‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of TARDISes and Toymakers danced in their heads. And Mummy in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap. When out on Twitter there arose such a clatter as the BBC teased a new trailer for the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary special dropping tomorrow!!! Naturally, that “long winter’s nap” could wait. Russell T Davies enthusiastically encouraged our theorizing when he said, “If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!” So, with a trailer (or something??) coming tomorrow, tonight felt the perfect time to think and theorize (at least a li’l bit) about what may lay ahead for the Doctor and Donna next year.
Michael from My Comic Relief and I have been good friends for years now, as we both started blogging within a few months of each other and discovered each other’s blogs early on. I even had the pleasure of meeting him during a family vacation, as my family and I arranged to meet up for lunch with him and Kalie, who writes Just Dread-Full. For awhile we have good-naturedly pushed the other to start watching our favorite fandoms – which for Michael is Doctor Who and for me Star Trek, specifically The Next Generation. What is amazing about both our series is that they both began in the 1960s, had a few speedbumps to overcome, but then were re-tooled for the better in recent years. So we both choose eight episodes to best represent our favorite fandom and had the other watch them, after giving each other some introductory comments.
“Time Lords are friends with each other, dear. Everything else is cradle-snatching.” – Missy to the Doctor
The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation of Kasterborous. All Time Lords possess the ability to regenerate, meaning when they are near death they are born again in a new body with a new personality while retaining their memories. Barring accidents or being killed again during regeneration, a Time Lord is essentially immortal. No matter how much I watch Doctor Who, I can’t fully comprehend that sort of life. I am a finite being so I can’t fathom traversing all of time and space for millennia. I love thinking about it! I love speculating about it! But I’ll never – no matter how long I ponder – fully understand what such a life would be like. As a result, I can never fully understand the Doctor’s relationship with the Master. The Master is another Time Lord, the Doctor’s childhood best friend who grew up to become one of their greatest enemies.
When Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerated I had no idea what would happen next. I knew Ncuti Gatwa was cast as the next Doctor. But I also knew David Tennant and Catherine Tate were returning for a trilogy of specials for Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary next November. Whose face would I see when the regeneration energy faded?? In all my time watching Doctor Who, there’s never been a regeneration mystery like this! Jodie Whittaker smiled into the rising sun, arms wide…and then there was David Tennant! The announcement posted on the BBC’s Doctor Who site immediately after the episode aired made if official-official, “As Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerated on Sunday 23rd October, it was none other than David Tennant who appeared as the Fourteenth Doctor.” They included a statement from Russell T Davies as well, “If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!”
So, David Tennant is the Fourteenth Doctor. Ncuti Gatwa is the Fifteenth Doctor. And Russell T Davies has invited us to a year of speculation (hence my “Part 1”). How fun :D. Let’s get started!
“I wish…I wish this could last forever.” Those were the Doctor’s final words, spoken as she skipped stones on the beach with Yaz in “Legend of the Sea Devils,” her last adventure before her regeneration in “The Power of the Doctor.” The first time I watched the special I found the line poignant. The closer I got to “The Power of the Doctor,” the more I echoed her sentiment. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye! I couldn’t lose the Thirteenth Doctor! I couldn’t lose Yaz! Not yet! However, as the personification of Time itself ominously told the Doctor at the Temple of Atropos, “You can leave here, but you won’t outrun me. Your time is heading to its end.” Defiant and with more than a little fear the Doctor said, “No…it’s not. You’re wrong.” But Time solemnly replied, “Nothing is forever. No regeneration. No life.” I wish Time was wrong! But alas, the Doctor regenerated, whether I was ready for her to or not. This piece is me processing; it’s a reflection on the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration and her era of Doctor Who.
Last night Kalie and I went to see Smile. I wasn’t planning on blogging this weekend and I certainly wasn’t planning on writing a piece on the Smile movie as I don’t write about horror often. However, as the movie unfolded I found myself thinking of Doctor Who. This, in and of itself, isn’t surprising as I’m almost always thinking about Doctor Who. However, I began to see a tie between the Doctor and the horrifying film unfolding before us. Specifically, I found myself thinking of “Mummy on the Orient Express” (S8E8). As these connections grew in my mind I could feel the piece developing alongside them…which was nice as there was no way I could have went to bed after I got home because THIS WAS THE SCARIEST MOVIE I’VE SEEN IN AGES and I needed time and distractions to decompress before bed. So I started writing and here we are! In an unexpected twist, Smile helped me see how the Doctor’s curiosity makes them such a remarkable hero.
This piece has basic plot spoilers for Smile so read on based on your comfort with such things :).
Soon (I can’t be more specific as the BBC still hasn’t released a date and time), Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate in “The Power of the Doctor,” her final special airing as part of the BBC’s Centenary Celebration. Months ago Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the Fourteenth Doctor with Russell T Davies returning as the Doctor Who showrunner. Just seven days later David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s return was also announced as part of a trio of specials for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary. Speculation began immediately. Was this a missing Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble adventure? Was this an alternate universe? Or could it be possible – could it really be possible – Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor would regenerate into David Tennant’s Tenth (or Fourteenth?) Doctor before then regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor? The latter two theories were first born from David Tennant wearing a suit and coat he never wore as the Tenth Doctor. With weeks (or days??) until “The Power of the Doctor” airs, I figured it’d be fun to write a li’l speculative piece about all this :D.
I’ve often heard it said we’re living in the era of Prestige Television (or Peak Television, if you prefer). Regardless of the terminology, there is the general sense among people who think, write, and talk about these things that the 21st century has seen the rise of a Golden Age – if not The Golden Age – of Television. The caliber of what’s being offered on TV is generally considered to have risen. There are more “high quality” shows generating more critical acclaim than ever before. The line between “TV star” and the once-more prestigious “movie star” is blurring. In fact, these TV shows with shorter seasons, renown casts, and complex storytelling, are often touted as six (or ten (or thirteen)) hour movies, broken up into smaller installments. You couple this with the rise of streaming services (and the accompanying “streaming wars” where each service tries to outperform the others to earn your subscription fee) alongside the culture of binge-watching and our experience of television’s been transformed. It is a remarkable time to be consuming such content and the excited query, “Have you seen [fill-in-the-blank-show] yet??” drives our pop culture conversations like never before.
The thing is, my answer is almost always “no.” Like 9/10 times it’s “no.” And here’s why.
Harkening back to the serial nature of Classic Doctor Who stories, the last series of Doctor Who, Series Thirteen, was six episodes telling one massive story. Named Doctor Who: Flux, this series premiered on 31 October 2021 and each episode was released in weekly installments with the finale airing 5 December 2021. Filmed amidst Covid restrictions, I’m not sure how long the original arc of Flux was intended to be but the effects were evident in many ways, from lack of location shoots to the primary cast playing multiple roles to a narrative running over with story bits. While I adore the Thirteenth Doctor – seeing her as “my Doctor” in as much as I can see any Doctor as “mine” when I love them all – and largely love what Chris Chibnall has done with the world of Doctor Who during his time as showrunner, Flux was…rough. Watching it week to week there was so much I enjoyed but I also felt the narrative was overcrowded, trying to do too much with the time they had and ending with many questions lingering in my mind. So I wanted to see if watching this one sweeping story in one sitting affected my understanding of the story!
Here’s the next installment in my li’l series exploring every companion’s first trip with the Doctor! The idea of the first trip on Doctor Who fascinates me. Not the first time a companion meets the Doctor, when they get caught up in the wake of adventure, danger, and world-saving. But rather the first trip they willingly take in the TARDIS after the Doctor invites them to travel with them through all of time and space. What type of person says “yes”? Where do they go? What does the journey reveal and how does it affect them? After helping the Doctor (Matt Smith) stop the Great Intelligence from harvesting human consciousnesses, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) responds to his invitation by saying, “Come back tomorrow. Ask me again.” When the Doctor asks why, she says, “Because tomorrow I might say yes. Sometime after 7:00 ok for you?” In “The Rings of Akhaten” (S7E7) the Doctor returns and they journey to the inhabited rings of the planet Akhaten in the distant future to wander their lively bazaar and attend an ancient religious festival.