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In a discussion as to who was the best companion in Doctor Who, there were a surprisingly large number of votes for Ace. When someone asked why, everyone gave the same reason: she once beat the crap out of a Dalek with a technologically-superpowered baseball bat. Because it called her "small". In fact, Sophie Aldred herself mentioned in a DVD documentary that, after her marriage and her children, the greatest moment of her life was the fact that she beat the crap out of a Dalek using a baseball bat. And she would carve it on her tombstone. Sophie, if you're ever going to read this, we encourage you to do just that.
This also inspired the creation of The Ace Test for the evaluation of the physical badassness of companions. Basically: "can you see this person clobbering a Dalek with a baseball bat?"
Past Doctor Adventures
The first Doctor looks and acts like he's 60+ years old (he's actually about 400). So when he's challenged to a kung fu duel in The Eleventh Tiger you expect him to come up with something brilliant and avoid the fight. He doesn't. Instead he physics the arrogant thug into submission. He uses his momentum from an attack to flip him onto his back. To prove he's not a one hit wonder, he does it again. THEN when the thug pulls out his "breaks clay jars, and heads are softer then clay jars" kick, the Doctor stands in classic "bring it on" pose and catches the light with his sapphire ring, temporarily blinding the thug. The kick still connects. With the pole the Doctor was standing in front of. All the Doctor did was tilt his head. He then sets about tending the thug's wounds. Ian and Barbara are stunned into silence. If they weren't paragons of '60s virtue they'd have both said "ohh hell yes." As it is, they eventually respond by reciting the lyrics to Kung Fu Fighting.
In the novel Illegal Alien (originally a PDA), the Seventh Doctor not only manages to reprogram the Cybermen, but he makes them attack the Nazis that were storing them. That's right, CYBERMEN. FIGHTING. NAZIS. Guess who won?
Bonus points for the Cyberleader taking one look at CaptainHartmann, throwing him across the room and later shooting him in the face. They also make a MG42 machine gun explode by simply grabbing the barrel, heat up a Tiger Tank, destroy all the Nazis and generally be Badass. To top it all off, unlike what the cover of the Monster Collection edition shows, they're not the "Nightmare in Silver" Cybermen or the Cybus Cybermen - they're Mondasian Cybermen who look◊ like◊ this◊. And yet they're terrifyingenough to make a SS Commandershit his pants.
The human characters still have loads of CMOAs, and are all pretty damn Badass. The most shining examples are, naturally, Ace, who hits a Cyberman hard enough to make a huge dent in one of its "Handles", Cody McBride, who attacks the Cybermen with a oxycelatene torch and manages to saw off the arm of one of them, Mama the bartender who blasts a Cybermat with a double-barreled shotgun, Colonel Schott, the WWI veteran who decides to keep on fighting the Cybermen (which he isn't scared of at all) with a Luger and a Tiger's main gun while the driver is dead and the arrogant SS Commander is busy crapping his pants, and Colonel George Lazonby, who goes down fighting the Cybermen with a Bren Gun.
The fact that the reprogrammed Cyberleader scans Ace, George Limb and Captain Hartmann, then decides to ignore the other two completely and attack Hartmann. This, and the subsequent attack on the Nazis, can be interpreted as evidence that even the Cybermenhate Nazis.
BBC New Series Adventures
"Winner Takes All": The Ninth Doctor disarms a knife wielding Darren Pye with ease and then stares him down into a retreat.
"Something Borrowed": When the guards at the wedding refuse to let Peri in after she asks nicely while trying to explain the situation, the Doctor just walks up and barges his way in.
The Legend of Rory Williams lives on in the IDW Doctor Who comic book. In "The Doctor and The Nurse", when Amy insisted that a squabbling Doctor and Rory spend some quality male-bonding time together, the Doctor and Rory (who was wearing a tux at the time) ended up in London during The Blitz, where they saved the life of Ian Fleming. Evidently Rory inspired the creation of James Bond!
And right after that, they mistakenly end up in the Pleistocene and a saber-tooth chases them into the TARDIS. A cornered Rory slaps it in the face with a rolled-up magazine and, to his surprise, it runs away mewing like a scared kitten.
The Adventure Games
City of the Daleks: The Doctor walks through a room full of Daleks who've just been blinded and are spraying gunfire nonstop to save the Daleks exterminating humanity and Amy from being erased from time. And of course then has to run to the top to escape the explosion.
In The Gunpowder Plot, Rory, stuck in orbit around Earth within the Houses of Parliament of 1605, armed with an EMP generator and a Dennis the Menace slingshot, takes out as many Rutans and Sontarans as he can. That's right, two species locked in war for millennia can't take down the Lone Centurian.
In the stage show Doctor Who Live, there was one very awesome moment where the Cybermen and the Daleks have a rematch. Only unlike last time, it's the Cybermenthat got theupper-hand. And keep in mind in the context, these Daleks are supposedly a lot more powerful than the ones in "Doomsday" and managed to outwit the Doctor TWICE in a row. Watch the whole battle here
Behind the Scenes
Midway through his career as the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee put the Doctor Who theme to words in the form of "Who is the Doctor?", spoken more or less in-character. Among other things, the results stand as a powerful challenge to the dominance of the Villain Song.
As fingers move to end mankind, metallic teeth begin to grind With sword of truth, I turn to fight the satanic powers of the night!
For getting the Sixth Doctor Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in the audio dramas. Whereas the Sixth Doctor is usually the least popular to TV fans, he is the most popular to audio drama fans.
Getting elected President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.
Writing his own Doctor Who stories. I mean, who the hell is awesome enough to write their own Doctor Who for their own character?
Similar to McCoy's and McGann's cold readings of Doctor Who speeches, we have Colin Baker doing a cold reading of the Doctor's speech from "The Rings of Akhaten".
The Seventh Doctor's Unflinching Walk in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" was pretty awesome for Sylvester McCoy too: the explosion was somewhat bigger than the special effects crew were expecting, and it doesn't faze him at all.
He has said he was fully expecting to have scorch marks on his back afterwards, but he knew there could be no second take so he simply went on with the shot.
In the filming of "Battlefield", Sylvester McCoy arguably saved Sophie Aldred's life when he noticed a watertank used for a booby-trap holding Ace was about to crack and pour water onto a floor covered in electrical cables; in a second, he managed to get the stage hands to pull her out just before the glass broke.
And amazingly it was all caught on camera and was considered so awesome that it gets its own brief documentary on the DVD for Battlefield.
In a matter of three appearances, John Hurt has effectively filled an enormous gap in the Doctor's life that had been ignored for a long time, and with a performance that is done masterfully.
The full list recounted to Martha in "Human Nature". Since Tennant was required to ad-lib about a minute of footage that would be fast-forwarded, he just rambled on aimlessly a bit before jumping right back into character at the end. The bit about pears isn't an ad-lib, though; it's from the novel that the episode was based on.
Marrying Georgia Moffett. Who is also the daughter of Peter Davison. Tennant married the daughter of the man who inspired him to go into acting in the first place. And thanks to Steven Moffat, he got to perform with his idol in the role that he wanted to play one day... The Doctor. Promoted Fanboy, thy name is Tennant.
Tennant did a tribute video with the cast and crew at the end of his run for a party, set to the Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)". The Proclaimers themselves merrily join in. Warning: MAJOR EARWORM
To top it off, behold the Ballad of Russell and Julie about Doctor Who's revival, as sung by David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman. Epic Awesomeness.
Sladen's reaction to Sontaran general Styre in "The Sontaran Experiment" was enough to have the director leaping up and down with joy - actually running up the West Country equivalent of a mountain to congratulate her on the scene. And these moments are only added onto with the second season premiere of The Sarah Jane Adventures when Sarah Jane sees a Sontaran space pod, and knows exactly how screwed they are.
In "The Stolen Earth", she achieved levels of fear with a tiny little tremble and a pale face that would take screams on a King Kong level from lesser actresses.
Elisabeth Sladen deserves one for saying, upon seeing a man wearing a gas-mask, "Are you my mummy?" in the commentaries for Genesis of the Daleks.
A posthumous moment of awesome for the late actress: the fact that almost nobody had any clue she was ill until she had already passed. It's a testament to her sheer professionalism and love for what she did, because she never saw it as being about her, it was about making great television that entertained fans. Lis, we love and miss you, and the world's a little darker now you're gone.
Lis's magnificent career renaissance. She became so beloved by fans that her departure was headline news, a first for any Companion. And then, thirty years after she was last seen on Doctor Who, she made a one-off appearance on the show that made her famous, and was so popular she earned her own spin-off. A spinoff aimed at children who largely had no idea who she was, which went on to earn critical raves and a high audience for its channel. Name another actor or actress who has made that kind of comeback on television, ever. And she did it all without a fuss. But then, that was Lis Sladen for you. Oh, Lis... we will never, ever forget you.
Actually, just before she got back on TV, she made two series of AWESOME audio adventures for Big Finish, which is kind of a company that makes stories for fans of Old Who. She also returned in radio plays with Jon Pertwee. If anything, it just kind of shows how great her devotion to her character and giving the fans even more really was that she could return, first 20 years after her time, then thirty, and still just be her character like she's been living it all along.
One of the darker chapters in the show's production history was Tom Baker becoming incredibly difficult to work with in his final season. Recollections abound of him snoring in read-throughs at parts of the script he didn't like, verbally abusing the writers, having numerous shouting matches with co-star and brief-wife-to-be Lalla Ward, and caught in the middle of it all was new companion and Promoted Fanboy Matthew Waterhouse, watching the image of his childhood hero shattering violently before his eyes. During one of Tom's "acting up and being rude" periods on the last day of filming for "Full Circle," Matthew (in full Adric get-up) finally put his foot down and told him to "fuck off." And got away with it. And kept Tom quiet (aside from his lines, of course) for the whole rest of the studio day. The 2010 Doctor Who Magazine interview described it as a "coming-of-age moment."
Though given that this account came from Waterhouse himself and the reactions to his interview from his costars in the next issue (which was basically them gently laughing at him) it's disputable whether this even ever happened.
Rowan Atkinson in "The Curse of Fatal Death" - Yes, it was silly, but Atkinson doesn't play a parody of the Doctor, he takes the role seriously, playing it as if he was actually the Doctor in a "real" episode. And he's wonderful.
At the end of "Bad Wolf" we see thousands and thousands and thousands of Daleks all chanting EX-TER-MIN-ATE. For the first time, the show was able to transcend budgetary considerations and deliver not just a tabletop full of dapol toys, not just cardboard cutouts propped up in the background, not just three Daleks driving around in a circle trying desperately to look like many, but a proper, honest-to-god army to be feared.
The show itself
Really, with a show that has run for thirty-three seasons over fifty years and counting, contains two MoA goldmines in the Doctor and the Master, as well as many other characters with more than a few moments themselves (Daleks, Davros, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) Doctor Who itself is a Moment of Awesome for The BBC.
In 2005, accepted wisdom in the British television industry held that the family TV genre was dead. The audience simply wasn't there; families didn't watch TV together anymore. Something like the revived Doctor Who wasn't going to last long. Doctor Who promptly proceeded to demolish all those assumptions. It regularly got ratings higher than those of most other dramas, its average audience staying stable in defiance of the general TV decline. It was repeatedly acclaimed by public, critics, and TV professionals alike. It quickly established itself as a centrepiece of the BBC's Saturday night schedule, heralding the revival of the family TV genre, and becoming a justification for the BBC's continued existence. Doctor Who became a crowning achievement for the BBC, and for British television in general.
Using the BBC's rival network ITV to break the news of David Tennant's departure. Seriously, mega-cojones.
Even better, they had no idea it'd even work. They had a backup plan but they bet their chips that Tennant would win the award and be able to drop the bomb during his acceptance speech.
There's the fact that the work of the new production team (along with the later work by Moffat, of course) has caused an explosion in the show's popularity across The Pond in the US. Sure, DW had fans in the US in the past, but it never truly approached the level it reached during the BBC America years.
Back in the 1980s, Sylvester McCoy's era was scheduled against UK soap Coronation Street, and got clobbered, getting some of the lowest ratings in Who's history. Fast forward twenty years: "The End of Time" Part Two was scheduled against Coronation Street, and won (10.4 million to Corrie's 8.6 million on overnights). For those of us who lived through that time, it felt like justice had been done.
Steven Moffat turning the series title into a nearly 50-year old Arc Word.
The special effects team during "The Girl in the Fireplace". Apparently they decided that the iconic Doctor-astride-a-horse-through-a-mirror-into-a-ballroom shot was quite literally impossible to produce. After episode writer Steven Moffat threw, to quote the man himself, "the biggest queeny strop yet done on Doctor Who" and cried like an infant, the team basically decided to give "impossible" the finger and do it anyway. And it was awesome.
A collective CMOA goes to the show's makers, and the few fans and members of the press in on it, for successfully keeping the HUGE secret that actress Jenna-Louise Coleman, publicized to be the Doctor's next companion starting with the 2012 Christmas Special, had a MAJOR role to play 3 months earlier in the series 7 premiere, Asylum of the Daleks. The premiere was actually shown in 4 semi-public screenings for fans in 4 countries prior to its televised debut and practically no one from the audiences in those screenings spoiled the secret online before the episode aired.
The show also gets another CMOA over the only constant in the series: the TARDIS itself. When the BBC registered the TARDIS as a trademark in 1996, the Metropolitan Police challenged it, as the TARDIS is based on the police box they used in the 1960s. The Patent Office ruled in favour of the BBC, as the role of Doctor Who in the British collective psyche was so great that people identified the police box symbol with the series rather than with the police.
In America, the Series 7 Part 2 Blu-ray was given to several hundred people in error before the airing of "The Name of the Doctor". Normally revealing a finale early is disastrous, but Moffat managed to keep fans quiet by promising a release of an interview of David Tennant and Matt Smith if the fans were good. The fans kept the secret, and Moffat complied.
David Tennant and Billie Piper's return for the 50th anniversary special.
On November 25, 2013, The Day of The Doctor grossed $4.8 million. In 660 theaters. In. One. Night. Two days after it premiered on BBC America. For perspective, it was number two behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire that day. It made more than The Fifth Estate did in its entire run and almost as much as the 3D run of The Wizard of Oz. Again, in one night. Not too shabby.
Any time a lost episode, episodes, or rarest of all, complete serial that was thought to be junked by the BBC turns up. You've got maybe one very precious remnant of something that's been AWOL from television upwards of four decades. On a feather and a prayer, through one magic discovery, be it in a rubbish bin, a garage sale, a dusty backlot of old celluloid in Hong Kong or Nigeria, or even pure dumb luck, another missing link is completed. And as soon as the film goes digital, it will proliferate the internet, whereupon the episode will be copied by those wishing to market or share the piece of Doctor Who history- countless backups from one reel of old weathered film!
How about finding nine lost episodes, including the entirety of the long-lost "The Enemy of the World", in 2013? Talk about a 50th anniversary gift.
Not to mention the other story they found in near entirety, "The Web of Fear", which features the first ever appearance of beloved companion Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. In fact, he's a Colonel at this point!
To put it in perspective as to how amazing these finds are, it's considered very lucky to find even audio of lost episodes, let alone an entire episode. To find this many tapes, containing an entire missing story and all but one part of another, is a spectacular find.
A collective decade of awesome for a small handful of fans (nearly all of them children at the time) who managed to make complete audio recordings of every single episode from The Sixties. So even though to date 26 serials and nearly 100 episodes (until 2013, it was over 100) are now missing, thanks to these fans, and with a little help from narrated CD, telesnaps, and animation (a few animated reconstructions being officially sanctioned by the BBC), it's now possible to "watch" all 97 missing episodes of Doctor Who.
Paul McGann finally getting his long overdue return as the Eighth Doctor in The Night of the Doctor. Granted he dies in the special, but it's still brilliant to see him back. The special also answers the old question of "How did the Eighth Doctor regenerate?".
Steven Moffat managed to weave a whole new Doctor out of the gap between Eight and Nine and come up with a perfect reason to not upset the numbering.
The very inception of the War Doctor into Doctor Who opens up a whole new avenue for storytelling potential, and finally lets writers cut loose and deal with the long untouched history of the Time War, because it was unclear which Doctor fought in it. Now we know.
"The Day of the Doctor" winning a Guinness World Record for being the biggest simulcast in television history to date, transmitted in 94 countries.
The War Doctor's regeneration was only shown half-completed. We didn't see his full transition into Nine because Christopher Eccleston declined to return for the 50th and Steven Moffat wanted to respect his decision, on the grounds that making it appear that an actor was in something they did not want to be in without their consent would be unethical. But some fan decided to extend the regeneration into a complete version... With fantastic results.