Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Doctor Who and the End of Time

As usual, I'm way farther behind on TV than the rest of the world. I just finished the two-part "End of Time" movie that closes down David Tennant's time as the Doctor.

It was as dramatic and funny and scary and touching as I've come to expect from this version of the Doctor, but I admit that I became impatient with it towards the end. The regenerations I've seen the Doctor go through before have all happened quickly and by surprise. This time, the Doctor knows it's coming and has time to make some visits to old companions and tie up some loose - if only emotionally - ends.

My problem with it is related to a comment that writer Russell T Davies made during one of the many Doctor Who specials that BBC America ran around the time of the movie. He said that the Doctor's regenerating isn't like going to the dentist and that it should be a momentous occasion. A serious, scary occasion. Well, I guess I disagree.

I would've agreed after the first time I had to deal with it, watching Tom Baker morph into Peter Davison. Man, I mourned the loss of Tom Baker. And resented Davison so much. But eventually, I came to like Davison. He's one of my favorites now, celery-stick boutonniere and all.

More recently, I distinctly remember being sad that Christopher Eccleston was leaving the show after only one season. I really dug him as much as I had any other doctor - even Tom Baker - and, not at all sure of who we were getting next, I anticipated having a similar reaction to David Tennant that I did to Peter Davison. But I didn't. Turns out, I loved David Tennant right away and so did everyone else.

Now he's leaving and as much as I'm going to miss him, I'm ready for the next guy. Bring on Matt Smith. I've learned my lesson and accept that the show's creators know what they're doing. I think I'd moved on faster than Davies wanted me to though. Clearly - from the lengthy part of the finale where the Doctor runs around saying his heartfelt goodbyes - I was supposed to be holding on much tighter than I was. I kind of resented Davies' sitting next to me, nudging me and proclaiming loudly, "This is SO SAD! He's really leaving, you guys!"

"Yes," I kept telling him. "It is sad. But we've been here before and it kind of is like going to the dentist. Let's see what this Matt Smith guy's like."

I've eased up on Davies though after reading Dorian's take on the episode. Especially this part:
...regeneration is an end to a facet of the Doctor’s personality. Everything that is Ten will be gone when Eleven arrives. And Ten loves his life. Ten loves his friends. Ten is the most emotionally connected we’ve seen the Doctor in, well, ever, frankly.
That's completely true. As ready as I was to move on, I get that Ten wasn't. It's not fair for me to read Davies' meta-textual statement over the story when the story as it plays out is perfectly in keeping with who this Doctor is. Was.

But, on the other hand, as nice as it was to see a Doctor so emotionally connected with his companions (or most of them anyway, poor Martha), where it left him was extremely screwed up and depressed. He'd become a Doctor resolved to have no companions, not even one as fun and charming as Lady Christina de Souza. He'd become a Doctor who was going insane from grief and loneliness. I may be the only one who feels this way, but his regeneration was a mercy killing. I really, really liked Ten for a long time, but at the end I was ready for him to go. And - though I get Dorian's point - I'm not completely sure why Ten wasn't.

Welcome, Eleven.

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