Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who's Last

Doctor Who is currently the best show on television. It is also one of the best shows ever made. Harlan Ellison wrote an introduction in 1977 to a novelization of the Doctor Who story Genesis of the Daleks in which he declared it to be the best science fiction series ever, beating out even Star Trek or The Twilight Zone. And he was right, in my opinion anyway. It premiered in 1963 and ran until 1989 to be revived in its current incarnation in 2005.

Jumping ahead to January 1, 2010, we have now seen the final episode of David Tennant as the 10th Doctor and, frankly, I don't think it could have gone any better. While I disagree with a recent survey naming him as the best Doctor, he's had a hell of a run and will be missed. If not for the fact that Steven Moffat, one of my favorite writers in any medium, was taking over as showrunner I'd probably be one of those people vowing to never again watch Doctor Who. I'm wondering now if, somehow, a threat like that from me would have somehow kept Tennant in the show. That would have been cool even though I then would have gone mad with power and forced them to do something really crazy like give the Doctor breasts.

Doctor Who fans have known for over a year that this was coming. The Doctor received no less than three different prophecies in the past year that implied his life would soon end but that didn't make it any easier when it happened. If you're familiar with the show you know that Timelords like The Doctor don't really die, of course. Since 1963 when the actor playing the Doctor decides to leave the show all they have to do is fatally injure the character and Regeneration kicks in. All wounds are healed but the Doctor looks completely different. One thing that was really driven home this time around is that this isn't just a cosmetic change. The new person has all of the Doctor's memories but, as has been witnessed over the years, the personality is different. The one who was there before, in a sense, no longer exists and it is like death. This point was driven home and made Tennant's exit more emotional when he Regenerated.

The two part finale was exciting overall as the Doctor's arch enemy, the Master, returned from the dead...again...to wreak havoc in the Doctor's life with yet another insane scheme (that works, for a while anyway) to dominate the world but that story is just an extended introduction to the long, emotional goodbye to David Tennant at the end. When he begins to change, you start getting choked up and then he turns into the new Doctor, actor Matt Smith, and BAM it gets fast paced and exciting. There's no more time for tears as the Doctor checks to see if he still has fingers, fingers he'll need because HIS SHIP IS ABOUT TO CRASH.

So yes, Doctor Who will go on and it will almost certainly be good with new people both in front of and behind the camera. I'll miss David Tennant and producer/showrunner Russell T. Davies but I missed Christopher Eccleston when he left and it all worked out. If fact, here's how all that went.

"Wow, Christopher Eccleston is great."

When he first got replaced by David Tennant: "Who's this douchebag?"

After a few episodes. "Wow, David Tennant is great."

When he first got replaced by Matt Smith. "Who's this douchebag?"

We'll find out this spring when the new series starts how long it will take for Matt Smith to stop being a douchebag and start being the Doctor. I do wish I could go back in time and somehow convince David Tennant to stick with the show. I won't be doing that, of course, because it's impossible. Seriously, if I ever tell you I did that, do me a favor and lock me up.

1 comment:

Dan Coyle said...

We may miss Tennant, but it was definitely Davies' time to go- he was approaching Whedonesque calcification in series four.

Thankfully, "The End of Time" part two made up for the deficiencies of the first.

Though I must admit- given that the Doctor addresses the lord president as "Rassilon" automatically makes the episode one of the best EVER MADE EVER, I'm not the best judge.

I think the thing I liked best about it was after all that craziness, you hear Wilf knocking for times, and you realize that the Doctor is going to have to save him, and he'll regenerate because of it, and while I think if given the choice Wilf would have rather died than the Doctor sacrifice himself for him, and that's the reason the Doctor does what he does. Because Wilf has reminded him humans are not just little people.

I look forward to what Smith and Moffat have for us this time. And while I don't expect it anytime soon, I'm sure Davies won't be able to resist taking another spin in the TARDIS.