Since its return in 2005, “Doctor Who” has done a pretty good job of bringing back villainous races and figures from the classic series in way that re-introduces them into pop culture and updates them for our times.
In the first season we saw the return of the show’s most famous villains The Daleks, yet the pilot also included an appearance by the Autons and the Nestene Consciousness that controls them. The second season meanwhile gave us a whole new origin for the Cybermen.
The third cleverly re-introduced The Doctor’s fellow Time Lord nemesis The Master and included a brief appearance by the giant crab-like Macra. The fourth brought back both the Sontarans and the Dalek’s creator Davros, while the final specials saw The Time Lord’s themselves return as bad guys only to be forced back into their time-locked prison.
When Steven Moffat took over the show for the fifth season (and Matt Smith’s first), as producer he said he wanted to focus on new villains rather than old ones. That didn’t stop the Daleks getting a much debated Benetton makeover while the Silurians also got a more humanoid look than their two previous appearances.
So now we come to the sixth season which premieres tonight with the introduction of a new and creepy villain ‘The Silence’. With the exception of the Cybermen, who’re scheduled to appear in the mid-season finale, Moffat seems to be sticking to his plans of new aliens and bad guys for The Doctor to tackle this year.
Yet one shouldn’t simply dismiss the past, especially one with a four decades long rich history like ‘Who’. Many of the best writers in science fiction over the past few decades cut their teeth on the old show and gave us some quite stunning creations and characters.
Some we’re brilliant one-offs that shouldn’t be repeated and naturally came to an end in their own stories. The double act of mad scientist Sharaz Jek and bureaucrat Morgus from “The Caves of Androzani”, Magnus Greel from “The Talons of Weng Chiang”, Julian Glover’s Jaggeroth from “City of Death”, the Douglas Adams-created cybernetic captain from “The Pirate Planet”, and of course the assorted creatures under the influence of a great evil in “The Curse of Fenric” etc.
Yet others though do seem like they should be able to come back in some form, certainly hardcore fans would get excited over their return if it were handled right. The end of “Utopia” showed what can happen when a great old villain comes back in a big and clever way.
So, in celebration of the season premiere in a few hours, I came up with a list of a dozen potential villains that haven’t been seen since the 70’s and 80’s that, given the right amount of tweaking, could work well in today’s modern version of the show.
Omega was the stellar engineer responsible for creating a black hole which became the power source (the Eye of Harmony) that gives the Time Lords the ability to travel through time and space. Thought killed in the supernova, it was later revealed he had been trapped for millennia alone in an anti-matter universe where he had gone insane and his physical body had perished so he was just a being of pure will.
Omega is one of the more memorable antagonists of the series. With delusions of grandeur and driven by pure (and some would say justified) anger and revenge for what has been done to him, he has demonstrated considerable God-like powers. Certainly he could manipulate the TARDIS from afar which lead to much speculation that he was behind the events of last season. Others think he’ll return for the show’s 50th anniversary in 2013.
2. The Ice Warriors
A noble but savage warrior empire built on Mars millennia ago, the Ice Warriors are reptilian humanoids with scaly skin, claw hands and heavy green armour with red eye panels.
Appearing in at least four televised serials, storylines have included them trying to launch an invasion against Earth and to seize control of the alien planet Peladon. Their first outing remains the most interesting setup – a “The Thing”-style approach where Arctic scientists come upon a crashed alien ship where the hibernating warriors are awakened.
Arguably the last of the major ‘Who’ races from the old series yet to make an appearance in the reboot, they were referred to in a roundabout way in “The Waters of Mars”. To not bring them back at some point in the future would be a crime.
3. The Rani
Like many ‘Who’ villains this was one that was great in concept, limited in execution. The Rani was an interesting creation in that though she was a renegade Time Lord, she was quite different in villainy to others of her kind. The Rani had no lust for power or desire for revenge. Instead she was an amoral scientific genius whose only driving passion was her scientific research (mostly genetics and biochemistry).
This makes her an unpredictable foil, one that will ally with whomever helps her own cause. Everything, including morality, is secondary to her work. The previous appearances of the character on the show are in some of the worst episodes ever written which is why she never became a major antagonist like The Master. Yet there’s been a lot of fan-fueled desire to see her return with Gillian Anderson once floated as a possibility.
4. The Valeyard
This one’s a bit of a cheat as we saw something akin to him last series in the form of Toby Jones’ “The Dream Lord” in the episode “Amy’s Choice”. The Valeyard was the prosecutor at the sixth Doctor’s trial, a storyline which spread over a season and which had the Doctor matching verbal jousts with this savvy and effective orator.
In the final episode the truth about The Valeyard was revealed, he was a distillation of the Doctor’s evil side, a potential dark version who might exist around his twelfth and thirteen incarnation – a creation acting on behalf of the Time Lords who were trying to cover up their own corrupt actions. ‘The Valeyard’ is essentially the dark twin of The Doctor, his Mr. Hyde as it were. It’s unlikely the character would come back directly, but a variation of him (like The Dream Lord) would be ripe for dramatic exploration.
5. The Black Guardian
Both The White Guardian and The Black Guardian are anthropomorphic personification’s of universal forces. The former desires order and maintaining the status quo, the later seeks entropy and chaos throughout all existence.
The Doctor obtains the Key to Time, a device that gives the wielder supreme power over all existence, and disperses it before the Black Guardian obtains it. In doing the pair become eternal enemies and the Black Guardian ends up coercing one of The Doctor’s companions to work for him and ultimately attempt to kill The Doctor.
The Doctor’s has thwarted this powerful being at least twice and he is expected to return in the future, angrier than ever. However The Black Guardian is limited in that he cannot be seen to act directly, thus he and his ‘White’ counterpart can only affect things through agents.
The Doctor’s former teacher was also a major political power player in Time Lord society on Gallifrey and eventually becomes President of the High Council. He also served as something of an ally to The Doctor on three occasions.
On a fourth occasion, a faulty regeneration turned him evil as he sought Time Lord founder Rassilon’s fabled secret of immortality for himself. That quest turned him into a living statue.
With the Time War seeing the resurrection of various famous Time Lords like The Master and Rassilon despite their apparent deaths, the return of Borusa in some form isn’t out of the question should Moffat & co. find a way around the ‘Time Lock’ problem. Indeed, having a character who was essentially The Doctor’s mentor as an antagonist has all kinds of possibilities.
7. The Osirians
A highly advanced ancient civilisation with immense psychic powers and a stunning grasp of mathematics, they essentially were the Gods of ancient Egyptian civilisation. We’ve only seen one Osirian – Sutekh the Destroyer in “Pyramids of Mars”.
In that story Sutekh had been imprisoned by his fellow Osirians under the surface of Mars and was using robotic mummies and a re-animated dead scientist to try and free him after several millennia of incarceration. The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith stopped him.
One of the great singular villains and stories of all of “Doctor Who”, ‘Mars’ introduced a distinct looking race I know I’d love to see again in the future. However the inevitable “Stargate” comparisons would likely be made. Gabriel Woolf, who voiced Sutekh in the old serial, appeared on the reboot as the voice of the Devil-like ‘The Beast’ in the second season.
8. The Zygons
While their look was akin to an octopus mated with an STD-riddled male reproductive organ, the Zygons were an aggressive enemy who left an impression despite appearing in only one adventure.
Refugees after a planet exploded, these warriors had the ability to replicate another being’s appearance but had to keep said being alive in order to maintain it. They also used a giant armoured cyborg creature as a source of food and protection, a creature which we know as The Loch Ness Monster.
All their technology is biologically based, and in non-canon works they had poisonous barbs protruding from their hands. Not just a fan favourite, these were also the favourite ‘Who’ alien of tenth Doctor David Tennant.
9. The Draconians
The Draconian Empire was portrayed as a vast spacefaring feudal civilisation akin to early Japan with strong notions of honour and various class and gender-specific societal lines. The creatures were reptilian in physiology but were articulate, sophisticated and advanced with no real thirst for conquest.
In ‘Who’ history they and humanity were in the midst of a Cold War during the 26th century which The Master and The Daleks attempted to ‘hot up’ as it were. The Third Doctor exposed the plans and so Earth and Draconia united against their common enemy.
Appearing only in one serial, ‘Frontier in Space’, The Draconians nevertheless left an indelible impression and beg further exploration. Indeed, their race was one mentioned during last year’s episode “The Pandorica Opens” leading one to hope we might get to see them again.
10. The Celestial Toymaker
A powerful being who ensnared sentient beings in apparently childish games. At stake? Their freedom. The Toymaker also rigged the games in his favour as he hates to lose.
A being made of a fundamental power of the universe, referred to as ‘The Crystal Guardian’ in ‘Who’-related literature, the Toymaker was an invulnerable immortal capable of space and time travel at will. His immense power however was limited by the rules he set for any particular game.
Though the character’s ‘Mandarin’ outfit would have to be changed, the conceptual idea of the character is one that still holds a lot of potential and makes him something akin to John De Lancie’s ‘Q’ in the “Star Trek” universe.
Of course the role is identified very specifically with the recently passed on Michael Gough, whomever is hired to take his place would have some big shoes to fill.
11. The Sea Devils
The aquatic cousin to the land-band Silurians, ‘The Sea Devils’ spoke in sinister whispers yet had very similar motives – they were an advanced civilisation that went into hibernation millions of years ago to avoid a cataclysm.
With one colony having woken up in modern times, they set out to reclaim the planet while The Master used advanced technology in an attempt to control them and turn them into an army to do his bidding.
With last year’s Silurian two-parter having dealt with that similar villain’s return, the chances of the ‘Devils’ making a comeback now seem pretty slim.
Still, if one writer could come up with an interesting and different take on this race, there’s still potential here – especially with today’s larger public awareness of the environment and ocean conservation efforts.
12. The Great Vampires
Colossal humanoids with grey skin and wings, the Great Vampires are like regular vampires except extremely large and powerful with one individual able to drain the blood of an entire planet’s population.
They can absorb energy weapons and survive numerous wounds, but they can be killed by a stake through the heart – a stake of such a size that has to be fired from a starship. Indeed, in their one very brief appearance in the serial “State of Decay”, The Doctor has to use a spaceship posing as a giant tower building to kill the leader of their race.
The Great Vampires also engaged in a five centuries long war with the Time Lords, one the Vampires lost but not without inflicting major casualties.