Fan Friction: The Regeneration of a Time Lord

tumblr_myub38CWnK1snnt41o1_500 NO, REALLY. THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD. There is so much debate about Time Lord regeneration lore and how many Doctors there really have been. Some consider upcoming Peter Capaldi to be the 12th Doctor following Matt Smith, others think he’s the 13th because they include John Hurts’ War Doctor. And yet still some argue he is the 14th Doctor because Ten (though apparently Eleven, also known as David Tennant) regenerated and kept the same face (remember the hand thing in Series 4?) Coming up on Series 8, all canon and Time-Lord mythology has been shred to bits courtesy of Moffat and the 50th Anniversary Special “The Day of the Doctor” so where does that leave us? (Through Steven’s own admission Capaldi is apparently the 14th Doc, FYI). The limit of 12-regenerative cycles was not part of the Time Lords’ natural life-cycle, but rather a law they imposed upon themselves to limit their time alive and essentially keep them from becoming Gods. Now that Moffat has disregarded that and is apparently going to find some way to give the Doctor another full cycle of 12 regenerations (of which he will already be on number two assuming Mr. Moff stops breakin’ all the rules), we are left to wonder when the next hiatus from the Doctor will come, and if it should come at all. Doctor-Who-Doctors When DOCTOR WHO was cancelled back in 1989, it was only ever meant to be on “hiatus” yet it’s reported that all the big-wigs at The BBC network back in the late 80’s hated the show and were finding any reason to put it out to pasture. It then took 26 16 years (forgive my horrible math) for it to make another appearance on the network, and is now one of the most loved shows The BBC has ever produced. Letting the fans sit on DOCTOR WHO and wait for a over a decade for the TARDIS to reappear on their TVs had to have been a contributing factor to how well the show is doing currently (absence making the heart grow fonder and all that) but now with canon being broken and the entire premise of this new generation of DOCTOR WHO having been re-written: Nine/now Ten/Christopher Eccleston was a Doctor who believed he was the last of his race and he carried that weight with him until Twelve/Tennant and Thirteen/Matt Smith discovered the truth of what happened to Gallifrey thus changing the entire groundwork of the recent series, 2005-current… You have to wonder, maybe it’s time to take another break and revisit the Doctor a few years down the line. When Steven Moffat was casting the [apparent] 14th Doctor there was so much hope and speculation that he might cast a man of color, or even a woman. When he chose not to do either but instead cast an older white gentleman in the spirit of the original Doctors, one of three things happened to every Whovian: Some who wanted a racially or gender-diverse actor caused an uproar, most commended him for not “changing who the Doctor is” and yet still others were angry that he cast an “old guy” (I suspect those particular Whovians may have been female). But this is not about who was cast, but rather who could be cast in the future.

Fan Cosplay of the 7th Doctor

Fan Cosplay of the 7th Doctor

That 16 year break gave the network, the show runners, writers they brought on board, and the fans at home a chance to reinvent the Doctor and modernize him in a way that may not have been possible had he remained on the air that entire time. Everyone was given a fresh perspective and outlook on a most beloved character and most fans seemed to be more than happy to have the Doctor back, regardless of who had been cast. Of course, there are always fan-based ideal casting choices; everyone has their preferences and that’s absolutely fine – the point here is that the majority of fans were just glad to have the Doctor on screen again – they’d take him anyway they could have him. And maybe it’s time for that again. Maybe if we say goodbye to the Doctor for a few years (five or even ten) when we bring him back we can revive him into a black man, or a middle-aged woman and it would be ok because people would be thankful just to have the Doctor back again. A hiatus spanning 3-5 years would give everyone – the writers, studio, and actors – a chance to really develop this new series starring a whole different brand of Doctor. It would offer those involved on the inside the opportunity to advertise and market this new Doctor however they saw fit in keeping with the tradition of who the Doctor was at [his] core, beneath all the scarves and fez’s. Now, I’m [surprisingly] not saying that a female Doctor specifically is the best, most awesome idea ever… But I am absolutely open to it if the time was taken to do it properly, with the right woman in the role and the right show-runner (who I do not believe is Moffat. My previous article on Moffat’s female characters notwithstanding. I do like him enough, but I’m not sure he would be able to change genders and lead a successful show, especially considering what he’s changed with the current one – which is everything.)

Fan Cosplay of the 13th [Matt Smith] Doctor

Fan Cosplay of the official 13th [Matt Smith] Doctor

DOCTOR WHO is a timeless love for most fans and we will follow the Doctor through thick and thin, those we love and those we hate, the companions we cry for and companions we wish hadn’t happened at all. I believe that given a length of time to grieve over the loss of our show due to another hiatus, we would welcome in a diverse Doctor of any background or gender. There are so many talented actors and actresses out there that would make brilliant, heart-warming, and captivating Doctors that it seems a crime we would exclude them and deprive ourselves from all the possibilities on a technicality. Every regeneration The Doctor is written to check to see if his gender changed and wonder if he’s ginger – and if the stars align hopefully one day he’ll find one of those things has finally happened.

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  1. Check your math. The new Doctor Who series aired 16 years after the old show was cancelled, not 26. It’s still an impressive number but not more than a quarter of a century. The gap was from 1989 until 2005.

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