I recently made the mistake of checking out a trending topic on Twitter. Yeah, I know, what was I thinking? Anyway I found a new bit of controversy has become attached to the Thirteenth Doctor regenerating not into the Fourteenth but back into the Tenth. The tweets are long gone and I only saw the comments from defenders so for all I know this is Twitter pushing back on something that didn’t happen. Wouldn’t be the first time.

The controversy as I read it was that this is a regressive regeneration. Throughout the long history of both installments of Doctor Who and the TV movie, when a Doctor is gone, he’s gone unless they do a crossover story like “Day Of The Doctor” or “The Five Doctors”. Big Finish has done a few Doctor crossovers along with revisiting past adventures of the previous Doctors, and there were two comic miniseries involving the Doctor’s previous incarnations. On TV a Doctor doesn’t regenerate into their previous selves, though the Curator did suggest to Eleven that he might in the future, even hinting that the Curator may himself be a form of the Doctor like the War Doctor, the later Fugitive Doctor, or even the Valeyard to show off my creds. So there are folks who feel that going back to Ten and to a previous showrunner is a step backwards. John Nathan-Turner never returned to the show after he left.

The defenders however…are a curious lot. While as a comic fan I have to see new incarnations of classic characters and the old ones tossed out, I’m told it’s a good thing. However, the Doctor going back to a previous incarnation in their eyes is a good thing. One defender even posted a clip from the show How I Met Your Mother where one character is championing new things even after the champion of the old uses scotch as an example of how wrong he is.

For the record they were talking about the prequels as the Star Wars sequel trilogy hadn’t happened yet. The point of using this is that the older Doctor was better so why not bring him back…I think that was the argument. However I’d like to point out a few things on this topic myself. It should be fun to see who I end up agreeing with and who has a good point even though I disagree. First I think we need to remember a few details going in.

The biggest detail is this is probably temporary. It’s an anniversary special. We already know what the Fourteenth Doctor is going to look like. He’s a black man in a 1970s inspired outfit. I actually kind of dig it, so now I’m just worried what the TARDIS console room is going to look like. Will Russell T. Davies bring back his ugly console room, stick with Chris Chibnall’s even uglier console room, or actually make something good though probably not returning to Steven Moffatt’s console room? (Moffatt’s my favorite of the new Who consoles by the way though I still have a connection to the final room of the classic era as a template.) So Ten probably isn’t going to be on past this episode.

This is also a chance to clear up some loose ends with Donna Noble, a Companion who kind of got a raw deal by having to forget all her adventures, lest the Doctor/Donna bit come back and destroy her. Maybe they’ll finally fix that mess?

Still, let’s also consider why Ten and Donna are coming back along with Davies. Chris Chibnall’s run on Doctor Who has been rather controversial. Politics aside, I questioned the need for the Doctor to be a woman narratively and it wasn’t really explained. “Well, I’ve got a bit of testo/estro inversion and now my estrogen is higher than my testosterone. Happens now and then and I have had a few extra regenerations. Levels should be back in a regeneration or two. I’ll be fine. Biscuit?” The Master’s return was okay but then you have Gallifrey killed off again and all that nonsense with the “Timeless Child”, making the Doctor more special than he/she needs to be. We already had the Doctor receive a new cycle of lives in Matt Smith’s final appearance. That should hold for another 13 or even say they made him immortal as their ambassador to the universe after the Time War. To me the Timeless Child retcon is just as bad as the idea of “The Other” in the Lungburrow novel that was supposedly based on the Cartmel Master Plan, that wanted to bring mystery back to the Doctor, a thought continued by Moffatt with “the question that should never be answered”. That’s an article for another time if I haven’t already done it.

The real reason for all this is to hopefully bring viewers back who were put off by Moffatt and Chibnall. I rather liked Moffatt’s run, the ones I was able to watch thanks to the musical networks nonsense here in the states. When it moved from Sci-Fi Channel I didn’t have BBC America. Now I do but I didn’t get the chance to catch up on what I missed. Now it’s on Disney Plus so I really can’t watch it. Meanwhile thanks to Britbox at least three or four different ad-sponsored streaming services has a channel dedicated to the classic series though they don’t all stream the same episode at the same time for some reason. I don’t see that with other shared channels, but that’s not in this website’s mission statement so let’s move on. What the BBC is doing here is basically what The Force Awakens did, though hopefully to greater success, trying to use the familiar to bring people back to the franchise and ensure a level of trust from the Prequels in Star Wars’ case and the Chibnall mess in the Doctor’s case. When this is over it won’t be Ten 2 (or 2.5 with the Metacrisis Doctor–almost forgot him because he’s in essence a clone like Jenny) and Donna but Fourteen and Ruby. It’s kind of immaterial to even have this argument in that case but here we are so let’s have it.

As I said, this could be a chance to not only show Davies is back but to tie up loose ends with Donna. It’s also possible there’s a reason that Ten’s face is back in the same way that Eleven became Twelve with the face of the man from Pompeii. Ten was the most confident of the New Doctors without the arrogance of Six and a bit of the chessmaster of Seven with more of a mean streak. He was still suffering PTSD from the Time War but to a lesser extent than Nine, who had just gotten over being the War Doctor. Eleven was the “man who forgets” but Twelve was trying to figure out who he was now that Eleven had started returning to the Doctor he was. It’s even possible that Twelve’s concerns about being a “good man” fed into the insecurities of Thirteen and why she had trouble relating to people. That probably wasn’t intentional because Chibnall pulled a Dan DiDio and didn’t pay attention to what came before according to interviews with the cast but it’s certainly a way to accept it to a degree. If this is somehow the reason Ten is back, to get Fourteen to be more assured of himself after the last two, it could work out.

They’re even bringing back Murry Gold, who admittedly was great but it could be because his musical style matched Davies’ tone. I don’t know if it would match Moffatt’s more “fairytale” style or whatever Chibnall was doing, but it will be nice to see what he comes up with for new music while bringing back some of his old compositions.

On the other hand……

Does this ever get old?

The critics do have a point. We haven’t heard that the anniversary features any other old Doctors or that this is the time the Curator hinted at, if Davies and the writers he’s bringing in even remember that event. Showrunners and Doctors have never returned before. The actors move to other roles. Christopher Eccleston, thanks to his bad time in his one season as Ninth, didn’t want to return for “Day Of The Doctor”, which is why we had the War Doctor. Big Finish caught him at a good time, which is why he’s returned for those but outside of Eight’s regeneration into the War Doctor featuring a list of his Companions in the audio dramas and I think comics those may or may not be canon. McGann didn’t really get to have more than one official story so drawing his shows that aired on BBC radio (managed to catch two seasons of that on “The Seventh Dimension” thanks to the internet) made sense there. Eccleston has also mentioned that he may not do a crossover there, either. So if you see Nine working with another Doctor it would be a different actor, like we have now with the first three and Twelve’s Big Finish stories.

I think, and I’m totally guessing here, the defenders of the return of Tennant and Davies is more because they were fans of that version of the show. David Tennant is considered by a large group of fans as the most popular New Who Doctor, in the same way that Tom Baker is considered the most popular Old Who Doctor. (Odd in both cases my favorite Doctor is the one who came after, Peter Davidson and Matt Smith as Five and Eleven.) I’ve posted my own concerns about Davies return. He left for a reason. Davies moves on to other projects and was only brought back because BBC basically begged him to, as his run brought the show back and to a new generation of fans. Anyone not familiar with the original series knows Davies as the showrunner, and because Tennant was the Doctor longer than Eccleston he became THE Doctor in those fans eyes. They want the Doctor they know back. I’d be thrilled if the show went back to the serialized format and the late Sarah Jane Smith’s K9 became a Companion. Maybe they could team with the Australian version of K9 Mark 1 and find out what happened to Mark 2? I’m not holding my breath, mind you.

The show has always moved forward in the past (insert the obligatory “wibbly-wobbly” reference here), with new Doctors outside of team-up stories, which were rare. Going back to a previous Doctor and Companion, even a fan favorite team like Ten and Donna, just seems like a step backwards. You didn’t see Four and Sarah Jane get back together, and if Davies really was a fan of that period you’d think he would have done just that. Sarah Jane did team with Ten and maybe Eleven before Elisabeth Sladen’s passing. Sadly The Sarah Jane Adventures only aired one season where I could see it and I didn’t even get to see the full season of that…or I went to unapproved uploads to see what the show was like. It’s been awhile so I don’t remember which. I know that’s how I caught early episodes of Torchwood and wasn’t a fan.

Many fans want to see what Ncuti Gatwa is going to bring…and if I’ll ever remember how to spell his name while he’s out saving galaxies. They wanted Thirteen to tag Fourteen, not Ten. Chibnall’s run wasn’t bad because it was new, it was bad because it was poorly executed. Being new or old isn’t the problem, and even if this stunt does win fans back, Davies has to proven he’s ready to return instead of doing it just as a favor and can bring good Doctor Who stories back to TV (hopefully without all the crap that bothered me like evilizing Christmas and the levels of immaturity surrounding the “God Doctor”, which is what Ten was). In the end the new shows have to feel new no matter how familiar it feels or it will be boring and samey, losing the audience again for different reasons outside of the nostalgic and diehards. That won’t benefit the show in the long term and that’s what Davies needs to do to save the show, hopefully leaving a good enough show that a good enough replacement can run with it rather than finishing the show off. I do have one request though.

Bring back the round things.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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