I’ve previously discussed how Adric changed drastically from his original concept and in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ the Doctor is confronted with his own transformation. River Song asks him how his name, which once meant healer and wise man, now came to mean ‘warrior’ on many worlds.
It is unavoidable that the main character in such a long running show would have altered over the years but when did this occur, what steps did he take to go down this path? To understand that we need to go right back to the beginning.
The first Doctor was not the hero of the show when it began. His motivations could be seen as selfish, his behaviour putting his companions lives in danger more times than he saved them.
Describing himself as gentlemen of the universe it is clear that his motivation is just to explore time with his Grand daughter. His warnings to Barbara in ‘The Aztecs’ illustrates that he doesn’t consider it to be the time travellers place to judge the behaviour of those native to the time period.
Contrast this with his objections to the medical research conducted in ‘New Earth’ or the gangers in ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People.’ Here the Doctor disagrees with the ethics of what people are doing and shuts them down.
In fact in the ‘The Daleks’ he tells the Thals that he never gives advice (although he gives them a big hint about what they should do). As a experienced time traveller he knows the danger of providing information that could drastically alter cultures.
If the first Doctor fights against evil it is because he and his companions are threatened. He has no illusions about his own frailty, nor does he possess any expectations that anyone will listen to him because of his title. He must hope that common sense persuades people to listen to his words.
His chief motivation in these early days was curiosity. It is this that leads him to lie to Susan, Barbara and Ian about faulty TARDIS parts in order to get them to explore the Dalek city and he is almost giddy at the prospect of exploring ‘The Web Planet’.
His greatest pleasure was finding something new, gaining more knowledge, not finding something to fight. The Doctor could enjoy periods of rest of relaxation, where as the 11th Doctor can barley wait for the monster to show up in ‘Vincent and the Doctor.’
Towards the end of his life the first Doctor did gain a need to fight evil if he encountered it, to the extent that he was able to sense trouble in ‘The War Machines’. Did his travels show him how many threats were out there and did his triumphs against them give him confidence to try to change time for the better?
Yet there was only so much he was willing to do. His first encounter with a member of his own race (other than Susan) was with the Meddling Monk in ‘The Time Meddler’ whose alterations could have actually benefited mankind by providing them with advanced technology years before their invention.
This appals the Doctor. At this point in his life people can only be helped to the extent that their time allows. How would the First Doctor react to his later incarnations wielding sonic devices, psychic paper or providing the plans for space travelling spitfires?
Due to the writing the first Doctor is the most human of his various incarnations. He gets tired, he makes mistakes and experiences swings in temperament. Certainly not the alien demi-god he would eventually become.
Within a span of only a few years of time travel the First Doctor changed from uncaring time travelling tourist to someone who would become actively involved if he disapproved of the actions of those around him.
The second Doctor inherited this crusade against evil. In contrast to his views in ‘The Aztecs’ in ‘The Moonbase’ he is telling his companions that there are things which act against everything they believe in and that they must be fought.
Even with this more pro-active attitude the second Doctor is careful about when he does act. In ‘The Enemy of the World’ he will only deal with Salamander when he is suitably convinced that he is as bad as people say.
Still his name holds no power. This Doctor had a fondness for disguises and deception. In ‘The Smugglers’ he adopts the identity of Doktor von Wer, using the authority the title gives him to get what he wants.
He is quite happy to play the fool to go unnoticed. If he reveals his true genius at all it is to stop his enemies from killing him. He’d much rather take matters into his own hands rather than win anyone over.
At this stage the Doctor is still flawed. It is suggested that Zoe is his equal in intelligence if not his superior. Jamie is more handy in fight and the Doctor’s control of the TARDIS is even ridiculed by his companions. This would not be the version of the Doctor you’d trust to catch you in his time machine if you threw yourself out of an airlock.
The Doctor isn’t in control of his TARDIS but he certainly knows what they’ll be doing once they arrive at a destination. So much so that he shows Zoe one of his previous adventures involving the Daleks just to see if she’s up to the challenge.
They aren’t explorers, they are hunters. The Doctor believes that it is his moral duty to defeat whatever lurks in the shadows of the universe. It even forms his defence in his trial in ‘The War Games’, successfully convincing his own people that this gives him a purpose that benefits everyone.
This is the first step towards becoming a warrior and the elevation of his status. His sentence is to become guardian of a whole planet. It is presented as a punishment but it clear that the Gallifreyians think highly enough of him to make him the protector of such a sensitive time and place.
It would be during his exile that the Doctor would gain a new appreciation for soldiers.