SO we’ve just returned from the doctors (step son, ear thing, all fine) and that got me thinking about the Doctors in science fiction.
Leaving aside the obvious Gallifrey locum, who by default wins any sci-fi doctor list, they usually fall into two camps – avuncular and dedicated or devious and twisted.
Here are my top five science fiction doctors.
Ready, steady, go
5. Doctor Huer
But there through it all, or at least at the start and end of episodes to send Buck off and welcome him back, was Doctor Huer. He was the head of the Defence Directorate charged with looking after Earth’s defence against space pirates and the like.
However, for someone who supposedly had such an important job, the role was woefully underwritten and could instead have been called Generic Patrician number one. And his doctorly credentials? No idea. I can only assume it was an honourary title.
He was chopped as well after series one when the action moved onto the deep space ship Searcher.
However he goes in because I liked the show and Tim O’Connor is a fine actor who did the best with what he had to work with.
4. Doctor Horrible
Mwah ha ha ha ha ……. ha ha ha! ha ha
When you see how fantastically awesome Doctor Horrible’s sing-a-long Blog was, it makes you wonder why Joss Whedon‘s TV shows keep getting cancelled.
It tells of the mad-ish scientist Doctor Horrible’s determination to become a top class supervilliain and join the Evil League of Evil, as well as his attempts to defeat his nemesis Captain Hammer, showing off his sci-fi chops with a freeze and death ray. At the same time he struggles with his desire for a relationship with the lovely Penny.
I won’t say too much more in case you haven’t seen it, but the good/bad doctor is one of the greatest of all Whedon’s characters, torn between his dark desires and need for a normal relationship – funny and tragic at the same time, with Neil Patrick Harris banishing memories of another doctor character for good.
A sequel is supposedly in the works, with a film one possible option, but I hope they stay with the internet form so Whedon can retain total creative control.
3. Doctor Lazarus
Galaxy Quest is a fantastic film, poking fun at Star Trek and fandom with just the right amount of affection. It tells of the stars of an old sci-fi TV show called Galaxy Quest. They are stuck in endless conventions when aliens – who mistook the programme for ‘historical documents’ – enlist their help to defeat a monstrous villain for real.
The film is note perfect throughout and the cast are wonderful, including Rickman as Lazarus as played by Alexander Dane – the Shakespearean-trained actor who looks down his nose at the whole show and his catchphrase which everyone repeats, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”.
But then he is made to look at things in a very different way and despite it being a comedy, he brings tears to my eyes at that key moment.
2. Doctor Baltar
As snivelling wretches who put self preservation above all else, Gaius Baltar takes some beating.
Despite being responsible for the near annihilation of the human race – either through a devious deal or being led around by his cock, depending which BSG you’re watching – he is never so horrified by his own monstrous nature that he won’t willingly send someone else to the chopping block while changing his own belief system for kicks at the same time.
Although James Callis’s version of the character was much more rounded and multi-layered, more real, I have a soft spot for John Colicos from the 1970s. He always gave good baddie, in this and as Kang in Star Trek too. (And yes, I know he was Count Baltar in the 1970s, but I don’t care)
1. Doctor McCoy
There could be only one – my favourite science fiction Doctor is Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy.
The ship’s surgeon of the USS Enterprise, originally McCoy was very much a second string character, wasn’t in the pilots and didn’t get the starring tag until the second series.
That was because by then, De Forest Kelley had built him into the heartbeat of the show, a vital side of the trangle alongside Kirk and Spock that made the Star Trek shine.
His character was so human, so real, who never bought into the techno whiz bang of the Federation and was always there for his friends, especially Jim Kirk, and especially if they needed taking down a few pegs.
Apparently, Kelley wanted to become a doctor and in part drew upon his real-life experiences in creating McCoy: a doctor’s “matter-of-fact” delivery of news of Kelley’s mother’s terminal cancer was the “abrasive sand” he used in creating McCoy’s demeanor.
I understand that his greatest thrill was when people used to tell him he was the reason they went into the medical profession – he would often reply by saying they were the real McCoy, which was a wonderful line.
And when The Next Generation wanted to establish a link to the original series in their pilot episode, there was only one man they turned to.
While Karl Urban did him justice in the new Star Trek film, there will only be one McCoy in my eyes and that is why he is my number one.