Doctor Who Logos - The Retrospective

So I showed you the new Doctor Who logo yesterday, but it strikes me that some of you young'ns haven't really seen the old ones. Allow me to introduce you to them then.

The adventure starts in 1963.Simple fonts with Doctor and Who managing the same width, but different thicknesses and height. Simple, but effective, and of its time (too early for mod). The contrast between the words creates a sort of funnel shape that seems to make it come out of the animation.

1967: With the second Doctor came a retooling of the opening credits and thus, of the logo.
The two words get more of a Times look, and are closer in look despite their relative sizes. Classier and more "adult" (even as the show became more kid-friendly, in my opinion), but less designed.

1970: The third Doctor arrives, and he's in color for the first time. Gotta change logos!
The basic shape is retained, though the words are closer together and a few letters get a designed treatment. Result: The logo is more fluid and more recognizable as a logo, not just as words. For the first time, "Doctor Who" is being marketed as a product.

1973: First appearance of the Doctor Who diamond.
Pertwee ended his run with this logo, which made use of the square/diamond shape as a sort of TARDIS seen from the top (especially when flying down the vortex like it does here). The fonts are more standard than before, though the very round "O" is retained, and "Doctor" is put on a curve. The point of a logo that is the same width as height is that it can be put on more things, whether they be vertical or horizontal, so a natural progression.

1974: Though it makes its debut under Pertwee, this variant is best remembered as the 4th Doctor's.
Making it blue binds it definitively with the TARDIS. That TARDIS won't be part of the design again until the latest effort.

1980: With the new starscape opening, a new logo had to be designed.
Unfortunately, it had to be this one. The same basic design is still applied, though now the logo is made of neon tubing. Fits the glitzy early 80s, but still an eyesore.

1985: But wait, it gets worse.
The Trial of a Time Lord season had a slightly retooled opening, and its neon tube logo was slightly warped and more garishly colored.

1987: New Doctor, new logo.
Completely different, but well known to readers of the New Adventures novels, it had to be 3D for the animation to work. WHO is in big spinning blocks and Doctor writes itself above in sparks. An uneasy mix of 50s diner and fighting robot styles.

1996: The TV movie.
Flashback! Pertwee's 1970 logo is back in 3D with some nice shading. And the C and R have changed a little. Though it only appeared once on tv, it was then used on the BBC's book franchises for both the 8th Doctor and Past Doctor series. Big Finish still uses it on its Doctor Who audios.

2005: The new series spawned a very different new logo.
For the first time, the words are on the same line, in thin elongated letters. It is turned into a logo thanks to that eye-shaped thing holding it, a shape full of bright stars on the same line as the words. The texture is that of a planet surface, so there's a stronger SF component, though it's a bit busy.

2007: I wasn't the only one to think so because a couple years later...
They rendered a cleaner version. The texture isn't as dark and the stars have become a single dot separating the words. Now there's a sense of roiling flames behind the words, creating greater contrast and reminding us of vortex energy. The letters are also squatter, and thus easier to read, and the logo had more animation to it in the credits themselves.

2010: And now this.
It's really two logos. The DW box uses the show's initials for the first time and cleverly turns them into the TARDIS. The words themselves get back to the top-bottom formula, with lots of flares, only slight three-dimensionality and odd half-serifs. Are they meant to imply forward motion? Not sure, especially since the two words aren't going in the same direction.

BONUS: The Sci Fi Channel's variant.
They use a classic top-down design reminiscent of the 2nd and 3rd Doctors', but with the silhouette of a man in the "O". Had they given him Tennant's trademark hair, I might have given them more props.

So now you have a fuller picture. What's your favorite?


Unknown said...

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Jeff R. said...

I actually like the neon. And the version of the music that goes with it for that matter second only to the versions of the modern theme where you can hear the violins.

Kandou Erik said...

I'm really excited about seeing my first regeneration of the Doctor (they haven't rerun the Doctor from season 1 of the new show yet)

But I really wish they wouldn't change the title like that. They had it perfect as is.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

As I said in the article I linked to yesterday, my favorite is the diamond logo (blue version, because blue is my favorite color). It just feels right, although being the first logo I was exposed to may or may not be an influence.

Siskoid said...

Erik: It did last 5 years if you count the 2 last logos together. I think it's a good run and while they need not change it, I kind of like that different eras have different logos. RTD is over, long live Moffat.

Al Ewing said...

Put me down as a lover of the neon tubing - that and the Pertwee logo are my faves, and the eighties theme tune was definitely the best, though it'll have some heavy competition if the new series beefs up the bass even more.

Siskoid said...

I will admit to liking the 80s tune as well. BOW BOW BOW-BOW!

LiamKav said...

Retrospective on theme tunes, please!

Siskoid said...

That's gonna take a little research on you-tube, but I can hook you up I think. Watch the skies!

Kevin Bradley said...

I started in the 80's with the Tom Baker logo. To me, it's representative of "classic Who." I liked the RTD "eye" logo, as it was clean and modern, but the Moffat logo is growing on me. So is the current version of the theme song, and I also love the version of the RTD years.


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