“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!
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.
One of my favorite marks of the Doctor’s character is the way they respond to meeting all manner of monsters. When I first began watching Doctor Who this was one of the earliest signs of how different a hero they were than I was used to. Time and again – no matter how scary or threatening or unapproachable whatever the Doctor finds in the universe may appear – their first reaction is never one of fear or judgment. They certainly never attack. Rather, they marvel at its beauty. They are overcome with joy and excitement at seeing something they’ve never seen before. And, if what they encounter appears frightened or injured, they are moved by compassion and offer help. In all this they are a beautifully important model for us, too. As Steven Moffatt, the Doctor Who showrunner for Series 5-10, rightly observed, “There will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.”
It’s officially December so that means it ‘tis the season. As I was decorating a few days ago I was, naturally, rocking out to some Christmas carols. When “What Christmas Means To Me” came on I danced and sang along as loud as I could. I didn’t get much decorating done for those ten minutes (because who only listens to that tune one time??) but the break was festive and fun and totally worth it. It’s always been a favorite Christmas song of mine and every time Steve Wonder’s classic is covered it makes me happy because it means I have even more chances to hear it randomly playing in a store or on the radio. Anyway, as I was singing along it got me thinking about what Christmas means to me (my love!). I thought it would be interesting to reflect on that with a series of posts through December. And then I thought using Doctor Who’s Christmas specials as a frame for those reflections could be fun. So, What Does Christmas Mean To Me (Vol. 1)? Well, let’s turn to “Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned” and talk about it!
Last spring, for our Fiction’s Fearless Females series, I wrote a piece about Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. In it I said she had officially taken the top place in my heart from David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t adore Ten with all my heart! I just love Thirteen more. So last week, as both Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant joined James Cordon (who was also on Doctor Who with Matt Smith!) on The Late Late Show, I was in heaven. Then I started thinking about how AMAZING it would be if we could see these two together on screen, side by side, both playing their respective Doctor. And, while I trust showrunner Chris Chibnall to pull it off far better than I could, I contemplated how I’d do it. So, as far as I’m concerned, this is how these two Doctors could meet. Continue reading
As I roll past day forty in quarantine, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the Doctor Who specials that marked the end of David Tennant’s run as the Doctor. Not so much the finale two-parter which contained his showdown with the Master, but rather “The Next Doctor” (Dec 2008), “Planet of the Dead” (April 2009), and “The Waters of Mars” (Nov 2009). The reason these specials have been on my mind is they explore the Doctor travelling alone, roaming the whole of time and space without any companion(s) by his side. The pain of loneliness and isolation are universal – something we all experience, in various degrees and at various times in our lives. In fact, I’d wager this constant struggle with loneliness is part of what makes the Doctor such an appealing character. We all can relate. While always relevant, this seems particularly poignant now. Continue reading
One of my favorite Doctor Who tropes is the use of alien creatures to explain legends and myths (as well as integrate these creatures – in a very Doctor Who-esque way – into the show). We’ve seen a Haemovariform crash-land on Earth and be mistaken for a werewolf in Scotland in 1879 (S2,E2). There was a band of Saturnyns creating vampire-like “brides” for their remaining male population in 1580 Venice (S5,E6). The reason beings on most planets are instinctively afraid of the dark is explained with the presence of the flesh-eating Vashta Nerada, who we see as the dust in sunbeams (S4,E8). The occasional movement we see flicker, out of the corner of our eye, when we look in mirrors is the “daughter” of “the Family of Blood,” forever trapped in all mirrors by the Doctor (S3,E9). The list goes on. But the one most fascinating to me is when the Doctor and Rose encounter “the Beast.” Continue reading