Doctor Who Celebrates 50 Years As An American Icon…Wait, What?

By David Wharton | 7 years ago

Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary last year in fine fashion, giving fans a crossover they’d been dreaming of. In The Day of the Doctor, we got to see Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, played by Sam Rockwell and Donald Glover, respectively, teaming up to stop a previously unacknowledged earlier incarnation of themselves — the War Doctor, played by Harrison Ford — from doing something monstrous. Fans were sad that Ninth Doctor Nic Cage didn’t participate, but then he’s made no secret of his disinterest in the franchise ever since — I’m sorry, what was that? You say none of that is right? Oh. Ohhhhhhh. I must have fallen into that alternate reality where Doctor Who was a British thing. You guys are so weird.

You might recall earlier this year when Tumblr user SmugMode conjured up a vision of what the history of Doctor Who might look like had the show been an American phenomenon, rather than oh so quintessentially British. Naturally, this involved him imagining American equivalents for each of the actors who have played the time lord over those five decades of life. It was a clever little exercise, and we quite liked many of his picks, especially Gene Wilder, Sam Rockwell, and Bryan Cranston (as Doctors Four, Ten, and Twelve, respectively). As you can see in the video up top, a bloke named Sam Vestey decided to take the idea to the next level, creating a tribute video that celebrates that alternative version of Doctor Who by splicing together footage from a variety of movies and TV shows that is all, well…rather Doctor-y.

Here are the 12 American Doctors — 13 counting the War Doctor.

  • First Doctor William Hartnell = Burgess Meredith
  • Second Doctor Patrick Troughton = Dick Van Dyke
  • Third Doctor Jon Pertwee = Vincent Price
  • Fourth Doctor Tom Baker = Gene Wilder
  • Fifth Doctor Peter Davison = Kyle MacLachlan
  • Sixth Doctor Colin Baker = Christopher Walken
  • Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy = Tony Shalhoub
  • Eighth Doctor Paul McGann = Jeff Goldblum
  • Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston = Nic Cage
  • Tenth Doctor David Tennant = Sam Rockwell
  • Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith = Donald Glover
  • War Doctor John Hurt = Harrison Ford
  • Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi = Bryan Cranston

The nice thing is that Doctor Who is a show that can tell stories set anywhere in time and space, so Vestey had plenty of footage to choose from. The dialogue in the clips all has a certain Doctor Who ring to it, and I’m still amused at the notion that, in the alternate reality, we finally got a black Doctor (and one with Inspector Spacetime experience, no less). Kudos also for finding lots of footage featuring one alternate Doctor onscreen with another, a nice little tip of the hat to the multi-Doctor team-ups the British series has offered up many times over the years.

Also, I audibly snorted at the Christopher Walken “Can we talk this over?” moment, which is about as Doctor Who as it gets.

Of course, the real Doctor Who returns with new episodes this Saturday night, and a new Doctor in the form of Peter Capaldi. For the record, here are all the sources for the footage used in the American Doctors video:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, Argo, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Burgess Meredith reads “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury (poem by Sara Teasdale), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Communion, Community, Cowboys & Aliens, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Earth Girls Are Easy, Ender’s Game, The Fifth Element, Galaxy Quest, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hidden, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, House of the Long Shadows, “I am the Doctor” by Murray Gold, Independence Day, Iron Man 2, Mars photos – NASA/JPL/MSSS/Stuart Atkinson & NASA, Matchstick Men, Monk, Moon, National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Rocky, Rocky II, Sonic Screwdriver and TARDIS Soundeffects from the BBC, The Tall Guy, Total Recall, The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, A View to a Kill