Time Can Be Rewritten: Night of the Doctor

(53 comments)

"Man, this is the second-worst episode of Doctor Who I've been in."
Because my Patrons are just so gosh-darned nice.

It was, of course, one of the highlights of the Fiftieth Anniversary. A tremendously sentimental and cool moment for fans, a fantastic way of officially revealing what the Hurt Doctor was, and a lovely gift to Paul McGann, who will pretty much never have the TV Movie be someone’s introduction to his Doctor again. And we have a full set of regenerations now, if you care about that sort of thing. Just about the only thing it isn’t, really, is a satisfying ending to the Eighth Doctor Era.

It tries, and that is a real part of its charm. I mean, one is pretty much sure Moffat included the litany of Big Finish companions as an acknowledgment of the Eighth Doctor Era - you know, that messy, historical thing that actually happened. The one with a giant bone thing in the sky, and he’s traveling with a fish, and there’s that girl from Jonathan Creek. Lego. They’re all made out of fucking Lego. Moffat probably even knew what would actually happen, which was that Big Finish fans immediately declared victory over the EDA fans, while the EDA fans sulkily pointed out that technically all this really disproved was the Vampire Science gap theory if those were the companions that first came to mind. 

But the fact that this even happened; that there were still, in 2013, people whose first reaction to this was to make a new move in a fifteen-year-old fandom spat or to somehow make it about Lawrence Miles, speaks volumes. And not even bad volumes. Honestly, the greatest tragedy for anyone who lived through the Eighth Doctor Era would have been if all the blood and pixels spilt had been in the name of a faith so fragile that it could be broke upon a seven minute YouTube video. We listened to Zagreus. We pretended to take Scream of the Shalka seriously. We even read Mad Dogs and Englishmen in public. Heal that, Sisterhood.

Actually, I think my favorite part was when anti-Moffat fans seized on the retcons this made to the Eighth Doctor era as evidence of Moffat’s malfeasance while openly admitting that they hadn’t read the books or listened to the audios. Not out of any sort of “fake geek” sentiment, but simply because I find the idea of blindly entering the Eighth Doctor era factionalizations just to find another front in the Moffat wars to be the most sublimely perfect execution of the Eighth Doctor Era ever. 

All of which is to say that the symbolic fate EIghth Doctor Era is a sublimely ridiculous thing to hang on an eight minute YouTube video. Even one that is, as this one is, intelligently and slyly constructed. The first half works by taking what is by this point a staple scene of the new series - the seduction of the new companion (and both Davies and Moffat always write it as a seduction) - and then twisting it into something altogether different as the usual “bigger on the inside” line becomes a source of utter horror and revulsion for Cass.

This solves two problems. First, it offers a sufficiently large reason for the Doctor to die in only three minutes, avoiding the problem McCoy had in McGann’s other story. Companion seduction gone wrong has the exact heft needed to justify killing the Doctor. Relatedly, it gives McGann something to do that doesn’t actually require any characterization.

It’s not, of course, that McGann’s Doctor hasn’t been characterized. Indeed, the problem is in most regards the opposite - he’s been characterized far too many times, and the setup of “Night of the Doctor” requires an entire new setting: his Doctor is not quite the last of his kind, but he’s seemingly the last one outside the War. Necessarily, much has happened since the endpoint of any of the Eighth Doctor lines, though one assumes, as Big Finish increasingly deploys their new series licensing, they’ll claim the prize and tediously collapse possibility into something altogether more drab.

Which almost sounds like a criticism of Big Finish, and it is, I suppose, but it’s a carefully chosen one. I’m sure Big Finish will do a basically competent job when they inevitably get around to the “outbreak of the Time War/McGann’s last days” box set. I’m also pretty sure I won’t find it satisfying; ultimately, I rather like the Eighth Doctor the rest of the world got. You know; the sane people for whom this was the first bit of McGann they’d ever actually seen save maybe for the clips in The Doctors Revisited. Or who hadn’t seen any McGann except for the TV Movie, and that more than fifteen years ago. Big Finish is and always will be a Wilderness Years company. I’m a child of the Wilderness Years and have my preferences and views within it, but the truth is, I suspect the people for who Doctor Who was actually cancelled and gone have more fun. Certainly I think my own personal Doctor Who fandom benefitted from what was basically a nine-year break over the McGann era.

So Moffat wisely contrives to give McGann, in effect, an entirely new status quo so that he can just do whatever he wants with the role. And let’s be honest, it’s not like McGann is putting in an extensively developed performance here. This was banged together with relative haste, even if it is the crown jewel of the minisode-heavy Smith era. McGann is not quite doing first-impression readings here, but this isn’t an extensively worked through and developed performance either. He’s drawing on Big Finish experience, and he’s a damn good actor, but he’s being boosted massively by the fact that Moffat had the sense to give him dialogue that makes a lot of the decisions for him. 

This is especially evident in the second half, on Karn. This section is, in effect, a three minute crescendo - a straight ramp up to McGann’s regeneration and, in turn, to Day of the Doctor. (And consider how precise a bit of PR this is - the first official acknowledgment of the nature of the Hurt Doctor and exactly how he fits into continuity, but also essentially a redo of the ending of Name of the Doctor to refresh everyone’s memory.) Again, it largely carries itself - the dilemma the Doctor is facing is more a philosophical one than one of character. All “make me a warrior now” has to mean is “make me something other than what I am.”

Here things start to fray a bit; a companion narrative gone wrong is sufficient to justify a regeneration; justifying the abandonment of the title “Doctor” is a taller ask, and one that leans almost entirely on the mythic heft of the Time War to get the job done. Which is to say that the Eighth Doctor ends by just sort of getting caught in a jumble of someone else’s continuity. It’s tempting to call it the perfect ending for him.

And perhaps that’s the thing. More than anything, the Eighth Doctor Era needed to end unsatisfyingly, with all the arguments still in place and allowed to blabber on into eternity. Because there is no Eighth Doctor Era. It never happened. There was just an absence - a character whose only defining trait is that he was played by Paul McGann, who spent virtually the entirety of the era not playing him. 

Because in a real and, I would argue, profound sense the Eighth Doctor is notable for consisting of a pair of regeneration scenes and very little else that is particularly recognizable as Doctor Who in the sense of being the television show periodically produced by the BBC, i.e. what we overwhelmingly mean as talking about Doctor Who. The TV Movie and “Night of the Doctor” are both, in many senses simply not episodes of Doctor Who in the way that Warrior’s Gate or The Vampires of Venice are. And indeed, inasmuch as one of those senses is typographically, not even in the way that Scherzo or Vampire Science are.


Paul McGann clearly counts, and yet literally no part of his tenure does. Indeed, he’s so defined by absence that in the end, we discover he was secretly John Hurt the whole time. 

Comments

Matt Marshall 1 year, 8 months ago

I loved this. I'm not sure if it's good as a thing on its own though or solely good because we get to see McGann again. It's one of those rare times when fandom didn't really have anything to complain or snipe about. I mean sure maybe there were people who got bent out of shape by McGann not listing every single 8th Doc companion, but I felt it was appropriate for him to mention the ones that he did as... well, they were the ones McGann actually worked with.

To me the McGann era was mostly the EDAs (couldn't really afford the Big Finishes regularly) though I drifted away after Escape Velocity (it was odd as a lot of the ones leading up to that were some of my favourite [with the exception of The Ancestor Cell, of course] but somehow that one book struck an absolutely fatal blow to my interest).

To this day I couldn't tell you anything about the 8th Doctor's personality, despite having read about 2/3rds of the books and listened to most of the audios. He's just sort of 'there' as a generic Doctor. And that's fine, I mean surely 'generic Doctor' is a type in and of itself but I never got the feeling I knew him as a character. That said, Night of the Doctor did more to cement 'what the 8th Doctor is like' than any wildnerness years stuff. Maybe I am just visual-media-racist.

Sadly I think the Wilderness years coincided with some of the worst fannish impulses, that of the 'WE'VE GOTTA TIE UP ALL THE LOOSE ENDS' and 'WE'VE GOTTA FIX THIS BY TEARING IT ALL DOWN'. The Lawrence Miles future war stuff was amazing, and there was literally no need to explicitly end it and put it on a shelf to move on to new stuff, as uh, it was something from the future anyway. There was no need to give the Doctor amnesia in order to have fresh new adventures unsaddled by past continuity concerns, as you just need to write fresh new adventures unsaddled by past continuity concerns. There was no need to have a big hoo-ha about Big Finish sending the Doctor to a divergent universe in order to tell stories that were new and not drenched in continuity, as you just need to commission stories that were new and not drenched in continuity.

The 8th Doctor era felt for the most part like people spending way too much time arranging the game pieces than actually playing the game. Frankly for a show where the entire concept is 'the main character can go anywhere in any time and do anything' that shouldn't even be a thing that needs to happen.

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The Dapper Anarchist 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm very glad this appeared, because I've been re-reading old posts and comment threads, attempting to avoid my thesis, and I noticed something interesting about the Cass/8th relationship.

Cass rejects him - as a commenter pointed out some time ago, this is evidence that the Time War makes Doctor Who, the story, impossible. But what's really interesting is *why* she rejects him - because she already knows what he is. She knows what a TARDIS is, and a Time Lord, and all of that. And she wants so little to do with any of it that she will die to escape it. Does the Doctor only work when he's a mystery? That's a rather creepy thought actually...

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Glenn Reuben 1 year, 8 months ago

I'll admit that I've never listened to or read any Eighth Doctor media, apart from The Light at the End.

But I think my main gripe is and always will be that the Eighth Doctor was not used in the War Doctor's role. If he has only had one TV appearance up to 2013, why not use that blank slate of a character to bookend his first appearance with a much darker, more solemn approach to the character?

I think that had Moffat offered the role to McGann, he would've taken it. But that could've then helped to bring the Ninth Doctor into the story alongside the Tenth and Eleventh in a different manner, providing Eccleston would've wanted to do it. My belief is that Eccleston not only turned down the War Doctor role due to work commitments, but also because the War Doctor was a different character to the one he originally portrayed in 2005, and not in a good way. If he'd been offered a Tennant/Smith role, I think he would've done it.

And I think the 50th would've been better with a longer story to accommodate four Doctors and it had no minisode. The minisode was nice in and of itself, but imagine a proper movie-length story in cinemas with a McGann regeneration into Eccleston. I can dream...

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Thomas Lawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, it's a rather barbed point that Cass would rather die than be part of a sci-fi show with continuity.

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Burning Angel 1 year, 8 months ago

A tzimtzum. The neither-neither when both a narrative collapse and a Tenth Planet style qlipha are averted. The space between, in Midian beyond Karn. Apologies if you've already come up with an element of your occult theory of Who like that, but to me it describes the Wilderness Years and the Angel of that Aeon perfectly. I hadn't seen you mention it, and I'm drunk on the Encyclopedia and feeling kind of like Elevenses. It's only five AM lol. 93s!

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jane 1 year, 8 months ago

The Divergent Universe was cyclical in structure, and most of the stories therein were about revolution.

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Anthony Strand 1 year, 8 months ago

And yet, this was the thing that finally got me interested enough to check out the Wilderness Years. I started watching DW with the new series, and I started watching the original series during the gap between S1 and S2, but the Wilderness Years always seemed like Star Trek novels or some other dumb expanded-universe thing I didn't care about.

But then "Night of the Doctor" came along, and I found McGann's performance to be so delightful that I downloaded his first four audio stories, and then I was down the rabbit hole for good. My wife and I started listening to Doctor Who audios on every long car trip.

Less than two years later, we've heard about 75 audios, and I've read a half-dozen Virgin New Adventures, and I've read about half of the 8th Doctor comics from Doctor Who Magazine. And I've enjoyed most of that stuff - I certainly feel like it's been time well-spent - but it's a leap I would never have taken if not for Paul McGann's excellent delivery of "Because the front crashes first, think it through."

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AuntyJack 1 year, 8 months ago

"Bring me knitting."
Probably my favourite line of all time.

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Anthony Strand 1 year, 8 months ago

Despite Phil's claim that the 8th Doctor hasn't been characterized, to me that line feels very rooted in his Big Finish portrayal. The Big Finish 8th Doctor repeatedly shows an affinity for old-fashioned, slightly fussy hobbies like that (nothing against knitting - my wife's a knitter). I don't think any Doctor in any medium has spent as much time talking about brewing tea on the TARDIS, and the knitting line fits right in with that.

That speech feels specifically 8th Doctor to me. I can't imagine Moffat writing it for any of the new series Doctors.

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F. J. Walsh 1 year, 8 months ago

I can see Smith's Doctor saying it. He spent some scenes of series 6 reading a "Knitting for Girls" magazine. Not that he'd be able to sit still long enough to knit more than half a mitten, mind you.

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Matt Marshall 1 year, 8 months ago

Whilst I agree it would have been nice to have the 8th Doctor in Day of the Doctor, I think the reason is obvious: despite having only appeared in one story (and a lot of spin-off media) he's still got a massive cultural weight to him. This isn't a problem for a fan, but is for a casual audience: yes, the story would/could be identical, but the narrative would change from 'here is this new character I know nothing about' to 'here is this old character I know nothing about and I'm missing out I don't understand this oh god aaaa'. Even if you change nothing about it.

I'm not saying it's right, and frankly it shouldn't be a problem, but in this modern age where everything is available at our fingertips, there's an obsession with 1) wanting to know everything and 2) assuming that all television/media ever works like modern television does.

That's why you get absolutely stupid people giving dumb advice like "to understand Doctor Who you need to watch it all from the beginning in order" or my current favourite "to understand this one Big Finish 8th Doctor adventure you need to listen to every single one of the 8th Doctor's back catalogue" which is both untrue and excellent at scaring off prospective fans.

Any halfway competant writer would include everything in an episode about a returning character that an audience new to it would understand. But there's an undercurrent of viewers for whom this isn't good enough.

Yes, you could easily slot 8Doc into Day of the Doctor without needing to change anything, but the outcome would be a lot of people put off watching it for fear of 'not understanding' or not wanting to read/listen to all the 8th Doctor material because of the inevitable flood of fans and clickbait websites smashing you over the head and telling you it's impossible to understand if you've not read it all. Look at all those people instructing casual viewers to go watch 'Trial of a Time Lord' after 'Name of the Doctor' in order to 'understand' it. And they were wrong! Those poor, poor people!

People aren't dumb, but the more people say things are true, the more people will act like they're true. One of the main criticisms of Attack of the Cybermen is that it's 'impossible to understand' due to all of the continuity references. Which is absolute rubbish, you don't need to watch The Invasion to understand why Cybermen might be lurking in the sewers, and you don't need an encyclopediac knowledge of Tomb of the Cybermen to grasp the simple fact that the Cybermen have a base on an ice planet and none of these are detrimental to the plot. (There are other, better criticisms of Attack, but 'an average audience member won't understand the unobtrusive easter eggs' isn't one of them)

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Matthew Blanchette 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, they didn't need to create AN ENTIRELY NEW DOCTOR in order to avoid continuity concerns. That's just stupid. McGann was eager and willing, Eccleston was not... and they bypass both to get John Hurt, who'd NEVER played the part before (and will never again)? Eh? :-/

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unnoun 1 year, 8 months ago

Based on my experience with the non-existent Eighth Doctor era, I have to say he would be one of my least favorite choices to deal with contemplating and attempting genocide?

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Philip Sandifer 1 year, 8 months ago

Yeah, I think turning the Eighth Doctor into a would-be genocider would understandably go over very poorly with those people who are enormously invested in the Eighth Doctor and the Eighth Doctor era. It would have been as awful an ending to his era as this was a wonderful one.

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Anthony Strand 1 year, 8 months ago

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Anthony Strand 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh yeah, I forgot about "Knitting for Girls." Good point.

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Daibhid C 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting. I hadn't realised that the role Eccleston was offered in Day of the Doctor was Ninth-as-War-Doctor. I'd just assumed that it was a regular "returning Doctor" role of the sort you think he'd have taken.

Because I'd assumed that until the Hurt War Doctor was introduced, the production team were making the same assumption as everyone else; that Eighth had been the War Doctor, which is why the war would never be seen because actually exploring the Eighth Doctor committing genocide was a terrible idea.

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Daibhid C 1 year, 8 months ago

Also, it's just occurred to me: If you don't have the War Doctor, then Moffatt has to make up another not-quite-regeneration to explain why Eleventh is the last Doctor.

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Leslie Lozada 1 year, 8 months ago

Eight is sorta like this paradox, to casual fans. Fitting, given his choices of companions.

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Ben 1 year, 8 months ago

One thing that struck me about "Night of the Doctor" is that it's definitely the best Eighth Doctor story and might be the best Generic Doctor story as well.

Most Doctors have characters that are not just complex, but expressly comprised of contradictions. Four is a bored clown but deadly serious about true evil and injustice. Five is easygoing and deferential but capable of harsh judgments. Twelve hides his considerable tenderness under combative posturing and "bah! humbug!" And so on.

Largely as a result of having been - as you say - rewritten many times and none of these new readings taking hold, Eight isn't like that. Since what you have to go on is the TV movie and now this, what you see is what you get. He's a nice chap with a sense of humor and Time Lord powers, and that's about it. Even with a more weathered face, he's still an innocent.

And it's this sweet, sunshiny Doctor who has to call the War Doctor forth. Now if the War Doctor has done anything really questionable, the audience hasn't seen it. But the idea of him is still heavy enough to complicate this story while leaving McGann's Doctor simple.

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Kate Orman 1 year, 8 months ago

A universe littered
With half-knitted mittens

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Kate Orman 1 year, 8 months ago

I've just gobbled up the trilogy of Rurouni Kenshin movies, set in Meiji Japan, in which a former killer vows to keep on saving people, but never kill again. For this purpose he carries a sword with a literally reversed blade. Sticking to his vow proves an immense challenge; he doesn't get the easy outs that the Doctor is usually given. There's some parallel to be drawn with the Doctor's Time War healer/warrior decision here, I feel sure.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

Sixth Doctor stubbed his toe on the console triggering a regeneration into a very short man with blonde curly hair, who uncharacteristically retained his fondness for his previous self's wardrobe. Much like the Fourth Doctor's scarf, this now ridiculously long jacket was used to trip up his enemies and more often than not himself. This unfortunately triggered his next regeneration, as while under attack from the Rani he tripped over his own coat-tails and fatally smacked his head on the TARDIS console.

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Corey Klemow 1 year, 8 months ago

"If you don't have the War Doctor, then Moffatt has to make up another not-quite-regeneration to explain why Eleventh is the last Doctor."

...like maybe River Song giving up her regenerations to save Elevensies in "Let's Kill Hitler"?

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Glenn Reuben 1 year, 8 months ago

The thing is though, he wouldn't actually be a would-be genocider, since the War Doctor is redeemed in the end. It just takes a bit of rewriting to make it work. The Eighth Doctor could still have been someone who was fighting the Time War on the outskirts but not actually being the killer that the War Doctor was.

The Night of the Doctor could thus be rewritten to simply have someone, i.e. the Sisterhood, convince the Doctor to end the war by stealing the Moment, and thus lead into The Day of the Doctor. He doesn't have to regenerate to do that. Sorry to disagree, but I think enough casual viewers would've been satisfied if the Eighth Doctor took the role.

Also, the Eleventh Doctor didn't have to necessarily be the last Doctor to end the discussion of what happens when we get to 13 Doctors. He could still have been told he would die on Trenzalore. Again, it just needs a little rewriting.

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Anton B 1 year, 8 months ago

I love the concept but I'm struggling to imagine a 'literally reversed blade'. How does that work exactly?

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Anton B 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm struck by the appropriateness of the timing and placement of this Tardis Eruditorum post. It's an unexpected and thought provoking return to an obscure corner of the Whoniverse after a hiatus. Just like its subject. Perfect. Well done Doctor Phil!

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

Katana swords are curved, the long outside curve being thin and sharp while the shorter inside curve is thicker (and therefore blunter) to give it strength. With the the inside being sharp and the outside blunt, you're either fighting with a blunt sword, or using the inside. Fighting with the inside makes it harder to cleanly swipe and chop and stab, and probably increases your chances of having your sword knocked out of your hand as it'll catch on everything you hit or deflect.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

"I'm a Philip Sandifer post... but probably not the one you were expecting!"

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mimhoff 1 year, 8 months ago

I think it's a lot more rewriting -- Moffat put a lot of effort to build this up when he realised what he could do with the regeneration count.

Having Day of the Doctor on the 50th anniversary of the show, then ending the year with the Doctor claiming his reward from Gallifrey, and also kicking off a whole new set of Doctors for the next 50 years... could it have happened any differently?

Well of course it could, but if that moment can't happen then I think the whole year would have been something very very different.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

Interestingly it side-stepped the possibility of a storyline that asks "what would the Doctor do when he knows he cannot regenerate his way out of danger?" Does he take less risks, does he fret and worry, does he even become a recluse or a coward?

From the way it played out it seemed the Eleventh Doctor had pretty much lost count until he'd had time to reflect on Trenzalore (or the events of Day of the Doctor jogged his memory). But remember he did at some point - so would he have taken more risks to resolve the Trenzalore problem sooner if he'd had a regeneration still handy?

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Jarl 1 year, 8 months ago

I honestly never know what to expect from Sandifer posts.

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Jarl 1 year, 8 months ago

On a certain level, I just straight up like this for no other reason than Paul McGann is a delight to see in action, and him playing the Doctor is always pleasing. I think there's a significant portion not just of fans, but a significant portion of each individual fan's internal society from which the gestalt of their personality is comprised, that is just happy to see Paul McGann onscreen playing the Doctor in something Phillip Segal had nothing to do with. Not to throw Big Finish under the bus entirely, but it was nice to see the Eighth Doctor for real, not just ear-stories.

The fact that The Two Doctors arguably sets a bad precedent for it is the only reason I hesitate to say "a multi-doctor story with 8 and 12 would be lovely". Christ, it's even the same difference, isn't it, 6-2=12-8.

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Anton B 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh right I've got it now thanks. I was hilariously overcomplicating the design in my head. So it's basically a blunt sword.

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Josiah Rowe 1 year, 8 months ago

No mention of the "man or woman?" line? Yes, Neil Gaiman established the possibility of a gender-swapping Time Lord, but this was the first real in-series acknowledgement that it might be a possibility for the Doctor. (The paratext, of course, had been playing with the possibility since 1980.)

It's rather appropriate that Doctor Who said a formal farewell to the notion that the Doctor must always be male as it also said farewell to the Eighth Doctor, as it was really during the Eighth Doctor's half of the Wilderness Years that fandom-as-a-whole really began to come terms with Doctor Who's sexism, and acknowledged that if women are going to be full members of fandom they have to be able to be the Doctor too. (There have always been female fans, but I don't remember seeing women cross-playing as femme versions of the Doctor until the late '90s.)

In that light, it makes sense that Sylvester McCoy made headlines recently saying that the Doctor shouldn't ever be a woman. The Doctor of the classic series couldn't have been. But today's Doctor could.

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Andrew Plotkin 1 year, 8 months ago

So I watched the 50th-anniversary special with a friend who had never seen *any* of the new Who. Nor the McGann movie, nor read any of the books, nor listened to BF... she was a Tom Baker loyalist and just hadn't paid any attention to the new stuff.

Before the special, I pulled up NotD by way of introducing the Time War. And it was notable that it was a *perfect* introduction. It laid out everything she needed to know. Cass has her negative reaction, and my friend immediately said "Oh, it's the Doctor's worst nightmare -- a companion who doesn't like him." Completely clear, and you're all set.

(For the record, we enjoyed Day of the Doctor -- and not just for the Curator -- but thought Time of the Doctor was basically a waste of time. No pun intended.)

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

Basically yep, although having not seen the film I wonder if he tries to use the inconvenient-but-sharp bit too for non-lethal dismembering.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

If Capaldi needs to slow down a bit in his ninth year in the role, they could create a season featuring both Doctors - keep them mostly separate but have their plots run in parallel, intersect, affect. You could have two parters where the consequences of an Eight Doctor adventure directly leads into a Twelfth Doctor adventure, or vice-versa. They needn't even really be aware of it.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

And nicely handled in that the Doctor chose "warrior" but didn't specify which gender of warrior: neither accepting nor rejecting the notion, or even considering it important either way.

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Anton B 1 year, 8 months ago

That's a great idea. The concept could also work with a Twelfth/Thirteenth Doctor season. There's even a sort-of precedent in the contentious (for some) Matt Smith/Capaldi/Clara handover phone call scene in Deep Breath.

I can see the mileage in a linked set of stories where the Doctor has to deal with the consequences of his future self's decisions before we see them actually enacted in the following episode. In fact, now I come to think about it this would be a fabulously creative way of dealing with the whole Valeyard conundrum. Fixing the catastrophic mistakes of his future self retroactively would, in effect, render his future actions as just potential events taking place 'somewhere between the Twelfth and Thirteenth regenerations'.

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John 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't think we have any detailed sense of the nature of the role offered to Eccleston. I certainly don't think we know that it was "the Ninth Doctor as War Doctor" - although one imagines it might have had some of the same elements. I think we know that they came up with the idea of the Hurt War Doctor after Eccleston turned them down, but that doesn't mean it was a simple one for one substitution.

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IG 1 year, 8 months ago

@ferret... I don't think any of the show's creators, even after regeneration had become an established concept, took the view that the Doctor could just 'regenerate his way out of danger' -most of the threats he faces would be just as fatal to a Time Lord as a human!

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Kate Orman 1 year, 8 months ago

He turns it around when he gets really, really mad. Which is always a moment of immense significance, unlike, say, the Fourth Doctor gassing Solon and Morbius.

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ferret 1 year, 8 months ago

True, but he does have a somewhat cavalier attitude to personal danger :-) Would be interesting to see that shaken thoroughly, just once.

I think the Sixth Doctor got closest when he saw his memorial carving on Necros, but the subterfuge didn't last long enough to get much mileage out of it - although what we did get was fascinating!

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Aylwin 1 year, 8 months ago

That seems to me like an area where the new series (and I suppose the TV movie) has diverged from the old. In the old series there could be doubt over whether regeneration would outpace even a relatively slow death (as in Planet of the Spiders), and the general understanding seemed to be that if the Doctor got shot or blown up or struck by a 16-ton weight he would be dead. In the new, it increasingly seems to be the case that regeneration is what happens to Time Lords instead of death, regardless of circumstances, making them almost indestructible (especially given the parallel development of the increasingly spectacular Post-Regeneration Superpower Syndrome, which means that you can't just kill them, wait a bit, then kill them again).

Which can of course lead to the kind of writing problems that excessive protagonistic powers generally do, producing sketchy bits of kryptonitic handwavery ("regeneration toxin") in order to put the Doctor in actual danger of death. Cf. the sonic screwdriver.

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Carey 1 year, 8 months ago

Quite possibly: it's very much to do with how you are introduced to the concept of Doctor Who. Rose works well because all the continuity inserts are done slowly so as not to overwhelm the viewer. The TV Movie, however, is infamous in its huge continuity exposition just within the pre-title sequence. Far from creating a sense of curiosity from dropping hints of a larger story, the casual/non-traditional audience are left in a position of asking "why should I care?"

One of the many pieces of genius in Night of the Doctor is that Moffat uses this, and so Cass becomes a mirror of Rose, built around the reputation of the TV Movie and Doctor Who in the 90's. Everyone knew who and what Doctor Who was then, but weren't given a reason to care. Night of the Doctor points out the tragedy of this in the overall narrative of Doctor Who as a fifty year plus entity.

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Anton B 1 year, 8 months ago

Day of the Moon seemed to suggest that shooting, waiting a bit then shooting again would effectively kill the Doctor; prompting the ridiculously over-elaborate and only moderately entertaining fiddling around with Tesselectors and timey wimey weddings that was series 6. Kryptonic handwavery of the first order.

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Daru 1 year, 7 months ago

LOved the knitting line, though I enjoyed McGann's style of delivery a lot more, as I can imagine Matt's style to be a lot more frantic ( I do enjoy him too though, McGann just has more style for me).

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Daru 1 year, 7 months ago

Sounds amazing, will have to check those movies out, cheers Kate!

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Daru 1 year, 7 months ago

Fat or thin, young or old, man or woman?
Fast or strong, wise or angry.

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Daru 1 year, 7 months ago

Adored this when it came out. Discovered it without knowing anything of it's arrival on UK iPlayer. I had such a pleasurable few minutes and my partner - also a Who lover - who had only seen the TV movie still got tons out of it.

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AndyRobot800 1 year, 7 months ago

"Five minutes? That's ages! I might get bored!"

That's the half of that line that sums up 8Doc for me, actually - and it gels with the concept of the character from some of the better BBC books. The 7th Doctor was a "player of chess on a thousand boards", whereas the 8th Doctor doesn't have the patience for chess and would much rather make a daring escape.

The line sums up his impatience, *and* his witty bravado in the face of danger. That's an 8th Doctor I would have liked to have seen on screen - making it up as he goes along, with style.

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