Classic Doctor Who Explored Planets, Modern Doctor Who Explores People

Consider 1966′s ′The Ark′, and ′Dinosaurs on a Spaceship′ from 2012. Both involve the Doctor and his friends exploring a spaceship with unexpected animals onboard, discovering something has gone wrong and then having to save the day. In the latter, we have the introduction of companion Rory′s Dad Brian, who will become an important character that series and whose relationship with his son is a key source of drama. In the former, we have companion Dodo′s first adventure on the TARDIS, but her main contribution to the story is having a cold, which leads to an impressive twist but tells us nothing about Dodo other than ′she can get colds′. Back then, the locations and monsters were the thing.

The Doctor’s Personal Legacy

For the majority of Classic Who, the Doctor is not in possession of the same sort of personal legacy as in NuWho, where he′s a semi-legendary figure at times. Showrunner Russell T. Davies’ concept of The Time War fought by Gallifrey’s Time Lords and the Daleks, removes a lot of continuity baggage by narrowing the gap between old viewers and new, and giving the Doctor stature as the only survivor of a huge, semi-mythical conflict.

It’s logical that, due to the sheer number of adventures they’ve had and the things they’ve done, the Doctor has increasingly become a cornerstone of the universe. The Doctor has been noticed, and unsurprisingly, stories have built up around them (as seen in ′Forest of the Dead′, where the Doctor uses the accumulated weight of stories about him as a threat).

This personal legacy is even beginning to develop by the final few classic series, where there′s a build-up of mythology surrounding the character that continues on into the novelisations (most notably Ben Aaronovitch′s superlative ′Remembrance of the Daleks′ book). There’s an unspoken aspect of the Seventh Doctor’s personality where he suddenly starts taking out his opponents more actively because, presumably, he’s fed up arriving somewhere hoping for fun only to find atrocities and death everywhere.

Prior to this, for Doctors One – Six, he′s mostly just this guy, y′know?

Relationships and Loved Ones

The post-2005 series is much more interested in the characters′ relationships, the real-world impact of their travels and effects on loved ones than the Classic Series. Family wasn′t really a consideration in Classic Who. We rarely saw a companion talk to friends or family who hadn′t experienced an adventure, trying to explain or allude to their adventures in a social context.

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