An Old Soldier Passes

Monday and Tuesday mornings sucked puppies this week.

Because not only did we lose the genius of comic and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie on the very day his DVD adaptation of All-Star Superman was released (and to unanimously positive reviews), but later that night I received word that Nicholas Courtney, the beloved Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, had passed away after a long bout with cancer at age 81.

It's a tremendous loss to all of Doctor Who fandom, as during Jon Pertwee's period on the series, the nature of the show at the time really established a "family" of sorts for the Doctor in U.N.I.T., with the Brigadier the military counterpoint to the Doctor's peaceful methods. But no matter how much we disagreed with his "blowing stuff up", Courtney always made sure that the Brig never came off as an overbearing "my way or the highway" military leader. His pomposity was always laced with humor and humanity, you could really see that he was an old soldier obeying orders, even though most of the time he would rather side with the Doctor on finding a non-violent solution.

I don't think there's ever been a quotation from the show that better summed up not only the courage of the Brigadier, but the actor behind the UNIT beret, than the climactic confrontation in Battlefield:

The Destroyer: "Pitiful. Can this world do no better than you as its champion?"

The Brigadier: "Probably. I just do the best I can."

And for more than forty years, Nicholas Courtney did just that.