#TypesTuesday – Doctor Who: 1 Character, 9 Types

Types Tuesday

by Guest Contributor Oscar Harding

There is no other character in all of film and television like The Doctor from Doctor Who.

Countless actors have delivered unique and differing interpretations of everyone from Hamlet on stage to The Joker on film, Blanche DuBois to Hannibal Lecter. Sometimes characters in TV series like Eastenders or Film franchises like The Avengers are recast.

But The Doctor changes appearance, and retains all past memories. Every actor who has played The Doctor is also playing everyone who has come before them.

It is a fascinating anomaly and means The Doctor has, at some point throughout the show’s 53-year history been every single one of the “Power Of…” character types.What is particularly interesting is that in some way, the defining characteristics of each incarnation are a direct result of how their predecessor died.

The logic of the Regeneration concept allows for this unique quirk no other fictional character is able to do. With the latest actor to play the role, Jodie Whittaker, recently being announced, and the current actor, Peter Capaldi, about to finish his time in the role, it seems like a good time to look at an incarnation of the Doctor who has embodied each of the 9 character types.

BE WARNED! Major spoilers follow for every era of Doctor Who.

Power of Love

The First Doctor (William Hartnell) was introduced as a grandfather who fled his home planet with his Granddaughter, Susan. Every dangerous adventure he undertakes is occupied by a need to protect Susan as much as he also wants to show her the Universe and broaden her horizons. Susan eventually decides to stay with a man she meets on one of their adventures, and though it is heartbreaking for The Doctor, he realizes that letting Susan stay is the safest option for her.

Every dangerous adventure he undertakes is propelled by a need to protect Susan as much as he also wants to show her the Universe and broaden her horizons. Susan eventually decides to stay with a man she meets on one of their adventures, and though it is heartbreaking for The Doctor, he realizes that letting Susan stay is the safest option for her.

He may be remembered as grumpy, but almost every action of this incarnation is motivated by love, even if it doesn’t initially seem like it. This Doctor, despite his appearance, is young and everything he does is for his companions. He isn’t the embittered, battlescarred Doctor we meet later on in the show’s history.

His iconic speech as he bids his Granddaughter farewell shows the love and admiration he has for her:

Power of Ambition

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is the result of his predecessor being forced to change appearance against his will, and he wakes up, without his transport, and exiled to earth. He ultimately wants to be accepted by the military taskforce who have hired him, and to return to him people and be accepted by them.

His flamboyant action-hero persona is a cover for a lonely man who just wants acceptance. A classic Power of Ambition character, but one who is justified in his behaviour. His predecessor was forced to regenerate and exiled by his own people. Of course the Third Doctor would be Power of Ambition- the way he was born wouldn’t allow him to be anything else.

In this video him with his typical Power of Ambition attitude towards others:

Power of Will

Just one look at the outfit of The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) tells you everything you need to know about him. His predecessor looked young and acted young. Full of wonder and naivety, he saw the best in people and sacrificed his life to save his companion. Born from selflessness, The Sixth Doctor is brash and rather jarring- he is hard to like until you really get to know him.

Like any Power of Will character, he has the capacity to be boorish and abrasive, which can be as much of a strength as it is a weakness. This particular personality becomes The Doctor’s downfall as he is put on Trial by his own people (again) and pays for it with his life. Power of Will characters believe it is better to burn out than to fade away, and as the below video demonstrates, The Sixth Doctor takes no prisoners and offers no apologies for being Power of Will:

Power of Reason

Having made so much noise in his previous form, The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) learns from his most recent mistakes by opting for a more calculated, cerebral approach to saving the Universe. As time has gone on, fans and critics alike have praised this darkest of Doctors. Power of Reason characters see everything as a challenge or a puzzle to be solved, and The Seventh Doctor is a big fan of chess, playing everyone off against each other to save the day, be they friend or foe.

Acting the utter fool as a front, this incarnation was a master strategist, reveling in obstacles to overcome and not stopping often enough to think of those who were pushed aside in his quest to find resolution. Ultimately, this drive to outwit everyone would define the character for years to come, as the actions of The Seventh Doctor inadvertently caused The Time War- more on that shortly.

This video, showing The Doctor talking himself out of a gun being pointed in his face, is an excellent example of a Power of Reason character at work:

Power of Idealism

The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) cut a dashing, Byronic figure. A handsome romantic forever searching for adventure and that next high. He couldn’t be more of a Power of Idealism character, which makes his death all the more tragic. He regenerated from his cold, calculated predecessor on New Year’s Eve, 1999 and was immediately thrown into a race against time to save reality itself, without a moment to pause for breath. He had a love of the finest things in life, and was very much like the great Romantic poets like Shelley.

It was this lust for life which made him blind to the machinations going on in the Universe that resulted in The Time War, a devastating conflict that raged across every dimension. True to his Power of Idealism characteristics, he chose to ignore the conflict, except to play the hero and help those caught in the crossfire, though never interfering because that would involve difficult choices- being a warrior would be beneath him. Ever unique, he would “help where I can. I will not fight.” It was this refusal to try and stop the War that brought about his demise, as he tries to save just one person instead. Forced the regenerate, his end is perhaps the most heartbreaking of all the incarnations, as he tells those who would engineer his rebirth:

I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor anymore. Make me a warrior.

You can watch the whole tragic ending in the video below:

Power of Imagination

Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.

The War Doctor (John Hurt) might be the most interesting incarnation of them all, and not just because he is the one we know the least about. Literally born out of necessity, he was conditioned for conflict and refused to take the name of “The Doctor” as he became a commander in The Time War. Everything we have seen and read of him, however, shows him to be reluctant- to fight, to kill, to forgive himself, even to accept that he is just as much “The Doctor” as everyone who came before and after him.

The War Doctor is every bit the reluctant hero, forced into existence and on an epic quest to end the greatest war in all of creation. Like any Power of Imagination character, greatness is thrust upon him, despite his protestations that he is the “Doctor No More”. There are incarnations that would take this quest on with swagger, many of them citing pacifism and choosing not to let anyone die because of their actions, but not The War Doctor. Forever doubting his is good and heroic, he is exactly like Frodo Baggins or Luke Skywalker, other classic examples of Power of Imagination characters. Exhausted by centuries of war, and having saved the day, this hero gets a happy ending as he regenerates, knowing he can proudly call himself The Doctor again.

The below video shows The War Doctor faced with his greatest decision, which could end the War but wipeout his home planet:

Power of Excitement

Power of Excitement characters are the life and soul of the party, and The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is relentlessly fun to be around, and a real ladies’ man. But he never dares to look back, or stops to think that he can’t always be the hero. When he reflects on heartbreak or lets down his facade of constant cheeriness and optimism, it is in the most dramatic fashion. Everything he does is with flair, and in pursuit of adventure, but more often than not it is at the cost of those whose paths he crosses. Despite being a hero, like a Power of Excitement character always is, The Tenth Doctor is an agent of chaos.

Ultimately, this thrillseeking incarnation is a deeply tragic character because he rarely stops to reflect on his actions until it is too late. He was born from a predecessor haunted by his actions in the Time War who found love in Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. That love is amplified when he turned into the Tenth Doctor.

At the end of his life, sacrificing himself to save his friend Wilf (Bernard Cribbins), his regeneration is the most destructive and explosive because he held off the process for so long. His parting words were “I don’t want to go” and he seems to be the personification of Dylan Thomas’ quote “rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

The below video shows the reckless dark side of this archetypal Power of Excitement character at work, as he defies the very laws of time:

Power of Truth

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) came into existence after his predecessor, all alone, finally gave in and regenerated. He was literally given a baptism of fire, his TARDIS in flames and crashing towards Earth. After such a dramatic entrance, he is immediately faced with a multitude of mysteries he must solve, and even when he tries to ignore intrigue, this Doctor must turn detective for the good of those around him.

He finds a family after suffering so much loss as his previous incarnation, and the only way he can keep them safe is to pursue the conspiracies that seem to surround him. Ancient religious orders determined to kill him, a woman who claims to be his wife popping up all over his timelines, and cracks in the skin of the universe that threatens to consume everything. Facing similar challenges as his predecessor, Seventh Doctor, this incarnation has to be cunning, quickwitted, and always alert. The irony is it is this very characteristic is what brings about his end, which haunts him all the way at the start. His era gets very confusing, which seems appropriate for a quintessential Power of Truth character like The Eleventh Doctor.

The below video shows us what happens when a Power of Truth character is proved right, and he gets to the bottom of a mystery. It’s not pretty…

Power of Conscience

The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) began his time in the role obsessed with the question “Am I a good man?”. By the end of his life, desperately trying to save a community of colonists from an army of Cybermen, and stranded with two incarnations his best friend and worst enemy, The Master, he gave a defining speech when confronting them as they fled the chaos, which can be viewed in the video below. It speaks volumes to his character, and is the most obvious evidence that he is a Power of Conscience character through and through.

He started out as a bitter man, his predecessor stranded on Trenzalore for hundreds of years, protecting the planet from swarms of enemies and ending it all from sheer exhaustion. But this incarnation’s face was familiar- in fact, it is the face of a man he saved many years before. It was a reminder to himself to do what is right, no matter the cost. He may have been harsh like the Sixth Doctor at times, but came to prove that despite his gruff exterior, he had a heart the size of The First Doctor. No other incarnation has beat himself up so much about doing the right thing, and never letting injustice occur. Power of Conscience characters think about nothing else, and The Twelfth Doctor is no exception. He thought less of adventure, and more about what it means to be The Doctor- a good man.

What’s Next?

We won’t get our first glimpse of The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) until Christmas, and we won’t get to know her character until late next year, so it’s impossible to guess what type she will be. But if the conditions of her predecessor’s demise are anything to go by, she could very well be a Power of Love character. Only Time (and Space) will tell.

For more examples of all the character types, you can purchase the in-depth e-books at the ETB shop, or you can read more articles on all the “Power Of…” types including James Bond, Batman and Sherlock Holmes, every Tuesday.

And if you want to start an argument about guest contributor Oscar Harding’s analysis please post in the comments section!

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#WritingAdviceWednesday – Writing Exercise: Cars and Chairs

Writing Advice Wednesday

I hope you’ve been enjoying Writing Advice Wednesday for the last few months, but I’m trying something different for the rest of the year’s posts. As well as a relevant video essay I’ve found, I’ll be giving you writing exercises to stimulate your imagination.

It’s exercises like this that form part of my One Hour Screenwriter course, which will help you write an entire feature film script in 22 weeks. You can purchase it at the shop here. You can also read testimonies here that show my methods have worked for other people.

This week, you’ll be writing description:

Describe your first vehicle

Sit back and remember your first “solo flight”. The first vehicle under your exclusive control might have been your first car, your first bicycle, your first skateboard or your first boat. It might have been a first trip on public transportation all by
yourself, or it might have been some other means of transportation that enabled you to “fly solo” and travel on your own.

Describe as completely as you can your first means of independent travel. If this journey was in your own personal vehicle, when did you get your first mode of transportation? Who gave it to you? Did you pay for it yourself? What did you do to earn the money? Whether it was your own vehicle or other means of transportation (or public conveyance), what did it look like? What did it feel like?

Where did you first ride, drive or sail? Who or what did you see along the way?

What other sense memories do you have of those first “solo flights”? What about your experiences were particularly memorable? How did it make you feel?

If you can’t remember a first- time experience, describe in detail any other memorable journey, trip or excursion in a vehicle. Where did you travel? How did it make you feel? What made that jaunt unforgettable for you?

Take 10 to 15 minutes to complete this exercise. Do not censor yourself; write what ever comes to mind.

Don’t be worried about being articulate, artistic or interesting. Just write.

Don’t worry about style, tone or form. Just keep writing.

Let your memories flow. Make your descriptions as detailed, vivid and personal as possible. If these memories spark something else write about that as well.

How was your first journey alone similar to and different than writing this new story? Are the feelings similar? How have you changed since that “first solo flight”? How are you the same?

Write as much as you can in the time allowed or keep going until you want to stop.

Next, do the exercise from your character’s perspective. What was your character’s “first solo flight” like? How did it feel? How has your character changed since those early days? How is your character the same?

Did this exercise spark any ideas or insights into your story or character?

Video Essay of the Week

This week’s video essay from Tony Zhou proves the importance of an object – chairs. Just as your first vehicle meant a lot to you in some way, chairs can tell us as much as about a person as their car, or first journey alone somewhere.

Let me know what you think of this week’s writing exercise by emailing me at ETBHelp@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you as we go forward with more of these writing exercises. Next week, we’ll be taking some risks…

Until then, remember- all you need to do is Get Started and Keep Going!

– Laurie

#TypesTuesday – Nathan For You and Power of Ambition

Types Tuesday

By Guest Contributor Oscar Harding

Chances are, most European readers will have no idea what Nathan For You is. In fact, many Americans might not know it despite being on the Comedy Central channel. It is one of US TV’s best-kept secrets and also one of the funniest shows in years.

It has just returned for its fourth and potentially final season, so now seems an excellent time to examine Nathan Fielder, perhaps the most quintessential Power of Ambition character currently on Television.

A very brief summary of the show- similar to reality shows like Kitchen Nightmares, self-professed small business guru Nathan Fielder provides… innovative solutions to struggling entrepreneurs in California. The show is produced in a similar fashion to its televisual peers, but the businesses and people are all real and unaware the show is a joke.

Canadian comedian Fielder plays the whole thing straight, forever deadpan as he suggests everything from a coffee shop turning into a legal parody of Starbucks, to a realtor claiming to specialise in haunted houses. Here is an example of his work- it really has to be seen to be believed:

The premise alone makes a very funny show, but it is the character of Nathan- a classic Power of Ambition type- that makes it something special. There is a subtle narrative arc weaved into the show, of Nathan desperately seeking friendship and romance where he can find it.

Sometimes the show completely abandons its premise as we see Nathan trying to overcome his shyness towards women, or searching for friends online. The line between reality and fiction is regularly blurred to an unrecognizable level.

Power of ambition characters seek approval from others. They also want to appear untouchable, and at the top of their game. Nathan introduces each episode by claiming “he graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades”.

Nathan takes everything to the absolute extreme in order to impress the business owners he helps, to the point where sometimes he’s forgotten what he was doing was to help a business, and he carries on his ludicrous plans without them. I’ve never seen a character in television more desperate for love and appreciation except perhaps David Brent.

The show is an excellent satire, but crucially it serves as a vehicle for its main character, portrayed by an actor who never makes fun of the business owners he strives to gain respect from, instead making himself the butt of the joke. Every time, his drive to be liked propels him to go too far. He will break the law and create elaborate hoaxes to “help” small businesses. At the end of it all, he usually asks the business owners if they’d like to hang out with him now filming has wrapped. Their answer is always no.

If people want an example of a Power of Ambition character, I will always refer them to Nathan Fielder- to me, he is the epitome of Power of Ambition.

For more information on Power of Ambition characters and other examples click HERE.

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#WritingAdviceWednesday – Pixar and Relatability

Writing Advice Wednesday

 

if anyone knows how to make a story relatable, it’s the masterminds at Pixar Animation Studios. KaptainKristian’s wonderful video essay explains his take on their methods.

I don’t agree that Cars, Brave, or Frozen rises to the Pixar stellar quality level   My essay on Brave:  How Good is Good Enough is here.  My essay on Frozen is here.  My opinions are controversial and in the distinct minority.  Remember, it is possible to love something that is deeply flawed and sub-par.  Don’t confuse loving something as a fan with the clarity of thinking needed to be a professional. But lots in this video essay ring absolutely true.

 

If you’re on Pinterest, why not follow my Pinterest board full of Writing Advice? It will be updated weekly, so you can keep track if you ever need an excellent video essay suggested solutions to whatever problems you are facing. You can always drop me a line at etbscreenwriting@gmail.com with the subject “Ask Laurie” and I will do my best to answer it. I might even include it in an upcoming edition of Writing Advice Wednesday!

#ThinkpieceThursday – Characters Have To Come First

Thinkpiece Thursday

This week I am busy in Copenhagen so I offer an excellent essay by Patrick H Willems.  His video discusses the character problems in the latest batch of DC films.

This essay was released before Wonder Woman, which has come some way to fixing what Willems talks about. With Justice League right around the corner, audiences will be anticipating Wonder Woman’s return.  There is lots of work to be done in the franchise to make the two returning characters and two brand-new characters add and not detract from the sequel.

My own take on Batman: The Dark Knight Rises can be found HERE

#WritingAdviceWednesday – Breaking The Mold : When Harry Met Sally

Writing Advice Wednesday

I like the video below, another excellent video essay from Lessons From The Screenplay, but my opinion differs somewhat. I am not a fan of genre.  Genre is useful for consumers and Netflix lists but not useful for writers.  Genre most often describes style, tone, and setting.  Instead, I find it more useful to look at a film’s emotional playing field.

Each of the Nine Character Types books contains a precise set of tools to create one specific kind of character’s emotional playing field and establish his or her driving force in a story. A character’s emotional playing field defines the internal framework (structure) of the story. It is the range of action and behavior (from predatory to spiritually enlightened) that instantaneously establishes a particular type of character to an audience. A character’s driving force is the combination of actions and reactions that propel the character through the story.

For example, Chinatown and Apocalypse Now would never be put on the same genre list.  But emotionally they are the same film.  In the beginning, the protagonist searches for the truth about one simple thing (Who killed Hollis Mulray. Where is Colonel Kurtz?)  Over the course of the story the protagonist finds out the truth about a much larger thing. (The corruption in the water system in Los Angeles. The moral quagmire and craziness of the war in Viet Nam.)  In the end, the protagonist finds out the truth about himself. (Not asking for help– not trusting his colleagues– results in disaster.  I could easily become the monster who was Kurtz.)

The Buddy Movie has all the same elements of a typical Romantic Comedy (without the sex).  The buddies are thrown together.  They don’t like each other. By being forced together they learn from each other.  In the end, in the highest act of love between buddies, they are willing to take a bullet for each other.

The best thing about this post is how what we think of a romantic comedy is turned on its head in in When Harry Met Sally. Also, it’s a wonderful excuse to revisit this enchanting film. Go and watch it tonight, especially if you’ve never seen it!

If you’re on Pinterest, why not follow my Pinterest board full of useful writing advice? It will be updated weekly, so you can keep track if you ever need an excellent video essay, or some relevant advice to whatever problems you are facing. You can always drop me a line at etbhelp@gmail.com with the subject “Ask Laurie” and I will do my best to answer it. I might even include it in an upcoming edition of Writing Advice Wednesday!

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#WritingAdviceWednesday – Cut Cut Cut

WRITING ADVICE WEDNESDAY

Following on from last Wednesday’s article about adaptation and American Beauty,  here is the final part of a screenwriting essay trilogy on this film

Lessons From The Screenplay’s essasy are all informative and well-produced but this one in particularl is a favorite:  Less is More!

Remember, if you have any writing questions you want me to answer, drop me an email at etbhelp@gmail,com with the subject “Ask Laurie” and I might include it in an upcoming edition of Writing Advice Wednesday.

#WritingAdviceWednesday – Adaptation Part Two

Wednesday Writing Advice

In my post last Wednesday, I discussed why all film adaptations should look like a fish. Click HERE

The key takeaway from that post is: “All the disparate elements have to support the spine. All creatives choices must connect directly to the film’s emotional core.”

This video essay talks about this concept in terms of all the characters in the film.  All the characters must relate back to the emotional core of the story.  This unification of theme from different perspectives is one of the things that raises a film to greatness!

If you’re on Pinterest, why not follow my Pinterest board full of useful writing advice? It will be updated weekly, so you can keep track if you ever need an excellent video essay, or some relevant advice to whatever problems you are facing. You can always drop me a line at etbhelp@gmail.com with the subject “Ask Laurie” and I will do my best to answer it. I might even include it in an upcoming edition of Writing Advice Wednesday!

 

John Cleese on Creativity

The brilliant comedian tackles the serious subject of creativity

#TypesTuesday – Tracy Flick and Hillary Clinton : Power of Conscience

Tracy-Flick-Hillary-Clinton-EtbScreenwritingHillary Clinton and Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) in the movie Election are a great examples of hard-driving intense Power of Conscience characters.

I found a fantastic clip of Tracy and Hillary intercut in a scene from Election.  It is a wonderful sketch of everything that is most important to this Character Type.  The clip refers back to Clinton’s run against Barack Obama (a Power of Imagination character) in 2008.

Power of Conscience characters believe that leadership must be earned by dedication, hard work, thorough preparation, and devotion to duty.  Leadership must be deserved. One must be worthy in order to lead. At their worst, these characters can become rigid, accusatory, sanctimonious, judgmental, and hypocritical.