The Day of the Doctor: Character or plot?

I vote character.


There once was a man, an alien, from a planet called Gallifrey. He was a time traveler–a Time Lord to be exact.

His name? No one knows, except his wife, River Song. He goes by the Doctor.

Fifty years ago, the BBC launched a television show called Doctor Who about this time traveling alien. Straightforward enough. Except, in a genius twist that has allowed this show to last so long, the character has the power to regenerate — the same man in a different form (ie, actor).

Last week, the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, brought together 3 incarnations of the Doctor, and it proved one thing — the best writing is fueled by character.

Doctor Who has fantastical plots that zip along but threaten to dissolve into nonsense if examined too closely. What makes up for this? Character.

The Doctor is a complex man. When we met the 9th incarnation, played by Christopher Eccleston, he kept the childlike ingenuity but carried a dark PTSD shadow.

The tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, had more of a lust for life. But he also shouldered the full weight of his burden: it turns out that in a previous incarnation he’d ended the war between his own people, the Gallifreyans, and the evil Daleks, by killing ALL, his own species included.

Heavy stuff.

The eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith, seemed to suppress this knowledge. He could be whimsical, but he was prone to melancholy; he needed a companion. And he was the man who led cultures to translate the word Doctor not as healer but as warrior.

In last week’s special, we met the Doctor who ended the war, alongside the tenth and eleventh doctors. Played by John Hurt, he looked much older than Tennant and Smith, though the character was much, much younger, and the special focused on him as he grappled with how to end the ruinous war.

In the process, we saw three versions of the Doctor — three personas — three separate selves — three parts of the same person. Unique but the same.

What we got, besides a rollicking story, was a rich, multifaceted character in triplicate. Credit goes to not only the actors, but the writers.

So what exactly happened? Watch it and find out.

Doctor Who: clip turns canon on its head?

A new webisode promoting the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special teases an altered take on the Doctor.

Doctor Who, the classic BBC TV show about a time traveling alien with the power to regenerate, is set to air its 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, Saturday, November 23. Now, a newly leaked webisode sheds light onto a darker side of an iconic sci-fi hero.

Paul McGann played the eighth doctor in a 1996 TV movie. The hope was it would launch a re-boot of the TV series. It didn’t, and the re-boot occurred nearly a decade later, with Christopher Eccleston taking over as the ninth Doctor. We never saw the transition between the doctors. We never saw McGann again. Until now.

Paul McGann – the Eighth Doctor


In the new webisode titled The Night of the Doctor, McGann makes a surprising return. In the space of 6:49 minutes, we get a burst of action, the Doctor’s wry take on eternal life (he calls it utter boredom), the hint that the Doctor could regenerate as a woman, and a huge clue that quite a lot happened between McGann’s Doctor and Eccleston’s.

Watch the clip here:

The clip packs a lot of plot in its short time frame, and it’s accessible for those who don’t know much about Doctor Who. Credit the writer, Steven Moffat for this feat.

As The Day of the Doctor approaches, we’re getting more info about the event. Click here to see stills from the show, including John Hurt as a mysterious incarnation of the Doctor, the return of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, and the tenth and eleventh doctors, David Tennant and Matt Smith, side by side.

And click here for some cryptic words by Steven Moffat on how John Hurt’s character will–or won’t–fit in to canon.

I can’t wait.

Saturday fun with Doctor Who

Here’s a Doctor Who webisode I stumbled across. The Doctor (played by Matt Smith) and his wife, River Song (Alex Kingston), are out on a date gone awry. It’s a short clip, written by none other than Neil Gaiman. For those who have never watched this British classic series, this gives you a glimpse of what the Whoniverse is like (heavy on characterization, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, other times deadly serious).

Waiting impatiently for the Doctor’s return in November…