Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who's a Who? -- The 7 Time Lords of Fantasy and Fiction

Quite possibly the most niche of cult pop culture icons, Doctor Who, like the titular character, has found success many times over throughout a career that spans several decades, half a century now. While the show sustains a strong viewership, both in Britain and abroad, it remains decidedly non-mainstream, and despite multiple re-airings, re-cappings, and fans willing to talk about it, it remains a difficult culture to join. Like comic books or other long-running series, the sheer volume of work one has to take in to acquire a taste for it is daunting. I understand people's resistance to it, or lack of understanding of the hype. I love certain parts of it, though I've never considered myself a full-fledged Doctor Who fan.

That being said, I think if you only ever watch one season, watch Christopher Eccleston's single season as the Ninth Doctor. He's rough and tumble, charming, and dryly British. His regeneration at the season end is also the best. The absolute best. Like, I'm gonna write it on my tombstone, best.

I had a conversation with my roommate about who else in fiction might be a Time Lord. It was a pretty cool discussion, with a lot of names from all over the universe thrown in. I wanted to see if I could put together an absolutely solid list of individuals with strong candidacy for Time Lordship.

Of course, I know there are canonical limitations to this article, such as the fact that the Time Lords are of a single race of aliens. But whatever, your MOM'S a single race of aliens.
Along with that, even the ones I ultimately chose don't meet every single requirement, but the theorizing is fun.
Setting that aside, my prerequisites were fulfilling at least two of the following criteria:
- There needs to be some sort of longevity to the character. Not necessarily evidence of a recorded regeneration (although a couple are definitely implied with almost all these characters). So, many cartoon characters meet this criteria, being ageless which is why they're mostly disqualified barring two of my choices who fall under a couple other universes.
- The character possesses something similar to a TARDIS. Again, this has to be inherently different from cartoon characters' Hammerspace, which is a different dimension, and not a device to travel in or through.
- The character is more than a mere time traveler. Many characters from fiction simply possess a time machine but that doesn't give them complete dominion over the time-space continuum. H.G. Wells' Time Traveler, Doc Brown, etc.
- The character does not possess other powers beyond the usefulness of a Time Lord. I made an exception for two of my picks actually, but characters like Merlin or Harry Potter are already wizards, far beyond the need of being a Time Lord.
- I also eliminated comic book characters entirely. One is a comic strips icon, but not comic books. Superman, Batman, Wolverine, etc., all possess the longevity of a Time Lord but their various incarnations are the results of multiple writers and multiple perspectives of those writers. Additionally, they also possess many more powers than a Time Lord.
- Implied characteristics of the Doctor are also taken into account: eccentric dress, articulate, a sense of adventure, resourcefulness, a wisdom beyond their years, and so on.


So here are My Seven Time Lords:

James Bond
To remember the six names I use this pneumonic device:
Can Lizards Mate Directly Below Canopies?
(Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, Craig)
The reveal in Skyfall did little to quell the already-popular theory of Agent 007 being a Time Lord.
The central idea is that "James Bond" and the 00-Agent distinction of '7' is something handed down to an elite agent when his predecessor gets too old to continue their effectiveness.
But the theory expands when adding in the idea that he is a Time Lord.
I mean, it makes sense. All the Bonds share similar qualities and characteristics despite never aging beyond their peak years.
Bond is also infinitely resourceful, while always incredibly calm and in control. A couple of the personalities are more suave (Brosnan's and Connery's), a couple are more rough and surly (Dalton's and Craig's), and some are much funnier (Moore's).
Bond lacks a TARDIS though, although he does have the most obvious evidence for regeneration.
Among the less obvious characteristics, Bond also possesses fierce amounts of loyalty, quite a bit of technological know-how, and a slight lack of manners when it comes to facing danger.
It's a better explanation to me than anything else I've heard for justifying Bond's longevity throughout the series.


Mary Poppins
A spoonful of sugar helps the time travel sickness go away!
Bert makes quite the companion, doesn't he?
One of the other popular theoretical Time Lords is the magical nanny, Mary Poppins.
I love the theory personally, and it fits for me, pretty perfectly.
She lacks a regeneration, but of all the Time Lords, I also do believe she'd be the most capable of long-lasting incarnations.
She could very well be on her first, still!
Something tells me her umbrella parrot functions as both companion and Sonic Screwdriver hidden in the handle.
She most likely reprogrammed it to use for flight since she lacks a visible means of flight.
Her carpet bag though, famously stores everything she needs to turn any interior space into her own.
It's much bigger on the inside, managing a full-size mirror and a floor lamp, among other things.
She's helpful, shows up exactly when needed (Bert says when the winds change), resourceful (everything's a song too), and she loves adventure (sure, just jump into a painting).

Her eccentric clothing also lends itself to a Time Lord, particularly linking her to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth incarnations, known for their odd clothing choices. She even has her own odd scarf, and look at that hat!


Snoopy

Snoopy first appeared in the Peanuts comic strip in 1950 and was around all the way to the end. While never considered the main character, he made enough of an impression with the audience that he endured much like the Fonz or Urkel, but of course cooler than either one (which isn't hard in Urkel's case).
He originally appeared more doglike in appearance and demeanor, meaning there's a possibility he's already experienced a regeneration, and attained more humanity in the process. While he never speaks, his thoughts and writing suggest a very smart cookie indeed, and there's a definite possibility that his sense of adventure is not necessarily based only in his imagination. Perhaps an older regeneration loved planes, and held a rivalry with the Red Baron?
Snoopy's companion is pretty obvious: the loveable Woodstock.
And it is his dog house that is the most curious. Multiple references are made to the fact that it is far bigger inside than it is on the outside, including a bathroom, gymnasium, a rec room, and enough wall space to hang a Van Gogh.
Snoopy's also got a fierce sense of loyalty as well as a resourcefulness. His less redeeming qualities are also rather Doctor-like: can occasionally be rude, once in a while prefers to run from a battle than engage in direct confrontation, and although he may be outsmarted sometimes he always gets the last laugh.
Snoopy, along with my next choice, I see as semi-retired Time Lords, or at least in Snoopy's case, he sees the necessity of staying with the extremely needy Charlie Brown (perhaps himself an aging Time Lord...?)


Oscar the Grouch

On a street as weird and as colorful and eventful as Sesame Street, no one would really notice a retired Time Lord. Especially if he was mad, because this wasn't where he intended to land since 1969.
In his first appearance, he was orange, so there's a good chance he has at least one regeneration under his belt already.
Also, everyone would just stay away and never really take a good look inside if all that was ever posted on his TARDIS... I mean, trashcan... "Scram" and "Trash." But references have been made to it also being larger on the inside, complete with a spiral staircase to the opening at the top.
Oscar's companion is up for debate, but Big Bird would even him out, and they have been described as friends on several occasions. For the first few years of the show too, Oscar and Big Bird were the only two official "Muppets" on the Street itself...almost as if they'd landed there...


Ms. Frizzle

This, along with my next pick, may be the most controversial, in that their meeting of criteria is a little flimsy, but it's hard to deny the real power behind the Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle's combined Sonic Screwdriver and TARDIS.
The limits of where the M.S.B. could go were limited only by the endless possibilities of education. Frizzle was odd, eccentric, and while she obviously traveled with a whole cadre of her homeroom students, her most consistent companion was Liz the class lizard (or it might be a tiny Triceratops?)
Frizzle's sense of adventure and desire to teach qualify her as a Time Lord, with many destinations throughout the book and TV series contained in the past, or in exotic, faraway locations.
The bus of course, was more than a bus, functioning as a plane, submarine, and a shrunken exploration machine, among others.
There's also a small fringe theory out there suggesting Ms. Frizzle is a late incarnation of Mary Poppins' Time Lord...


Pinhead

Not every Time Lord can be a source of good. And I thought the ultimate evil character to portray the sixth Time Lord, "the fallen one," would be Pinhead, the main antagonist of the Hellraiser series.
Pinhead is seemingly immortal and is exceedingly articulate and smart. His TARDIS would be one of the more miniature versions, with the Lament Configuration, the most famous of Lemarchand's boxes, able to traverse all the dimensions of time and space where Pinhead can literally...raise...hell...
It's Pinhead's smarts that make him an obvious candidate for me. The Time Lords are scientifically advanced, masters of engineering, well-read, and well-cultured.
He travels with a small entourage of companions too, and I'm working off the theory that his Sonic Screwdriver is within his own head, held together by the namesake cranial protrusions.
Later movies give him a human past that he has forgotten about, and something tells me he was raised as a human in a prior incarnation.



Link


It stands to reason that the hero and protagonist of the Legend of Zelda possesses all the right stuff to be the seventh Time Lord on my list.
Link's shared characteristics with the good Doctor are all pretty evident: enthusiasm, resourcefulness, loyalty, courage, and thoughtfulness.
His companions are numerous: Epona, Midna, Navi, and even the Princess Zelda both as herself and as the pirate Tetra.
And while he has remained essentially the same since his debut three decades ago, the character has remained the same age with essentially the same demeanor throughout countless eons of Hyrule. He has also assisted in other lands when he is needed: Labrynna, Holodrum, Koholint, and Termina have also witnessed the heroics of Link.
He has many monikers: Hero of Winds, Hero of Seasons, and most importantly, the Hero of Time. It is stated in Hyrule legend that whoever controls the Master Sword and the Ocarina of Time controls time itself and Link makes full of use that, showing up exactly when he's needed at whatever moment in time he is needed. He may be a man of few words, but his companions more than make up for the silent protagonist. Based on animation style alone, Link is somewhere around his ninth or tenth incarnation now, and with the blessings of the gods and the mystical fairies, he may have life beyond the cycle of the Time Lords.