Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ranking The Doctors

Thinking today about which incarnations of The Doctor are my favorite.

It's a tough question because you can enjoy a version of The Doctor but not enjoy the writing on the episodes he was featured in. The Sixth Doctor is a good example of this dilema. I enjoyed the Sixth Doctor but by an large the episodes he was featured in werent of the same quality and imagination weve come to expect from Doctor Who.

So Im going to judge The Doctors not by the episodes they were in but by how they were portrayed and wether I would want to read them in a original novel.

The following is my list of favorite Doctors in order:

1. Doctor 11

I must admit Ive fallen in love with The Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith. I
love the constant reminder that there is an old man behind the youthfull appearance. Moffat has successfully reminded us of that by dressing him in an old mans clothes and providing more glimpses of William Hartnel than any series that didnt actually feature Hartnel.

I love the doctor as a slightly more alien character. I believe that has been the case during this portrayal than previous incarnations.

I will admit that placing 11 on the top of the list after only a single season may be premature. However, he is the Doctor of the moment and he is the Doctor who I am most enamoured with right now. Whose character I am interested in seeing evolve.

When a new Doctor takes his place and he becomes on of the former incarnations of the Time Lord we will see how he stacks up to his peers. For the time being though Im of the philosophy you should love the one your with.

2. Doctor 4

I love this Doctor. Love the toothy grins, the long scarf, the wordplay this Doctor was famous for. This Doctor also was a bit more alien than many of his counterparts.
Theres a reason this Doctor is often at the top of everyones list. Doesnt hurt that he had some of the best scripts of the series.

3. Doctor 10

You have to love Tennant. His enthusiasm, his great outfit (love seeing the Doctor in trainers wether in a suit or tux). The most emotional of all the Doctors. Tennant was able to smoothly transition in a scene from loveable clever goofball to menacing ancient power. Tennant will remain on the top of everyones lists for a long Tom Baker he will endure as a fan favorite no matter how many more men take over the role.

4. Doctor 7

This version of The Doctor brought back mystery to the character. This version hinted that there might be more to The Doctor than wed previously led to believe. This Doctor was more of a schemer and a planner than previous incarnations.

This wasnt a Doctor who things happened to this was a Doctor manipulating and pulling the strings always two steps ahead of his advesaries.

My love for this Doctor is also heavily influenced by his original novels published after the show was cancelled. Though the current novels are being written for young adults the 7th Doctors novels were written for adults. They were usually dark, complicated, involved science fiction. These were stories that could never have been told on television and that dared to explore some of the backstory and mythology of Doctor Who. Great Books.

5. Doctor 9

While Im not a fan of the writing the season that featured Doctor 9, I do appreciate the thought that RTD put into crafting this version and the way he was portrayed.

RTD refers to this Doctor as the Clint Eastwood Doctor. World weary, traumatized, angry Doctor redeemed by a wide-eyed, cheerful companion.

Love the leather jacket and the mystery behind this Doctor. How did we get from 8 to 9? What guilt is he bearing for the Time War? Its a wonderful, complicated, emotional Doctor.

6. Doctor 2

I must admit I have not seen many episodes of the 2cnd Doctor. My knowledge of him comes mostly from novelizations and clips. However, I love how Troughton portrayed the Doctor. This was the first glimpse the show gave us of the Doctors alien nature.

I love the how the Doctor acts as the doting uncle to his companions and as the fool to his advesaries. This Doctor allowed his enemies to underestimate him to win his battles.

7. Doctor 8

This is a tough call. Only one episode of screen time. However, McGann had the right look for the Doctor, I loved the outfit and calm otherworldlyness.

The 8th Doctor also had several novels that helped solidify his character even if they were off screen.

8. Doctor 6

I like to think of this as the mid-life crisis Doctor. Half way through his regenerations hes saved the world enough times and defeated the Daleks and Cybermen enough times to become a bit cocky. This Doctor also didnt seem to care what others thought of him. This was also the first Doctor I was really exposed to and I must admit at the time I thought the plaid jacket was cool.

Horrible seasons but interesting Doctor.

9. Doctor 1

This Doctor is interesting to me cause he was the first. This is the incarnation that decided to steal a TARDIS and go into exile. This is the Doctor that who though he appears old is actually the Doctor at his youngest, most desperate and inexperienced.

10. Doctor 5

This was the a Doctor settling into his life in exile. Similar to Matt Smith it was interesting to see the old man in a young mans body.
Though at times I found him flat and a bit boring on screen

11. Doctor 3

I know a lot of people love this Doctor, but to me I cant get excited about an earth bound Doctor who didnt have access to his TARDIS. This Doctor was written to be an older James Bond. While I enjoy all things Doctor Who, this has to be my least favorite version. I prefer my Doctor a little bit more Time Lord a little less secret agent.

So thats my list. Whats yours?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Maligned T. Rex eyesight the best in animal history?

In the 1993 movie Jurassic Park, one human character tells another that a Tyrannosaurus rex can't see them if they don't move, even though the beast is right in front of them. Now, a scientist reports that T. rex had some of the best vision in animal history. This sensory prowess strengthens arguments for T. rex's role as predator instead of scavenger.

In modern animals, predators have better binocular vision than scavengers do, agrees Thomas R. Holtz Jr. of the University of Maryland at College Park. Binocular vision "almost certainly was a predatory adaptation," he says.

Scientists had some evidence from measurements of T. rex skulls that the animal could see well. Recently, Kent A. Stevens of the University of Oregon in Eugene went further.
Tyrannosaurus rex's cheek grooves (below the eye sockets) and narrow snout cleared its sight lines, giving it impressive vision, according the new study.

He used facial models of seven types of dinosaurs to reconstruct their binocular range, the area viewed simultaneously by both eyes. The wider an animal's binocular range, the better its depth perception and capacity to distinguish objects—even those that are motionless or camouflaged.

T. rex had a binocular range of 55°, which is wider than that of modern hawks, Stevens reports in the summer Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Moreover, over the millennia, T. rex evolved features that improved its vision: Its snout grew lower and narrower, cheek grooves cleared its sight lines, and its eyeballs enlarged.

"It was a selective advantage for this animal to see three-dimensionally ahead of it," Stevens says.

He found that T. rex might have had visual acuity as much as 13 times that of people. By comparison, an eagle's acuity is 3.6 times that of a person.

Moral of this story - if your ever in a Jurassic Park with T. Rex's on the loose and someone tells you to stand still ... screw him and run!