…Or at least, it had when the two respective Doctors of today’s look back made their respective appearances on our television screens. Hello Wanderers, and welcome back to the next instalment of 50 Years of Doctor Who. If you recall, or look back in the series, last time we looked at Doctors Six and Seven, with whom you could clearly see that the BBC was growing tired of the show – or at least the Head of Drama at the channel was. So much so that just a few serials into Seven’s run (when compared with other Doctors) the show was … well not cancelled, so much as put on an indefinite hiatus. And for fans, it looked like it might end there.
Take a trip in the Tardis to 1996, and there, on 27th May (15 days after the initial US broadcast) comes something fans never thought they’d see. A Doctor Who tv movie, playing right there on their televisions screens. And it was … well, kind of pretty bad to be honest. The movie was intended as a back door pilot for an American produced version of the show and pretty much showed why it should remain in the hands of the British, though elements from the movie did pop up in the series proper when it came back, but we’ll get to that. What’s the plot? Oh, just the usual. The Master’s looking for a way to extend past his legal allowance of 13 regenerations after being sentenced to death by the Daleks. For some odd reason, the Doctor is the one to pick up his remains and just as he – Seven at this point – starts to settle in for a nice quiet read, the Tardis goes haywire. And it goes on from there, and to be fair, this movie’s easy to track down, and trust me, re-treading the plot for you will only make you stare at the screen with a look of disbelief.
So what can we say of Eight? Well, first of all, here’s another Doctor who has some form of regeneration sickness following the change, though this time it’s not entirely his fault but at the same time, come on Doctor, did you skip that lesson in the Academy? … Actually he probably did. Anyway, Eight, when he comes round to being a bit more like himself, is a brilliant Doctor. Yes, yes, I know I said that the movie is bad, and it is, but Paul McGann’s Doctor is simply and treat and, in my opinion, the movie’s saving grace. Which is an unintentional pun, but moving on. He’s wide eyed and filled with wonder at the universe, and a bit of a romantic, and just filled with excitement about everything and really watching McGann makes you wish he got more screen time. Oh, I know with the Big Finish audios, he’s probably become the longest reigning Doctor, but visual time would be fantastic too. Unfortunately though, his excellent performance couldn’t save what was a bad movie, and the idea for bringing back Doctor Who was shelved yet again.
And now comes 2005, Russell T Davies, a complete redoing of the series, a Time War, and a Doctor who is the last (apparently) of his people. Yes, the series has at last been rebooted and, well, frankly? In my personal opinion the series in 2005 with the Ninth Doctor will continue to be one of the best series ever put out there of the show. Yes, it has its dodgy moments, and mixed messages – what show doesn’t – but there’s such an air of delight to each and every episode. And a lot of that is to do with our Doctor himself. This time played by Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor is a bit of a dark, brooding creature, though not without a great sense of humour. The most causally dressed of all our Doctors, this is the Doctor that was more likely to – with a few subtle hints and nudges in the right direction – let someone else save the day. He delighted in hugs, hated the domestic, and was basically a survivor trying his best to continue to live in this new universe with new rules that existed for him. Oh, and he was fantastic.
But sadly, the Ninth Doctor was to only last for one single season. Nine regenerated in a haze of glory, grinning at his own brilliance in a way that made audiences grin and clutch their hearts at the same time, only to be replaced by … some skinny pretty boy.
But him, we’ll get to next time.
Z McAspurren (You can’t take the sky from the Doctor)