Last year Comicpalooza was scheduled to host Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, but unfortunately Davison was forced to cancel. This year Comicpalooza will accomplish something no Houston comic or geek culture convention ever has, and something all but the largest conventions in the country can claim. This weekend there will be four of the immortal Doctors in attendance, as well as John Barrowman, the one and only Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who and Torchwood.
All the surviving classic Doctors save Tom Baker will be joining us.
Peter Davison was 29-years-old when he agreed to take over the role of The Doctor from Tom Baker, a legendary figure that set a record when he traveled in the Tardis for seven straight years. Davison was then the youngest Doctor ever, until that record was broken by the 26-year-old Matt Smith.
The year 1981 brought many changes to Doctor Who. Though Baker himself remained beloved and popular, the ratings were beginning to slip and new showrunner John Nathan-Turner was eager to shake things up quite a bit. Much of the production talent such as writers Robert Holmes and Douglas Adams that had crafted some of the most iconic episodes in the show's history were replaced in favor of a more sensationalistic approach full of twists, surprises, guest actors, and a keen ability to manipulate the media to keep Doctor Who in the news.
Davison is arguably the actor who was most popular at the time he took over being The Doctor. Having become a household name from his performances in All Things Great and Small, he was a little flavor-of-the-week. That said, for three seasons Davison brought a sweetness to The Doctor's heroism, as well as much tragedy. His final adventure, "The Caves of Androzani", is considered to be one of the best Doctor Who stories ever told.
Davison's successor, Colin Baker, joins him at Comicpalooza. Perhaps no other Doctor has had quite as hard a time as Colin Baker, and he remains the only actor ever actually let go from the part. Baker himself hoped to bring a dark suaveness to The Doctor, and has lamented since that the approach Christopher Eccelston took was what he had in mind for himself.
Nathan-Turner had other ideas. Decking Baker out in a clownish coat of many colors and molding the Time Lord into an egotistical madmen, many accused Nathan-Turner of basically inserting himself into the show. Nonetheless, Baker's tenure has aged much better than it initially played. His stand against the corruption on Gallifrey in the season long "Trial of the Time Lords" in particular stands out, and until "Day of the Doctor" his team-up with Patrick Troughton in "The Two Doctors" was far and away the best multi-Doctor special ever. This doesn't even cover his audio work as The Doctor for Big Finish, a venue in which he is possibly the best Doctor ever.
Eventually, it was decided that a change was needed, and so fed up with the politics of the set was Baker that he refused to film his regeneration.
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Instead, Sylvester McCoy, also attending Comicpalooza, shot the part in a wig. McCoy was another Doctor whose initial interpretation changed much. Intiially played as a vaudevillian buffoon, the Seventh Doctor merged into a Machiavellian figure of deep psychological darkness and a willingness to manipulate others.
His strange relationship with his young companion Ace changed the show in a way that very much looked like it would keep Doctor Who going for years to come. Alternatively his Doctor support and encouraged her, as well as messed with her mind and emotions in order to fulfill some unknown destiny.
That destiny was to become a Time Lord herself, but the cancellation of the show in 1989 left the ultimate fate of McCoy's Doctor and Ace in a seven year limbo.
In 1996 Paul McGann assumed the role of The Doctor in what is the shortest televised career of any actor in the part minus that of John Hurt's War Doctor. The television movie Doctor Who is widely considered one of the worst adventures in the who franchise, filled with Eric Roberts' frankly bizarre interpretation of The Master, a distinctly American approach to the whole thing, and a script that was neither interested in continuing the old stories nor beginning new ones.
For many years McGann's Doctor languished at the bottom of the rankings of overall Doctors, though most blamed his terrible movie and not the actor himself. Since he made a short return on "The Night of the Doctor", McGann has risen considerably in acclaim. That short's mention of the Eighth Doctor's companions from the Big Finish audios led many fans to discover his myriad of wonderful adventures off-screen for the first time, and now they clamor for an Eighth Doctor spin-off or even a full-on return to the part. Riding high on this wave of long-overdue appreciation, McGann will be the fourth and final Doctor to attend the convention.
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Joining the four will be John Barrowman, companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors and the star of Torchwood. Of all the actors to have appeared in the revived series few have the honest, never-ending enthusiasm for the show that John Barrowman has. His immortal, omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness was a unique and brilliant creation that captured hearts and minds. It's off-screen that he really excels, though, greeting everyone he meets with sincere warmth and kindness. We all hope for the day Captain Jack boards the Tardis once more.
Whovians wanting to really celebrate this one-of-a-kind gathering of Doctor Who elite should think about registering for a special advanced Time Lord membership. For $235 attendees are guaranteed autographs from all Doctor Who guests, line jumps for photo ops, priority seeting at Doctor Who panels, and early entry in the exhibit halls. The rest of us? We have to do time the slow way. See you there this weekend.
Comicpalooza runs May 23-26 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.