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3 Jun 2013

A Bit of Regeneration Can Help

Sad news in Doctor Who fandom as Matt Smith announces he'll be leaving the show.  And as usual speculation on who will be the next Doctor comes up immediately or angry readers shake their fists and claim never to watch the show again.

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For 50 years Doctor Who has been famous for it's multiple actors who have all played the character
of The Doctor, an eccentric alien who travels through time and space and always ends up walking into trouble wherever he goes.  There are times when the Doctor is fatally wounded and he cheats death through regeneration.  Hence all the actors who play him.  I don't know how fans reacted in the old Doctor Who series but one thing I've noticed in the new series is that some fans don't necessarily like the change of actor.  I know when David Tennant left there was a huge uproar.  People claimed nobody else could ever be the Doctor.  David Tennant was THE Doctor and if he was leaving fans wouldn't be watching it anymore.

Regeneration is part of who the Doctor is and I don't mind it.  I've always seen regeneration as character development.  Again, I'd need some perspective on the old series but I've noticed that the Doctor does tend to regenerate whenever there's been a major change in his personality.  Christopher Eccleston's Doctor was fresh out of the Time War and a less eccentric version of the Doctor that older fans would have been used to seeing.  He was damaged and very guilt ridden.  By this point he has seen way too many people, including his own race, die so at the very beginning of the new series he does seem a bit anti-social.  He's used to bad things happening.  Yet towards the end of season one he saved many people and it gave him a sense of hope (see The Doctor Dances).  He softens up with a new companion and seeing people survive.  By the end of season one when he's starting to gain a sense of hope again he's taken in the time vortex to save Rose and sacrifice himself.  Cue regeneration number one of the season.  His personality has changed a lot since episode one and now he's physically changing.  Enter David Tennant's Doctor.

This tenth Doctor still had a darker side but he was definitely a bit more upbeat and had a whole new perspective on life.  He was very determined to save people, possibly to make up for past actions and thought it was still achievable.  Unfortunately his determination to save people becomes an obsession as he starts to save people who should have died, part of a fixed point in time.  As David Tennant's era went on his Doctor was once again seeing more people die, this time in his place.  He had lost one companion forever, one had her memory wiped in order to save her life, and another decided to return home after one season.  Loneliness was a huge part of the tenth Doctor's life and by the end of his era he was set on saving people and not seeing any more loss.  It was this change in personality where we learnt David Tennant was leaving and Matt Smith took his place as the eleventh Doctor.

Again, as soon as Matt Smith's Doctor appeared he was a completely different person.  Smith was this bubbly fresh of breath air.  It was a fresh start for this Doctor.  He was excitable, childish, and by this time every companion he has known, past and current has a special place in both his hearts.  Also by now, he has set himself as a saviour, a dangerous enemy, and a companion's hero.  He had a thousand names, a reputation and at one point being known like this had all his enemies work together in order to save the world from him.  That really shook him up a little.  Matt Smith's Doctor really explored who he was to the universe.  And then thanks to Oswin Oswald he was erased from the Dalek's memory base.  He also faked his death to remain hidden.  By what is now the end of Matt Smith's era as the Doctor, he has turned from a cheerful explorer to hiding in the shadows, not wanting to be known.  The mystery of who he is has never been focused on as much as is it now.  Darker sides of the Doctor are appearing more and there's this question of who John Hurt's Doctor may be.  All we know so far is if it is another incarnation it's one who broke everything the Doctor stands for.  Just in time for another regeneration and a new actor to step in and take the personality from there.  What will the twelfth (or thirteenth if rumours about Hurt being the ninth incarnation is true) be like in the wake of the eleventh Doctor's changes?

We'll always mourn the loss of a great Doctor but look forward to each regeneration.  It symbolises a pivotal stage in the Doctor's life. :)


  1. I think the regeneration element of Doctor Who is an excellent opportunity for the show to reinvent itself every so often. That being said, I'm still super attached to Ten and I'm just going to expect nothing until Twelve arrives and shows us what he (or she! ha ha haaaa....) is like.

    1. Twelve... or is it the Thirteenth? =D There's rumours that John Hurt may be a secret incarnation between McGann's and Eccelston's. It does make sense.

  2. The first regeneration I remember that affected me was when the Fourth Doctor fell to his death and changed into the Fifth. While I was alive for the Third, and have vague memories of the Third's regeneration, the Fourth was the Doctor I grew up with. He was the Doctor for so long, it seemed like he would always be there. The thought of someone taking his place was, well, inconceivable!

    And then they announced it would Peter Davison. Yes, that young chappie from "All Creatures Great and Small"! How would *that* work?!

    I recall the sadness, watching those final minutes of the last episode of "Logopolis," when the Fourth Doctor fell from the tower. There he was, sprawled out on the ground, surrounded by his companions. Everyone knew what was coming... and secretly we all hoped it wouldn't happen. But then he reached out his hand to the Watcher... and the Watcher merged with the Fourth Doctor... and his face started to change. Noooooooo!!!!

    When Peter Davison sat up, buried under the Fourth's scarf and coat, it just seemed so wrong. Peter seemed out of place. Then we had to wait a year for the Fifth Doctor's first episode. And Peter was great. He mimicked the First and Second Doctors, and slowly became his own. And by the end of part four of "Castrovalva," we had embraced Peter Davison, and the show lived on.

    Yes, there will be shock, and tears, and everything else there should be when a Doctor comes to the end of his time. But there'll still be next season. And the Twelfth will be great, I'm sure. :)

    1. I found the fist episode of Tom Baker's era as the Doctor and I can see why he's a firm favourite. He fits the role perfectly.

      I was quite sad to see Christopher Eccleston go because I thought he was a really good Doctor and he went way too soon. There was so much potential. So that regeneration into David Tennant was heart wrenching to watch. Of course Tennant then had his first few lines and already I loved him so I did get over it. But I did think the 9th was awesome.