The Doctor. The “madman with a box”. I have known and loved Doctor Who stories since I was 12. Here is a brief overview on the Who-niverse, for those not in the know.
The Doctor is a time-travelling, (seemingly) immortal alien. He belongs to a race called the Time Lords, who originated on the planet Gallifrey. The Time Lords were the first race to master Time Travel. However, taking into consideration the moral complexities of travelling through time, they swore to observe only, and never interfere with the natural flow of history. The Doctor is a renegade Time Lord who stole a TARDIS (read below) and ran off to explore time and space, frequently getting involved with and altering the flow of history. Thus, the Doctor is typically seen as a miscreant and a fugitive, though in times of need, the Time Lords have turned to him for help, and he even became the President of the Time Lords once.
The Doctor displays intelligence greater than the average Time Lord, and far greater than most other sentient species. His vast knowledge, his race’s unique perception of the time stream, his Machiavellian intellect, all enable him to out-maneuver his adversaries, and resolve catastrophic incidents, often with relative ease.
Time Lords, when mortally wounded, can regenerate their physical essence into a new body (which affects their personality as well). The Doctor has been mortally wounded 10 times over the long history of the show, and hence, has had 11 different bodies/personas. Each persona is usually referred to by the number, i.e. the fifth Doctor, the eleventh Doctor, etc. However, the person, his memories, his base personality, remains the same.
It should be noted that “Doctor” is not the Doctor’s actual name, but a pseudonym of his own choosing. The Doctor’s real name is a secret he closely guards, and known only to a handful of people. The mystery surrounding the name (which is referred to in the title ‘Doctor Who?’) and the manner in which the Doctor hides it, indicates that there could possibly be some terrible secret behind his name.
TARDIS (or T.A.R.D.I.S – Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) is the primary vehicle of time travel for the Time Lords. TARDIS are not purely mechanical, and are “grown” by the Time Lords, achieving a certain level of sentience. A newly-grown TARDIS must be imprinted with the bio-signature of a Time Lord to become fully functional. The TARDIS can travel in time and space. As a defense mechanism, the TARDIS can alter its external appearance to match the surroundings. Thus, often, its seen as bigger on the inside than on the outside. Additionally, TARDISes employ a “perception filter” which causes people nearby to not pay attention to it (unless they know its a TARDIS and its hiding there).
The Doctor’s TARDIS had its chameleon circuits damaged when in early 20th century England, where police phone boxes were common. Thus, the Doctor’s TARDIS was stuck with the exterior of a police phone box. After several attempts to repair it (over time), the Doctor gives up, claiming he’s grown fond of the exterior.
The Sonic Screwdriver
The Sonic Screwdriver is the only tool that the Doctor ever carries, a multi-functional device that can open locks, alter or even disable technology based constructs. More recently, the Eleventh Doctor also uses the new Sonic Screwdriver to detect and measure various objects/media.
The Daleks are the arch-enemies of the Time Lords. Daleks were mutated descendants of the Kaled race of humanoids, created by the chief Kaled scientist, Davros. Little more than cerebral globs with tentacles, Daleks are encased in a technologically advanced battle armor (which resembles a salt/pepper shaker 😛) which has a high power forcefield as well as offensive weaponry.
Daleks, apart from Time Lords, were the only major civilization to have full-fledged time travel. This brought them into conflict with the Time Lords, who though normally pacifistic, were no less advanced in technology or weaponry. Daleks have a strong, hierarchy-based society with little individualism. Daleks display extreme prejudice to all other forms of life, and will immediately attempt to “exterminate” other life forms. This, coupled with their time travel, often brought them into conflict with the Time Lords, especially the Doctor, who also actively travels through time, fighting Daleks and other villains.
Despite their seemigly brutish and military nature, Daleks are extremely intelligent and rely on logic rather than emotion. Their intelligence and inventive genius is the reason they were able to match the technological prowess of the Time Lords, whose race have been around since the birth of the Universe.
The Doctor has been, on multiple occasions, successful in thwarting the plans of Dalek conquests, usually opposing them alone, without the might of the Time Lord empire behind him. This has led the Daleks to fear the Doctor, so far as to bestow on him the monikers of ‘The Oncoming Storm’ and the ‘Destroyer of Worlds’.
The Cybermen are a race of cyborgs, originating from the planet Mondas, who implanted themselves with more and more technology, thus ending up as a cyborg race. Like the Daleks, they valued logic over emotion, and went so far as to purge all emotions (through inhibitor circuits). Cybermen, being biologically similar to humans, also assimilated humans and convert them into Cybermen.
In the new series, Cybermen are created on a parallel version of earth, and manage to enter the mainstream version through a rift in time and space. Similar to the original Cybermen, the new Cybermen are referred to as Cybus Cybermen (by the community) due to them being created by Cybus Corporation.
The Cybermen have a long standing rivalry with Daleks, having encountered them several times. In the new series, when the Cybus Cybermen meet the Daleks, a hilarious stand-off ensues, which I can’t help quoting here.
Dalek: Identify yourself!
Cybermen: You will identify first!
Dalek: State you designation!
Cybermen: You will identify first!
(Mickey Smith: It’s like Stephen Hawking meets the speaking clock.)
Cybermen: That is illogical. You will modify.
Dalek: Daleks do not take orders.
Cybermen: You have been identified as Daleks.
Dalek: Outline resembles the inferior species known as Cybermen!
Cyberman: Our technology is compatiable; although your design is less elegant.
Dalek: Daleks have no concept of elegance!
Cyberman: This is obvious.…..
Cyberman: Daleks and cybermen; together we can upgrade the universe.
Dalek: You propose an alliance?
Cyberman: That is correct.
Dalek: Request denied!
Cyberman: Hostile elements will be deleted.
[The cybermen fire; but their weapons have no effect]
[The dalek returns fire; killing the cybermen]
Cyber Leader: Daleks, be warned. You have declared war upon the Cybermen.
Dalek Leader: This is not war – this is pest control!
Cyber Leader: We have five million Cybermen. How many are you?
Dalek Leader: Four.
Cyber Leader: You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?
Dalek Leader: We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek! You’re superior in only one respect.
Cyber Leader: What is that?
Dalek Leader: You are better at dying. Raise communications barrier!
The Weeping Angels
The Weeping Angels are one of the most terrifying new-Who villains. The Weeping Angels are an ancient race of winged humanoids, rumoured to have originated from the beginning of the Universe. The Weeping Angels are described as creatures of the abstract, having the ability to send victims back in time with a touch, which enabled them to consume the potential energy that the victim has lost. The Weeping Angels have a quantum lock defense mechanism, which means that in the sight of any living thing, they literally turn to stone, and stone can’t be killed. However, if the victim looks away, even for an instance, or blinks, they can move with unbelievable speed and kill the victim. It is to avoid looking at each other and getting turned to stone, that they cover their eyes, hence giving the impression of weeping.