I like the new, slicker Doctor Who, but I do prefer the older, cheaper series. One factor swaying my preference is my affection for facial deformity. Burns, scars, deep fissures resulting from violent blows, birth defects, cranial aberrations, and general alien hideousness; these are a few of my favorite things. In grade school, I was very fond of a little girl who sported a terrific facial scar. Her left eye, too, was a whisper lower than her right eye. What a beauty she was!
My favorite Doctor Who villains are The Sontarans because, well, they're the ugliest. I don't like using the word ugly because it sounds terribly judgmental. But I need to use it because it conveys something most people understand. If I say that a scarred person is beautiful, I may confuse the reader. Most scarred people are beautiful, of course, and I have known a few and been turned on by many.
The cheaper Doctor Who embraced deformity and what some humans call ugliness. The Sontarans are a favorite because they're still partially humanoid. Other faves like the Zygons are gloriously "ugly", too, but because they're kind of reptilian (as are the Silurians and Sea Devils) they don't rate as highly on my ugly scale as the Sontarans do.
The first Sontaran to visit Earth (in The Time Warrior) was Linx (pictured directly below). He arrived on John Pertwee's watch.
As you can see, he's a striking fellow, a real piece of work. I've always considered him to be a slightly wrong Humpty Dumpty. When I used to recite that famous nursery rhyme, a tale of a fallen egg man, I'd picture him looking very much like our handsome hero above.
I urge you to closely examine this photo and appreciate the deep facial fissures and oddball skull. Such a face has the power to take one's breath away.
The Sontarans returned a couple of year's later in the form of Field Major Steyr. This militant Humpty tangled with Tom Baker, the fourth doctor, and his pretty assistant Elizabeth Sladen. Again, the make-up geniuses behind Doctor Who's finest monsters had a field day with the field major and made ugliness respectable, as it should be.
I feel compelled to relate an event involving Linx and an old schoolteacher. When I was attending a dysfunctional private school for boys, a teacher who bore some resemblance to Linx took our class for a week of special mathematics (algebra). Whenever he'd turn and face the class, I'd notice his strange and uncanny Sontaran features. In retrospect, I'm not sure whether it was his face shape, eyes, or general monster demeanor, but he definitely gave old Linx a run for his money in the Sontaran lookalike sweepstakes.
The black and white shot above is scanned from my beloved Dr. Who Monster Book, a publication put out by Target Books that collected the Doctor's enemies into one manageable literary menagerie.
I was well known for carrying this book with me at all times. You never knew when you'd need to consult it.
During one of our endless mathematics classes, I began to circulate copies of Linx's pic...
Unfortunately, the pic found its way to the desk of our teacher, the Linx lookalike. He snapped up the photo and seemed genuinely affronted by it. He stared at it angrily -- wincing, I imagine, at its uncanny proximity to his own unfortunate features. When he was done staring, he looked up and said: "Whose is this?"
I stuck my hand up. "It's mine, sir."
"I should have known it was yours, Mr. Savage. You seem a great deal more interested in monsters than mathematics."
I grinned. I couldn't argue with him.
"And who is this fellow?"
"Linx, sir," I said.
"It's Linx, sir. From Doctor Who."
My teacher didn't seem satisfied with my answer. I couldn't understand why. I'd identified my Sontaran hero. Why did teacher's dirty look linger?
"His name's Linx, is it?"
"Really? Why don't you show me where it says his name is Linx."
My teacher flipped the photocopy over and gestured at me to stand.
All eyes were raised as I approached the desk.
He handed me the page and pointed. "Does that say Linx?"
I looked down. Then I felt the back of my neck get real hot.
"Then what does it say?"
I read what I'd written -- what I'd forgotten I'd written.
"You can read, can't you?"
"Then go ahead and read exactly what it says."
I took a deep breath and rubbed my sizzling hot neck. The heat was quickly spreading to the rest of my body, too.
"It says 'Mr. Arnold is the Australian Linx', sir."
The class erupted into laughter for about one second. Mr. Arnold's cold, injured glare cut the festivities short.
Mr Arnold turned the page over and stared Linx in the face.
Linx stared straight back.
Then Linx was crushed and balled up in Mr. Arnold's hand.
The crushed Linx picture was then placed in my hand. "Take this rubbish to Father Cooper (the school principal) and ask him for appropriate detention. Can you do that, Mr. Savage?"
I returned, without Linx, fifteen minutes later with a detention schedule.
Mr. Arnold, the Linx lookalike, never mentioned the incident again, but he did tell me a year later that he watched Doctor Who "occasionally"... and found it "amusing".
Good bless that ugly Sontaran educator!
Where is he now?
Probably back on his home planet. Retired on an Earthman's pension.