and Zoe. / Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

Over the Second Doctor’s tenure, the feel of the show changed, too.  The action became far more intense and far more military-adjacent.  There were so many different agencies the Doctor crossed paths with – UNIT most of all – with pistols, rifles, and machine guns firing alongside grenades being lobbed and bazookas blasting.  Plus they had all the helicopters.  We also see the realities of the Cold War, the Arms Race, and the Space Race begin to shape the narratives in very concrete ways. 

The show also become significantly less weird than it was with the First Doctor.  Of the Second Doctor’s adventures I’ve seen (and even the lost episodes I’ve read about) almost all take place on Earth or, as with “The Wheel in Space,” are very human-centric.  Of course there are still wild creatures and scary monsters.  It is Doctor Who after all!  But with the Second Doctor we’ve seen nothing like the Menoptera and Zarbi from planet Vortis or the Sensorites from the Sense Sphere or the Voord they encountered on Marinus or the Aridians from Aridius.  And all those races certainly weren’t the villains/monster either!  The First Doctor’s time showed a wide variety of life across the universe, good and bad.  Here there are a lot more humans with guns and helicopter chase scenes and far more of what we’d consider “traditional” action sequences.  But the weird, wild places they visit and beings they encounter are gone.  And I miss that!  Although, to be fair, I’ve not seen anything in modern Doctor Who that’s half as weird as what I saw with the First Doctor so perhaps that weirdness is just a hallmark of the Hartnell Era.

It’s safe to say the Second Doctor’s run left me with lots of feelings.  But I never found him stern!  That wasn’t one of the feels!  And while I may’ve struggled to connect with him at the beginning, I certainly did by the end.  To remind us of the guilt we carry when we don’t use our power and influence to help those in need is a challenge echoed by every incarnation of the Doctor throughout time, and one we all need be mindful of answering.

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Photo Credit – BBC’s Doctor Who

Want more of my li’l series exploring each regeneration of the Doctor?  Well you’re in luck!  Check out:

Impressions of the First Doctor to see where it all began!  William Hartnell played the Doctor from 1963-1966, for 134 episodes on Series 1-3, and it was Doctor Who at its weirdest in the best sense of the word.  Here we meet the Doctor, their granddaughter, the TARDIS, the Daleks, the Cyberman, and so much more for the very first time!  

Impressions of the Third Doctor finds the Doctor working with UNIT while exiled on Earth with the TARDIS unable to travel.  Jon Pertwee played the Doctor from 1970-1974 for 128 episodes on Series 7-11.  Here we see the introduction of the Master, the Silurians, and the Nestene Consciousness/the Autons as well as the first multi-Doctor team-up!


[1] Hugh David, dir. “The Highlanders.” Doctor Who, season 4, serial 4, BBC, 1966-67.

[2] Gerry Mill, dir. “The Faceless Ones.” Doctor Who, season 4, serial 8. BBC, 1967.

[3] Diana Gabaldon, “The ‘Dr. Who’ Connection,” DianaGabaldon.com. Published May 11, 2010.  Accessed May 25, 2021.  http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2010/05/the-dr-who-connection/

[4] Ibid.

[5] David Maloney, dir. “The War Games: Episode One.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 39, BBC, 1969.

[6] Derek Martinis, dir. “The Evil of the Daleks.” Doctor Who, season, 4, serial 9, BBC, 1967.

[7] Hugh David, dir. “Fury from the Deep.” Doctor Who, season 5, episode 31, BBC, 1968.

[8] Hugh David, dir. “Fury from the Deep.” Doctor Who, season 5, episode 34, BBC, 1968.

[9] Tristan de Vere Cole, dir. “The Wheel in Space.” Doctor Who, season 5, serial 7, BBC, 1968.

[10] Douglas Camfield, dir. “The Invasion.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 12, BBC, 1968.

[11] David Maloney, dir. “The Krotons.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 20, BBC, 1969.

[12] Douglas Camfield, dir. “The Invasion.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 13, BBC, 1968.

[13] Morris Barrey, dir. “The Tomb of the Cybermen.” Doctor Who, season 5, episode 1, BBC, 1967.

[14] Christopher Barry, dir. “The Power of the Daleks.” Doctor Who, season 4, episode 9, BBC, 1966.

[15] Gerald Blake, dir. “The Abominable Snowmen.” Doctor Who, season 5, serial 2, BBC, 1967.

[16] Douglas Camfield, dir. “The Web of Fear.” Doctor Who, season 5, serial 5, BBC, 1968.

[17] Hugh David, dir. “Fury From The Deep.” Doctor Who, season 5, episode 29, BBC, 1968.

[18] Tristan de Vere Cole, dir. “The Wheel in Space.” Doctor Who, season 5, episode 36, BBC, 1968.

[19] David Maloney, “The War Games.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 40, BBC, 1969.

[20] David Maloney, “The War Games.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 42, BBC, 1969.

[21] David Maloney, “The War Games.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 43, BBC, 1969.

[22] David Maloney, “The War Games.” Doctor Who, season 6, episode 44, BBC, 1969.

4 thoughts on “Impressions of the Second Doctor – A Journey Through All 695 Episodes of Classic Doctor Who

  1. Huh. Donna’s fate as a companion in her series always infuriated me I don’t know if I feel better or worse knowing there’s precedent for doing that to the companions.

    Nope. It still sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RIGHT?!!? Oh my gosh Gemma, RIGHT??? UGH. Of all the companions, Donna’s fate breaks my heart the most. It also makes me angriest. I just…I can’t. I can’t even. I thought of Donna as soon as I saw Jamie and Zoe lose their memories, too.

      Like

  2. I think I’m with you on this one – “Fuck the Time Lords!” Thanks for another super review. I hadn’t realised that so much that we take for granted in Doctor Who goes all the way back to this Doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I KNOW! It blew my mind! I’m kind of excited to see the roots of other things (like I haven’t seen the psychic paper yet!) we take for granted as I keep watching Classic Doctor Who.

      And I appreciate your solidarity. The Time Lords are THE WORST here.

      Liked by 1 person

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