November 23: Doctor Who

Doctor Who all doctorsAmy Pond, there’s something you’d better understand about me cause it’s important, and one day your life may depend on it: I am definitely a mad man with a box!” -The Doctor

November 23, 1963 saw the debut of one of the most inventive tv series in the history of the medium: The classic British sci-fi program Doctor Who. The show’s premise is simple enough, it’s the continuing adventures of an alien who calls himself the Doctor and travels through space and time in a machine called the TARDIS, picking up (usually human) companions and outwitting the forces of evil.

Now, there are two reasons why Doctor Who has lasted as long as it has. The first is that its basic premise essentially makes it a sci-fi anthology series: From week to week, the Doctor and his friends could wind up doing anything from fighting off genocidal aliens at the edge of the known universe to traveling to Aztec times and be mistaken for gods or even solving a murder mystery with Agatha Christie. Really, a Doctor Who episode could be about just about anything as long as the Doctor, his companions and the TARDIS make an appearance in the story.

However, the real reason why the series is still running strong over 50 years later is due to a constant reinvention of its cast. Although the Doctor has been the series’ main character for the entire run, many different actors have played the part. Now, this isn’t in that James Bond way where the role will be played by Sean Connery for a few years and then in the next adventure he’s played by Roger Moore without any explanation. No, the 12 (well, technically 13, but that’s a whole other matter) actors who’ve played the Doctor have seamlessly transitioned from one to the next thanks to the process of regeneration. You see, during production of the show’s third season, William Hartnell (the actor who originated the role of the Doctor) grew gravely ill. The producers of the show wanted to keep the program going, so a clever solution to the problem was created. It was decided that at the end of the third season, the Doctor would die.

The writers decided that as the Doctor was an alien, his species would have the ability to rejuvenate themselves when they are on the verge of death. So, as the Doctor (played by Hartnell) lay dying, he suddenly began to glow and transform into a younger body (played by Patrick Troughton). He may have had a different face and a slightly different personality, but he was still very much the same man with the same drive to defend the universe. Since then, the process (later dubbed regeneration) has been used eleven times;  the series is currently on its 12th Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi).

The Doctor doesn’t carry a weapon, other than his cunning mind. Instead, he arms himself with a sonic screwdriver, a device with thousands of capabilities ranging from cutting barbed wire to sealing doors shut. So, in the spirit of the Doctor, today we’ll mix a Sonic Screwdriver. Created by Liz Mulhern of Omaha, Nebraska, this is a charming reworking of the classic Screwdriver cocktail. Mulhern replaced regular vodka with vanilla vodka and orange juice with blue curacao (to keep the orange flavor) and lemon lime soda. This drink is blue, which is quite fitting as for most of the series’ run the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver has emitted a blue light.

Sonic Screwdriver

  • 1 1/2 ounces Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces Blue Curacao
  • 6 ounces lemon lime soda

Pour over ice in a highball glass and lightly stir.

Tomorrow: D. B. Cooper books a flight.


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